Forcing a Training Session (Why Not To)

The more times you let your bird say "no" with its body language and you respect that decision, the more often your bird will say YES! The more often you give your bird a choice, the more often it will choose you. 

This is an incredibly important lesson in parrot ownership. If your bird doesn't want to go on the counter, don't make it. Ask yourself does it HAVE to go on the counter? If the answer is no, then let it go somewhere else. 

One of the main struggles I see between Patty and Morgan is Patty not giving Morgan any options. She tends to "work through" getting Morgan to do what she wants her to do, instead of just saying, don't wanna? Ok, what do you wanna do? Lets do that. 

The more you bend and respect your bird's wants and needs, the more likely they will do the same for you and go down on the surface YOU want them to when you ask them because they know they have a choice. 

Forcing a training session is a real drag. You should be able to tell in that initial interaction whether or not you should continue in a training session. For me, it's a feeling of YES! Or a feeling of a lack. It's all told through the bird's body language and eagerness to interact. 

This second video is another forced session (what I refer to as "strike two" being the second forced session in a row. 

Now, Patty made the assumption that this session was going this way because of her last one with a lack of making the session fun. Here's the difference in those two sessions:

Session 1. The first session started on a HIGH! High energy/enthusiasm, then it fizzled out as Patty wasn't keeping it interesting enough for Morgan to stay engaged. 

Session 2. The session started on a very low note, disinterest, no real engagement. 

Sometimes getting a bird in "training mode" by cueing already learned behaviors can change a bird's mind to want to train, or upping the reinforcement but sometimes a bird just doesn't want to train... and guess what? That's OK! Yeah, really, it's OK. 

After analyzing these sessions we've decided to adjust our training sessions accordingly:

  • Patty gets less control. Although I will still ask her what she thinks we should do, I will be making the final decision and she will need to go along with it knowing I know best, and have both their best interests in mind. We can't afford anymore forced sessions, misread body language cues or ignoring of Morgan's signals to be on-going. 
  • We will be doing 3 repetitions, then stopping and reviewing the video footage immediately together and giving notes/praise accordingly, then another 3 and pow-wow, etc. This way information can be taken in gradually and Patty can receive positive reinforcement more often without being distracted with Morgan in the room. 
  • We will be implementing JACKPOT rewards of whole almonds when Morgan responds immediately, steps down perfectly and timely or flies long distance to Patty to increase her motivation to do these desired behaviors. 
  • I've gotten Patty a training belt that holds her treats, jackpot rewards, clicker and target stick to help with the coordination issue she's been having (NOT uncommon by the way! Just watch a few episodes of One Day Miracles, haha!) The lack of using a clicker or the treat box properly was weighing heavily on me as I felt these are extreme motivators for Morgan to participate in training. Patty is adamant about not using the treat box so hopefully her treat bag will act as a signal in and of itself to Morgan that it's training time, the way the treat box does for me. 
  • I will not be present in the room of training but in the next room over, so I am available for assistance but otherwise it will just be Morgan and Patty training in the room. This is to eliminate me as a distraction to Morgan, an option for her to fly to or any added pressure on Patty. I'm truly hoping this weans her onto solo sessions (as I leave the country soon) and gives her a more natural setting to let her natural instincts with birds come into play. 

1 comment


Thanks for pointing this out – and that it’s okay. I’ve never forced training because trying to make a parrot do something it doesn’t want to is kinda like herding cats!


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published