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Bird only does tricks for treats!

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

Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Cresseliaaaa » Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:30 pm

For example I've been trying to teach him (2 yr old Indian ringneck parrot) to put his harness on for almost a week now.
I put the target stick on the other side of the head hole and he puts his head through fine. I remove the target stick and make him wait a few minutes then click and treat but then he tries to pull his head out immediately.

He also won't do tricks unless it's training time either! ie. when I try to grab him.

HALP!
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Cresseliaaaa
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Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Wolf » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:13 pm

Hi and welcome to the forum. I would love to help you but I am not sure what the problem is. So far the only specific indication that I have to go on is the title of your post, that your parrot only does tricks at training time and then only for payment( treats). So I will go with that for now.
Most parrots do tricks for treats and if they don't get a treat they won't perform, smart birds. Would you perform for free? Would you go to work and do the job that you have if they did not reward you for your efforts(pay you)? I will bet not! This is much the same thing with your parrot, and it is intelligent enough to know this. Michael has his parrots trained to do tricks and when they perform they get treats, the only difference, perhaps, is the number of tricks that they will do between treats, and that is just a matter of training. If you want your parrot to do more than one trick before you give it a treat then you just have to train it to do so. Start by rewarding the bird after the first trick with a brief praise and head scratch and quickly move on to the second trick or at first have your bird do the same trick a second time before you give it the treat. Then after it does two tricks before looking for the treat ask for three tricks before giving the treat.
I don't have any specific time set aside for training as I work with them anytime that they are out and they are out of their cage a lot. So if they will only do tricks at a certain time of day, you could try varying the training times. They won't know what you want of them unless you teach them what you want, but they will generally want something in return for doing trick as they don't really have any interest in doing then to begin with.
I hope this helps, let me know.
Wolf
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Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Cresseliaaaa » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:22 pm

So for several tricks he gets a treat. Would I still use the clicker after every trick?

He also doesnt like to be trained anywhere but his perch.
He won't do tricks on my hand, or from flat surfaces like my bed or a bench top.
I understand his perch is his safe haven but even when he's not scared on these other surfaces he will fly back to his perch.
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Cresseliaaaa
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Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Michael » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:40 pm

Simply put they will only ever do tricks for treats or else why should they do them? The illusion of it being just for the heck of it can come from thin variable ratio reinforcement schedules or for conditioned reinforcers that lead to primary ones.
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Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby liz » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:48 pm

Why do you need him to do tricks?
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Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Michael » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:52 pm

Some "tricks" ar important for the bird's health and well-being. Being able to step up so cage can be cleaned, putting on harness to go outside, etc are greatly beneficial to the bird. Other "cute" tricks tsch the bird how to learn and provide mental challenges. Trick training is mental exercise much like how flying is physical exercise. Unlike foraging toys, trick training is cute or beneficial to the owner whereas foraging toys are expensive and once the bird figures it out, becomes too easy.
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Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Wolf » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:11 pm

I would not use the clicker until you are going to give the treat, but you need to look at this as training too. He is used to doing one trick and then getting a treat, so you must start with two tricks and then click and give the treat.
If you want him to do tricks fro on your bed then you will have to train him to do this as well. If you have one, I would use a tabletop perch placed on the bed to begin with as you have only trained him to do tricks from his perch. You need to get him accustomed to the bed, and then train him to do a trick while on the bed. In your circumstance, when he is just on the bed and not on a perch start with targeting him from one point on the bed to the next point and I would keep the distance to where he would walk between these points.
To tell you the truth it is beginning to sound to me like from the time that you got him that you focused on training him to target and then on to tricks instead of focusing on some just bonding activities.
Why don't you take a little bit of time to tell me about your bird. What is your birds name? Do you know how old he is? How long has he been with you? What is his daily routine like, I mean what does he do with himself all day long? How much time does he have out of his cage each day? How would you describe your relationship with him? What is his favorite food?
Parrots are not like dogs or cats and due to their intelligence they have different mental and emotional needs. Like for example my birds favorite perch is me and that is where they head as soon as their cages are opened. They will perch on me and kiss and talk and sing and dance for as long as I will let them. If I have something to eat they want to at least try it even if they don't like it, they will always take a piece, if I let them. They are so funny as if I don't offer them a piece then they will watch for any opportunity to try and steal a piece of it. Same if I have something in my hands such as a pen or pencil or if I am working on a piece of jewelry or making a toy or carving a piece of wood, they have to inspect it and try to get it from me. I have to have other things that are safe for them available for them that resembles whatever I have otherwise they want mine. Two of them really love almonds, but not my Grey. No, she has to have pistachios and they have got to be the ones in the shell or she will toss it across the room.
Wolf
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Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Cresseliaaaa » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:14 pm

