This story literally cracks me up. When my client in Hawaii sent me photos of her enjoying her blue and gold macaw on the beach nearby in a harness... I was floored! Just weeks prior, I was at her home for a flight training consult. In the midst of flight training, my client (Claudia) said, "How about harness training?" (a month before this she said, "How about potty training?")
I simply said, "Lets train one thing fully at a time." but she insisted on getting her in a harness. Since the ones on the market confuse the absolute heck out of me... Dave made one on the spot. We show it in this video:
We got it on her by using large nuts she was busy grabbing and/or eating and got the harness on her. The process wasn't so bad, but once it was on is when it really became negative. Sunshine, the macaw, would not leave it alone! It was her sole goal and focus to get the thing OFF. We suggested trying to get her used to it and using lots of treats after we left for the days to come but Claudia said she couldn't get near Sunshine with it. I suggested a break from harness training while we just focused on flight. (I'm the type that likes to train one thing at a time, be fully done, before moving on. Claudia is not, hahaha.)
About a week and a half later... I received the following messages...
Of course, I freaked out with joy and asked, "But HOW did you do it?!"
This was her answer (she's Brazilian so excuse the typos and grammar if you're wondering!)
It was so unbelievable and awesome that I had to share. I know there will be a select few who can use their bird's jealousy over a stuffed animal to get their bird harness trained, but even so, it may give you the creativity you need to train that next thing.
Claudia knew Sunshine's weaknesses and played into them, used them to teach her and was patient in not expecting it to happen in one day, or seven.
It's so important to use what you know about your bird to help improve its life - to teach it, to adapt. That's what training is all about, adjusting and adapting your methods as you go. And I'm so proud that Claudia has learned to do just that.