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"The bird school. Clicker training for parrots and other birds" Also covering flighted birds and taming. by: Ann Castro

This link is a good informational page on clicker training:
http://www.bonsaibirds.com/htm/Items/actbs.htm

Ann owns a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to improve the relationships and understanding between birds and owners thus minimizing the number of birds losing thier homes.

At Bonsai Birds we share the same mission, which is why I am such a huge advocate of her clicker training methods.

Sales of her book on our site send 50% to her not-for-profit and the other 50% goes towards our efforts to start a non-profit as well for the work that we already do in this respect.
 

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Author: Ann Castro

Clicker training is a training method that utilizes the way animals learn naturally. All living beings over time show only behaviours that are worthwhile to them. In Clicker training we utilize this mechanism by positively reinforcing wanted behaviours, but never punishing unwanted behaviours. This allows us to build strong relationships with our animals on a basis of mutual love and trust.

Clicker training is easy to do and is a lot of fun for your animal and you.

Your bird should have no clipped wings. To learn trust he needs the possibility to flee, clipped wings are forcing him to stay with you and has nothing to do with trust. Clipping a birds wing is also detrimental to his physical and mental well being. If your bird is already clipped, your training should be careful and very respectful, until he has learned to fly again.

Always ignore unwanted behaviors and lavishly reward wanted behaviours

Just like their wild cousins, pet parrots will show behaviours that are rewarded. Ideally, we would give our parrots a treat exactly whenever they show behaviours that we like. This can be difficult or even impossible, depending on what you are trying to teach. Clicker training allows us to communicate very precisely to our birds which behaviours we like and reward. This training method derives its name from its main training tool, the clicker, a simple little plastic box with a metal plate which makes a clicking sound when it is depressed.

The clicker functions as a bridge between the animal’s behavior and the treat. With it, we are able to mark a desired behaviour exactly at the moment that it is shown and communicate to our parrot: “That’s it! Well done! For this you get a treat!” In order for the clicker to convey this message, however, it must be linked to the reward, before commencing training. This is called conditioning the clicker.

Exercise 1: The supertreat
Find out what your birds FAVORITE treat is

Exercise 2: Conditioning the clicker
Associate the click with the treat

Once the clicker has been conditioned, we can start training. This brings us to our next question. How do we get the bird to show us a behaviour that we like so that we can then click and treat it?

There are basically five ways to obtain a desired behaviour:
1. Catching the behavior
2. Showing the behavior
3. Shaping behavior
4. Enticement

The bird can also be enticed to show a behavior, e.g. when we let him follow a treat and reward him for following. In clicker training we use a target stick – never food to entice our bird. We want the bird to learn an exercise in a way that he will later be able to do it on command without any aids. If you train using food as a lure, the bird will just run to wherever he thinks a treat may be hidden. This makes for very difficult and frustrating training. So, don’t be tempted!

5. Physical assistance

Following the target stick
We will start our clicker training course by teaching the bird to follow the target stick. This is simply a little stick appropriately sized for the bird you are training with, such as a shish kebab skewer for smaller birds or a chop stick for larger birds. Next to the clicker, the target stick is the most important tool in clicker training. With it many exercises are taught, such as stepping-up and down from your hand, going into the cage, turning, etc. Your bird’s learning success for those exercises that utilize the target stick depends on the reliability with which your bird has learned to follow it. Thus, you should train this exercise, until it is one hundred percent reliable.

Exercise 3: Tweaking the target stick

If your bird will not bite into the target stick or if he is afraid of it, you must divide this exercise into smaller steps. Go to a distance at which the bird shows no fear. Then click and treat your bird for looking at the target stick, or even for moving his head a little bit into the direction of the target stick. Click and treat him for moving closer, for touching it for the first time and definitely for tweaking it. Subsequently, proceed as outlined in Step 1. And please remember to be generous with rewards! Click, treat and praise him for every little move into the right direction.


The author
Since childhood, Ann Castro has been surrounded by birds and other animals. Both parents being medical doctors - her father a psychiatrist and neurologist, her mother a general practitioner who also bred budgeriars - Ann was introduced to behavioral, as well as medical topics at an early age.
The author has been involved with parrots for many years. She teaches clicker training for birds and gives advice to parrot owners regarding all issues related to their pets. Ann Castro is a certified parrot behaviour consultant and accredited member of the IAABC. Her area of specialization is the resocialization of birds with behavioral issues.

In 2003, Ann Castro founded a not-for-profit company, the AdlA Papageienhilfe gGmbH. AdlA stands for „Amigos de las Aves“ which means “friends of the birds”. “Papageienhilfe” is the German word for parrot aid. The aim of the AdlA Papageienhilfe is to improve the relationships and understanding between birds and owners and thus minimizing the number of birds losing their homes. Ann Castro’s advice is sought by pet owners, veterinaries and pet shops alike. She has also appeared in various TV shows as a parrot expert. Her book “The bird school. Clicker training for parrots and other birds”, originally published in German, is now also available in English.

Ann Castro, a born Canadian who currently lives in Germany, holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto and a Masters degree in Business Administration from York University, Canada.

Ann Castro may be contacted via e-mail: [email protected]
The bird school. Clicker training for parrots and other birds. Ann Castro, AdlA Papageienhilfe gGmbH, ISBN 978-3-939770-03-9
 

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Thanks Andrea

Although I don't have a parrotlet yet, I do use clicker training with my dog, so its nice to know it can be used in parrotlets too :) That guide above is very useful to make the switch.

Carla
 

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When you use the clicker what is the reaction of the bird supposed to be??
 

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Are there any stores that you can buy the clicker from other then ordering online because my dad prefers not to order things online because hes scared of theft and things like that!
 

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umm just a simple way to make a clicker

take a bottle cap like a juice lid example fruitopia

then from the hollow side push the indentations inwards along the outside rim

tada u can pop it in and out like a clicker :D
 
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