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Flight Harness

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Flight Harness

Postby Michael » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:45 pm

I ordered a flight harness for Kili a while ago but finally got around to trying it for training today. I can't say that she's thrilled about it but she lets me put it on her and take it off. The moment I let go of her or am not occupying her with tasks to do, she resorts to trying to chew it off. I guess one of these days I just have to leave her wearing it for a while so she can get used to the fact that there is no way she can get it off. The bigger problem I foresee is having her fly around my apartment in it. Ideally I'd like to do some indoor harness flight prior to outdoor. The problem is that unless I'm holding the short (6 foot) chord, it's bound to get tangled with her flying around with it hanging off. I wonder how I can get her to practice flying in it without going straight to outside. The 6ft section isn't detachable so there is no way to make it so the chord doesn't dangle when she flies.

The method I used to get her used to it was to have her to tricks with the harness lying around. Then I had her target right up to it. It didn't take long to make her unaware of the harness material. Then I started putting it on and off of her and treating the process. Once again, she is very hand tame and is not bothered as long as I am holding her. The moment I let go, if I keep feeding her treats or cuing tricks she will ignore the harness. However, the moment this stops she starts chewing it. I did some recalls with mixed success. The worse was when Kili flew off. Either I wasn't holding the chord and she couldn't land anywhere with the chord dangling off. Or she would fly off and get stopped by the chord. I'm going to have to figure out some way to get more practice flying with the harness at home.
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Michael
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Re: Flight Harness

Postby MandyG » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:11 am

Mine has a detachable leash so thankfully we don't run into this problem. What type of harness did you get? I have one that you have to clip in three places and then the leash clips onto the harness. Mojo used to be ok with it but he has decided that it's the worst thing in the world now. I'm thinking of getting one of the ones that just loop around the wings and head so there's no fussing with awkward clips when putting it on. I've been able to get him to do tricks near it and even target to the stick with the harness on it but we just can't get to the step where he's ok with me putting it on again.

Is there any way that you can clear a path from perch to perch where the cord won't get tangled? Or perhaps you could try 6 foot recalls just to start getting her used to it? Are you wanting to fly her outside with it and get a longer leash for outside flight or are you primarily using it just so you can take her out with you and you'll hold onto the 6ft cord?

Let us know how you get her to stop chewing on it. Now that Mojo hates his he chews on it like it's his life mission. It's not possible for me to let him chew on it so he realizes he can't get it off, he'll definitely be able to chew through it. He won't even take treats from me when he has it on now. I don't know what happened that he's decided he hates it so much :( . It's going to take a lot of work to get him used to it by the time it warms up enough for him to go outside.

Here's a picture of me and Mojo last summer, before he decided he hated his harness (sorry for the poor picture quality):
MeandMojoSmall.JPG
MeandMojoSmall.JPG (37.06 KiB) Viewed 7204 times
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Re: Flight Harness

Postby Michael » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:26 am

MandyG wrote:What type of harness did you get?


The clipless one. The aviator harness. It's pretty easy to put on so I think it's good in that aspect. It comes with the 6' chord and the leash attaches to that for flight. The 6' part is not removable though.

MandyG wrote:I've been able to get him to do tricks near it and even target to the stick with the harness on it but we just can't get to the step where he's ok with me putting it on again.


How hand tame is Mojo? Can you grab the bird, flip him around, hold him anywhere, open wings? After a few times, when I brought the harness toward Kili she'd fly away. However, if I grab her and just stick it on she stays put. She let's me handle her almost any way I want.

MandyG wrote:Is there any way that you can clear a path from perch to perch where the cord won't get tangled? Or perhaps you could try 6 foot recalls just to start getting her used to it? Are you wanting to fly her outside with it and get a longer leash for outside flight or are you primarily using it just so you can take her out with you and you'll hold onto the 6ft cord?


I might just have to do this. I kind of wished that I could have had just the body part of the harness on her for her to get used to the feeling of flying with it before leashing her and outside.

MandyG wrote:Let us know how you get her to stop chewing on it. Now that Mojo hates his he chews on it like it's his life mission. It's not possible for me to let him chew on it so he realizes he can't get it off, he'll definitely be able to chew through it. He won't even take treats from me when he has it on now. I don't know what happened that he's decided he hates it so much :( . It's going to take a lot of work to get him used to it by the time it warms up enough for him to go outside.


I've only done it for one day with her but that's what it sounds like so far.

By the way, it is recommended NOT to hold the end of the leash like in your picture. It should at minimum be strapped around your wrist if not clipped to your belt. People have definitely lost their parrots that way. I only hold it like that inside cause it's not a big deal if she gets out.
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Re: Flight Harness

Postby MandyG » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:13 pm

Michael wrote:How hand tame is Mojo? Can you grab the bird, flip him around, hold him anywhere, open wings? After a few times, when I brought the harness toward Kili she'd fly away. However, if I grab her and just stick it on she stays put. She let's me handle her almost any way I want.


He's definitely not as hand tame as Kili. Actually we're working on 'grabs' like Kathleen describes here and he's getting used to it. He doesn't try to bite when I grab him, but he does growl to show he's not happy with it. The latest trick we're working on is him getting used to me flipping him upside down and I'm hoping to lead up to him being comfortable with me holding him on his back. When he was younger I was able to hold out his wings but I started focusing on tricks and neglected handling him as much. I'm able to pet him under his wings again (not a great idea once they're sexually mature but I don't think that's a problem with him at this age). My recommendation to anybody that has a young parrot is to continually work on being able to handle them in every way that you can with the bird being ok with it. It's SO much easier when starting with a young parrot.

