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Fetch training

Exchange information about how to teach specific tricks to parrots. Most of these techniques should apply to all bird species. Share your success stories.

Fetch training

Postby marie83 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:04 pm

Just started this today with Ollie who I think was far far too enthusiastic trying to earn treats.
So day 1, spent the first few minutes experimenting with white wiffle balls, the hoops from his ring stacker and a cat ball with a bell in it to see if I could get him to hold any.

The wiffle balls got him over excited and aggressive, he took them the first few times then thought my finger was better to grab- not the best start as this is what I tried first.

The cat ball was my second option and a much better success, he would grab it, shake it up and down, then drop it into the bowl. For some reason after the first few times he started to drop it, caught it in his foot, shook it again with his foot, then dropped it into the bowl which entertained my bf greatly.

I also tried him with the rings earlier on in the session but he wasn't interested in holding them, it was only after he caught on that I wanted him to hold the objects I was giving him that he decided they were quite easy to hold and drop after all so we eventually stopped using the cat ball as I only had one and he kept flying down to the floor after it, plus I didn't want to keep having to pick it up and turn it into a game of me doing the fetching.

So we did the first few ensuring that I caught the object every single time, using click and reward.
after a while of that I started letting him miss the odd one as I wanted him to make the link between dropping it and dropping it into the bowl. This didn't seem to work as well as I hoped though and I am not sure if he is making the association or not as a few attempts seemed quite deliberate but even at the end of the session he was doing alot of random drops and sometimes throws.
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Re: Fetch training

Postby cml » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:31 pm

marie83 wrote:Just started this today with Ollie who I think was far far too enthusiastic trying to earn treats.
So day 1, spent the first few minutes experimenting with white wiffle balls, the hoops from his ring stacker and a cat ball with a bell in it to see if I could get him to hold any.

The wiffle balls got him over excited and aggressive, he took them the first few times then thought my finger was better to grab- not the best start as this is what I tried first.

The cat ball was my second option and a much better success, he would grab it, shake it up and down, then drop it into the bowl. For some reason after the first few times he started to drop it, caught it in his foot, shook it again with his foot, then dropped it into the bowl which entertained my bf greatly.

I also tried him with the rings earlier on in the session but he wasn't interested in holding them, it was only after he caught on that I wanted him to hold the objects I was giving him that he decided they were quite easy to hold and drop after all so we eventually stopped using the cat ball as I only had one and he kept flying down to the floor after it, plus I didn't want to keep having to pick it up and turn it into a game of me doing the fetching.

So we did the first few ensuring that I caught the object every single time, using click and reward.
after a while of that I started letting him miss the odd one as I wanted him to make the link between dropping it and dropping it into the bowl. This didn't seem to work as well as I hoped though and I am not sure if he is making the association or not as a few attempts seemed quite deliberate but even at the end of the session he was doing alot of random drops and sometimes throws.

Just keep going, I am sure he'll get it. I am trying to introduce this trick to Leroy atm as well, but have only just begun to show him the coin, bowl and shot glass we use for it!
Stitch (WFA) and Leroy (BWP)
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Re: Fetch training

Postby marie83 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:37 pm

Lol that made me laugh about the shot glass. Will you update your progress too if you have time? Would be interesting to compare notes :)
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Pineapple Green Cheek Conure
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Re: Fetch training

Postby Andromeda » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:51 pm

It can take days or weeks. Once he would pick up the object and drop it (which in and of itself took a few sessions) it only took my GCC 1 day (three 5-minute sessions) to go from just dropping it to understanding he needed to drop it in the receptacle.

My Poi, on the other hand, has been doing maybe a week or so now worth of drop, click, reward and miss, no reward and he doesn't get it yet. However he is moody and some days he won't participate at all; I am lucky if I can get in 1 session so it's just slow going with him but he has made tons of progress since I started about 3 weeks ago and he will get there!

The important thing is to catch it several times in a row and then miss a few times. When you test to see if he understands, hold the receptacle slightly to the left sometimes and other times slightly to the right to mix it up and if he misses just go back to catching it a few times. You will definitely get some seemingly-deliberate drops but once he really understands you'll know for sure because he will pretty much drop it in the receptacle every time whether you hold it to the left or right.

marie83 wrote:...so we eventually stopped using the cat ball as I only had one and he kept flying down to the floor after it, plus I didn't want to keep having to pick it up and turn it into a game of me doing the fetching.


Good catch because it pretty easily just becomes a game of "make the human fetch" if you are using just one object. It's best to have several of whatever object you're using to avoid that.

I know some people teach this with a ball but that's kind of iffy because a ball rolls and a bird can get a kick out of just watching the ball roll when it hits the ground. Rings, coins, etc. that don't roll or bounce are a better choice.
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Re: Fetch training

Postby marie83 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:10 pm

Trust me we lost a few rings under the sofa, table and tv unit tonight from them rolling lol, Ollie has a knack of dropping them on their side.
Honestly though I think Ollie did really really well for the first session, particuarly as he was going crackers to be fed the treats, not only treats but most of his evening meal too as I was worried he was getting too many treats, luckily he will work for anything. The other thing is he normally loses interest at the 15-20 minute mark but today there was no stopping him, I had to call time on the session and he was pestering to carry on, lol.
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Re: Fetch training

Postby marie83 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:57 am

Just spent another 25 minutes working on this with the rings.

