Nanday Conure Forum

Message #6015. This is a followup to #6011.

Name:Sandra J
Date:Tuesday April 10, 2007 11:32:23 pm MDT
Subject:Re: To Uri -- New idea to help stop biting
Message:Hi, Uri.

After reading the wonderful story about Pipsie selecting you and your wife as her family, then reading the amazing hoops you have jumped through to travel with her between Canada and the US, I became quite convinced that you are devoted enough to your bird to do everything possible to retrain Pipsie not to bite your wife.

This confidence in you reminded me that there is one more thing one more thing you might try with Pipsie to improve her general behavior and restore her relationship with your wife -- clicker training. There are various books, DVDs, and even articles online to help you start this process. It is actually very easy, once you've done a bit of reading on the subject. If you can't find books or DVDs for parrot-specific clicker training fast enough to suit you, you can adapt the information you find from books on clicker training with dogs. The parrot technique is basically the same as the dog technique, but could possibly be a faster process for a smart nanday! (I taught Zindor to "turn around" in 7 minutes. My brother said it took his super-smart border collie thiry minutes to do that same trick.)

Clicker training provides an intellectual stimulation for the bird, which can help deter boredom and the bad behavior that can accompany boredom. I find that clicker training greatly helps improve my bird's general attitude and happiness. Plus, she seems better behaved overall when I ask her to perform her tricks on a regular basis.

We only do clicker training for about 15 minutes a day. . . well, sometimes it's just once a week or once a month. But, its obvious to me that she behaves better overall when clicker training is part of her regular routine. She just gets so animated when she learns a new trick. Her level of retention is amazing. She also loves performing the old tricks. Even if it's been several weeks since I last asked her to do an old trick, she knows it right away when I give the proper hand signal. Sometimes, she even tries to prompt me to ask her start a training session or to do a certain trick.

I think it would be best if your wife chooses to do the training with Pipsie instead of you, as it will become a bonding time for your two favorite females. If your wife gives Pipsie the reward (her favorite treat) when a trick is done correctly, your bird will learn that pleasing your wife is a great thing to do.

Since Zindor is fully-flighted, the most important task I used the clicker training to accomplish was for getting her to respond to the "recall" command. I actually started training her for this command before I learned about clicker training, but once I added the clicker to the routine, the training process moved much more quickly. I use a hand signal command while giving the verbal command "Zindor! Come Here!" When she comes to me, she gets a click, a "Good Girl!" and her favorite treat. She responds to my recall command better than most dogs I've watched.   

She knows how to "wave."

She plays "parrot basketball" She takes a cat ball from me and drops or tosses it into a stainless steel cup to get her click reward.

The one that most amazes me is that I can now sit on the couch and wave my arm in a circle above my head while saying "Zindor! Go Around!" Then, she flies in a circle through all the connecting rooms in the house to come back to her perch, then I give her the click so she can fly to my hand for her treat. The full process for training her to do this trick is a bit complicated to explain, but I'll tell you that she initiated the whole trick when she started playing "tag" with me. She looks so happy and satisfied once she returns to her perch!

Clicker training is the quickest way for Zindor to learn new commands and tricks, but once she's learned a trick I don't have to rely on a clicker and a reward treat.   She responds very well to a "Good Girl!" alone. Also,I've found that hand signals are much more important than verbal signals.

I hope I did not offend you in my last message. I have traveled hours from my home to help my best friend and her children this week while she helps her husband fight to keep the leg that was damaged severely in his bike vs. car accident. At the end of each day, I am a bit tired, worried and stressed in general. There is little I can to to help this wonderful man, so I am lavishing attention on my bestfriend and her children instead. Luckily, he is at Duke Hospital, with some of the greatest medical specialists in the world. So, please know that I want nothing more to do than offer you help, but I may not be typing it in the most sensitive way this week. So, if anything I type strikes you the wrong way, please accept my apologies. Frankly, I'm too tired to proofread this or make sure I haven't repeated myself, so I really hope it all makes sense.

Best wishes,
Sandra J

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