Friday, March 6, 2009

new skills, little twists

hey all,

Today when I worked with Dempsey, he started the session looking at the sky and barking, rather than really working. I think this is how he shows the stress of the job I am asking him to do. He worked through it, and did some nice reps of all 12 poles, but I think I need to find a way to help him through the tough stuff. In any case, I taped it (I really thought we would have another great session like yesterday), and it's here:

I thought a lot about what I wanted to do next with Peepers. Historically, he's been frightened of the perches I built for my original parrot agility project, so I thought a good start may be to work with him on dealing with those perches. The perches are PVC covered in vetwrap, one blue and one red. The blue one is getting a makeover (for some reason it gets disturbingly sticky in some weather), so I chose the red one. When I thought about how best to go about teaching Peepers that it's not scary, some of the more typical suggestions didn't seem to fit what my goals are (in the end, it's not just that I don't want him to be frightened, I want him to be enthusiastic about working with/around it.

So, since the perches kind of come apart, I put the perch portion of it on the kitchen island where we have been playing for a week. My original thought was to just have the perch there, and we would do other things around it, giving Peepers the idea that it's not dangerous just sitting there. I wasn't prepared for Peepers' reaction.

I set the perch down, and then went to get the clicker and treats. While I was doing that, Peepers flew to the island and immediately started circling the perch. That completely changed my plans for this session. We went straight to "do something with the perch". Kind of 101 things, although I have a behavior that I want in the end is for him to step onto it. Anyway, I taped the session, and it's here: . He did some really interesting stuff, so it's well worth watching. And I did a bunch of different stuff too :).

Then sparky was acting kind of interested in training, so I played with her and targeting. I taped it, and please forgive the sorry state of her feathers - I went on vacation for a coupla weeks, and she snipped a good portion of her wing feathers. For those of you who noticed, it was at the same time that Peepers broke off his tail feathers. Anyway, Sparky learned a new skill, which was to go down the bars to touch the target. You can see when I first ask her to do it, she doesn't know what to do. It was a nice little piece of problem solving for her, as she doesn't usually think about how to do things much. the video is here:

I had a really nice lunch today with Nikki, and am feeling kind of energized about working towards a business for training parrots here in Phoenix, kind of like dog classes. I really think that parrots and their people could benefit from this, and group classes are a format that I think I am pretty good at. We'll see what I can do over the next few months to achieve this.

As a note, I am going to publish this now, and add in the links to videos as they go live on youtube, so if there's no link, please check back. These take a while to download, and I want to get the information about these sessions out because they really got kind of interesting.

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