Making New Things Fun for Your Parrot

Making New Things Fun for Your Parrot

Barbara talks about Making New Things Fun for Your Parrot you

Making New Things Fun for Your Parrot

My Parrots just blow me away sometimes. Or perhaps it is better to say that training with positive reinforcement blows me away. I recently brought Delbert, my yellow naped Amazon Parrot to a new location for a photo shoot. He is fully flighted and an extremely competent flyer.

Before letting him out, I made sure the room was safe for a flighted Parrot. Windows and mirrors were all covered, dogs were outside and no one was allowed to open a door unless he was safe in his travel cage.

New environments can sometimes be pretty frightening to Parrots. Delbert has been around a number of new places, but not near as much as I would like him too. So I was going to have to really observe his body language and see how he responded.

What I wanted to avoid was my bird flying around the space in a panic.

My first signal that things were probably going to be OK was when he started chatting away while we were doing the final set preparations. He watched from his travel cage and starting asking “Ya wanna come out?”, “Are ya ready?”, “Here we goooooo”

Letting him look at the space for about 20 minutes was a great opportunity for him to acclimate. There are some things that usually evoke a fear response in Parrots such as things moving overhead, quick movement nearby…but sometimes it’s the things you don’t expect that you have to watch out for.

This is when reading your bird’s body language becomes super important. Although he had been looking at it for some time, a long narrow cardboard box was simply unacceptable. Any steps too close to that would send Delbert circling around the room.

Fortunately because of all his recall training he would land on my hand after a few laps. We opted to remove that box while Delbert was far away from it.

Another thing that proved a challenge was the backdrop. The coloured drape would occasionally move. This especially happened the moment Delbert would launch off of my hand for a cued flight.

Although it took him a bit of time, the way he gradually got past this challenge was by doing simple behaviours and getting reinforced. Delbert loves flying to new people.

So for some of our photos he got to fly back and forth between me and new people. This meant treats and attention that he loves.

Pairing doing simple A to B flights and getting reinforced made the background fade into …well, the background!

Delbert presented excellent flights on cue, posed like the super model he is for his close ups and enjoyed preening the hair on every head there. He also ended the day snoozing on the photographer’s shoulder, beak grinding away.

I suppose technically a photo shoot is “work” but I have to admit it sure felt like fun to me….and I think for Delbert too. (I think we were done shooting way before he decided it was time to wrap it up.) What made it fun was reading his body language and remembering to use positive reinforcement to make sure the experience was a good one for him too.

Hmmmm, maybe he has a future in modeling. Look out Zoolander…..here comes Delbert!

Find the newest products for your Parrot here.

This article was originally published on Good Bird’s blog in April 2010.

Barbara Heidenreich has been a professional animal trainer since 1990. Her company Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training (www.BarbarasFFAT.com) provides animal training DVDs, books, webinars and workshops. She has been a featured speaker in over twenty countries and has been published in nine languages. Barbara works with the companion animal community and also consults on animal training in zoos.

How to Get Your Parrot to Play with Toys

HOW TO GET YOUR PARROT TO PLAY WITH TOYS

In this blog post Barbara Heidenreich talks about How to Get Your Parrot to Play with Toys and the different techniques you can use to encourage the acceptance of new toys in the cage or playstand.

How to Get Your Parrot to Play with Toys

I have been inspired by a question posted to my yahoo group. The question was asked how do you get a parrot used to a new toy? I think that is a marvelous question. All too often we assume because it is a toy, our parrots should automatically be eagerly interacting with it. In general parrots tend to show hesitancy around new items or situations. As positive reinforcement enthusiasts, most of us know that we can train our birds to be calm and confident with change. But it does take some investment on our part. Not a financial investment, but a commitment to teaching your bird via positive reinforcement training strategies. But if in this moment your bird has clearly demonstrated new toys create a fear response, what can you do?

