Posted 03 June 2008 - 02:12 AM
Okay, he probably likes the treats he gets for doing them more than he enjoys the tricks themselves. He learned everything using clicker training. I use only positive reinforcement (operant conditioning) to teach these behaviors.
Melinda Johnson's book on clicker training birds is the parrot trick training bible - it's got tons of information on this subject. You can also join the Yahoo Bird Click group for more info.
Mika, White Capped Pionus | Stewie, Sun Conure
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Posted 15 November 2011 - 06:49 AM
Ok it is a while since I taught fetch so will try to recount the method as accurately as my memory will allow. The method I used to teach Havock to fetch is to let the him pick up an object and hold my hand under the object and when he dropped it into my hand say fetch and reward him. Once he got to the stage where was dropping the object into my hand on command then I would move my hand slightly away so he had to stretch his neck out to drop the object. From there I moved to taking a step. At first I increased the distance slowly but as he became more confident I was able to increase the distance faster. I then moved on to the flighted retrieve. I did this by first having him jump to my hand then slowly increasing the distance.
Object in a container
This is taught the same way fetch is but Havock already had the idea of how to retrieve it is much easier to teach. Basketball is simply another version of object in a container. The coins in a piggy bank is a little harder as the bird must learn to put the coin into a small slot. The best option is to start with a box with a large a slot and slowly decrease its size.
Rings on a peg
Once again it is a while since I have taught this trick so will try to recount as well as I can. My peg is simply a base with a hole drilled in it and a piece of dowel in the hole. As the hole goes right through the base I was able to push the dowel almost all the way through so that only a little bit was showing. I would hold it in front of Havock and get him to put the rings on the base over the little bit of dowel and slowly pushed the dowel up so that the peg got taller. I also needed to help him get the rings onto the peg at first. This trick took him a while to pick up but we got there in the end.
Pulling up a bucket
For this it was simply a matter of putting a treat in the bucket and letting Havock see me do it then letting it dangle below him. He pulled the bucket up with no training at all. I simply had to phase out having the treat in the bucket and get him to focus on the reward I give him by hand instead.
I found that if I tried to tip Havock backwards without putting a hand on his back he would move so he stayed upright so I had to come up with a way to tip him backwards without scaring him. In the end I tried having him sit on my left hand and gently placing my thumb over his toes while getting him to hold on finger of my right. I would then say fall back and tip him backwards. He did not mind being tipped back now he was also able to hold on with his beak. Once I got him fully over I would remove my finger from his beak then praise him offer him my finger again and bring him upright. Once he was fully used to this I would give him a cue and verbal command then let him take my finger and take him over backwards. I would keep this up till he finally one day he fell back without any assistance from my finger. Just a word of caution remember your finger is in your parrot's beak so it is very wise to not scare it LOL.
Play Dead Version 1. Roll over and play dead.
Havock is a very playful parrot and loves to roll around however when he is rolling over in play he is so busy playing to really make any connection between the action, command and reward. I taught Havock to roll onto his back on the lounge floor that way he had room to move away from me if he got the slightest bit scared. To teach him to roll over on command I would gently use one hand to roll him over while giving the command to roll over. The first few times I did this he would try to move sideways to keep his balance as he felt he was being pushed sideways. To help with that I gently lifted him very slightly (1/2 cm or less) so I could roll him over. I would then reward him while he was on his back. As he got used to what I was trying to do he would allow me to roll him over without me having to lift him. Eventually I got so I just had to make my hand like a gun and offer the two fingers the make the barrel to Havock. When he took them with one foot I would gently roll him over and reward him. From there I went to offering my fingers to him but before he could take them with his foot I would move my hand up in the same motion that I use when rolling him over. At first he would just sort of lean to the side a little when he did this I would reward him. I would then repeat the process but this time when Havock leaned to the side I would then roll him over. He started going further till he finally rolled right onto his back. Soon all I had to was point my fingers at him like a gun and say bang and he would roll onto his back. Getting him to put his head back was a little harder. To do this I would offer a treat and lure his head into the right position. Some birds will allow you to gently push their head into position.
Play Dead Version 2. Lie on back in hand.
To teach this trick the first step was to get Havock comfortable with lying on his back in my hand. To do this I would let Havock swing for toys like a pen then while he was hanging upside down from it I would lie him on his back in my hand and let him play with it then let him upright when he get nervous. Eventually he became more comfortable lying on his back in my hand. He now also lets me roll him over by having him sit on one hand and place the other on his back and tip him over. Once he was happy to lie on his back in my hand without a toy I taught him to put his head back. I would use a treat to lure his head into position and give the command to play dead. Eventually I was able to just indicate with my finger that he was to put his head back. Another way to get a parrot used to lying on its back is to have the bird sit on your hand and place your hand on its back and take it over till it indicates that it is slightly nervous and then bring it upright and reward it. Slowly try increase how far you can roll the parrot till you can get it onto its back. Teaching the bird to let go of your hand can be a problem and this needs to be done slowly. You can use the thumb of the hand your bird is sitting on the slowly and gently unhook one claw at a time stopping when the bird gets nervous. With some birds you can just gently roll your hand away from its feet. To get the bird to put its head back hold the treat below your bird so it has to put its head back to get it slowly increase the amount of time the bird has to keep its head back before rewarding. Eventually all you will have to do is hold your hand below you bird and signal it to put its head back.
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