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Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby ceruleansilver » Tue May 10, 2016 6:30 am

Hello friends!

I know I've been on this forum before, and I've talked about my one person senegal. Unfortunately I took a shift that does not agree with Tengu, overnight. He's alone most of the day, he's started becoming self destructive, and his aggression is out of control. Obviously there's also a lot of screaming for attention, and over all I just feel terrible about the whole thing. I'm trying to have him spend two days a week at someone's house where there's five people who can come over and spend time with him. We've done this once, and he came back open to getting scritched by two people out of the five, I'm very pleased with his progress. Hopefully if this continues he'll be more socialized and less neurotic.

To complement this I acquired some training videos, all very positive reinforcement with bridging. One of the first tricks was step up, which I thought "Oh, Tengu knows this!" Queue me getting bit. So I started at step one, with dowels, one to step up, another to distract but not chew on. It was difficult, but he caught on quickly to stepping up without using his beak. A few minutes in he started trying to move away and yawning, so I backed off and gave him a break. When I came up and asked him to step up the first time he did it and got a high value treat, the second time he flew at my face. All he bit was a mouthful of hair, I put him back on the cage and tried to move onto another trick and checked to make sure he was still interested in the treats. He was very motivated, excitedly bobbing his head and doing 'wave' (he learned that one a long time ago and I use it as the universal: 'do you want this?') I moved on to "shake your head no", using the technique described which was to give the cue, blow lightly, and then reward. I did it twice before he flew at my face again. He didn't try to move away first or anything. This time he was much more determined to go for my actual face, when he missed he flew back around and tried again, basically dive bombing me. I caught him with a blanket and put him away, it was difficult, he was trying to fly off the blanket towards my face, not his cage. No screaming, by the way, or yawning, just straight up going after me. Before that he had seemed just as engaged as before. This whole thing only constituted maybe five minutes of training.

I am freaked out. We had a good relationship, I thought, but I'm not sure I can work with him like this. Should I get his wings clipped? Should I work on just building up his tolerance for training in general? How would I go about that? Is there a better way to go about deflecting his aggression? I'm worried I'm teaching him "get frustrated and attack and she'll put me back and leave me alone".
ceruleansilver
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 20
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: African Senegal
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Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby Wolf » Tue May 10, 2016 7:31 am

It appears to me that you have broken trust with him and for lack of a better way of putting it he is pissed. Add to this that it is still mating season and he is very likely hormonal on top of this. If we are to set this right then we need to go back to square one.

Lets start of with finding out what your schedule is and then move on to what his schedule is. we should probably also take a look see at what his daily diet is and when he gets what foods. There is always a way through these things, it is up to us to find out the way that he will accept.
Wolf
Macaw
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
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Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby ceruleansilver » Tue May 10, 2016 7:40 am

My schedule is 5pm to 9am, his is set up as 5pm to 4am via a fluorescent light on a timer. He eats pellets, he takes all kinds but right now he is on Roudybush maintenance. (plus fruit and veggies)

I normally work from 10pm to 9am, and he usually gets the food in the "morning" at 5pm.
ceruleansilver
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 20
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: African Senegal
Flight: Yes

Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby Pajarita » Tue May 10, 2016 11:01 am

Well, there is your problem. Birds are photoperiodic which simply means that they regulate their endocrine system (read sexual hormones) by the number of daylight hours. Problem is, they turn on and off their internal clock through exposure to twilight (on at dawn, off at dusk) and, although you have timers and fluorescent light (is it, at least, a good quality full spectrum?) to make the night into day and the day into night, it doesn't work for their internal clock. You are also free-feeding pellets so, in my personal opinion, the problem is that your parrot is overly hormonal (and most likely in constant pain) which makes him super aggressive. Male senegals are not easy birds. They can be great companions but you need to have impeccable husbandry in terms of diet, light schedule and quality, and time spent with them. And, sometimes, even then one has to tiptoe around them at breeding season...

Now, what to do? Well, I am sorry to say, training him is not going to fix his out of whack endocrine system and if you work at night I really don't know how you are going to solve this... I also don't think that sending him to another house with a normal day/night schedule two days a week is a solution. I wish I could help you but I don't know how...
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
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Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby ceruleansilver » Tue May 10, 2016 5:06 pm

So basically I should surrender him? I don't want him to be in constant pain, and there's no way for me to change jobs.

It is a full spectrum light. No, there is no way for him to have a normal schedule and for him to live with me. Yes, even at his best he was a "difficult" bird, as opposed to the blue and gold I'm familiar with (the macaw is not mine, but I can walk right up to him and pet him after no attention from anyone for a week).

Edit: I was thinking about it some more. I could get a bile acids chem/cbc done and then some of the vets will do neutering. It's not very common, they usually spay to prevent egg binding, but liver and kidney failure are potentially life threatening so I might be able to pull it off.
ceruleansilver
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 20
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: African Senegal
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Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby Wolf » Wed May 11, 2016 9:39 am

I have been turning this over and over in my mind since you answered my request for your schedule trying to work out a way for it to work. The hours don't work out for any job that I am aware of. This difference is accounted for by the five hours between 5 and 10 pm. So I am wondering if that five hours might be some what flexible, although even if it is I don't see how it can be used for your birds advantage except for a short period of time in the winter months when the sun sets closer to 4pm. Still my biggest obstacle to your birds well being is the 9 am thing and how to work with it.

Can you work out feeding him his pellets in the evening before you leave for work and leaving him uncovered with the artificial lights off for the night and then feeding him as soon as you get home with fresh produce and a food such as our gloop that he can eat during the day while you are asleep? If there are no artificial lights coming through the window while still allowing for natural light to enter the room this would address the lighting issue well enough to keep him from producing hormones all year long. It however does nothing to solve the issue of his needing time to spend with you. He really needs at least four hours each day of out of cage time each day so as to address his need for exercise as well as time spent with you for his mental and emotional well being. This is where I am wondering just how flexible that five hours is and how much of it might be able to be used as out of cage and personal interaction time with you.

