Friday, November 27, 2009

The Clicker Cure?

Achilles has been being a bit of a grouch this week. About five months ago I stopped +R training sessions with her, I am not sure why but I suppose it was because I got busy and I saw no real reason to continue. That was a big mistake on my part.

Some of the "symptoms" Achilles had been expressing:

  • quickly lunging out and "hissing" increased

  • antisocial; did not want to step up or be with other people

  • falling from the hand more often

When I mention that she "falls" I mean that she wildly flaps her wings -sometimes wing flapping does not happen- and does a backwards somersault off the perch and onto the ground. I do not fully understand why she does this, since day 1 of fostering she has done this. But my hypothesis is that it might have something to do with being hard-of-sight. I read somewhere that blind pigeons fly backwards, and it is true that the only way I have seen Achilles fly is backwards. So flipping -or falling- backwards off a perch may be linked to this odd behavior.

Back to the point of a 'grumpy bird'; I decided to start up training sessions again. As soon as she knew I had millet she was offering behaviors like a pro! We then started something semi-new and mildly unliked; some sort of a red shoelace thingy. -I introduced this object before by petting her with both my fingers and the rope thingy. At some points in the indroduction she got 'mad' at the rope and I had to back off. But mostly (and by the end of petting) she accepted the new stringy object.- So we did some reps with the shoelace and she never had a problem with it. Of course she was working for millet, not head rubs but maybe she just accepts the string now. I will have to try again and see what the deal is with the stringy-rope-shoelace thing. With just several repetitions she was willingly laying her neck around the loop! That's a good start if I'm going to train her to wear a harness.

After the training session was over there appeared to be a marked difference in her behavior; her lunging diminished, and she was willing to interact. I did another session with her today and her falling has greatly diminished. Why?

Has anyone else heard of these great side-effects of training animals? I've heard of all the bad side effects of using punishment and -R, but what about the side effect of overall well being when using +R? This is new to me. Anyone have any papers or articles they want to lead me to about this phenomena?

Copyright 2013 Caitlin Bird
The Sequential Psittacine Blog
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