Starting off on the right foot with hand shy CAG

Scott199

Regular Member
Ok so started clicker/target training Saturday,
he was on top of his cage while I cleaned It and I thought, he’s calm let’s try, tried to target with chop stick and clicker, bit the stick and few times so no treat, touched it, yay, click treat,,, he chucked the treat down, tried again , touch, click, treat, chucked treat down, tried again, bit the end of my finger, my fault he did give me 2 warnings and I didn’t listen, realised after I deserved that one, only a little “listen” nip, so I went back to cleaning and we argued for a good 10 minutes, he thought he was a good boy, I disagreed.

anyway we tried again tonight, went really well I think.


@Roz
I’ve recorded it for you, would you give me pointers or just make sure I’m not unintentionally bringing bad things in please

part 1

Part 2

Part 3

These were a few minutes apart, I gave him a break and he came back and seemed like he wanted to do more.
 

Scott199

Regular Member
Scott you are doing well, I like the way you did not offer a treat if he bit the stick that was so good
Thanks Michael, appreciated.

little update, tonight burt decided he didn’t want to go back in his cage at 9:30, the normal grape/nutriberry didn’t work.

so I thought the stick, as he did so well.
Picked up stick he instantly looked at it, went over to him on his cage, stick a few inches, touch, give little treat and he took it really gently.

move stick to top of cage, Burt follows, touches and comes over to the edge for his treat and takes it nicely.

put stick on the other side of his cage (near his treat bowl inside his cage)
Burt touches stick gently, comes over for treat and “CHOMP” on the end on my finger, didn’t break skin but feels like I’ve hit my finger with a hammer.

Any ideas what I done wrong ??
or is this just the way it works ?
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
Ok stick training and treats, try to do the stick training early so when you fill his bowl he will fill a little Hungary. when giving a treat out side the cage make him stretch for it so he dose not get the opportunity to bite. one thing can you remember how you acted when he used hi beak on you?
 

Roz

Regular Member
That's great!!! :applaudit: You are using your voice as the bridge (voice or clicker does the same thing) and you are delivering the treat fast so that Burt realises "IF I touch the stick THEN I get the treat". Personally I wouldn't worry if he bites the stick. He will learn fast enough he only needs to touch it to get his treat. I like the way you are very gradually making him stretch further to touch it.

Strange that he bit your finger. If you were giving him a treat in a different place that might have had something to do with it. I noticed in the 3 videos you were giving him the treat in exactly the same place through the bars. Hmmm ask yourself what was different about giving him the treat this time? Maybe there were no bars between you? Maybe he had had enough of that particular treat? If Burt has a few favourite things, you can mix them up to make it even more interesting... like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you're going to get!

What are you using as a treat? Try putting your thumb and finger nail together and sliding the treat between the two nails. That way if he goes to bite, his beak should slip off the nails. Also if he lunges at the treat, just drop it. Lunge = no treat. He'll soon learn to take it nicely. Also you can make him stretch upward for the treat - it is difficult to stretch up and bite at the same time.
 

Scott199

Regular Member
That's great!!! :applaudit: You are using your voice as the bridge (voice or clicker does the same thing) and you are delivering the treat fast so that Burt realises "IF I touch the stick THEN I get the treat". Personally I wouldn't worry if he bites the stick. He will learn fast enough he only needs to touch it to get his treat. I like the way you are very gradually making him stretch further to touch it.

Strange that he bit your finger. If you were giving him a treat in a different place that might have had something to do with it. I noticed in the 3 videos you were giving him the treat in exactly the same place through the bars. Hmmm ask yourself what was different about giving him the treat this time? Maybe there were no bars between you? Maybe he had had enough of that particular treat? If Burt has a few favourite things, you can mix them up to make it even more interesting... like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you're going to get!

What are you using as a treat? Try putting your thumb and finger nail together and sliding the treat between the two nails. That way if he goes to bite, his beak should slip off the nails. Also if he lunges at the treat, just drop it. Lunge = no treat. He'll soon learn to take it nicely. Also you can make him stretch upward for the treat - it is difficult to stretch up and bite at the same time.
yes, the first time i got bit, i new what id done, he gave me a couple warnings he didn't want to play and i persisted, completely my fault.

