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Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

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Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby Suzzique » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:25 am

Martini is 4 1/2. My youngest daughter is Martini's "mate" he will let her do anything to him. She is also the only one that can pick him up and put him back on his cage with her hand. He has nipped her a few times but never drawn blood. I am pretty sure that I am the rivil and that is where most of the aggresion comes from. Concidering the time of year that could be the sorce of the ramped up aggresion. Martini is very cage aggressive and I have learned to work around this. No Martini hadn't been naping.
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Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby pchela » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:22 pm

There is a parrot behaviorist named Barbara Heindrich who is like a miracle worker. I've seen a video of her working with a very aggressive macaw and in a few sessions she has him on his back allowing her to clip his nails. She's really very good. Anyway, she has several videos but I'm attaching a link to her site. You just click on your issue and she'll email you information. Maybe there will be something helpful concerning Martinis biting in there. http://www.goodbirdinc.com/parrot-behav ... blems.html
"I bet the sparrow looks at the parrot and thinks, yes, you can talk, but LISTEN TO YOURSELF!" ~ Jack Handy ~ Deep Thoughts
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Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby Suzzique » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:34 am

Thanks I will look into that. There is a behaviorist on another forum that I go to that has died a bit. I finally found her email and have emailed her. I am now just waiting to hopefully hear back. If things get to bad I will call my vet and see if they know of a local behaviorist. I think a lot of the more recent stuff is due to hormones. But I could still use some new stratagies in the mean time.
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Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby Suzzique » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:24 pm

I heard back from my friend and here is what she said.

Sooooo he gets along with everyone except you??? If so you are dealing with a bully!!!! If that is the case you have two options....

1) trick training works wonders!!!!!! it will help you to build a working relationship with him. It is obvious that he sees you as a rival. So if you change the dynamics of the relationship, you will alter how he sees you. Trick training turns emotional bonds into working bonds which is healthier. A working bond gives him the chance to use his brain and be rewarded for it. Instead of using his hormones and bitting. Once he establishes a working bond he will no longer see you as a threat.

2) establish dominance, show him that you will not take any of his crap. if he bites at dinner, than he spends dinner in the cage. If he bites you when no one is around than he is not allowed out when you are alone, and so on......

the second option will work depending on the bird, some birds learn very quickly and readjust their actions, others are too pig headed to get it, and it will make the problem worse. I suggest trick training, but have more often then not used the second method. Sometimes you need to establish the dominance first and trick train second. It all depends on the bird.

A parrot has the right not to like you, but that does not mean they have the right to abuse you. What needs to change is your behavior, not his. Both options do this. It will jsut be a matter of which works best for him. Maybe some combo of the two????

Sense we already do the second suggestion I am going with the first.
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Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby Michael » Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:22 pm

Actually what is seems like you are describing is really neither trick training nor dominance. It is actually just operant conditioning through 1) Positive Reinforcement and 2) Negative Punishment. This is a good point that many other trainers and I have been saying for a while.

The problem with punishment (and you can read some discussions we had about that here) is that it can cause the parrot to be fearful of you, not want to come to you, more aggressive, not understand the relationship between behavior/consequence, and that it does not necessarily avert the behavior. Furthermore, for people like me with flighted parrots, punishment is often not even possible because the parrot will fly away and not give you the opportunity to administer punishment.

Positive reinforcement on the other hand will guarantee that the parrot sticks around to get reinforced. The pitfall of positive reinforcement training is that it can only encourage desired behaviors but really cannot prohibit unwanted behavior. This is why you spoke of dominance which is the only deterrent to undesired behavior. The difference is that you basically can't screw up positive reinforcement based training. Perhaps you might not get results as effective as you'd like but you won't have the bird fleeing or attacking you. With so called dominance (which is really just punishing the parrot), if done incorrectly, it can/will jeopardize your relationship and could get you hurt as well.

I recommend positive reinforcement based training to beginners because you almost can't screw up and it won't hurt the bird/relationship if you do. This is why I like to emphasize target training as the first way of getting your parrot to come to you and step up. You are thus empowering the bird to make its own decision and since it WANTS TO step up for the target stick/treat, it will not bite because it was not forced into the situation. This stuff really works.

You said to teach tricks and that is the easiest/most fun way of doing it. However, the important aspect of this is not the trick itself (when it comes to building trust/relationship) but the fact that you develop a way to request/teach behavior, the parrot exhibit it, and you reinforce it. Someone could have the best behaved parrot without ever teaching a formal trick. The important thing is to condition behavior. Tricks are just the most fun way of doing it for us.

