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Nevermore
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PostSubject: Step-up, brat   Sat May 21, 2011 9:00 pm

So....Along with his annoying plucking problem, Jack has chosen a new way to drive me nuts.

I am trying to avoid giving him sunflower seeds. But it isn't going so well. So long as he is not on his cage, he will step-up nicely, for food, or not for food. He will also do spins around my finger, or turn circles on the spot for goodies (rice krispies or pumpkin seeds, or dried fruit, you name it).

HOWEVER....getting the brat OFF his cage is impossible. Unless of course, I have a sunflower seed. Otherwise he just stands on the side of his cage and looks at me while I wave a rice krispy in front of his beak and ask him to "step-up". If I offer my bare hand, he'll give me a bite too. I have to cover my hand in a hand towel (hes use to these. he sits on them on my hand so I don't get pooped on). The only way I can get him off his cage now, is to use something scary to chase him off onto my hand.

Has anyone else had this problem? Jack has been stubborn like this in the past, but its getting worse.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sat May 21, 2011 9:06 pm

Nevermore wrote:
HOWEVER....getting the brat OFF his cage is impossible. Unless of course, I have a sunflower seed. Otherwise he just stands on the side of his cage and looks at me while I wave a rice krispy in front of his beak and ask him to "step-up". If I offer my bare hand, he'll give me a bite too. I have to cover my hand in a hand towel (hes use to these. he sits on them on my hand so I don't get pooped on). The only way I can get him off his cage now, is to use something scary to chase him off onto my hand.

I don't think this is a Jack thing, but a GCC thing. I have the exact same problem with Cheney Bird. He steps up fine from everywhere else but on top of his cage. And he lunges if I go to grab him, resulting in the loss of skin and some blood. I realized he'll step onto my shoulder if I back up next to the cage and ask him to come cuddle, but it's frustrating. It's also very hit or miss.

I had to use a green blanket Cheney Bird hates earlier so I could get him from behind the two cages. He hates the blanket (or maybe the color? because he loves the comforter). I had to drape it over the back of the cage to get him to step up for me. I'm not really a fan of having to scare him. :x

I'd love to see what other people have to say about this because I really have no tips for it. He's been doing it since he's come home from the rescue and we've been working on it. But it's still really hit or miss.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sat May 21, 2011 9:18 pm

Jendays and suns are notorious for this. Forget the cage, I used to have to chase my conure all up and down my back to get her off.

My method's controversial. I say "come on" and then I chase the bird down with my finger until it steps up. I'll scoop the bird up if I have to. They learn that when I insist, they must. "Come on" is my verbal cue that I'm insisting and I'm very deliberate and firm with my actions. The insistence I think eliminates the biting because the bird's learned that I'll get them to step up regardless if they bite me or not. The power struggle is taken away.

Here's why I don't think I'm cruel - USUALLY/MOST OF THE TIME the bird has a choice to step up or not. I'll present my finger about an inch in front of him and ask "do you want to come on?" I wait about 15-30 seconds. If the bird doesn't step up, I say "ok" and leave. Usually I'll give the bird a scritch or a treat before I leave. Since most of the time the bird has a choice, it seems they're not resentful of the few times that I insist they step up.

Analogy = It's like with a kid. Most of the time you can ask, "Do you want to go with me to the store?" and you have to honor the child's decision, "No, I want to stay home." Some times you have to insist, "Come on, you have to go with me." and you have to rush them along to get them out the door or you might even have to grab them by their arm and pull them along.

If you make it clear when they have choice and when they don't resentment is eliminated as they have a clear understanding of what's expected of them when.

Try not to use anything that elicits fear. Fear seems to turn their brains off from learning anything.

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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sun May 22, 2011 11:37 am

I suppose it isn't helping that occasionally I"ll take him off his cage, into the bathroom, and hose him down with avian rain. He HATES it. But what can you do?

