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PapillonDeNuit

Biting and attacking

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Oh man, I can't believe this happened...

I've had my Timmy for eighteen years. He's my buddy. He's usually well-behaved. Okay, that's a stretch. He's a mischevious sweet-heart! An angel with a deadly weapon on his face.

A few nights ago as I was getting dressed up to go out dancing, my little guy flew upstairs to see what I was up to. And of course I was happy to see him! I was half-dressed and putting on my makeup, and my guy jumped down from the bannister to the floor. I knew what was coming, because he'll do this and say, "I'm gonna get yer piggies!" And he "gets" your piggies.

Anyway, I tried to step back, but my fishnet was caught in a nail for the door sill. And here comes my little buddy and bites my toes! Not playing, not in an I'm-gonna-get-your-piggies way, but aggressively trying to hurt my toes! So I pick him up, and he bites my hand, wrist, and fingers soooooo hard, so many times! It hurt so much that I cried for a solid fifteen minutes. It felt so un-provoked! My heart felt ripped in half. And now my hand is swollen.

This seems so out of character! Timmy is not a mean-spirited bird. He's a real (mischevious) sweet-heart. The only thing I can come up with is that he didn't like what I was wearing. So what's going on? What do I do? I want to be able to spend time with my little Timmy and not get bitten!

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Was this a one time occurrence, or is he still biting you? I'm thinking that when you stepped back he became startled and then took it out on your toes, etc. 

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I'm convinced that birds, like toddlers, have the inability to connect the whole body with the head.   When a human toddler matures they go from drawing stick bodies with big featured heads to drawing the whole body full-featured.   Since our birds are assumed to have the same intelligence level as toddlers, I think they have the same predicament: your hands and toes don't belong to that face they are lovingly attached to.   Several of our birds will viciously attack our feet and are complete sweetys otherwise.  I have a conure that will go after feet and hands as if they are there to kill her but will run to my face and cuddle and preen me.   White-cap pionus, same way.

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Over the long haul the biting seems to come in waves. Or maybe it doesn't? It just happened again a few minutes ago. We were eating lunch together. The sandwich was done. The lights were out. The curtain had dropped. It was time for my little guy to go back in his cage. So I picked him up, bobbed him up and down, and told him how much I enjoy sharing food with him. But Timmy didn't want to go in his cage. He did the one-foot-down thing and then bit the ever-loving life out of my wrist. And I couldn't get him off me!

So my mom barges into the kichen screaming at me and banging on Timmy's cage. (I'm worried that my mom is going to kill herself, but that's another story.)

What do I do? Ever since my parents got these damn dogs back in 2012, my poor bird has had to spend so much of his day in his cage! :( This is so sad, and I don't know what to do!

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Gosh, I hope I didn't bum everybody out with the concerns about my mom.

Timmy's as sweet as can be when we have the cage between us, or when he's on the table eating with me. But he just won't let me handle him! We moved a few months ago, and that can understandably be stressful on the little guy, especially that he had never moved to a new house in his eighteen years.

How can I get him to behave when I pick him up? How do I teach my little buddy to not bite me?

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Sorry, for delayed responses, things have been a little quiet round here of late.

So I have a few things that I've picked up from your posts so far:

The house move probably would have been stressful, especially as grey's can be quite change adverse. He might still be stressing about all the changes around him and getting used to his environment. Grey's operate on something we call "grey time". This is the time that grey's take to adapt to changes or new things in their life. Grey time isn't a set period of time. For example, this could be the length of time it takes for a grey to accept a new toy in his/her cage. It could take hours, days, weeks or even months... depends on the bird. Your grey has been uprooted from an environment they were very familiar with and placed in a new one. So it may take some time for your bird to settle down.

The screaming and banging on the cage just shouldn't happen. Frightening a bird like that will have detrimental affects on their trust. I don't really have anything else to say about that other than try and prevent it from happening. This can be easier said than done if family members aren't on board with learning how to treat birds... but it really needs to stop.

You also mention the introduction of dogs a few years back so Timmy has less time out of his cage. This will have a detrimental affect on your relationship with him as well. He probably feels frustrated and probably has a lot of pent up energy... so this also could be contributing to the change in behaviour. I went through similar with Alfie. I was working full time and trying to study towards a degree in my spare time and I struggled to give Alfie the attention he needed for a while. Our relationship suffered because Alfie didn't trust me like he used to and would often nip or bite in frustration when he was out, meaning I was scared to handle him. I had to make a fair amount of changes to my lifestyle and his environment before i started getting our relationship back on track. Trying to get him to go back in his cage was a nightmare, because he didn't want to go back in. He wasn't having enough time out of the cage so I understand why he would get frustrated. Now, I don't have any problems. He has a lot more time out of the cage so he sometimes takes himself back into his cage or he will climb back in when I take him back to it.

You might need to take a few steps back and maybe try doing some basic step up training with him. Get some of his favourite treats and reward him regularly when he lets you handle him without biting.

Are there ways for you to give him more exercise time outside of his cage? Can you section off your house at all so the dogs have part of it and Timmy gets another part to play in? I have to do this as I have two indoor cats. When Alfie comes out the cats get the upstairs part of the house and Alfie gets downstairs.

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Hello! It took me a while to get back. Timmy's been doing much better lately! We're more settled into the house, and I eat breakfast with Timmy every single day. Each day I let him wander around the table, explore, and get into trouble. I play and encourage him as he does this. I give him extra time, as I like to stare off into space for a bit after I eat. That way Timmy can poke at cups, walk behind the coconut milk carton and cereal box, and chew up important legal documents, which appeals to the anarchist in me! :)

And because we do this every day, because we hang out for a bit after eating, Timmy will go back in his cage with little fuss. If he's not ready, I don't force him - either he'll go back on the table, or I'll keep my hand where it is, and we hold hands for a minute.

TL;DR: Timmy's doing good!

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That's great news! Thanks for the update! It certainly takes time, patience and perseverance to redirect certain behaviors and form new ones. Nicely done!

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Great to hear things have improved for you both! :)

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