I still do believe that flooding, punishment (so called dominance), and negative reinforcement can be useful tools for trainers. However, they are so delicate, complicated, and risky that I really do not recommend their use to anyone who is not well established with their parrot and knows what they are doing.
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Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby Suzzique » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:59 pm

I am not a newbie to parrots I've had birds for about 11 years. All have been well mannered for the most part. Punishment is just a trip to the cage for a time out after doing something that they should not be doing. This includes bitting. That's it no more. So they know we aren't kidding when they do something bad but it's not tramatizing. If they fly away we just follow them until they stop and step up. It might take a few trips.

This is why my friend was basicly so short with her answer. She know's I know what I'm doing and was not worried that I would not understand what she was saying.

Buy trick training Martini it changes the dynamic of our relationship. It's not because he is not well behaved. My daughter is his LOVE I am the rivil. So I have to change how he sees me. In meny ways he is better behaved than Alex.

By trick training Alex it is a way to get him to do more complex things than he already does pretty much on his own. Alex is extreamly smart and a goof ball. So he does a lot of stuff all on his own without me having showen him how. In 10 minutes this afternoon he went from touching the stick to retriving a ball and giving it to me. Though with the ball it is a game he had already invented to play with me. The only difference now is I can get him to do it when I ask not just when he feels like playing that game.

I don't mean to sound rude but really don't just assume that someone doesn't have a clue when they are asking for help or suggestions. Unless they clearly state such. Even the "experts" can learn something from the amitures. :)
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Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby widdle01 » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:18 pm

Hi, one of the reasons that the Senegal bites when it is on the floor is because it feels vulnerable, mine won't even go onto the floor, it scares her to much. Preditors will get them if they are down low, and it is instinct for them to be up high. Widdle likes the highest spot in the room and the highest shoulder to be on.
Jeanette

windharper wrote:In the presence of the bird or not, I'd agree preferably not, but I still think the broom needs to go. Placing something else on top of the spot where Bailey chews might be able to stop him from chewing there.

There's no easy solution, however, I think Mona is doing the right stuff like wearing shoes. If you show the bird that biting feet won't do anything, it will learn not to bite. The shoes allow you to do so without fear or hurt. Once the bird stops, you can go without shoes and hopefully it won't remember difference between with or without shoes.


I agree.

I have noticed that Senegals can get quite roused up and aggressive when on the floor. Sometimes Kili will hop around with her shoulders high and bite the first thing she sees. What is it about the floor and Senegal Biting? Is it their insecurity of being low that drives a bite or flight response down there?


All Senegals? Very interesting...and not my experience with Tamber at all. When he's on the floor he will come over to me and physically pull himself up along my clothing. Nothing violent. If I am not close, he will go over to the highest thing he thinks he can climb...again no aggression. It does pose for some interesting acrobatics at times. :D

Deb
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Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby widdle01 » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:26 pm

Hi, I have a Seny and it can get very agressive when playing, especially games like catch the finger and so on. She can be very nippy especially now when the hormones are starting up for Spring. It is important to have something in your hand that you can put into her beak, mine loves balsa wood. Other woods are to hard for her. And she loves to chew rice cakes make with no salt. Just a couple ideas. I enjoy playing with her, and I know when I do I will have a couple holes after, but it is fun and gives her this outlet that she enjoys. Playtime can be serious for animals that are preyed on. It is also a teaching time. They learn to defend themselves. If you have ever watched cats play you see what I mean. These are wild animals no matter how you look at it. And they have those instincts still in them. To protect themselves and defend thenselves. A parrot will bite the person it is on if it is trying to get that person to flee, as it feels danger and wants to protect its loved one. If my nephew comes to close, my bird will bite me. We think it is strange behavior, but the bird thinks it is protecting you by telling you to flee the danger, like a beaver tail slap.
love my birdie, jeanette

Suzzique wrote:Martini is 4 1/2. My youngest daughter is Martini's "mate" he will let her do anything to him. She is also the only one that can pick him up and put him back on his cage with her hand. He has nipped her a few times but never drawn blood. I am pretty sure that I am the rivil and that is where most of the aggresion comes from. Concidering the time of year that could be the sorce of the ramped up aggresion. Martini is very cage aggressive and I have learned to work around this. No Martini hadn't been naping.
widdle01
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 5
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal
Flight: Yes

Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby widdle01 » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:27 pm

Hi, I have a Seny and it can get very agressive when playing, especially games like catch the finger and so on. She can be very nippy especially now when the hormones are starting up for Spring. It is important to have something in your hand that you can put into her beak, mine loves balsa wood. Other woods are to hard for her. And she loves to chew rice cakes make with no salt. Just a couple ideas. I enjoy playing with her, and I know when I do I will have a couple holes after, but it is fun and gives her this outlet that she enjoys. Playtime can be serious for animals that are preyed on. It is also a teaching time. They learn to defend themselves. If you have ever watched cats play you see what I mean. These are wild animals no matter how you look at it. And they have those instincts still in them. To protect themselves and defend thenselves. A parrot will bite the person it is on if it is trying to get that person to flee, as it feels danger and wants to protect its loved one. If my nephew comes to close, my bird will bite me. We think it is strange behavior, but the bird thinks it is protecting you by telling you to flee the danger, like a beaver tail slap.
love my birdie, jeanette
widdle01
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 5
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal
Flight: Yes

Re: Senegal Parrot Biting and Aggression Issues

Postby widdle01 » Sun Feb 28, 2010 3:37 pm

Hi, I just want to add here that Senegals are known for a game they play. I call it scratch and play. They tilt their neck for scratchers and then try to catch your finger. Mine plays it at times, and it is so funny. You have to be on gaurd for this game. Sometimes I can tell when she is going to do it from the look in her eyes, feisty look. other times I can't but I am always aware and try to be faster then her. lol
That being said the other thing is that my Seny is very teritoral of her cage and I am very careful not to put my hand into her cage unless I know it is ok. Treats are ok to come in, lol
but if I reach into her cage to pet her, I know I may get bit. Once she is out that goes away, but she is nippy now due to hormones. Try to have things ready for that beak, balsa wood, and rice cakes with no salt are fun for them to chew on instead of fingers. This time of year she can become almost un-handleable, due to hormones for Spring. If the bird is acting out and you want to keep your finges , let ithem perch for awhile and leave them alone. Mine has a perch on top of her cage and she will sit up there and preen.
Jeanette


Mona wrote:Hi guys:

I ran into a friend yesterday who had a 15 year old male Senegal that just bit her. This bird preferred her husband. When she reached into the cage to pet the bird, the bird "sucker punched" her and bit her. In other words, he asked to be scratched and then he bit her.

I wanted to give her some ideas to modify the problem and I did not have a lot of time to chat so I brought up the usual "use positive reinforcement to train"....but I don't think that advice is always meaningful to people - especially when you are discussing Senegals. She said that her bird is flighted and is caged part of the time but lately, he has taken to running across the room at her with an "attack" posture.

I say "use positive reinforcement" because it comes to mind quickly but I think that the reason that advising "use positive reinforcment" to somebody who is dealing with a bird like a Senegal doesn't help is because people believe that they ARE using positive reinforcement. They ARE giving the bird treats. They ARE being nice to the bird and then, for no apparent reason, the bird bites. In some circumstances, the bird attacks and then bites.

Senegals have a quick bite or flight reflex. They are also intelligent and manipulative and have a high developed social acumen. They also have big heads and can be very hard headed. Once they make up their minds about something, it is difficult to change them....however; you can distract them and THIS can be a useful tool for modifying biting behaviors.

My friend is not the only "senegal caretaker" that gets bit. I am having a problem right now. Bailey (male Senegal, at least 14 years old) has been chewing on the carpet in the bird room. He also wants to chew on the door to the outside of the bird room. For a while, I have successfully tackled the problem by putting an aversive (broom) in front of the door when the birds are all out of their cages. Bailey avoids the broom and therefore; avoids the door HOWEVER lately, the broom has changed its properties. Bailey no longer avoids the broom but INSTEAD he attacks the broom. He full out flies at it and starts chewing the bristles. Not only is he attacking the broom, he is going after my feet. I have to wear shoes in the bird room because he does not back down. He runs, bites, hangs on and fights with my shoes......

None of this is good...and I don't want to reinforce ANY of these behaviors but...he is such a stubborn little critter, it's hard to come up with ideas to modify these problem behaviors without taking away his freedom.....

This is interesting because I can see how other people might have to confront these sorts of problem behaviors that have no apparent catalyst and I can see how difficult it is to work with them.