I'm glad it isn't just me with this problem. I've been wondering if I'm horrible with his training and screwed up the basic 'step-up' lesson. I'm going to try your plan. if he doesn't want to step up, he doesn't get this attention....I still need to hose him down though, because of his plucking.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sun May 22, 2011 12:17 pm

Yeah, when I have to medicate or do something unpleasant it's even less an option and my actions are even more deliberate. During the procedure, I'm firm but I baby talk to the bird. Afterwards I hold them for a few minutes with a lot of cuddling and talking until they relax, then I let them up without a lot of drama. We'll sit there a few seconds and then I'll put my finger out "come on" (not an option), get them up and have more scritches and cuddles, put them down again, up again, more scritches and cuddles. By this time they're more focused on the cuddling and (I think) their mind is off the unpleasantness that just happened, and the whole event ends on a positive note. I know you want to avoid the sunflower seeds, but maybe after the avian rain is the only time he can have one?

The avian rain, what do you have to do with it? Spritz it on? Do you have to restrain him in your hand and spritz on the area?

I wanted to add - you might not want to do the "option" "no option" training in association with what you have to do with the avian rain as he might have a hard time NOT associating the "no option" step up with the avian rain. When you have to avian rain him, you might just need to grab him, do what you need to do, then follow the above for after procedure positive ending. If the vet were medicating him, that's what would happen - grab, restrain, procedure. The faster and more matter of fact you make the unpleasant experience, the faster he'll build a bridge and get over it.

Do the "no option" step up training and take him somewhere/do something he really likes so he makes the association that the "no option" step up USUALLY means really super good things. Then in the future when he does the "no option" step up and the result is an occasional bad experience he really don't hold much of a grudge and it doesn't undo the willingness to comply with the "no option" step up.

Make any sense?

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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sun May 22, 2011 1:23 pm

Sort of. How do you teach him that he has no option but to step-up? Because he knows he has the option right now to be a brat, or to be a goodboy. thinking
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sun May 22, 2011 1:29 pm

I've been putting my finger out for him and giving him the option to "come cuddle". If he refuses, I go away for a few minutes. When I come back, I do the same thing. If he still refuses, I give him scritches and some millet and let it go for a few minutes. By the third time, he usually stops being a butthead and steps up.

Now, if I absolutely need him to do something right that second and he refuses after the third time, I just reach in and pluck him up off the perch. Once I get him out, I pet him and cuddle him and give him a treat. By that time, he's not really caring what I do.

The only time I get the blanket he doesn't like is when he's weaseled himself in between both cages and the wall and I can't safely move either to get to him. I also cover the back of the cages to lure him out towards me. I'm not chasing him down, but I am making it clear he can either come to me, the safe person, or deal with being near the blanket he hates.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sun May 22, 2011 1:31 pm

Hmmmm...I'll try it, but I'm not too sure. Jack has this thing he does...when you try to pick him up against his will, he'll go banana's and tear your fingers apart while clinging to the perch with all his might. "I. Don't. WANA!!"
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sun May 22, 2011 1:36 pm

Nevermore wrote:
Hmmmm...I'll try it, but I'm not too sure. Jack has this thing he does...when you try to pick him up against his will, he'll go banana's and tear your fingers apart while clinging to the perch with all his might. "I. Don't. WANA!!"

Cheney Bird does that sometimes. I kind of distract him with one hand and pick him up with the other.

They're just weird, I think. Sometimes it's all I can do to get him off of me for a while. Others, I feel like I should've just gotten a cat.

I've kind of had to resort doing this when I put him in the harness. He doesn't actually mind the harness once it's on, but he'll act like a snake is trying to swallow him whole once I get the strap under a wing. If I let him, he'll run away from me and then put a deathgrip on whatever he's decided to perch on. It's strange because the only part of the harnessing process he hates is going under the left wing.