I'll try giving him treats every few tricks and see how he goes.

And by "tricks" I mean teaching him things that will benefit him and his safety like grabbing or putting his harness on. He learnt to open his wings, wave, shake, turn and fly to me in a few weeks so he is very smart it's just close contact things he gets nervous about.

Grabbing and harness training he only does during training time and also tries to writher out or get away as soon as he gets the treat unfortunately.

Thanks community and Michael for taking the time to help me with my little problem!
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Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Wolf » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:32 pm

It concerns me a bit that he is not bonding to you properly as illustrated by the fact that he is worried about the close contact things and that he prefers to be elsewhere rather than with you. Now I have invited you to be more open and you ignored that and I am fine with that. But I would wager that fairly soon you are going to begin to have the sort of issues with him that can only be repaired by going back to build the bond that should already exist and one of the first indicators is that he will become more reluctant to perform for you even when you offer his favorite treats. And that is what I was trying to get enough information to keep from happening, but I will let it go. Good luck.
Wolf
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Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 8679
Location: Lansing, NC
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African Grey (CAG)
Yellow Naped Amazon
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Budgie
Flight: Yes

Re: Bird only does tricks for treats!

Postby Cresseliaaaa » Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:08 pm

Well Wolf,
5 main things to know before I get talking:
1. He/she is too young to sex (I'll call him a he)
2. The breeder claimed he was born with a foot deformity which I'll explain at the end
3. He was hand-reared but left in the pet shop for a few weeks til my friend bought him
4. He has two cages.
- Day cage - located outside, fit for a macaw (tall and wide), several perches of different thickness's/lengths/directions, a few toys (he doesn't play with them, just nice to look at), a teaspoon of pellets, water and a treat bowl for nuts/berries etc. As for fruits and veggies I tie them to the cage bars with cable ties (which he doesn't chew)
There is also a towel which covers half the top of the cage and a little of the side for shade so he can choose where to go.
- Night cage/training perch - located inside, has an open-top where his perch fits, his fruits/veggies are tied to the cage top, inside has two sticks, some pellets and water Considering this cage is MUCH smaller than the outside cage and its only for sleeping/training it has minimal entertainment (1 decoration) and fewer sticks.
5. My father is a big lover of birds. When he was younger he studied every bird throughout Australia and travelled the country to bird watch.
Considering he doesn't want the responsibility of owning a bird, he takes advantage that his daughter has one, how? He tries 'helping' with my bird eg, he takes him outside in his night cage at 6am because he considers Sasuke being in bed til 8am 'cruel' :|, he feeds him things he should have in moderation like fruit and dates too often, Sasuke has flown away (not too far) because my father tried to bring him inside with him on his finger as "he is scared of hurting Sasuke by grabbing him too hard.. "
I've even caught him letting Sasuke "try cheese". Thankfully Sasuke didn't eat any, dad claims he "liked the texture".
Its not that he is uneducated on birds (he studied Sasuke's species whilst he was at work..) he just doesn't understand food moderation or how to handle pet birds.

Now answering your questions:
My bird's name is Sasuke, he is just over a year old, he has been with me since last October.
His training routine is dependant on when I work:

If I'm not working his routine is training at 8am (as mentioned above, father wakes him up and puts his night cage outside at 6-7am.. *sigh) for 10-30 minutes due to him getting distracted if the session is too long.
He still remains out of the cage after training is over for 'resting time'. I give him different foods to nibble on like lettuce, snow peas, broccoli etc (not very filling foods while he rests) then we train again 1-2 more times for the same amount of time, sometimes longer as he is hungry and more motivated. During his resting period he usual grooms, flies to different parts of my room (good for strengthening his poor weak wings from clipping!), naps a little, eats or climbs around on things.

