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Demanding Treats

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

Demanding Treats

Postby Kiwi123 » Sat Jul 04, 2020 10:58 am

So I am a first-time bird owner. I recently took in a Pineapple Green-Cheek Conure named Kiwi. Once we began training, she quickly took to the "step-up" trick. I started working on getting her comfortable with staying in one spot on my hand "she always wanted to try and fly to my head and shoulder" and noticed that she started showing aggression when I wasn't giving her treats. Now if a treat isn't presented as soon as I bring her out of the cage, she bites and shows signs of frustration. It has put a pretty big halt on any other training. How can I discourage her from demanding treats as soon as I bring her out of the cage? I would like to be able to have one on one time with her outside of training sessions.
Kiwi123
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Pineapple Green Cheek Conure
Flight: Yes

Re: Demanding Treats

Postby Pajarita » Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:57 am

Welcome to the forum, Kiwi and human! Sorry but we need more information.

Age?
How long have you had her?
What is her diet?
Light schedule?
What are her 'treats'?
How long and often are the training sessions?
When are they held - like before serving the normal food or after? Mid-morning? Early morning? Evening?

The replies to these questions will give us a more clear idea of what is going on because, in my personal experience, GCCs are super, super sweet-tempered and not given to biting (all mine want to do is cuddle and kiss me) so something is going on and, when we find out what it is, we can give you the right advice to change the behavior.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17487
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Demanding Treats

Postby Kiwi123 » Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:01 am

Pajarita wrote:Age?
How long have you had her?
What is her diet?
Light schedule?
What are her 'treats'?
How long and often are the training sessions?
When are they held - like before serving the normal food or after? Mid-morning? Early morning? Evening?


Age: about 6 months
Ive had her about 4 weeks
In the morning she eats a mix of vegetables and fruit (Kale, Spinach, grapes, melon, celery, carrots, banana) and afternoon she eats a pellet mix from Zupreme
We cover the cage around 10 pm and uncover at 6 am. Weekends can push those times back a bit.
She only seems to like dried cranberries right now. She doesn't like any nuts that we have tried.
Training I try to do 15-25 minutes a day, once a day. Then at some point before bed I try to just handle her and give her time outside the cage.
She is held before serving food in the afternoon. I try to get her out right after work before we eat dinner. She eats at the same time we do.

Also worth noting, I have dogs, but they don't bother with her and they aren't in the room when she is out. I have tried to keep them as separate as possible so she isn't stressed.

Thanks in advance for the help!
Kiwi123
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Pineapple Green Cheek Conure
Flight: Yes

Re: Demanding Treats

Postby Pajarita » Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:13 am

Well, there is your answer: you are asking too much too soon. For one thing, this bird is a juvenile and, just like teenagers, they are more flighty and have a shorter attention span. For another, you can only start training AFTER the bird has bonded to you and that does not happen in four weeks. Then you have the waaaaayyyy too long training sessions (they cannot last more than 5 minutes) and he light schedule and routine is the wrong one for a bird PLUS you are handling her at the wrong times during the day.

Let me explain. Parrots are all from undomesticated species - they might be born in captivity and tricked to imprint to humans but that does not change the fact that their needs are identical to the ones born in the wild. And the birds in the wild do not follow the light schedule or the routine you have set up for her PLUS they are never trained or even expected to obey a single order their entire lives so we need to be very careful about these things because they do not get used to a human light schedule or are willing to do things when it's convenient to us, we, humans, need to adjust to them because they will not adjust to us.

Now, training a bird that is not bonded to you might work at the beginning but, as you have experience, eventually it will backfire. Why? Because they are not mentally programmed for obedience or subservience, only species that evolved to live in a hierarchical society have the genes for this - and parrots evolved to live in completely anarchist societies (they all do what they want, when they want it and in the manner they want it). So, in order for the bird to WANT to do what you ask of it, it needs to be done out of love - which is where the bonding comes. Kiwi is not bonded to you and not because of anything you have done or not done but because it takes time. Parrots always take a loooong time to do anything. It's the way they are. So, the first thing you need to do is stop any and all training immediately and concentrate on first allowing the bird to become comfortable in its new home, to learn that you pose no threat whatsoever to her and, later on, for this trust to become love. Asking her to do something for you, a complete stranger it doesn't know from Adam, is not going to endear you to her. You need to let her do whatever she wants to do, give her the right diet (NO SPINACH!!! it's not healthy for them -waaay too much iron- and I would recommend you do not make a mish mash of fruits and veggies, they don't usually like that - at least none of mine does), keep her at a strict solar schedule with exposure to twilight, handle her at the right times and spend hours and hours with her during the day (GCCs require a HUGE amount of time spent on them!). Your bird is still on her honeymoon period when they are at their best behavior so if she is already showing signs of aggression -and her being a juvenile and not even an adult- you need to stop what you are doing because you are going in the wrong direction. The honeymoon period is a super important time for your relationship with her - it is the foundation of all your future interactions so you need to do it right because fixing a wrong is always 100 times harder than doing it right from day one.