The problem that I have is that he hates the harness now. I believe that will be it's own obstacle to overcome even once he's comfortable with me handling him more. He can do tricks right beside the harness and will even come towards the target stick with the harness on the end of it. I'm going to work on hopefully slowly being able to touch him with the harness without any intention of putting it on him, but it looks like that will also be a fair bit into the future yet. Training a parrot to use the harness when the harness is new is easy, getting a parrot to overcome it's fear/hate of the harness is much more difficult. This one will definitely require a lot of time and patience. Unfortunately the only information I've found for teach a bird to accept the harness has been based on introducting a bird to it when it has never seen one before. I can't find anything about working with a bird that has a problem with the harness.

Michael wrote:By the way, it is recommended NOT to hold the end of the leash like in your picture. It should at minimum be strapped around your wrist if not clipped to your belt. People have definitely lost their parrots that way. I only hold it like that inside cause it's not a big deal if she gets out.


I'm glad you pointed this out. The only reason I was comfortable holding him that way was because that was still when he had his severe clip, I wasn't worried about him getting away. Actually I would have him out without the harness most days (please don't try it with your own clipped bird, even with a clip your bird can get lift and get away). I would never have the leash unsecured with a flighted bird.

Do you like the aviator harness? Does it look durable? I can't remember the brand that I have but I bought it before we had Mojo at home. In hind sight I would recommend not getting the one with clips, although the detachable leash is very handy.
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Re: Flight Harness

Postby Michael » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:34 pm

What you need to do is use successive attempts through positive reinforcement. Don't go from harness sitting around to putting it right on. Find the moment when your parrot panics and try to reward just before that happens. If the parrot panics when you approach with the harness then instead, reward it when you put your hand on the harness. Reward when you pick up the harness. Reward when you move the harness in the bird's direction. Do several treats for each of these steps. If it's really bad it may take a few days for each step. Then instead of putting the harness all the way on, reward just touching the harness to the bird, reward getting it around the bird but not on, etc. Also be sure that all experiences while the harness is on are positive to the parrot. I will see if I have any more success today with harness and I might video if anything comes of it.
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Flight: Yes

Re: Flight Harness

Postby MandyG » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:39 am

I'm going to try and go through all of your harness training information thoroughly tonight. I'm working on creating a 'training log' to document his progress so we'll hopefully have a greater chance at success with him overcoming his fear of the harness. I think this may be a long process but it will definitely be worth it. It was so nice out yesterday and Mojo couldn't even come out to get some sun :(

Thanks for posting all of your work with Kili, and I'm glad she decided she didn't like the harness ;) it'll help me out in the long run! It's easy to find videos about introducing your parrot to the harness but I haven't come across any other information about going through the process once the bird hates the thing.
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Re: Flight Harness

Postby Erithacus » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:46 pm

My Grey didn't have any indoor trainings prior to going outdoor on a harness. The moment she allowed me to put the harness on her, I immediately took her out for a walk. Before using a harness, I used a chain on her foot. She enjoyed her outdoor walk. She won't take flight unless gets spooked.

It is difficult to stop her from chewing the harness. My Grey has damaged 2 harnesses. Currently she is using the 3rd one. She won't chew the harness if we are on the move. If she were to perch on something stationery with nothing to do, she would start chewing the harness.
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Flight Harness integrity concern

Postby pollyparrot » Sat Jun 16, 2012 8:49 pm

Michael or others, I have a question about the Aviator harness in the x-small size for a Senegal. The thin elastic lead looks somewhat whimpy to me and I'm concerned about it becoming easily worn and detached from the connection to the flat body part of the harness. I wish it were a thicker more substantial elastic for the lead. Has anyone had any issues? Should I be concerned? Surely one parrot bite to this are will damage it beyond repair.
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Re: Flight Harness

Postby Michael » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:53 am

A) The parrot should be TRAINED so that the harness is a backup for good training and not the other way around.
B) I've had Kili's for like 3 years now, no problem.
C) In proportion to the size/strength of the bird it's plenty
D) The bird can't really reach it for chewing if you use it right. They can only chew the harness bits on their body (which are stronger) and the remaining harness line and shock cord hang below this. See photos/videos of my parrots with harness and you'll see how it hangs.
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Michael
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Flight: Yes

Re: Flight Harness

Postby Paul » Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:07 am

Hi Michael,
How did you solve the problem of Kili chewing on the harness? I have just read this post and I am having the exact same problem.
I thought about just leaving the harness on her for a while to get used to it and realise she can't chew it off, but wouldn't that just teach her to chew it for fun? If I allow her to do it for a while, she might learn that she enjoys it and chew it even more.
Even when we are walking around she chews on it periodically. If she is perched on my finger and begins chewing it, I twist my hand to throw her off balance a little. This works but not for long (also I am a little worried she will start to dislike perching on my hand if I continue doing this).
She chews it periodically usually for up to half an hour. After that point she is focused on nothing but chewing it.
If I am not continuously distracting her she starts chewing at her harness.

From watching your videos on YouTube, your birds don't seem bothered by the harness at all, so I presume you managed to overcome this problem.
Please, tell me how ya did it!
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