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Stop Biting!

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Author Topic: Stop Biting!  (Read 3804 times)

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Pat

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Stop Biting!
« on: June 13, 2010, 01:28:43 PM »

How to stop your bird from biting you.

I've read on here a few times about people being unable to put their hands in the cage to get their bird to step up without biting.  Well, the only form of defence the bird has is it's beak, it will bite to defend itself.  I'm going to stick my neck out a bit here and say that we can't put our human emotions onto our parrots, they don't bite because they are jealous, or hate you, or territorial even, they bite because they are afraid or mistrust you in some way, they don't know how to deal with the situation and their only defence is to bite.  Yes, you can say a bird is territorial, but isn't that a form of mistrust?  They don't trust you in and around their home.  If you say your bird is jealous, isn't that a form of  fear?  Fear that they are going to lose you to another mate?  Charlie will scream if I have a cuddle with my partner in front of him, he's afraid that he is going to lose his mate, although he is as good with me as he is with my partner.  That might change with maturity, we'll have to wait and see. So, it all boils down to fear and mistrust. 

The way I would deal with that sort of thing is to try and get the bird to accept you being in his space.  Walk up to him and when he starts to put his head down ready to lunge at you...stop, wait until the bird relaxes again and then walk away.  You are giving the bird what he wants, which is for you to be out of his space, you aren't getting bitten and everybody is happy.  Do it again and again and you will see that gradually, gradually, you will be able to get closer to the bird before he puts his head down to lunge at you.  He will realise that you aren't going to hurt him, there is no reason for him to go into attack mode, if he stays relaxed you will go away without hurting him.  Once you can do that, then put your hand out and ask him to step up.  Putting your hand out to him, might make him go to bite you again, so....stop, let him relax and walk away.  Once again, gradually, he will realise that putting your hand out to him, isn't actually going to hurt him.  It's all done slowly and patiently, talking to him all the time in a soft kind of relaxing voice. 

I have a Cockatiel that doesn't like my hands.  I can put my hand in the cage, he will step up on my hands with no problem, but if I go to tickle him or scratch him on his head, I get bitten.  I can blow raspberries on him, kiss him, he kisses me, I can do anything with him with my face, but he doesn't like my hands.  I'm OK with that with him and haven't tried to get him out of that habit at all.  He will always step up with no problem, in or out of his cage and if he doesn't want me to tickle or touch him, then that's his choice, I can live with that and have done for the past three years.  I wouldn't be so happy though if my AG was the same, I want to be able to touch Charlie and to tickle him, to be able to lift his wings for inspection or whatever......so, the way to get him to accept your hands without getting bitten is to use a perch in both hands.  Touch him with a perch, it's going to take a lot of time and effort, touch him on his head and wings with a perch while you hold the perch at the ends, one in each hand.  Keep talking and when he lets you touch him, give him a treat, click, praise, whatever you use as a reward. Gradually, move your hands down the perch, so that you are in fact a little closer to touching him than using the perch and over time you will be able to touch the bird without the perch.

These methods are tried and tested and they do work, they work over time, it isn't going to happen right away, you will probably only have about 10-15 minutes to work with your bird a day, maybe a couple of times a day, before they will lose interest, but by doing it every day, couple of times a day, it will happen, they will stop biting and they will accept your hands.

Most of the birds on this site are tame and friendly anyway, I think these methods are for the extreme, panic stricken birds that sometimes come with a rescue.

I find the best time to do anything with Charlie, to teach him new things or to just go over what he has learnt is just before his feed time.  With Charlie, I uncover him, take out his food dishes, he comes out for a fly around, I put his food dishes soaking, grab a few sunflower seeds (I call them his sweeties, sad isn't it hahaha) and then he is all fired up and ready to do some tricks, or learn new things because he hasn't had breakfast and I'm going to be giving him his sweeties.  Also, if you are keeping a record of weight, after they have done their first morning poop and before breakfast is a good time to weigh, if you do that every time, you will get a truer reading.   So, that's first thing in the morning, then I find that Charlie will want to eat again around 1530 – 1600hrs, so once again, I take away his food dishes, get a few “sweeties” and we start to work again.  With his sunflower seeds, I use just the little white kernel ones, I cut them in half so that he doesn't get too many in a day.

When training Charlie, I give him half a seed for his tricks, if it's something that he knows and knows well, I don't give him a treat every time, just lots of praise and then maybe a couple of times through the training I will give him a “jackpot” if he's done something really well or just as a mega treat, I'll let him take some seeds from my hand and lavish the praise.  Just so that he knows that sometimes he gets a really good bonus, he's not sure when but it might be next time! 

I am not an expert, this is just the way I would work things, please don't shout at me if you get bitten while trying any of the suggestions I have made haha.

Think like a bird!

bkhowe

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2010, 01:42:11 PM »

Thanks Plukie  :thumbsup:
Another great post.
Sure it will be very useful for those with rescued birds
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karen (bella;s mum)

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 02:38:32 PM »

Plukie, you wanna move in with me for a couple of weeks  :biggrin:  Bella doesnt seem terratorial in her cage as i can remove her bowls, give her tickles etc, she just hasnt got the step up thing, i will work on it while she is on her t perch and hopefullly in a few weeks i will post  and celebrate.. we are getting there. great advice as always  :biggrin:
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watts1

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2010, 02:55:07 PM »

I get bitten quite alot by Haydes, not because he mistrusts or fears me! Oh no!
He bites because it is part of his personality :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

So, most of the time Haydes is doing something naughty, for example he'll be on the draining board chucking all the cutlery on the floor, I give him a firm no, go over and tell him to step up, he'll then growl at me (like a dog) then bite me when I try and get him to step up, or he will run in the opposite direction, because he did not want to stop doing what he was enjoying, nor does he want to step up because he knows I will take him away from what he was doing.