I have two theories as to the catalyst for the "attack" behaviors in Bailey's case:
1) He really wants out of the bird room. He really wants to come out and sit on my husband's shoulder and hang out with people rather than birds.
2) Chewing on the carpet is also satisfying some sort of a nesting urge for him. In the wild, the male Senegal protects the hen and the nest so chewing on something like a carpet probably "ups" aggressive tendencies..(If he was living in an environment with predators, this is very functional behavior - it's just not so functional in our living environment)

SO.......what to do? What to do?

My first concern is that he could start to see me as ALWAYS being an object to attack. If he attacks my foot and I allow him to continue with this behavior and I try to "kick him off" or use some other tactic that "ups the aggression level" he may change his view of me from being his ally to being a threat and that is definitely not good.....so, my first concern is to absolutely mitigate the possibility that this could escallate into that....

Here is where Positive Reinforcement is key. Positive Reinforcement is "reinforcing the behaviors that you do want".

What behavior do I want? I want Bailey to see me as an ally. I want him to look at me with soft round eyes and I want him to be gentle in my presence.

In other words, if I want to modify the behavior the first thing that I need to do is make a list of the things that I DO want rather than focusing on what I don't want. Then, I need to come up with a plan to reinforce the behaviors that I do want....

What is the first step in that plan?

For Bailey, I took out a ladder and asked him to step up on it. I often step Bailey up on a ladder to take him to places that he wants to go.....the kitchen sink for a drink, the portable perch for a nut, and on this day, out of the bird room. I know he wants out of the bird room so I know that his behaviors will be reinforced by the simple action of removing him from the bird room.

So, the first step was: Ask Bailey to step up....but gently and without aggression.

That step up behavior, performed gently without aggression is KEY and once I get it, I NEVER take it for granted. It's an important behavior that needs to be reinforced, reinforced, reinforced. Why? Because it is a gentle, cooperative behavior.

Bailey did step up gently on the ladder. I was either lucky that day OR (and I believe this) because he had a positive association with stepping up on the ladder over days and years of work with him, the simple act of stepping on the ladder mitigated his aggressive tendencies.

Once Bailey was on the ladder, I took him out of the room...but now the question was, "What do I do with him now?" I didn't want him flying on my husband or flying up into the rafters or chewing up some object in our dining room....so, what to do? What to do?

Second question: What behaviors do I want to reinforce now he Bailey is out of the bird room?

Well.... the first thing I want to keep reinforcing is gentle, cooperation. If he is gentle and his eyes are round and soft, that is half the battle. In other words, I simply want TO REINFORCE GENTLE INTERACTIONS WITH ME. He already likes my husband but I want him to be attentive and gentle when he is with me. I also don't want him to fly away. In the past, out of the blue, this bird has taken a good look at me, let out a crazy scream and flown across the room to a high perch. This is a behavior that signals insecurity and with Bailey, it happens unexpectedly.

So again, instead of thinking about what I want to avoid or stop, the key to effective behavior modification is to focus on WHAT DO I WANT TO REINFORCE.

How do I reinforce gentle, cooperative interactions with Bailey? Well....reinforcing cued behaviors is a great start. You can reinforce a wave. You can reinforce a turnaround. Bailey likes to be target flown. He likes to fly back and forth between the backs of the chairs. I cue, he flies, I give him a treat.....so, we do this for about five or ten minutes. He gets lots of treats. He morphs into a calm, relaxed demeanor and.....HE FORGETS ABOUT BEING AGGRESSIVE.

Senegals are emotional gremlins but in my experience, those emotions are transitive. My hen will throw little "snit fits" and the next minute, completely forget about it. Once the emotion is over, it is over.

SO...That's about it. I didn't escalate the aggressive scenario and instead, I reinforced a calm, cooperative scenario and in time....poof...the catalyst for the aggression dissipates and Bailey's a nice, calm bird....

and at that point, I can take him back in the bird room....find a favorite toy (for Bailey, it's plastic bubble wrap) and leave him in there without watching his every move. So...he gets to keep his freedom....

This is not a quick fix solution. It is always a process. I have not eliminated the problem behavior and there is always the chance that it will morph into something new - which can either be highly acceptable behavior or highly annoying....BUT....either way, my shoe and the broom get to survive another day!

Any body else have success stories on how to modify potential biting and/or attacking issues?
widdle01
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Senegal
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