Last night after the videos ( a few hours later)

he was out onto of his cage (spends 3/4hrs on his cage every night, he's not a flyer, seems happy just to sit and wander around the top of is cage) he wouldn't go back in so i tried the stick again, same as before (he was having small pieces of banana chips)

i stood in the same place, offered the stick (he was front left on top of cage) he came to the front middle touched stick and moved slightly back to mid left front to take his treat from my left hand.

i then offered stick slightly right of top centre, he waked over touched it and came back to front mid left to take the treat from left hand (same as before) only maybe 2 steps back.

i them moved the stick to front right of cage (still on top) he went over touched stick and came back for the treat (had the treat between my index and thumb as normal, (i have it so if he's a little harsh his beak slides between the gap left, kind of so my finger/thumb are left to right not under over if that makes sense)


and he just bit my index finger, I'm confused why he did this, he was calm.

i can't really say why, it was so quick, he came over nice and slowly just like before, nothing different.

he bit and i instantly dropped the treat (shock) put the stick down and turned away (missed the opatunity to stay No as it caught me off guard)

i left the room for a few minutes, my son came down and i said, "be careful Berts not happy" tommy went in and gave him a tiny walnut piece and he was fine. (still onto of his cage at this point)

up until this point as per the video he has always taken the treats very very gently and did so after with my son.

I'm not to that bothered id just like to really k ow what or why it went wrong.
 

Scott199

Regular Member
Ok stick training and treats, try to do the stick training early so when you fill his bowl he will fill a little Hungary. when giving a treat out side the cage make him stretch for it so he dose not get the opportunity to bite. one thing can you remember how you acted when he used hi beak on you?
not really, I've summarised/ given as much detail as i remember above in a long post :)
 

Roz

Regular Member
yes, the first time i got bit, i new what id done, he gave me a couple warnings he didn't want to play and i persisted, completely my fault.

Last night after the videos ( a few hours later)

he was out onto of his cage (spends 3/4hrs on his cage every night, he's not a flyer, seems happy just to sit and wander around the top of is cage) he wouldn't go back in so i tried the stick again, same as before (he was having small pieces of banana chips)

i stood in the same place, offered the stick (he was front left on top of cage) he came to the front middle touched stick and moved slightly back to mid left front to take his treat from my left hand.

i then offered stick slightly right of top centre, he waked over touched it and came back to front mid left to take the treat from left hand (same as before) only maybe 2 steps back.

i them moved the stick to front right of cage (still on top) he went over touched stick and came back for the treat (had the treat between my index and thumb as normal, (i have it so if he's a little harsh his beak slides between the gap left, kind of so my finger/thumb are left to right not under over if that makes sense)


and he just bit my index finger, I'm confused why he did this, he was calm.

i can't really say why, it was so quick, he came over nice and slowly just like before, nothing different.

he bit and i instantly dropped the treat (shock) put the stick down and turned away (missed the opatunity to stay No as it caught me off guard)

i left the room for a few minutes, my son came down and i said, "be careful Berts not happy" tommy went in and gave him a tiny walnut piece and he was fine. (still onto of his cage at this point)

up until this point as per the video he has always taken the treats very very gently and did so after with my son.

I'm not to that bothered id just like to really k ow what or why it went wrong.
Maybe he was bored with targeting (maybe too much repetition of the same thing)? Next time see if he will travel a longer distance to touch the stick (make him think more). African Grey's are extremely intelligent. Maybe he was tired of banana chips right then (he was happy to take the walnut) - try mixing up treats - sometimes a walnut piece, sometimes a banana chip. BUT you have some information: if he bites after three goes, stop after one or two goes. Keep watching that body language - only work with him when he seems keen. And stop before he tires.

You did well to drop the banana chip and turn your back. That is enough to remove the reinforcement. There is no need to say "no" - your body language said way more. If you wanted to (and his body language was ok) you could have turned around again after a few seconds and given him the opportunity to do the right thing then ended there. Thinking about that, because you stopped targeting after both bites, yesterday and today, he might have caught on that this is a good way to say "I don't want to play any longer". Hence try shorter training sessions. Make them fun. Just get him to target once and call it a day! A few hours later try another one. In between just have some fun with him.
 

Scott199

Regular Member
Maybe he was bored with targeting (maybe too much repetition of the same thing)? Next time see if he will travel a longer distance to touch the stick (make him think more). African Grey's are extremely intelligent. Maybe he was tired of banana chips right then (he was happy to take the walnut) - try mixing up treats - sometimes a walnut piece, sometimes a banana chip. BUT you have some information: if he bites after three goes, stop after one or two goes. Keep watching that body language - only work with him when he seems keen. And stop before he tires.