By this time the sun is close to my room outside which is where his "out-door cage" is.
I put him here til around mid-day/late afternoon so he gets his daily vitamin D and can talk to the other birds.
He gets about a teaspoon of pellets, then sometimes gets some nuts ie. cashews, almonds, walnuts, occasionally a section of fruit or a few berries like raspberries, blueberries, half a strawberry or a section of green apple. Then his low cal stuff like snow peas, beans, corn, broccoli, carrot, salad mix. On occasion I put in something new like oats, banana etc

Mid-day/late afternoon he comes back in for 2 more training sessions (like the morning) then has relaxing time til bed which is around 7:30pm - 8pm.

If I'm working he can only be trained 2 times in the late afternoon which doesn't seem to phase him as he is just as excited for training as he would be in the morning (either its the berries or he is excited to see me haha). After training he gets his usual relax time which he is usually very placid since its night time when they wind down, then he gets put to bed at the usual 7:30pm - 8pm.
He generally climbs around the cage for 10 minutes before he accepts its bed time then sleeps.

SIDE NOTES:
- Sasuke was fortunately and unfortunately a gift from a friend (animals shouldn't be gifts, they're a responsibility) since my elderly peach-face passed away mid last year.

- Work didn't roster me on often when I first acquired Sasuke. I'd be working three days a week minimum and for 5 hours either 7am - 12pm or 3pm - 7pm so I did spend a lot of time with Sasuke.

- Although he was accustomed to humans he was obviously in a new environment (two in fact - outside cage and sleep/training cage) so I eased him into my household with out-of-cage time, walking around my house, introducing parents/ people and noises (vacuum, blender) which he coped with well, never flew away once, (he knew how to step up and wasn't any trouble on my shoulder) and he adapted in less than a week.
After the week was done and he appeared comfortable and attentive I started clicker training, introduced the target stick, then more intimate/close contact training with my hands ie, placing my hand on his back, fingers under his neck etc etc all while training small tricks in between like putting wings up, waving, flight training etc.

- Sasuke knows how to: wave, shake, turn/360, put wings up and fly to me and back to his perch in short distances. He will put his head through his harness until he gets a treat then he will try and get out, and with grabbing he will let me grab him sometimes (by sometimes I mean he will see my hand coming and try and run for it haha) and only during training.
Sasuke hasn't bitten me since the first week he was with me either, he only pushes my fingers/hand away or nips if he doesn't like what I'm doing.

- The friend that purchased him (pet shop worker) clipped his right wing which I'm furious about. He is still a strong flier (flies a short distance to me and back to his perch no problem) and the feathers are growing back nicely.

- Considering I'm a vet nurse and work at an animal hospital (unfortunately we don't have any bird specialists where I work - closest is an hour away) he has minor health checks etc.

- With his deformity, his right foots's back toe is permanently forward with his front two toes (think like he's permanently gripping something) and the breeder claimed he was born with the deformity.
On vet inspection at my hospital it was clear he could still use the foot/toe and grip as strong as the other foot. When perching/lifting one foot up he tends to balance on the deformed foot and raise the normal foot up. He is just a little wobbly and cant react too fast to things like when shouldering and I move around to fast but besides this he can use the deformed foot almost as well as his other foot.
At my hospital we attempted to create a make-shift orthopaedic fixture using some rolled up cardboard which we placed onto his foot so he gripped it like a normal foot, then bandaged it and left it on for a week. Unfortunately upon taking off the bandage all he got was an itchy foot, the toe was not fixed.
The vets claim it is a perfectly fine deformity, just aesthetically it looks unappealing.
We could amputate but its truly unnecessary .



With that, I apologise for the essay but Wolf you wanted a full analysis on my bird hah.
It wouldn't let me upload any photos :(
Ps. Michael, I'm currently reading your book and I just wanted to say its truly inspiring.
Any questions or improvements on my bird I'm all ears!!
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Cresseliaaaa
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 18
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Indian Ringneck Parrot
Flight: No

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