Shaping the step up (back to basics)

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
I am so happy, previously I tried it 16 times and even my mum said it probably won't happen, then 6 days after he first ate out of the seed bowl, now he is done the what we fought was impossible.

I do finally believe he will get tame not matter how long it takes
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
Something is making me wonder...... I fed him today from my hand and he ate all the seeds that were on my fingers and continued eating from my palm. But then he went back to my finger and nibbled it.... Gently of course.
but what do you think he was doing, there were not even remnants of seed on it?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Roz

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
I think me and bailey are definitely bonding a lot now, we play winking games, he eats out of my hand, we talk (he chirps) and while I was feeding him his toe would be on my hand and I would have to lift my hand to unhook it but he didn't mind. At the start I was worried we would never truly bond, but now I am sure he can get tame.... The previous attempts of seed taming and now the success months later are definitely a slap in my face saying it will happen in time.
:biggrin:
Sorry for the long post
 

K8

Regular Member
All sounding so good, the hard work is well worth the rewards isn't it.
Just remember not to go too fast or if he is not in the mood, wait.
Keep up the great work, look forward to more updates
 

Roz

Regular Member
So glad it is all working out... you are a good trainer, Lauren! :applaudit: Nibbling... well, parrots use their beaks as we do fingers, so he could have been feeling your finger, it could even be a sign of affection. Methinks it is a good sign anyway! :D
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
I am unsure if I have stepped forward or let down bailey. Multiple times I have got his front toes on my hand and he doesn't mind while I feed him. This time while doing that he got his whole foot on me and he liked it because he could get at the seed better. I liked it because his neck was so soft. I was there for a while when he stepped on my hand completely. I moved and he was still on and tryed it again. He was alright but I only had him for a few seconds so did not put him back so he went back himself.

You said I should him back myself, he was not eating after but not scared.. Did I let him down?
Sorry for the long post
 

Roz

Regular Member
Hi Lauren, What you did sounds fine. As long as he can get back himself each time, that's great. What you don't want is to carry him too far away too soon so he starts to panic and will be less likely to step up in the future.

When he's confident with putting two feet on your hand with your hand still, then you can start moving it maybe an inch then back again so it's easy for him to step off again. Then maybe two inches and back again so he can step off if he want to. This way you are getting him used to your hand moving whilst he's on it. Slowly build up the time he's on your hand and how far you move it away from the perch but always allow him the option of stepping off again. This way he is in control which will give him confidence. You are doing so well!!! :applaudit:
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
Hi roz, haven't talked to you in a while, how you doing?
I have encountered a problem, being nearly Christmas I'm starting shaping , I'm only feeding seed out my hand as a reinforcer which he positively likes but I did not treat him when he tested my hand some time ago,so now he shows no interest in my hand, going as far as playing the winking game with me while my hand is in front or even aside of him. How do I get him interested again?
 

Roz

Regular Member
Hi Lauren, I'm well thanks as I hope you and Bailey are. :)
Does he still eat seed out of your hand?
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
Good, and he does eat from my hand still but does not attempt to get on it, I tried placing it lower but he leans down even if he can't reach it. Without seed he completely ignores my finger or hand , playing the winking game with me.
 

Roz

Regular Member
That's good he's still eating from your hand. You are pairing yourself with food and in time you (and your hand) will become a valuable reinforcer.

I am imagining that you are expecting him to get up on the hand that holds the seed? That will work to a certain extent. What would happen if you tried holding one hand over the top of the other (palms upwards) with the seed in the top hand? Get him used to eating like this for a while. Then very gradually whilst he's eating move the top hand towards your wrist so he has to start reaching for it. Keep the movement very small then end it there. Next time start again from the beginning and see if you can get him to reach a little further.... until over as many sessions as it takes, he begins to put a toe on the lower hand, then a foot, then two feet. Keep the sessions very short and always end on a successful step. If he fails any step then go back to the last successful one and go even slower. You could even try this just before giving him his breakfast to make the seed more desirable... you are not depriving him of food, he's getting exactly the same but is working for some of it.

When teaching a new behaviour it's important that the behaviour is reinforced every time.

Have you tried hanging some millet spray up in his cage? My mother's budgie now loves it after I got him some. Took a little while for him to try it. The more reinforcers you can collect the better. If Bailey got to like millet, for example, then you could offer it only for training sessions. Because it is not available all the time, like perhaps the seed is, it becomes more valuable and therefore he would be more inclined to work for it.

I don't know what the winking game is in observable behaviour, but if he does this often, then notice what is reinforcing it. :thumbsup: Could it be some kind of interaction with you? If an animal can hear, see, smell you, you are affecting it's behaviour ie. training it with every interaction. :)
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
Thanks roz, I will definitely do this. His seed is millet seed but the spray he is scared of ( even in little chunks) , my parents won't let me hang it in there as it is messy but if I could I am afraid it would stop him getting near the cuttlebone. He refused to get on the floor once because a ladder was on the farthest side of the cage. We're trying to get him to eat new stuff. He usually ignores it though, just have to wait.
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
I heard the winking game was both entertainment and a trust thing, if a prey animal is winking for long periods in front of a predator then it puts them at a disadvantage but therefore shows they trust you.
Winking back at them exactly in sinc is fun for them, but not blinking at all can unerve them as it shows you are a predator( almost like you are stalking) and at the moment its the only game I can play with him, he must like it as if I'm in the room he calls to me until I look at him to see he is trying to do it again.
He also likes it when every time he chirps I say something back to him.
 