Let's start with care because a bird that is not cared for properly will not be healthy or happy - and it will show it. I don't know what kind of pellets you are feeding but, if they are the colored ones, you might not know that you are feeding the worst food commercially available for them. I do not feed pellets because after many years of research and caring for parrots, have learned that they are not and never will be the best dietary option for parrots but, if you have your heart set on them (I hope you don't), please feed her the best ones: Tops. You seem to be offering chop in the morning (correct me if I am wrong) which is made with fresh produce and all mix together. Now, my birds do not like chop but, even if they did, I would not feed it because I always try to make everything as close to what they would get in nature - and that means whole fruits and veggies. I give mine fresh produce daily because they like it and they need the phytonutrients in them but, when it comes to actual nutrition, fresh is the same as canned and never as good as frozen. I feed gloop for breakfast, one leafy green, one veggie, one fruit because I have found that if I give them a selection or a 'salad' they will pick what they like and leave the rest and end up eating a narrower range of produce so they get one of each, a different one, every day and I try to diversify the 'colors' so, if they get a red veggie, they would get a different color fruit -like blueberries and yellow zucchini, red pepper and kiwis, spaghetti squash and green grapes... like that. For dinner, the GCCs get almost a tablespoon of budgie seed and a couple of pieces of a nut - like walnut or almond or pecan, etc - but their high value item is walnuts. That's another thing, you need to identify her high value item -which is always a protein food item- because fruit is not going to work - and you should never give them fruit that has been sweetened with sugar, which cranberries are. Sucrose ends up making them diabetic in the long term. A water-soluble powered multivitamin/mineral supplement is added to their water twice a week.

Then, light schedule. They need to follow the sun, they cannot be kept at a human light schedule as you are doing - think of the birds on the street. Birds are photoperiodic -and this means they regulate their endocrine system by the quality and amount of light they are exposed to - and no, you cannot 'fake' it with artificial lights, it has to be the sun because the 'triggers' are dawn and dusk and those cannot be reproduce with bulbs -not yet anyway. In the morning, they need to wake up with the dawn (without any artificial lights on until the sun is already up and the rays are streaking into the room) and fed breakfast, the overhead lights are turned on about 2 or 2.5 hours later, turned off when the sun is halfway down to the horizon, fed dinner a bit later, covered completely with a black-out material (or close the blinds, drapes or whatever on the windows) once night has fallen and the bird is asleep and no lights whatsoever until the dawn the next day. If they are not kept this way, their endocrine system will become confused and will not know when to produce what hormones or when to stop producing them - this not only affects their sexual hormones but also appetite, sleep, immune system, memory implanting and a million other things because, in a body, if the glands are not working right, nothing is working right. This solar light schedule is both VERY easy and VERY hard to do. It's easy because all you have to do is follow the sun but it's hard because the days are VERY long in the summer and VERY short in the winter and it becomes super difficult for anybody with a normal lifestyle to keep it... many adjustments need to be made and kept for years and years and years to come. Not an easy thing and the number one reason why birds are given up after a few years...

As to training... well, you will need to wait a couple of months to start but, when you do, you can only have one or two sessions a day, not more than 5 minutes each and always in the middle of the day because this is the natural time for them to interact. Birds are programmed to wake up with dawn, eat breakfast, interact with others/bathe/preen, rest at noon, interact with others/bathe/preen in the afternoon, eat dinner at dusk and go to sleep when it's dark. This is hard-wired into them and trying to change it is not beneficial for them - you cannot 'undo' evolution in a bird and even domesticated species of birds still need to follow a solar schedule (think chickens).