How to Get Your Parrot to Play with Toys

I usually start with systematic desensitization. This means I place the toy a distance away from the parrot. I also make sure the bird is presenting calm relaxed body language. I then leave the toy there for a period of time, maybe even days. Over time I gradually place the toy closer and closer to the cage. Again making sure the parrot is relaxed and comfortable. Eventually I may hang the toy on the outside of the cage, but near the bottom of the cage. I can gradually move it higher. When the parrot is ready, I can try moving the toy to inside the cage. I usually put it away from food and water bowls and preferred perches. This is because if the bird has any concerns with the toy that I failed to notice, it will not be a hindrance to his physical needs and comfort.
Once the parrot is comfortable with the toy in his cage, now I can consider some of my other positive reinforcement tools of the trade. I can use a target to help encourage the parrot to move closer to the toy. I could pair positive reinforcers with the toy, by placing them near or on the toy. I could also “free shape” the behavior.
How to Get Your Parrot to Play with ToysTo free shape, rather than use a target or a food prompt, I would just wait until the bird presents an approximation I can reinforce. For example if the bird looks at the toy I can reinforce that. After several repetitions the bird may move in the direction he has been looking. I can reinforce that. Eventually the parrot may move closer, and over time try to touch the toy. This is all shaped by looking for the slightest approximation towards the desired goal behavior of interacting with the toy.
I recently used this strategy to help my puppy get past a fear response he had with a new vacuum cleaner. First I reinforced him for looking at the vacuum from far away and then reinforced him for approximations he took moving closer to the thing. He then sniffed it and eventually touched it with his nose and paws, and even moved it. The entire process took about twenty minutes. I have promised my yahoo group http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/GoodBirdGroup/ I would get the video clip on my YouTube site. http://www.youtube.com/GoodBirdInc I will notify everyone once it is up!

Hope this gives readers some ideas for ways to get your parrots playing!

This article was first published in Good Bird Inc Blog

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Barbara Heidenreich has been a professional animal trainer since 1990. Her company Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training (www.BarbarasFFAT.com) provides animal training DVDs, books, webinars and workshops. She has been a featured speaker in over twenty countries and has been published in nine languages. Barbara works with the companion animal community and also consults on animal training in zoos.

How To Tell If Your Parrot Is Stressed

Yellow Faced Parrot

Stressed ParrotReading up on parrots and how to look after them before you bring them home in their bird cages is so important, as they’re not easy pets to keep – especially if you’ve never had a bird before.

Stress is not uncommon in parrots and you need to know what signs to look out for, as well as any potential causes of stress that you can keep to a minimum to ensure your bird stays in peak condition.

Stress bars are one sign that your parrot is unhappy. These are horizontal lines that run across the feathers, so keep a look out for any feathers they shed that you can check over just to be on the safe side.

A lack of appetite is also a key signifier, as is destructive or aggressive behaviour, or fear and nervousness.

So what can trigger stress in birds? A bored parrot can become stressed quite easily, while traumatic events, loud environments, sudden noises, lack of exercise, poor health, a dirty bird cage, loneliness, moving house, changes to diet and daily routine or being too hot or cold can all contribute to the development of stress.

You need to know before you buy a parrot that they are quite sensitive birds and should be treated as such. Parrots have even been known to die because of their stress and anxiety levels so do all you can to keep your new pet happy. If you’re concerned about the welfare of your bird, make sure you book an appointment with the vet as soon as possible.

Keep your parrot stimulated and happy with a range of Parrot Toys and Parrot Health Supplements from Parrot Essentials.

Immediate Help for Parrot Behaviour Problems Webinar

parrot behaviour problems webinar

Parrot Behaviour Problems Webinar

parrot behaviour problems webinarTerritorial aggression, biting family members and excessive vocalizations have all been attributed to parrots with reproductive hormones in overdrive.

Watch this Parrot Behaviour Problems Webinar to learn how to prevent hormone amplification and what to do if a parrot is presenting undesired behaviour due to a drive to reproduce.

This webinar was recorded on December 28, 2014 by Barbara Heidenreich.

Total run time is about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

To purchase access to a recording of this webinar for $19.95 (£12.90) visit this link http://www.instantpresenter.com/PIID=ED55DB83854A

You can log in and out as much as you want to watch at your convenience or repeatedly.

If you like this webinar be sure to check out all the other topics.
CLICK HERE FOR WEBINAR RECORDINGS.

Credits: GoodBird