You did well to drop the banana chip and turn your back. That is enough to remove the reinforcement. There is no need to say "no" - your body language said way more. If you wanted to (and his body language was ok) you could have turned around again after a few seconds and given him the opportunity to do the right thing then ended there. Thinking about that, because you stopped targeting after both bites, yesterday and today, he might have caught on that this is a good way to say "I don't want to play any longer". Hence try shorter training sessions. Make them fun. Just get him to target once and call it a day! A few hours later try another one. In between just have some fun with him.
i see what you mean, so far with the two nips has ended each mini session, so i'm unintentionally teaching him that biting stops things.

completely see your point now, i'm really happy your taking the time, these little tiny things i wouldn't notice is what i'm worried about, if it happens again, i'll give him a little time (20 seconds, maybe a minute most) to have a little think then ill try again with a different treat and finish on a good note ??

if i use the above, how does he know or how am im letting him know its not acceptable to bite, if he gets a treat again after the bite ? is it just the short break/time out he will understand ??
 

Roz

Regular Member
Absolutely - you may be unintentionally teaching him that biting stops the sessions.

Turning your back just for a few seconds says enough. More time than that and the reason for turning your back becomes lost. So turn back to him after a couple of seconds, offer the stick again and if he successfully targets, give him a treat... same one or different. Give him lots of praise and call it a day. But this is worst case scenario.

Much better not to have the bite happen in the first place because the more he bites in that scenario, the more he is learning to bite. So watch his body language and stop the training WAY before he even thinks of biting. Gradually you can increase the number of reps again. Make sure he's always a willing participant. Keep giving him treats for other things too.

Re your last sentence, you are not turning around to just give him the treat. You are turning around to give him another chance to target for which he then gets a treat.
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
Thank you Roz great replies, I am not so good as explaining as you are, understanding Body language of both your birds and your own and what they mean to each of you can make the difference in gaining and losing trust or the bird sees your reinforcement behavior
 

Scott199

Regular Member
Last night he was on his cage, we've had a T perch for a few days now, been resting on the side or the cage, sitting on top and just generally moving it around the outside of his cage.

i offered it to him a few times and he moved away so instantly quit that, last night i held it near him when he was out and he came over and gave it a few nibbles and went back, i moved it slightly closer, same few nibbles but didn't move away, he offered his foot, he's had all his treats, so had to do the old high pitched "good boy, well done burt" thing.

After maybe 10 minutes of this he put one foot on, then a minute or two later he stepped onto it, yay 2 steps forward, but i moved it and he flew away, (3 steps back :( ) well i say flew, he can't really fly, he's more a faller with style and he landed on the floor, panic set in, but i offered the perch and he stepped up again, tried to get him back to his cage and he freaked and flew to the middle of the floor, so slowly i bent down and crawled over to him, he stepped up again and i slowly took him back to his cage, he stepped off and seemed quite calm and content.
looking for insights into this body laugage or behaviour.

things are still going fine, target training going well, nothing bad since we backed it down to 2/3 then stop (thank you @Roz ) he’s quite good, very good in cage a tiny bit grabby outside but it’s fine.

anyway as above with the T perch, offer it up moves away, so basically the same as my quote.

3 times now he has lifted his foot but if I move the perch an inch closer he fly’s away ( well glides with style downwards )
I can then go and offer the perch and he instantly steps onto it and I can move him back to his cage and he calmly climbs off, no stress or panic or grabbing at his cage (when this happens I’m 99% sure he would step up onto hand/arm, not tested as I don’t want to stress him anymore than needed)

so he’s not scared of the perch per say but doesn’t want or like being taken or using it from his cage ??

1. Do I “force/nudge” him into stepping up on the perch with treats and such. (I dont

2. Do I just leave him and let it happen one day, if it ever does ??

It’s a dilemma as I feel he would like to come out and be around the house with us more, I’m worried he’s not getting enough excitement just sitting on-top of his cage.

But on the other hand I know he will instantly step up to the perch from anywhere if I need to get him or he ends up on the floor or in a risky place, so any need to push for a step up.
 

Roz

Regular Member
He should come toward the perch to step up himself (that way he has a choice).... to nudge that choice in your favour, you can lure him with a treat. You can hold the treat just out of reach so that he has to put one foot on the perch to reach it. Next time see if you can get two feet up on the perch before giving him the treat. But make sure you get rid of the lure as quickly as you can by beginning to hide it in your fingers because by following a lure he is not learning the behaviour properly. Then let him get down again immediately - that way he is in control and will have more confidence to step up again in the future.

A moving perch is very different to a stationary one, so you are going to have to first shape duration (the time he stands on the perch). When he's used to getting on the perch for a treat, then you can try holding off giving him the treat for 2 seconds. Then next time 3 seconds, then 5 seconds, etc.