It's very comical, but this is part of his personality, it's what make him Haydes. He doesn't bite if I ask him to step up from inside his cage, tho he'll soon bite me if I put him in his cage :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

If I was doing something naughty that I was enjoying, I would do exactly the same!

So consider yourself warned :biggrin: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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karen (bella;s mum)

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2010, 03:16:35 PM »

That made me chuckle Soo, i still chuckle at the 'breakfast' post you put on, he seems a right character, love him  :rofl: :rofl:
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Diane K

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2010, 03:17:57 PM »

Great post there Plukie  :thumbsup: Im sure the members that have birds that bite, and are looking for advice will find it most helpfull :thumbsup: your instructions are quite clear  :thumbsup:
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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2010, 03:22:24 PM »

Great post, Plukie. Interesting reading.
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watts1

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2010, 03:36:42 PM »

Thanks Karen, yeah he's a right charactor! :baseballbat: :baseballbat: :biggrin:
Plukie is absolutely spot on with birds that are maybe nervous or territorial :thumbsup:

We also need to bare in mind that our birds do have personalities (like Haydes), and it's our responsibility to get to know and understand their charactors, get to know their likes and dislikes, just like Plukie's cockatiel.

It is said that parrots have the mentality of a child, so when you tell a child to stop doing something they're enjoying, they're not going to stop doing it without giving some attitude :baseballbat: :biggrin:
Haydes is no different to my kids (well apart from the obvious of course :biggrin: )
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Martin P

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2010, 04:00:56 PM »

Plukie i have just read your post with great interest. I have to say it is completely and brilliantly written and is word perfect in how to get your parrot to trust the hand.
These are the exact same methods i would have used in training birds of prey to accept the hand as a safe perch and for them to see the hand as a welcoming sight and not one to fear in any way.
People should benifit from reading this and absorbing the content, especially those that already encounter trust problems.
It really is all about putting ourselves in the birds mind to assume how they would see things, and lets face it the size of a human hand coming towards a bird the size of an AG is going to be concieved as a threat until they know otherwise through patience, and repeated good handling. Congratulations on a very very good post, regards Martin :-)
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lizduncan

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2010, 04:35:59 PM »

Great tips Plukie  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: Thank you
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sherr

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2010, 11:50:45 PM »

That was really good advice Plukie.. as always..  :clap: :clap: :clap:

Olly doesn't do step up yet. He would fly to me. Would let me stroke him. Though he still tries at times to have a bite. I always tell him a firm no. And he stops. I want him to learn to step up.. therefore, i shall try your method. Hopefully in time, i will get him to step up and he would trust me enough to stop trying to have a bite of my hand/arm. 
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Pat

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 10:34:58 PM »

Is he really trying to bite or is he just testing for stability? Sometimes they will reach out with their beaks to make sure that it's safe to step on.  Just a thought.

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2010, 10:53:43 PM »

Brilliant Plukie...thankyou
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MattH BSc

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2010, 11:48:35 PM »

That was really good advice Plukie.. as always..  :clap: :clap: :clap:

Olly doesn't do step up yet. He would fly to me. Would let me stroke him. Though he still tries at times to have a bite. I always tell him a firm no. And he stops. I want him to learn to step up.. therefore, i shall try your method. Hopefully in time, i will get him to step up and he would trust me enough to stop trying to have a bite of my hand/arm. 

I thought that you are not meant to reinforce the behaviour you are trying to stop? By giving a firm NO you are reacting to the behaviour, ignoring or distracting is the preferred method as advocated by Greg Glendell amongst other behaviourists. 
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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2010, 05:48:03 PM »

Well Plukie.. i did think that he was just trying to step up. Persia does it to me all the time with his beak. But the last time i thought i'd give Olly the benefit of the doubt, I ended up with a nasty wound on my finger!!  :cry2: Worst thing was, he wouldn't let go after he got me. So I had to really held on till he let go of my finger.

So now, I haven't got the confidence to actually let him get near my hands yet. I still stroke him and all that, he flies to me. He would step up when he's not on his cage. But not when he's on his cage. He's pretty territorial in that way.
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Jasper17/9

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2011, 12:02:46 AM »

Jasper bites me too, there are different types of bites. The first one is not painful, a playful type of bite, usually when Jasper wants to play. Second type, is a warning bite which is also not painful, but will be painful when I persist to get Jasper to do what Jasper do not wish to do, like taking him off the branch when Jasper do not wish to do so. This bite is painful. The third bite is painful and usually blood are drawn, these only happens when Jasper is frighten and force to do something Jasper do not wish to do so. To me Jasper does not bite because Jasper is territorial. I believe they only bite hard when in fear or been possessive.
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lizduncan

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2011, 09:06:59 AM »

What do you do when he bites you?
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Shepherdess

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Re: Stop Biting!
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2011, 11:32:58 PM »

I got Chico in June 2009.  It took until that November for him to step up happily.  In June he would touch my finger to show trust but he had obviosly stepped up before and been dropped.  It took a month before he was happy at the top of his cage.  He would step up but was obviously unhappy.  I never pushed him and now he has to have a cuddle and is secure playing dead on my hand.  It is worth the effort to take it as slow as the bird wants.  If you keep at it several times a day for long enough to not stress the bird then the trust will grow.
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