Please talk to me, if I can help to work this out, I will try to help.
Wolf
Macaw
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 8679
Location: Lansing, NC
Number of Birds Owned: 6
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal
African Grey (CAG)
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Budgie
Flight: Yes

Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby Pajarita » Wed May 11, 2016 10:48 am

The problem, as I see it, is not only that the OP works at night, it's also that his schedule consists of 16 hours a day! If he worked from, say, 5 pm to 3 am or 9 pm to 5 am or any other combination that would give us 8 -or max 10- hours of work, it could be made to work but I don't even know how the OP manages to 'squeeze' a life and devote hours to a bird with that kind of schedule - I mean, he/she hardly has time to eat, shower and sleep!
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby ceruleansilver » Wed May 11, 2016 5:32 pm

I tacked on one hour from 10pm to 9am for the drive, as that's the amount of time I'm away from Tengu. Wolf, thank you for responding again, but I can't have him awake during the day. Someone will die, and it'll probably be me from sleep deprivation. I'm a light sleeper, and he screams nonstop when I'm not around. Not to mention, yes, that would make his bedtime when I usually wake up, and then there would be no way for me to hold him at all.

I work at an emergency clinic, if that clears up anything. 11pm to 8am. Yes, those are some of the worst hours ever. Yes, it's true, Tengu normally does not get the attention he deserves when I'm home because I'm hardly keeping my 'life' together as is. The nice thing is going two days to someone's house to make up for the days I'm working. Three days out of the week he is out for four hours overnight with me.

In case anybody is wondering, last night's training session went poorly, so I tried just leaving him alone and cuddling. That still resulted in attacking, just not me, and then it got redirected at me. Maybe it is just hormones and somehow I can wait it out, though I don't imagine how. He usually sees the sunset from 5pm on plus the fluorescent, and the flourscent is off in the morning but he still sees the dawn before I put him (and myself) to bed.

Thank you everyone for continuing to reply to me. I really appreciate it. I'm kind of desperate for advice here.
ceruleansilver
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 20
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: African Senegal
Flight: Yes

Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby Pajarita » Thu May 12, 2016 10:51 am

Well, the thing about dawn and dusk is not whether the parrot can see it or not, it's whether it's exposed to it the right way which means waking up with dawn (without any artificial lights until the sky is completely lit and there is sunshine coming into the room where he is) and going to sleep with dusk (again, they cannot be exposed to artificial light during this period and, of course, none after so artificial lights need to be turned off when the sun is halfway down to the horizon). Changing the night to day simply does not work for their endocrine system. I often tell the people who live in extreme Northern countries to 'fake' a dawn and dusk so as to mark different 'seasons' for the parrot but even that means that the parrot is up during the day, it's still iffy for the simple reason that we cannot really fake twilight - at least, not yet.

Parrots are not only diurnal (well, with the exception of the night parrot), they are also EXTREMELY dependent on light, both the quality AND the duration of it during the day - light is so important to them that they actually have cells that register light inside their brains (mammals have it only in the eyes). Light is a nutrient to them.

And the problem is that without proper exposure to dawn and dusk, they produce sexual hormones all year round which keeps their gonads growing to such proportions that they actually displace other internal organs and cause the poor animal constant pain. The frustration of been 'in season' all year round and not been able to relieve it plus the chronic pain make a real bad combination for them and it translates into aggression and screams (and that's why your parrot screams all the time when you are not home even though senegals are considered one of the 'quiet' species of parrots).

I don't like not to be able to offer a solution when people come over with a problem but I don't see any viable one in your bird's case... your schedule is too extreme and taking him to somebody else's house for a couple of days is not going to really solve anything for him (they need months and months of a strict solar schedule to get their endocrine system back on track). The only thing I can tell you is that your bird is suffering and has been suffering for quite some time now.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 15061
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Overcoming Aggression/Basic Taming

Postby ceruleansilver » Fri May 20, 2016 2:49 am

So I went in to the vet based on this info. Instead of a neuter, we're moving forward with trying Lupron. Wish us luck! I'm hopeful that this will at least take care of his discomfort. It hasn't been started yet, but he's already opening up to people more through the socialization focus. When we went to the vet, he bit the ever living snot out of the vet from out of no where, and she actually was a trainer for quite a while and confirmed he's showing signs of hormonal behavior and hyper aggression. (The bite happened while she was telling me I needed to outlaw bowl feedings! I told her I'd been working on foraging, but he rarely got into the food so I got worried and would give in and feed him at the end of the night. She recommended if I was concerned to actually weigh him. So far so good, I didn't think he ate yesterday but he actually increased in weight, so he must be doing ok!) Currently we're waiting on all the tests to come back to make sure he's not suffering from some other illness before we start the injections.

On the other hand, he was very sweet to one of the technicians! He stepped up for her, let her scritch him, and was apparently pretty cooperative for her when they did the blood draw (I was really shocked). When he was hissing and growling from inside of the carrier she was even able to pick him up then too, which is something I've only ever been able to do (he gets very defensive when he thinks he's getting taken out for a procedure).

I brought this up and am giving this update since I wanted other people on this board to be aware that there are three injectable drugs available for situations like this. I don't know how often it might come up that a bird can't see dawn/dusk, but I know the vet told me several other male birds at the clinic are on it too. Despite that, it is most well known for being really good for chronic egg laying.
ceruleansilver
Parrotlet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 20
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: African Senegal
Flight: Yes

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