I think they just want to drive us crazy sometimes.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Sun May 22, 2011 2:01 pm

KayLayUh wrote:
I think they just want to drive us crazy sometimes.

i think its working.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Mon May 23, 2011 1:14 am

Quote :
Now, if I absolutely need him to do something right that second and he refuses after the third time, I just reach in and pluck him up off the perch. Once I get him out, I pet him and cuddle him and give him a treat. By that time, he's not really caring what I do.
Yeah, this is pretty much what I do with the mandatory "come on" step up.
I wanted to also clarify when the mandatory "come on" step up is used in my house - while the bird has no choice whether or not to step up, most of the time when it's used the associated event is either neutral or positive, such as to move a bird to a perch so I can clean its cage (neutral experience) or because I want to take the bird on an outing (enjoyable positive experience). Very rarely is it used for a negative event such as every 6 months for wing and nail trims. I believe that's why my birds are compliant with the mandatory "come on" step up.

Analogy - Mom to child in child's bedroom, "Go play in the living room, I need to clean your room." Child has no choice, but doesn't mind because it's a neutral event. Mom to child, "Come on, we're going to the park." Child has no choice, but is happy with the event as it's a trip to the park. Mom to child, "Come on, we have to go for your check up." Child has no choice, but is for the most part ok with the negative experience as it only happens maybe once a year.

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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Mon May 23, 2011 3:13 pm

You may also make yourself look like the better option than his cage. Grab a step ladder and be "taller". His natural instinct will usually be to go to the higher place. If his cage is larger and/or on a table that puts the top at shoulder height he has no reason to think that it would be a good idea to go to you or sit on your shoulder. His vantage if perfectly fine the way it is.

It's a conure thing though for sure. Aries will not come off his cage for ANYTHING unless I'm "taller" than the cage then he steps right up. We're working on just stepping up because he has no other choice. He generally doesn't want to go on top of his cage anymore because he has options when he comes out to go to his perch and hang out with us.

Be firm and loving and LOTS of praise when he does what you want. If he's anything like Aries, he's a sucker for an excited mommy and some "good boys".
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Mon May 23, 2011 6:32 pm

I 'm like Roz on the step up issue, i ask once and she dosen't go ,i leave and don't ask again. usually jake is begging to go the next time i walk by. The result is when i ask she knows she can stay but she will 90% step up and go.She also knows the difference when i tell her to step up and and does so. The important part is she doesn't have to bite me to tell me no, she's staying. That and i rarely ask her to leave her cage/perch after dark.


Last edited by henpecked on Mon May 23, 2011 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Mon May 23, 2011 6:34 pm

henpecked wrote:
I 'm like Roz on the step up issue, i ask once and she dosen't go ,i leave and don't ask again. usually jake is begging to go the next time i walk by. The result is when i ask she knows she can stay but she will 90% step up and go.She also knows the difference when i tell her to step up and and does so. The important part is she doesn't have to bite me to tell me no, she's staying.

Yes, yes...this too. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Mon May 23, 2011 8:00 pm

Well I've started working on him. I ask him to step up a few times. No step-up? I walk away and come back later. The result....the only time he has been off his cage today, was when I scared him onto my hand with a water bottle so I could clean his cage and change the toys around.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Tue May 24, 2011 2:10 pm

Can you eliminate access to the top of his cage until you have the new training in place? If he's used to getting out and hanging out on top of the cage, can you get a playstand, put it across the room or another room than the room his cage is in, and put him on there to hang out instead of ever letting him get to the top of the cage? Right now apparently he has no incentive to cooperate. For whatever reason the top of the cage is more enjoyable to him than being with you so the leave him and try again has no attraction to him.

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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Tue May 24, 2011 6:14 pm

Not really. Unless i want to lock him in his cage all day when I'm not in the room, the top of the cage is always available.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Tue May 24, 2011 6:16 pm

He doesn't have a play stand, but he has this mini play gym thing. but he will sit on it for a total of 5 minutes before demanding to be taken off and hang out with you.

he is fine with stepping up anywhere except the top of his cage. that is what i am trying to get him to step off of.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Tue May 24, 2011 9:20 pm

Sounds like the mini play gym is perfect for the new step up learning. Can you just have him hang out on there? Block off his ability to get to the top of the cage somehow? For instance if it's flat topped, but a piece of plywood just bigger than the top so he can't get up there? Put the play gym in front of his cage so he can go onto the play gym instead of hanging out on top of the cage? Sometimes eliminating the problem area for awhile "resets" behaviors and then after a period of time when you do let him have access to the top he'll be ok. Eliminate access to the top again if he reverts to the bad behaviors. They're very smart. They catch on that they lose top of cage privileges if they don't behave. Seriously, if you can arrange it I think it will help.