Next, you can begin to shape his standing on the perch whilst you move it an inch, then back again and let him step off. Treat! Next time, step up, move it 2 inches and back again and let him step off. Treat! Gradually you will be able to move him further and further from the cage. By making sure you put him back again each time gives him confidence that you won't just walk off with him which is scary. It's all done in tiny manageable non-scary steps. That way he will be more willing/confident to step up and stay on the perch in the future.

If you find him on the floor where he needs to step up, he probably will if he needs help getting up. It may be enough reinforcement to get him back to his familiar cage, or you may have to give him a treat.

Gradually the step up will become self fulfilling - ie. a step up to go look out of the window with you, or to play with you, etc. But for now make sure you reinforce it EVERY time - ie. you are putting it on a continuous schedule of reinforcement - vitally important when learning a new behaviour. Use the most valuable reinforcer for the step up to make it worth his while.
 

Scott199

Regular Member
So again today but with my youngest (15), he’s got a really good bond with him, he’s always walking in and chatting, treating him and Burt does the head bob when he sees him.

but today same as me, burts out on his cage like normal, tommy walks in chats a bit asks if he wants a treat and gets a walnut walks over asking if he wants it, Burt goes over to him on his cage top.

tommy offers the walnut (a whole one) , Burt gently leans over as he gets an inch away “whack” tags him in the finger 🤔

tommy kind of jumps a little walks away and ask if he should try again I said “up to you but you shouldn’t really leave it like that” he’s gets another treat, banana chip goes back over “asks Bert to be gentle” (we’ve been saying this from day one) Bert leans in very slowly and as he gets an inch away “bang” has him again on his index finger, he doesn’t break the skin but plenty of pressure.

Its got us confused as he’s always calm, nothing strange happened and he leans over to take his treat just like he does 5-10 times a day, we hold his treat maybe 3/4/5” inches away and he comes over, slowly reaches and takes the treat, he’s really, really gentle mostly.
 

Roz

Regular Member
Sounds like it was no longer reinforcing at that particular moment to take the treat. Maybe he was full up with them? Maybe he just was not in the mood to take one. Sometimes we get sick of chocolate if we've already been eating a lot of it. Maybe it has become more reinforcing to whack the finger with the beak and see what happens. Maybe the head bob and a bit of chatting was enough for Burt right then - from what you say they sound reinforcing for Burt. You know nothing of Burt's history - he may not be used to all this attention.

I wouldn't offer the treat again in that situation. Just drop the treat. Biting = no treat. If you offer again and he's already said he doesn't want it, he's going to bite harder to make himself understood next time.

Watch that body language for any clues about how he is feeling... if he's willing to interact. Remember their body language can be very subtle. The raising or lowering of feathers here and there, eye shape etc. Treats aren't the only reinforcer and he will get full up with them, so it's always a good idea to keep a look out for other reinforcers too. Are there any foot toys that Burt would take just for interaction.... a piece of Balsa wood, or pine wood, a short willow stick etc.?
 

Scott199

Regular Member
Hi Roz, thank you, yes we are trying to do everything and take note, this ones just got us a little stumped no body language I can see or notice, he hadn’t had a treat for hours, not sure he had one that day as it was the morning.

I agree about the attention, maybe he’s just not used to so much.

It’s not a super issues, just trying to understand why so we can work to avoid, lucky enough it’s not an aggressive “I want to hurt you” type things, it hurts but didn’t break the skin and tommy has baby soft hands, so it’s not affecting others interacting with him.

On another note today cleaning his cage he sat on his door perch inside and as I reached in for his paper he made a move towards my arm (usually we move him to the top perch with a bribe) , I decided to grit my teeth and see what the outcome was, I just said be nice and he touched my arm with his beak, done this quite a few times, kind of holding but not biting, I could feel his beak but it was really gentle, he only touched it for a second or so each time (I can only imagine it’s like a beak test to see what or if it’s safe)

and then lifted his foot, I moved my arm towards him and he turned and walked away to his food bowl.

I’m taking that as a 10 steps forward 😁😁 success, first time he’s touched or really got close to any of us (he’s done it through his bars but not in the open like that) after he moved away I carried on cleaning his cage with a silly grin on my face like 5 numbers had come in on the lottery. 🙄
 

Oli Fry

Regular Member
Registered
To add to all the splendid advice above, I've found that a fairly thin (3/4 inch max) natural branch is the best stick to use for my hand-shy timneh grey. She likes apple or something similar that is rough and easy to grip and that is fun to chew. She hates dowel perches. Good luck and well done for doing everything right and not rushing so far.
 
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