Basicly we repeated yesterdays work. I think he is starting to catch on a little bit now but that could be my wishful thinking.

We did have some success with him moving towards the bowl. The successes seemed to occur more on his right side than his left but we did have some left side sucesses too. The rest of the time he either dropped it straight down which is where the bowl was sometimes but not all the time, on other occasions he seemed to throw it towards the bowl rather than carry it over, most of the time missing the bowl but sometimes getting it in.

I don't really want to encourage the throwing behaviour so I was a bit in 2 minds about whether to reward for it, on one hand it went in the bowl and he was obviously trying to throw it in that direction but on the other hand it was sheer luck as to whether he got it in or missed the bowl.
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Pineapple Green Cheek Conure
Flight: Yes

Re: Fetch training

Postby marie83 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:20 pm

Ollies definitely getting the hang of it more now. We practiced again for around 10 minutes this evening, he is still funny about going to place it at his left hand side though. Directly in front or to his right is almost perfect now, even if I move the dish further away, at a guess I would say 98% success rate at short distance.
Not sure what it is about his left though, he kind of has the right idea and always moves left but tends to drop it immediately or throw it, I would say we only had a 25-40% success rate there, again thats a guess.
I've tried to practice both sides equally at this stage as I want him to realise its putting the hoop in the bowl is what counts. Tomorrow I may focus more on encouraging him to work on his left side, would this be ok at this stage?
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Pineapple Green Cheek Conure
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Re: Fetch training

Postby cml » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:59 pm

Sounds good! Leroy is a bit slow, but I am sure we will get there. Rather than moving towards the bowl, he's started to move away from it, so he can play with the coin ^^. Not so good, but I can see that he's giving it hard thought as to why I click and reward when he drops the coin in the bowl.

I agree with you Andromeda, it can take weeks or minutes, with Stitch it didnt take long at all, a day or so I think, but with Leroy I think we are looking at weeks. They've got different strengths =).
Stitch (WFA) and Leroy (BWP)
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Re: Fetch training

Postby marie83 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:12 pm

I think Ollie is going to take much longer with this than other tricks, mainly because I think he is trying to rush everything. As i said yesterday he is really over enthusiastic at the moment and not really considering what is happening. I've tried slowing down myself to give him time to register things better but he is just getting impatient and starts trying to step in the bowl or yank it out my hand if I dont move it away or he will keep flying on to me if I'm not fast enough.

We have stlll only had 3 sessions though so I feel progress is still good, its got me asking questions about wheres best to go as well. For example to I still reward in certain situation, if so at what point do I withdraw the reward for it? Should I practice left hand drops or leave it at 50/50 for the next session? With everything else I've taught (except my very very first post about target training) there hasn't been any questions as he took to it like a duck to water.
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Pineapple Green Cheek Conure
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Re: Fetch training

Postby Andromeda » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:54 pm

marie83 wrote:The other thing is he normally loses interest at the 15-20 minute mark but today there was no stopping him, I had to call time on the session and he was pestering to carry on, lol.


LOL! I am a bit jealous of Ollie's attention span! I am lucky if I can get 10 minutes out of Bubba although I noticed that he is willing to train longer for pasta. I don't want to start using pasta all the time because I don't want a fat bird, though... I bought some "healthier" pasta at the store which is made from brown rice and vegetables and I'm going to see if he's as interested in that as regular pasta and if he is I'll train with the rice pasta and hopefully get longer sessions.

marie83 wrote:Directly in front or to his right is almost perfect now, even if I move the dish further away, at a guess I would say 98% success rate at short distance. ... I've tried to practice both sides equally at this stage as I want him to realise its putting the hoop in the bowl is what counts. Tomorrow I may focus more on encouraging him to work on his left side, would this be ok at this stage?


If he's putting it in the dish with a 98% success rate he might know the trick. Test to see if he does by placing it on a surface with the rings just in front of it and see if he'll put the rings in the dish. Give him a few shots before you decide because he might not do it the first time but may the second or third.

If he doesn't "get it" you can just go back to what you were doing but if he continues to actually place the rings in the dish while you're holding it keep testing his progress from time to time by placing the dish and the rings in front of him on the table to see if he understands.

marie83 wrote:For example to I still reward in certain situation, if so at what point do I withdraw the reward for it? Should I practice left hand drops or leave it at 50/50 for the next session?


Reward as long as the ring makes it into the dish.

Since you've only done three sessions I'd do another session or two of 50/50 because once he really "gets it" he'll put the ring in the dish whether you hold it to the left or the right. If after another session or two he's really strong on the right but weak on the left you could work on the left more.
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