Sometimes when faced with behavioral issues with our birds, we immediately quantify them as BIG problems, potentially unfixable problems. But what we fail to realize when we’re “in the trenches” is that often times, our biggest problems can be solved much quicker than we’d even imagine once we apply some new training techniques. In Lauren’s case, she was able to solve her “big step-up problem” in as little as 2 days!
Lauren Moore and her husband are the proud parronts to a 2 year old Red-sided Eclectus named Oliver. They live in Howell, MI along with Oliver’s furred siblings, Puck and Gideon – both lab mixes. As a recent graduate and housewife, Oliver is lucky to receive a lot of Lauren’s attention – including as her trusting sweeping sidekick. She has worked hard to raise her baby bird up right, but recently turned to Bird Tricks for help when Oliver developed an unexpected – and painful – refusal to “step-up”.
Hi, Lauren! How did you come to adopt Oliver?
I bought Oliver from a breeder when he was just 5 weeks old. The breeder gave him to me unweaned, so it was a learning curve for both of us. Knowing what I do now, I would NEVER recommend an inexperienced owner being given an unweaned baby. There is too much possibility of unintentional harm being done.
So true. I’m glad you didn’t have to learn that lesson the hard way. How did you first start realizing you had a behavior problem with Oliver?
I taught Oliver to step up early on and it was never a problem. Then one day he just decided that he was NOT stepping up anymore, and would bite HARD if I even put my hand in the step up position. I had no idea what was going on. The first day I thought maybe he was just crabby. The second day I thought he was trying to show me he was boss. The 3rd day and on I had no idea what the deal was. Was he scared of my hands all of a sudden? Was he angry at me? Did he just not like me at all anymore?
What were your first steps in trying to stop Oliver’s biting?
Even though Oliver wouldn’t step up anymore, I continued to let him out of his cage. Getting him back IN became a big problem. He would bite me as soon as I put my hand near him, and it wasn’t a warning bite. He would clamp down and grind his beak. I tried using a dowel in case it was my hands that he was afraid of, but that didn’t work either. He attacked the dowel each time it was near him. I finally figured out that he wasn’t stepping up for anything and we had to revise the way we got him back in his cage. I purchased the Bird Tricks Taming, Training, and Tricks program and looked for additional help on their Facebook page.
What did you learn that helped you in your training with Oliver?
When I began using the training technique of ASKING Oliver to step up instead of COMMANDING him to, it was like finding the golden ticket! Within days he was stepping up almost every time. The hardest part of this training was being patient and allowing Oliver to make the decision of when he wanted to step up. If he didn’t want to, I would just walk away and come back a few minutes later. Now, not only does he step up just about every time I ask him, he will even step up occasionally from inside his cage, which was something he would never do before. He also will lift his leg up to let me know he wants to step up even if I’m not asking him to.
That’s awesome! How long did it take before you saw these positive results with Oliver?
Only about 2 or 3 days. =)
Have you noticed any changes in Oliver’s behavior now that you’ve given him the option to choose?
Asking Oliver to step-up didn’t just change his stepping-up behavior, it also affected his attitude overall. Although Oliver isn’t an affectionate bird, he has become more interested in spending time just sitting on me and it’s been weeks since he bit me. In the past, Oliver has not been very friendly to my husband (other than when he had food in his hand), but recently he has even been a bit friendlier towards him. He will still apply pressure with his beak if he doesn’t like something I’m doing, but now he gives ME the option of changing my behavior before I get bit. LOL
Congratulations on your successes, Lauren, and thank you for your enthusiasm to share your experiences. You’ve done an excellent job with Oliver!
All of the photos in this post were provided by Lauren Moore.Chrissann offers private behavioral consultations for the furred and feathered in the British Virgin Islands. She is passionate about applying the science of behavior to animal training and has received the following training certificates; “Behavior Apps: Training with Art and Science”, Certificate of Excellence from Natural Encounters Inc, “Living and Learning with Parrots – The Science and Technology of Behavior Change” and Certificate of Excellence from Behavior Works.