Darren teaches Recall Training in an easy step by step method.
Teach your parrot to come to you with his recall training methods.
Darren has graciously agreed to share with us how he trained his parrots to recall. I hope this is the first of more training articles to come.
First and foremost I do want to mention that I have only worked with handfed baby birds, that were hatched from breeders here in the U.S., and were 4 or 6 months old when I began. But, I understand these are the same steps to take with birds that are of any age.
The steps I took were:
1. Develop a great relationship with the bird. I used my hand to hold food for them, with Marco for about 14 days and Polo for 6 days. ( I continued with Marco for 30 days total, in order to get him to FLY TO ME while outside, but again, this is for RECALL training ... and outdoors is a WHOLE NEW ballgame).
They would literally sit by me and eat out of my hand. I would let them sit where they want and just let them eat out of my hand. I didn't even try to touch or pet them, which reinforced trust. I let them come to ME. But, if anyone has had a hungry parrot that can fly, they know .. when you eat .. there they are .. RIGHT next to you or on you, and in most cases, just preparing the food is enough to get some loud screams and their attention.
Slowly touching a leg, wing or beak and moving on until the birds body language shows they are not content or happy is fine. What I would do with a bird that doesn't like to be touched, once they know the clicker means "get reward" I would touch the leg first, then click and reward.
Continue for a day or two with 10 to 15 minute training sessions. Then just move farther up the body .. or start with whatever area that the bird will tolerate being touched. But, continue until you are able to touch the bird and he/she enjoys it.
Remember, watch body language and don't rush things. They live 60 to 100 years. You have plenty of time to move forward. But keeping the birds trust is VERY important.
2. I Was able to touch/pet the bird and they loved being "on/with" me. Again, both birds were 4 or 6 months old when I got them.
3. I then started with little steps. I'd put them on a perch stand .. about 8 inches long and 4 inches high on a table. I took them OUT of their cage area. I find birds have a greater attention on me, when not near their cage and especially it helps to be in a different room. Door closed with no distractions.
4. I would put my hand to the breast and confidently say UP .. and get them to step up and then, with great enthusiasm a "GOOD BOY" and "click" and treat. I use a clicker for training. You can get them at most pet stores, PetCo and PetSmart I believe.
It's important you use the clicker properly. EXACTLY at the moment they do the desired action you IMMEDIATELY click, and reward. They need to learn the click is a bridge to a reward.
5. Once I got them to step up .. then I would do this for 3 or 4 days .. and only for 15 minute sessions. It should be FUN for the birds and NOT perceived as a negative by them. Now, again, both my birds were VERY friendly and I used the step up, which they knew already to teach them that the "click" sound meant GREAT JOB .. and REWARD. :)
So, to start, they need to learn that their behavior .. or your desired behavior you are asking, gets a reward. This is VERY important.
A clicker helps so much, I think, as it is a bridge .. and you have a tiny window to get them the treat. So, if you don't have the treat ready, which I suggest you do, it'll give you a second to get it. The waiting for the reward is better AFTER they have learned why they got it.
Someone told me to practice the clicker with a quarter. Drop a quarter and at the exact moment it hits the ground .. click at the same time ... a 20 minute practice session and you'll be much better at it.
But remember, the clicker sound should be at the EXACT moment they do the desired action. Ex: If you are training recall .. you do not click when they take off and fly, you click the SECOND they touch your hand for landing. As, THAT is the desired goal. That says your feet touch my hand (which IS recall) and you get rewarded. And that is of course the ultimate goal: I call, YOU come .. :)
This is a great beginning to a productive relationship with your bird. From here, there are more steps to getting recall down from different rooms of the house, etc. Make a game out of it, if your not enthusiastic .. I doubt they will be for long either.
I have always made it a FUN time with the birds. Making it seem like work, isn't going to get great results .. :):)
All the Best
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