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Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

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Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby truste » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:02 pm

Hi guys! I've been following Michael's blog and this forum for a long time (even before my baby was ready to be picked up!), but this is my first time posting. I've owned parakeets in the past, but this is my first time training a bird to do more than step up. Your help would be appreciated!

My baby is a 3 month old yellow-sided green cheek conure (and the DNA results just arrived yesterday! It's a girl!!! Now I can finally get to naming.) I've had her for a bit over two weeks, and successfully trained her to wave and target last week. She is now very good at both, and does so on verbal cue w/hand gesture.

Now, when she's out of her cage and near me, she'll often start waving on her own, probably because she wants a treat and thinks waving = treat always, rather than waving on cue = treat. This on it's own isn't really a problem, as I find it really cute. However, I just started training spin/turn around, and she's getting the tricks mixed up. Instead of using the target stick to show her what to do initially, I say the command while gesturing my finger in a circle and then kind of push her tail so that she spins around on the perch, "following" her tail. She's at the point where she knows what to do, but only when I reach over to prompt her. The problem is, when I say "spin" and start reaching toward her, her first reaction is to wave every time, and then she'll spin only once my finger nears her tail. She gets stuck on the trick she does know, so to speak. This has been happening for about 2 (brief) sessions.

My question is--is this a problem? And if so, how should I resolve it? I'm trying to mix the wave command in her turn-around training sessions so that she can learn to distinguish the cue. Maybe this is normal with new trainees and will disappear over time? Thanks for your help! :)
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby Eurycerus » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:16 pm

That is very normal on all counts. The only thing to do is consistently treat only the desired behavior. With time and patience she'll figure it out.
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby marie83 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:26 am

I agree it is normal to get mixed up/deliberately do something easier in the hope of getting a treat etc but also bare in mind that your birdy is very very young still and wont be focussing as well as a slightly older bird. I would hold off from serious training til at least 6 months old and just work on general good manners and let her be a baby for a while :)

Keep us updated on her progress
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby Polarn » Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:29 am

I dont really see anything wrong with teaching young birds specific behaviors, however as Marie said I wouldnt keep it too seriouse, keep the sessions really short and positive, the attentionspan usually isnt the best in babies.

When it comes to mixing up tricks well I dont know if it is as much mixing up (in the beginning it probably is) but sometimes when trying to teach a new trick their (atleast mine) is trying to perform an old one couse they feel more comftible doing that and well they have to try and see weather or not that will earn them a treat for being cute, but nope it wont.

When it comes to reducing the frequence the bird does something out of begging there are a couple of techniques to find out there but personally I wouldnt worry too much about it, just making sure to not treat the unqued ones.
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby JacobBird » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:15 am

Eurycerus wrote:That is very normal on all counts. The only thing to do is consistently treat only the desired behavior. With time and patience she'll figure it out.


Yes ^^ reward on the behavior you want and just ignore for unwanted behaviors. Will take time some time (:
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby truste » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:54 pm

Thanks for the help guys! It seems I posted too soon, because today she has not only been able to turn around from me making the gesture alone rather than having to get close to her tail (albeit, I have to make it directly over her head), but she has also stopped waving every time I tell her to spin. I was hoping that she would stop doing it naturally, but I thought I would ask the experts just in case there was something that I was unknowingly doing that was reinforcing the confusion.

I had been wondering whether she was too young to start training, but I thought the basics would be good, and far she's done well, although she does seem to have a short attention span. I have a short attention span too, so the training sessions are pretty short by default, haha! Thanks again everyone!
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby Snoopy_the cockatiel » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:33 pm

So guys its not good to train birds(cockatiel) at a younger age.Mine is just 3 months old.Is this a reason for her slight deviation from training?
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby Polarn » Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:39 pm

The main thing with younger birds is motivation. Their too small to put on training diets and their not really food motivated since what they are hard wired to do is to loose weight to be able to learn how to properly fly. Also their attention span is slightly shorter than it will be as an adult (not always though). But as said food isn't the primary motivator for a young bird since naturally in the wild they lessen their food intake to loose the baby weight to become excellent flyers able to avoid predators and move with the flock. So at a young age flying is the main motivator whereas food is pretty much a second motivator.
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby janetafloat » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:56 pm

I learn something every day on this forum! :) It's great!

My tiel is only about 4 months old now and I notice he gets really hungry after only maybe an hour when I take his food away, and then is manically 'grabby' when I treat him. So far, for that reason - and I'm still learning - I keep it very very short and am only taking his food away for a short while, less than an hour usually. He comes on a little bit every day which I'm happy with. Currently he's learning to recall and today we're up to a couple of feet from perch to my hand which I think is great! And now he's comfortable with the clicker (he was scared of it at first), though he's still a bit alarmed by the stick.

I do have one question....he bites me sometimes if I touch him wrong or too much. It doesn't hurt at all and I do take note of it and be respectful of his wishes but I ignore the biting or say 'no'. Should I take any other action like put him back in his cage or ignore him for a few mins? What do you reckon? I'm inclined to think he'll grow out of it as he gets more and more comfortable with me, and as I learn to read his body language. Just thought I'd ask what your views are
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Re: Does anyone else run into this? Repeating old tricks

Postby marie83 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:16 pm

Never use the cage as punishment, you need to keep the cage a good positive place to be to prevent future issues with being able to cage them. Most will quickly learn if they keep flying off or using biting it gets them more out of cage time, less often but still a possibility they will lern to bite to be put back away when they want to be left alone, either way caging for being naughty doesn't work well and will usually backfire one way or another.

I think the first thing you need to identify is why the bites are occuring, is it because there is a certain place he hates being touched? or is it his way of telling you he wants to be left alone cuz he has had enough? If its the former you can help train him out of that by rewarding him for allowing touch, Michael has more info on this on one of his taming articles. If its the latter then obseving his body language prior to the bite will help you learn when he has had enough so you can withdraw the attention before the bite happens, the more effort you put in to learning his language the better success you will have and with time it will become second nature to you. In the meantime definitely ignore the bites, the faster you get into this habit the quicker he will learn that biting never does any good.

Hope this helps a bit.
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