It has been very busy here at The Animal Behavior Center over the past few months. We had our annual event and then my lecture schedule is taking me out of town for several weeks and still not over. In my presentation that I gave on The Parrot Lover’s Cruise last week, I addressed several behavior issues that are arising here due to our being busy and not having the time to train. With lack of training comes many undesired behaviors from the animals we live and/or work with.
So, let’s get started. Our daily behavior modification plans are being put into place for each animal. In this particular blog post I’m going to share with you my plan with Suki, our blue-fronted amazon. Every day, in the beginning I’ll start working with Suki in mornings before the volunteers get here. After I start getting reliable and predictable behavior, I will then begin varying the times I get her out and work with her to prevent routine which can lead to anxiety. The behavior issues I’m working on with Suki are her dive-bombing heads while heads are turned. She is also showing nesting behaviors such as flying to dark corners, areas, and wanting to walk under cabinets. These nesting behaviors can lead to other aggressive behaviors we are seeing such as the dive-bombing and lunging. This is why I never reinforce nesting behaviors by providing parrots boxes to play in, happy huts in cages, toys with large holes to crawl in, etc.
Suki is very bonded to Murray, our greenwing macaw. Not earning the trust through training and getting in between them can cause high anxiety behaviors in both of them such as screaming, lunging, and biting.
Are you yet following my scopes yet? Scopes are live-broadcasts on-line through a Twitter app called Periscope. Once you download the app you can find me by searching for Animal Behavior Center. Each day I try to scope from the center on a behavior issue, a training, tip or an enrichment tip. Yesterday I scoped on teaching Suki to station, meaning going to an area and not move until cued to do otherwise. I just started training her this yesterday and stationed her to a pvc perch at the front of the room. I am also working on keeping her stationed as I turn my back for small periods of time. I’ll eventually increase these periods of time until the undesired behavior of dive-bombing no longer exists. I know if I don’t keep reinforcing her stationing, the dive-bombing will resurge. Here is my scope from yesterday. You will hear me talking to people attending my scope but you can’t see what they are saying.
During this training session yesterday she didn’t dive bomb once because I reinforced the station without pushing her past that threshold of wanting to leave the pvc perch. I bridge (giving a sound or signal that tells the animal that particular behavior is what is earning its reinforcement until I can get the reinforcement to the animal) and turn and reinforce before she flies off the perch to dive-bomb my head.
Take a look at the photo. If I stand back by the sink in back ground, she’s likely to dive bomb my head because it’s next to Murray’s cage on the back right and I have identified a nest site next to Murray’s cage. In this photo I called her back, and recalling her back to the front where I placed her on her station. I reinforced her for stationing and walked her back into her enclosure. Her morning fruits and veggies were then delivered and an extra pine nut for an awesome morning training session. The whole time out and total length of several training sessions was 20 minutes. A very accomplishable time to train daily.
At the same time I was training Suki, I was also training Rico, our umbrella cockatoo to target his beak to a stick without biting it and pulling it in his cage. I was also teaching Milo the pig to station as well because Rico will chase Milo if Milo is too close to his cage. Yes, I was training all three at once. All were potential behavior issues impacting each animal. I couldn’t not train all three or undesired behaviors would be reinforced. Make sense? We are always training. The key question is ‘what are we training?’
If you find this information helpful and want more consistent information on animal behavior, training and enrichment, you may want to take a look at our Membership Programs here at The Animal Behavior Center. Our memberships are an on-line program consisting of behavior, training and enrichment advice and details provided to you every month, numerous times a month for a whole year.
Thanks for reading and thanks for following. I hope this information helps you in the daily lives you share with animals.