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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Wed May 25, 2011 12:11 am

Not really. As I said...he doesn't like hanging out on his play gym. As with his old cage; if he couldn't be ON the cag, he would simply sit inside it and ignore the play gym. Theres also not a whole lot of room where his cage is, to put the gym. I suppose it is possible to put a board on top of the cage; I'd have to take part of the cage apart...but it is possible....

However hes also flighted. So any block i stick on top of his cage would turn into a new perch. Regardless of not being able to climb on top of it, he can still fly on top of it.

I think I'm going to go find the step stool. and tomorrow, test out the 'I"m taller than you' trick.
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:25 pm

I'm really late to this discussion, but I have the same problem with Bucky. Let me just say that I've tried everything that's been suggested here, and while nothing has "cured" the problem, they all work temporarily. One theory I read about using a stool or chair to get the bird off the top of the cage had to do with predator evasion. Most predators come from below, so if a hand is coming from below to grab the bird, their instinct will be to evade or fight. If you raise yourself up to to same level of the bird, they don't feel threatened and will comply more willingly. I don't know how much truth there is in that, but regardless of the reason, it works.

I also saw that the suggestion was made to block off the top of the cage so the bird couldn't perch there. Easier said than done in many cases. Our cage is a arched top cage, so I couldn't just lay a board on it. I ended up covering it with a poster board and securing the poster board to the cage with "alligator" clips. (also called binder clips.) I guess tape would work too. It worked like a charm. Bucky could climb all around the cage just like before, and could climb on the inside too, but he couldn't perch AT ALL on the top of the outside where he was causing problems. It was too slippery for him to get a grip. It certainly changed his attitude in a hurry.

Eventually we took it off and he continued stepping up quite nicely for a while, then he quit and we had to put it back on.

I'm interested to know how things are going now. It's been a month since you started the thread... has anything changed? Did the "taller than you" trick work?

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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:56 pm

Nope! Didn't work. I'm trying to figure out what DID though....

After I returned home from my latest trip out, he has started behaving out of the blue. I don't even have to have a towel on my hand when I fetch him, or ask him to step up. He will happily hop onto my fingers without nipping. Actually...I don't even have to say 'step-up'; seeing my offered hand is enough!
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PostSubject: Re: Step-up, brat   Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:11 pm

I see some of this in Scooter as well, although he doesn't seem as bad. It does seem like something I keep fixing and it keeps breaking and I've also been wondering if I'm doing something wrong. As far as I can tell, the only thing I'm really doing wrong is occasionally I'll recoil from a bite in a way that gets him what he wants. And that reinforces it for a while.

The only time I have trouble with him on top of the cage is when he's "playing house" under the cage paper on the playtop. Once he's in there, he gets territorial about it, until he's tired of that game and comes out on his own. What usually works is lifting off the layers he's under and giving him a few moments to cool down. Then he will almost always step up willingly for scritches.

Where I may have more trouble is going in and out of the cage. Until this spring he ALWAYS came out of the cage willingly. (Except when mad at me, but that's a whole other thing I'm excluding from this discussion). Now sometimes he just doesn't want to, and if he lurks toward the back of the cage I let him be. More often than not he's begging me to come out a few minutes later. Going back is less negotiable sometimes. Then sometimes I have to insist, grit my teeth, and just spill him off onto a perch. But then I usually do get bitten. He'll go through a phase like this after I've been away, and then get to where he's good as gold again. Right now we are in between the extremes and my fingers are looking a little moth eaten.

My thought is that Some Day, when I have A Lot of Time, I will target train him so I have a backup method to move him around when he's being stubborn.
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