Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bits of stuff here and there

Hi all,

For the past coupla days, I've been taking Peepers out to the barn to work on flight stuff and acclimating to the barn. The heat has kind of taken it out of him, so I have backed off other training. But today, it has cooled off to a lovely 95 degrees, so we were able to work on everything.

First off I guess is what's happening in the barn. Every day, Peepers is more willing to do more things he knows, but he still has a lot that he is concerned about. I can hardly blame him. Yesterday, the neighbors right on the other side of the fence were working on their RV, and today the new tenant in the garage apartment came out to say hi. In addition, there's a mockingbird nest right outside one of the big doors, and that bird does some interesting things :). We've also had model airplanes in the field behind the property, breezes that make the barn creak, and lots of other new stuff. What's great about all of this is that Peepers has continued to work with me, and tried to pay attention. Today was the first day Peepers did not want to come back in the house when we were done training, so I ended up spending quite a bit of time picking him up, walking to his travel cage, watching him fly off, and walking to pick him up. over and over and over again. There's a technique that some people use with dogs to get them to pay attention that may help Peepers in this case that I am considering - if he refuses to go in his cage, I may leave the building and walk out of sight. I want to be sure that this will be effective for him, though before I try it - if he doesn't care whether or not I am around, this will fizzle badly :).

The dogs have been interesting. Hold is coming along ok, with Bungee telling me it is IMPOSSIBLE to hold a clay coaster. IMPOSSIBLE. It doesn't matter that Sophie does it. IMPOSSIBLE. Dempsey is almost managing to sit still while holding, although I am reminding myself constantly to make sure I reinforce before he starts to wiggle. One misstep, and he's wiggling all over the place again. Sophie has turned into such a little holding pro that I wanted to take a picture of her holding a sunflower from the backyard. The sunflowers have little fuzzy spiky things on the stems, and although she would hold it, she looked like I beat her into doing it. So I didn't snap a shot . I'll try and find something else cute to do...

Peepers harness session turned out super short. It seemed to me that he really didn't want to do it, but he was sticking around like he did want to train. So I asked him to put his head in one time and we would be done. So that's what he did lol.

Sparky, OTOH, was a rock star. Today she left her head in the big loop while it touched her. Pretty big deal, IMO :). I think Sparky's progress is more typical of an adult parrot learning about the harness - she's going at a slow but steady pace, whereas Peepers started like gangbusters and has slowed considerably. I find it easier to know how much more to try with Sparky on any given session, I think because I feel like I know more about how she's feeling.

Then I worked on the retrieve with both of them. Peepers is doing pretty well, and is starting to move his head slightly towards my hand when he drops the die . Sparky had a big session on this - she picked up the die and started running around with it. I don't think she knew quite what she should do with it, but eventually she let go. It seemed like it was a pretty big deal in her book, so I asked her to pick it up a couple more times and we were done. Sometimes she is so silly...

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