Saturday, April 5, 2008

Parrot Training and Terminology

Well, it sure has taken me awhile to get on here. And I do apologize. I see there were even a few lovely posts wondering when the heck this thing might start up. Thanks for letting me know that there is some interest.

I could certainly ramble on about various things, but my guess is most people are stopping by to hear about parrot training and behavior! So lets get to it.

I know many who visit are already well versed in the science behind the practical application of animal training. But when I cruise around the internet it is pretty obvious there are many who have yet to discover how helpful it is to wrap ones brain around the terminology. While it is true you can train without knowing the science. I do think it makes a big difference in your overall success and is very important in helping people use the kindest, gentlest methods possible.

I read on another site today that "parrots dont understand punishment" Hmmmmm. Not true : ) Just like any learning creature they sure do understand it.

The site also went on to mention that negative punishment wouldn't work with a parrot it. Again negative punishment works quite well. I think the author made a simple mistake that can be attributed to not knowing what "negative punishment" actually is. In this case I think the author really meant punishment that involved the application of an aversive. (Which by definition is actually positive punishment) But even works too.

It is easy to get the "negative and positive" thing a bit jumbled up as we tend to think of those terms meaning "good" and "bad." It helps to remember they mean to "add" or "subtract" in the science.

To sum up both negative punishment (the removal of something) and positive punishment (the addition of something -usually an aversive) both work to decrease behavior.....yes, even in parrots.

However most good trainers do their very best to avoid using positive punishment. Negative punishment is something that can be used that is effective and also in the realm of kind and gentle. Some of you may know it by its other name "time out from positive reinforcement"

In the Spring 2008 of Good Bird Magazine I wrote an article about Training your Parrot to Poop on Cue. In this article I explain how I used a time out to train my parrot to not poop on me and wait until he returned to his cage. It should be out soon. Once it is ready it will also be available on the website Just go to the digital media page to download.

Copyright 2008 Good Bird Inc

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