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Clicker Training (an attempt!)

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First off, I have never really done any 'formal' training with Alfie. Apart from step up, he doesn't really know/respond to many commands. He sort of knows 'wave' and used to know 'turn round'. I think he understands what I mean when I ask him to fly to me- but he ignores it unless he wants to. 😄 He mostly comes and goes as he pleases. He is good with stepping up to a perch. He is mostly fine with stepping up to an arm but will occasionally refuse or sometimes bite if he's not happy about being asked to move.

I've had some 'issues' with Alfie - he took a dislike to me a while back and favoured my housemate who recently moved out. Whilst Alfie will interact with me he no longer wanted to sit with/on me and no longer asked for head scritches. If my housemate was in the room Alfie would follow him and want to sit with him. He also went through a short period of flying to the back of my neck/head and biting me... but thankfully that was relatively short lived. However, things still haven't got back to how they used to be.

I've been working hard to regain Alfie's trust and build our friendship back up again... especially now my housemate is no longer living here (he does visit though). I have been trying to start clicker training with a target stick for a while but Alfie usually ignores the stick completely or gets aggressive with it. I've only tried this when he's been in the cage so far. I also have to watch my fingers/hands when offering treats as sometimes he opts to lunge at my hands/fingers instead of taking the treat. This has knocked my confidence with Alfie somewhat, which I know is a problem in itself. So I'm working hard to find ways to improve things for us both.

Yesterday I managed to get Alfie to touch the target stick a good few times whilst he was out of his cage. I put the stick close to him, used the command 'touch' then clicked the clicker as soon as any part of his beak touched the stick. I then put a treat down for him on the window sill so he could get it. I didn't quite trust him enough to offer him the treat directly, but putting it down nearby seemed to work. I kept the 'training session' really short and asked him to repeat the behaviour about 5 or 6 times at most. I also managed to get a couple of clips of our attempts which I uploaded to the forums just now. Hopefully these should be available below, assuming I did everything correctly!
 

 

 

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Very interesting. I've always been curious about clicker training. I suspect Timber would be much more interested and taking the stick from me and chewing on it than touching it. Good luck!

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That's a great start!  I have done clicker training with our dogs, but have not tried it with my parrots. I hope it works for you both & builds a bond.  Keep us posted!

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We're still working on it. I'm trying to get Alfie to realise he only needs to touch the stick and not grab hold of it. We've done two or three more sessions since I posted this. I'm now offering treats from a container rather than dropping them on the shelf as that means I can do the training wherever he is. He's happy enough to take the treat from the container and it saves my fingers.

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Be careful with clicker training.  It can have negative affects.   I clicker-trained GreycieMae to turn around and now she turns-around whenever she wants me to go get her a treat.    I'm still trying to figure out how I was the one that got trained in this deal.  🤣

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Haha oh I have no doubt that Alfie will start to use it to his advantage somehow! I'm waiting for him to make the clicker sound himself!

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I dunn know much about clicker training, and the videos don't work for me. But! I can say with a thousand percent certainty, that the quickest way to a bird's heart is through their stomach. Whenever you eat, let Alfie hang out on the table and eat off your plate. Talk to him! Sing to him! Tell him jokes. I share all my meals with my Timmy. He loves it. I've never done any formal training with Timmy at all, but he's fairly well-behaved, while still being mischievous, which I like.

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Funny you mention it, because after 7 years of living in my current house, I finally have a dining table! I had a housemate up until recently so my PC and other stuff was downstairs where the dining table would normally go. After my housemate moved out I was able to turn his bedroom into an office and my parents gave me their old dining table and chairs!

I only got it at the weekend but Alfie has already been exploring it.

BUT! He shows absolutely no interest in my food- never has done. I can pretend it's the best thing I've ever eaten, I can eat it in front of him and I can try and hide it from him and be secretive... he doesn't care! He even sat at the dining table on Sunday with me and was more interested in throwing the coasters around than what I had on my plate!

His favourite treat of all time is cedar/pine nuts. They take a while for him to crack open but they are the only treat that really motivates him. So they are the treat I am using and reserving for training. He also likes walnuts... but he will someitmes leave them and they are not as much of a motivator as the cedar nuts.

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Posted (edited)

That's interesting about Alfie not wanting your food. Timber would try dirt if he thought I was eating it. He might fling it, but if I eat, he thinks he must share. He gets quite upset when I'm eating something he can't sample, like chocolate or avocado. He doesn't like pine nuts either. In fact, the only nut he truly seems to crave is the dreaded peanut. Not even a real nut but a legume for goodness sake!  He will eat nuts sometimes, especially if they are in the shell (I have to start the cracking process because he's lazy), but they certainly couldn't be used as a training treat. They are as individual in their tastes as people.

Edited by Timbersmom
Typo

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That's soooo weird! Timmy loves anything hot and cooked! Pasta, eggs - oh man, Timmy looooves eggs! Oh, you know what he went ape over? The other day I cut up a canteloupe. The last quarter wouldn't fit in the container,  so I served it up on a plate, and we shared. Or really, Timmy had it. He went to town on this thing! I just sat back and got a kick out of him shredding this canteloupe to bits - I barely had any! I don't know if I've ever seen such a pure rush of joy in anybody, ever!

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Sorry, I didn't mean to make that all about my bird. What I was getting at was how foreign it is to me for a bird to not want to eat a nice, hot meal!

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