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When the bird trains itself

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

When the bird trains itself

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:02 pm

Has anyone else had the experience of the bird learning things just from interacting with you, without actually attempting to train the behavior? I guess bad language is a common example of this with talking birds, but Scooter has learned several behaviors this way. In one case, I think the behavior itself is self-reinforcing -- he appears to really LIKE lying upside down in a hand, especially my husband's (larger and more secure I think). He did this with Scooter when we first met him as a test of his "tameness", but within a few days of owning him, he began to offer the behavior spontaneously. Now he is so willing to offer it, that sometimes when I go to hand him over to my husband, he flops over backwards instead and we have to catch him so he doesn't fall to the floor that way!

He also seems to have taught himself to hold his droppings, at least up to a point. I was going to follow the instructions to train this, but a combination of my often putting him away or on his playstand after being soiled, so I could clean up, and of deliberately picking him back up when he poops after I put him in his cage or on the playstand, and of being careful to give him opportunities every 20 minutes or so, has led to a situation where I only get pooped on if we are away from the cage area and I forget.
Scooter :gcc:
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Re: When the bird trains itself

Postby Michael » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:14 pm

No. Actually you trained the bird and didn't realize it. Some things can definitely be auto reinforcing (ex: chewing up your leather couch). However, if the frequency of behavior increases specifically in your presence or interacting with you, then you positively reinforced it without realizing it. For example biting is very often positively or negatively reinforced (by playing a catch my finger game with the bird or by leaving it alone when it wants to be left).

Now I just want to point out that I really wouldn't use the word "train" in this discussion at all and would rather just say the bird "learned" these things. I think of training as a more deliberate and planned process to purposefully increase a particular behavior. If it happened on its own, I'd just say the parrot learned it from things you did not realize. Believe me, there's a LOT more your parrot learned in your household that you may not even appreciate or realize.
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