Friday, September 18, 2009

Parrots Who Can’t Wait To Do What You Ask

Joker the yellow naped Amazon parrot made me proud today. As mentioned in an earlier blog, both Joker and Jackson the blue throated macaw showed some hesitancy in returning to their cages after a few hours spent outside their cages training and playing. With some positive reinforcement training Jackson got back on track rather quickly. Joker was a bit more challenging. This is because he primarily works for food treats. While play, toys and attention can be good reinforcers for him, when the behavior is a tough one, treats are by far the best solution in his case. However this means timing training sessions for when he is most receptive to a goodie. Jackson on the other hand will do practically anything for a head scratch at most anytime.

Usually when I open Joker’s cage door, the first thing he wants to do is stretch his wings and fly around for a bit. I usually wait until after he has expended some of the energy before seeing if he is interested in a training session.

However this morning he stuck around the cage, while I removed bowls, cleaned, etc. “I thought to myself “Hmmmmm, maybe this is a sign he is ready for a session right now.” I pulled some treats out of my pocket and sure enough he was ready for some training. We went through a number of repetitions of him entering the cage for a treat and exiting for no treat. What made me so proud was that instead of leaning away or even sitting upright, he began leaning towards the cage door as if to say “Hurry up! I want to get inside that cage!” I love it when positive reinforcement creates a parrot that is an eager participant, one that can’t wait to do the behavior because he knows it will result in great consequences.

This is also Joker’s response to a crate as well. He almost can’t wait to go inside one. Even though at the moment training sessions are timed for when Joker is most interested in treats, overtime that will be less important. All those excellent training sessions will add up and Joker will learn returning to the cage, or entering a crate anytime you are cued is worthwhile.

Barbara Heidenreich
Copyright 2009

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