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Advice please re: Clicker Training

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

Advice please re: Clicker Training

Postby Akowalczyk » Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:33 pm

Hi all,

Our little Turquoise Pineapple GCC came to live with us this weekend. She is incredibly sweet and affectionate, LOVES her veggies and fruits, and loves to be out with us constantly. We've started clicker training and have a question.

Each time I click and go to give her a treat, she tries to step up onto me. She also doesn't like to stay on the training perch and constantly tries to fly over to my husband or I. We put her back onto the stand and click and reward, but she tries to step up continuously. Any way to do this without having her always trying to get on us?
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Re: Advice please re: Clicker Training

Postby Pajarita » Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:32 am

Please stop training immediately. If you continue, it will backfire. Parrots are not genetically 'programmed' to obey commands or be subservient to an alpha role (they did not evolve to live in a hierarchical society and are not people-oriented -they are undomesticated species that were tricked into imprinting to humans) so, in order for training to work, the bird needs to trust and love you (because, as they are monogamous and mate for life, they are 'programmed' to bond deeply and please the object of their affections). Your bird is in what we call 'the honeymoon period' when they are on their best behavior (because they are not sure how safe you and the new home is so they choose not to rock the boat) but she has NOT bonded with you. This requires time (usually a few months) and, in two or three months, if you have done everything right, she will continue to be as sweet as she is now (GCCs are naturally VERY sweet-tempered parrots). The way you treat the bird during the honeymoon period is the foundation of your future relationship with it so take the time to bond, to prove to her that you can be trusted, that you will respect her wishes (this is imperative for a good relationship with them) and for her to become comfortable in her new home and used to her new humans, schedule, routines, etc. Parrots have their own timetables and they are nothing like ours. They take their own sweet time to observe, figure things and people out and reach their own conclusions and it's always best to allow them the time to do this. Just spend time with her and let her ride your shoulder for hours and hours, talk, sing to her and every now and then, give her a treat. This is not a reward or a bribe, it's a gift from you to her, a token of your desire to be her friend.

Also, please take into consideration her species. Not all parrots species are the same and all GCCs want to do is ride your shoulder and cuddle next to your neck... maybe preen your hair, kiss your cheek... that kind of thing. I call my Codee GCC, my 'kissing fool' because all she wants to do is kiss me and be kissed (I put my hand to her and she quickly climbs up to my shoulder and pressing her beak against my cheek, she makes a SMACK kissy noise - I say her name, she kisses me - I talk to her, she kisses me - I kiss her, she kisses me... like I said, a 'kissing fool' :lol: ). And they are the ultimate Velcro bird! She is on my shoulder (or my chest or my back) from the second she comes out of her cage (6:30 am) to the time when she is put back (2:30 pm) with only half an hour in her cage to eat her breakfast. It's the way they are. It's not that they cannot be trained, they can - but they are INTENSELY needy birds (I always compare them to cockatoos) and require hours and hours and hours of one-on-one (and this means ON your person doing nothing but cuddling).

One more thing and excuse me if I am telling you something you already know: in a couple of months, when you start training, please take into consideration that you can only have a couple of training sessions a day and that they only consist of a few minutes each. Also, you should never ask her to follow a command more than a couple of times. You ask, she doesn't follow so you ask again and, if she still doesn't follow, you do not ask a third time. You need to wait a while and give her a nice break before you can ask again - and if she still did not do it, do not ask again until the next day.

You might be already aware of this but I wasn't when I first started so bear with me if you already know this but training/dealing parrots is NOT like doing it with a domesticated mammal - it's completely different and it's hard for us to come to this realization because our minds are programmed as the hierarchical mammals we are and we are used to dealing with domesticated mammal species that also belong to hierarchical societies. Doing it right requires us to erase all we know about training and start fresh from a completely different perspective. And you will be surprised how hard this is because you need to think of them as little humans -with the respect it implies for their needs and desires- instead of animals for which we are 'the boss' (alpha or leader role). They get 'burned out' very quickly and insisting on them doing something they don't want to do or preventing them from doing something they want (and this is the hardest, I think, because their 'natural' behaviors are all quite undesirable to us and while we can train a dog not to have an undesirable behavior, we can't do it with a parrot) becomes flooding very quickly - and while flooding is no longer recommended for, say, dogs, you can get away with it in terms of not damaging your personal relationship with them (Cesar Milan does it all the time -not that I approve of all his methods, mind you!), but not with parrots. They don't see us as their boss. As far as they are concerned, they are our equals or maybe a bit lower because we are here to serve them :lol: .
Norwegian Blue
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