Roz

Regular Member
That's good. If you only offer him the millet seed in your hand and it is not available in his cage then it makes it more valuable. I'm guessing he has normal seed in his cage. I only suggested the millet spray for ease of giving it to him, but you are already managing well.

Ah ha so you are reinforcing the winking game. That's great! :biggrin: You could use the winking game as reinforcement for stepping onto your hand, but be careful you are not reinforcing his avoiding your hand with it. :thumbsup:

Ok your voice too is becoming a reinforcer if his chirping maintains or increases! :applaudit: In which case you could also verbally praise him for each successful step when shaping his step up. All these wonderful reinforcers he's learning!!!
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
Yay candy canes on pictures. I am going to try and offer him a clean never used paintbrush to step up on as he will more readily accept this.
Than once he successfully steps up on this I can offer my finger. I am in a difficult position, he ignores it when in front, not knowing what it means and he absoluatley doesn't react what so ever to me pushing against his chest or lower abdomen. I am trying your idea but there is little space for that in the door making it hard to manoeuvre. He can also just move along the perch to reach it too.

I know I have to say step up when he gets on the paintbrush but do I have to treat him when he does? And then do the same with my hand still?
 

Roz

Regular Member
Yes, right now, treats are looking to be your best reinforcer with Bailey for the step up. You have successfully used your voice as a reinforcer to keep him chirping back to you, but that reinforcer hasn't been learned yet with the step up. Your voice is a conditioned reinforcer (it was learned) and treats are a primary reinforcer (unlearned - all birds have to eat). Because Bailey is pretty new without much history (yet!) of conditioned reinforcers, a primary reinforcer is easier to begin with. And yes, you need to reinforce EVERY instance of behaviour towards a step up. By all means you can pair vocal praise with each instance of behaviour towards a step up together with a treat. That way your voice will eventually become a conditioned reinforcer that you maybe able to use in the future without food. But right now keep working with the treats. I wouldn't use the cue "step up" until he has learned to, otherwise "step up" might come to mean all sorts of behaviours rather than the actual step up. But by all means praise as he gets it right.

If you want to desensitise him to a paintbrush to step on - great! Make sure the paintbrush isn't slippery (ie natural wood rather than varnished). If he gets on and slips off, the step up will be punished and he will be less likely to want to step on it in the future. What about using a spare perch very similar to one in his cage?

It's a case of trying this, trying that until you find something that works. With the paintbrush/perch, try maneuvering it between your treat hand and him. He reaches for the treat over the paintbrush. Yes, I see that there is little room for two hands through the cage door. Consider that when you are successful in getting him to step up inside the cage, getting him to step up outside of the cage will be a whole new behaviour. So he may not step up from the floor or other area. That said:

I have a feeling he hasn't been outside his cage yet? It might be just easier to open the door and see what happens. He's had a few weeks to settle in and get to know your bedroom. He knows his cage well and knows how to get food inside. Maybe try opening his door before breakfast and he might go back himself when he's hungry? But prepare first - where is he likely to go? Make sure the room is safe - cover mirrors and windows so he doesn't fly into them - if he can fly into the bathroom make sure the toilet lid is down. Be sure the bedroom is well lit - parrots can't see so well as it begins to get dark. With my budgie I used to attach one of those plastic perches right outside his door - he used to climb out and sit on it. Then climb up to the top of his cage. He used to take off and fly a few laps and land back on the top of his cage. Yes this was learned. I made the top of the cage enticing to him - I put toys on top of his cage and he used to stay up there most of the time.
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
Thanks roz for the advice, I wish I could get him out of that cage but that's hard which is why every thing is bet on him getting onto an object or finger to get out. I hate the cage he is in, because it was last minute, Sam finally got dad to agree when they went to rosendales for chicken food we did not have the right cage, he has a rounded top finch cage with vertical bars. There is not a lot of room for toys so he has a mirror. I have looked into cages but we are trying to get a horizontal bars cage but with no luck. Also if we do get one before he is step up trained how do we get him to go to the other cage. I have left the door open while getting seed onto my hand but it is the type of door that doesn't stay open on its own, I tried a elastic band and left it but bailey doesn't even consider coming out. When I do the next step of step up I am getting a clip to keep it open. It also doesn't have anything for bailey to get on to get out.
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
Do you know any websites that sell horizontal bar cages and where to get the bendable rope perches. All the ones we found are toys that spiral from top to bottom, being attached on one side and hanging the other
 

Lauren Smith

Regular Member
I'm going to get a perch off my grandad, bailey panics if I unhook one from the cage, I checked the paintbrush, it is varnished. Thanks for warning me.
 
Top Bottom