I’ve heard rumors that parrots can be trained. Heck, goldfish can be trained, so our smart-as-three-year-old piles of feathers should be trainable. I’ve seen lots of parrot shows, but I half believed those birds were animatronics, like at the Happiest Place on Earth. The shows are the same, every time I watch them.
Barbara Heidenreich photo found on Pinterest. Buy her book The Parrot Problem Solver. http://www.amazon.com/Parrot-Problem-Solver-Barbara-Heidenreich/dp/0793805627
Then I found this handout titled Bird Training Guidelines. And I realized Maynard has been training me!
The first item on the list is: Always end on a positive note. Whenever I put Maynard away after playtime, he says, “I love you!” or “Good Boy Maynard!” I thought he wanted me to give him a treat. Now I see he was making sure I felt good about our time together.
Down the list a ways, it says: If you or the bird is showing signs of frustration, back up a step or stop on a positive note. Pushing Maynard to let me pick him up can be frustrating, and he will quickly back up a bunch of steps, then go off to one of his secret hidey holes and make strange noises. Who knew he was venting his frustration in my lack of smarts? “Once more, Mom has failed the test. I will try letting her scratch my head and try to find a pretty feather to drop for her. Then we start over.”
Contemplating next lesson for me.
Determine what your bird considers a reward. For me, it’s easy. Sugar free chocolates or my honey’s smooches. For Maynard, well, sometimes it’s walnuts. Sometimes it’s tortilla chips. Some days peanuts will do. The very best reward is a cellophane pack of two saltine crackers. A toy and a treat in one place. Sadly, it takes him all of 5 minutes to rip through it and devour the crackers, so it won’t work to halt a training session to give him that. He’ll have to settle for feather scritches.
Keep training sessions short. Okay, then that explains why Maynard will fluff up and shake all his feathers, then get down from my chair and go somewhere else. We are so done here. Another guideline on this sheet is Patience, Patience, Patience. I appear to be short one of those. Maynard only has them when the moon is not full, and it’s relatively cool outside. Today was not one of those days.
Obviously Maynard graduated from The Bird School.
The Golden Rule of Animal Training is that the desired behavior will increase when postitive rewards are used. I guess jumping up every time Maynard screams to see which treat he wants now is not the best way to get him to stop screaming. Wait. He has me trained! Darn smart parrot.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday unless he has other plans.