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FEATURE


understanding turns out to be more complicated when it comes to practical application. Force free training is based on the theories that have developed from research and the practice of behaviour science. Barbara is keen to point out that training parrots is something far beyond trick training - amusing and cute as that can be. What a parrot trained by Barbara’s methods will show is how parrots can be cooperative, fun, interactive and free of behaviour problems. In other words well- adjusted to life as companion animals. One of the best PR methods is shaping behaviour. Once you have identified what you want the bird to do you break the behaviour down into small steps. The first step must be learned before moving on to the next step. Eventually all the steps when joined together lead up to the final desired behaviour. Approximations are used to train behaviours. So to train the bird to step on the hand the first approximations might be that he looks towards the hand without withdrawing. Then the bird puts one claw on a finger. Each step get a reward, which is usually a favourite treat, This technique can be used to train a bird to step up onto the hand, go onto a scale, step onto strangers, enter a crate, wave and much more. Another useful PR method is capturing. As soon as the bird does something you want her to do you praise and reward her. Within quite a short time that behaviour will be presented to a cue.


Training doesn’t always go in a straight line and sometimes we less expert trainers lose heart. But if you persist and keep sessions short, birds are forgiving of less than expert training. Each species, each bird, each behaviour offers new challenges so it is always exciting.


Training with approximations is a subtle


interaction between the trainer and the bird. You have to choose the exact moment to ask something more and get it. This is where watching an experienced trainer is so rewarding because their timing is so precise. Training doesn’t always go in a straight line and sometimes we less expert trainers lose heart. But if you persist and keep sessions short, birds are forgiving of less than expert training. Each species, each bird, each behaviour offers new challenges so it is always exciting. Using the terms described above and positive reinforcement methods, the training is simply teaching. An animal trained with positive reinforcement methods is given choice. If she complies, she will earn a reward. What behaviours we choose to teach are limitless. In addition to training birds for entertainment, we can use this form of communication to address


BIRD SCENE 09


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