But, if all you are doing is asking the bird to step up, it's OK to do this as long as you do not ask more than three times. Meaning, you put your finger to it and give the command: "Step up!", if the bird doesn't, wait 5 minutes and do it again - if it doesn't, wait 5 minutes and ask again BUT if the bird doesn't do it after the third ask, do not ask again. Happy birds do not really need to learn to step up - they do it on their own because they WANT to be with you. As a matter of fact, all GCCs seem to want out of life is to cuddle so the fact that she is not cuddling with you and does not want to step up is a sure sign that you pushed things too far too early so, please, stop and go back to square one because she is beginning to resent you and you need to show her ASAP that you can be trusted, that you want to be her friend and that you will NOT impose on her good graces. You see, parrots are not naturally people-oriented so the human needs to work to woo them and that means not imposing on them.

So, re-evaluate her diet and her light schedule and just spend hours and hours with her (GCCs need a minimum of 6 hours of out-of-cage flight time and 4 or 5 of them as one-on-one), talk/sing/whistle to her, praise her a lot, give her a treat every now and then but not as a reward for anything, just as a gift from you to her, let her do her thing whenever and whatever she wants without asking her to follow your commands... you are courting or wooing her and you need to put work into it. Find out what her 'high value item' is and use it as the gift now and as the reward later. And once you see that she is bonded to you (she will want to spend every waking minute ON you), you can start training her.

I have two GCCs, both female. Codee was handfed and given to me when she was only two years old because of aggression and Annie was acquired out of CL as an adult from a man who thought he was going to make money breeding a number of pairs but became overwhelmed when he ended up with over 30 babies that he did not know how to handfeed so she is parent-raised (meaning, not imprinted to humans) and lived under a lot of stress from being kept in a crowded cage, wrong diet, etc. She plucks and has black spots all over her plumage but she is getting better - she is no longer high-strung, she eats well, bathes regularly, has learned to go back to her cage when told to and even trusts me enough to perch on me and preen my clothes and hair although she doesn't do it as often now because she now has a BFF whom she cuddles to every chance she gets. But Codee is the sweetest, most affectionate little thing - all she wants to do all day long is be on me, cuddle to my neck and kiss me - she is so sweet-tempered that she is the only bird I allow on my grandkids shoulders because I KNOW she will not bite them. And, in my personal experience, all hand-fed GCCs are the same as long as you give them what they need: good diet, solar light schedule and many, many hours of personal attention... my Codee spends a solid 8 to 9 hours on me every single day of the week this time of the year and, when she goes back to her cage, she is never alone because she has Annie to keep her company (they sleep leaning against each other). GCCs are not easy birds to keep healthy and happy for all their sweet dispositions and small size, they are INTENSELY needy little birds and require a lot of time spent on them.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17487
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Demanding Treats

Postby Kiwi123 » Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:03 pm

Wow its incredible how much research I thought I had put into this before getting Kiwi and I was just hit with a huge load of information that I did not know or simply had the wrong idea of. There is a lot to take in here. I am glad I came here before things got worse. Thanks for all the advice, I will start these changes today and hopefully salvage the bond.
Kiwi123
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is male
Posts: 3
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Pineapple Green Cheek Conure
Flight: Yes

Re: Demanding Treats

Postby Pajarita » Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:41 am

Yes, it is amazing how little good information is out there when it comes to proper bird care, isn't it? But it is not your fault! For one thing, we all started with one bird and under huge misconceptions about their care - so welcome to the club! And for another, the pet bird industry works very hard and spends a huge amount of money providing disinformation because, let's face it, if we were told the truth -how hard it is, how much you need to know, how you would have to change your entire lifestyle, how much work you have to put into it and how many hours you will have to devote to the bird, much fewer people would get one... I mean, not everybody is willing or able to change their life so it revolves around a little bird, right? And even the ones willing and able get tired of it after years of sacrificing - and make no mistake, it IS a sacrifice!

I am a very fortunate person because I love animals and I am at a point in my life where I can afford physically, financially and emotionally (older but still active, comfortable income and supported by my family -husband, children, grandchildren, who all think I am crazy but the good kind of crazy and who love me enough to adjust along with me) not to have a 'normal' life but not that many people are as lucky as I am...
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17487
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


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