Jump to content

Adopted CAG, help training

Ronald Byrd

Recommended Posts

On Sunday 02/12/2012, I added a new member to our family. A 9 year old African Grey who seams to have been neglected and fed a poor diet. I have been working with him for hours everyday but there's one thing he absolutely fights me about.


I understand that it can take weeks or months to build a relationship but because he wasn't given enough attention by his previous owner I think it's making the process easier for me. I can hold him and last night I started clicker training by putting him on my knee and giving him sunflower seeds after each click. He responds to "can I pet you" by lowering his head and responds to "step up" by raising one foot. both of which the previous owner had never seen before. The previous owner also told me that he gets sprayed once a week by a spray bottle for cleaning and hates it. Last night I sat with him on my arm in the bathroom while my girlfriend took a steamy shower. I'm not going to actually put him in it yet, just wanted him to get the steam and see her enjoying the shower.


So here's the two things that I am having trouble with.


1. The previous owner was afraid of his bite so they only picked him up with a pirch. I can pick him up by hand and he doesn't bite, but only if he is already out of the cage. Last night I removed him from the cage with a pirch and put him on the back of a dinning room chair. For an hour straight I asked him to step up on my hand which he did, then asked him to step down beck to the chair which he did, then clicker and seed. We did this at least 30 times. Is this going to help with picking him up out of the cage?


2. Right now I am ignoring this behavior because of number one above but I don't know if I should try to work on both at the same time. When I picking him up one foot goes on my fingers the other stretches to my wrist then he walks to my arm. He doesn't trust my hand for some reason and would rather be on my arm where he is unstable. I've tried blocking him from my arm with my other hand and with a pirch both caused screaming. So should I try to talk him through the screaming, try to coerce him with treats to my hand, or wait until number one is solved?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, welcome to the forum and kudos to you for rescuing this neglected grey. Seems like you have made incredible strides in a tiny amount of time. Usually it takes time for your bird to adjust to his new surroundings, people, etc. your ay find that he is still in a culture shock, and will start to try you a bit more as he feels more comfortable in his new home.


I must say that making your bird step up for an hour, or 30 times is way too excessive for any bird. Usually we spend a few minutes and reading their body language, we let them have a break from such intensive training. You have a lifetime with this bird. My suggestion into take your time, allow him to acclimate on his own time and terms before you start " training".


Don't ever force your bird to do something by working thru his screaming! If he has reached the point of a scream, whatever you are doing needs to stop I immediately! Your bird will never trust you or bond with you if you persist in this manner with him.


Please read thru the various thread here to learn the importance of bonding and trust before training. Many of us don't find a need to train our birds, they will do what we want out of trust and love.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure the only reason he is letting me hold him and spend time with him is because he didn't get very much attention at all. His only interaction with his owners was them opening the cage door and letting him climb to the pirch on top of the cage and then at night they tapped the cage and told him to go inside.


I guess I should have mentioned that the hour spent wasn't all at one time, it was three or four sessions over a four hour time period between dinner and bed. I thought doing this was a part of bonding and learning trust, should I slow down?


I tried once to block him with my hand and once with the pirch and haven't tried again because of the screaming. I guess I should just give him time, I was just worried about him thinking that it's ok to be on my arm and never changing because that's how I started with him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One more important question. I made a vet appointment for this Saturday to get a wellness check. I have concerns about his diet because he was fed a seed mix which was 90% sunflower seeds in one bowl, and fresh fruits in another bowl by his previous owners.


Is the vet visit too soon?

I'm worried this might stress him too much.


Clip wings or no?

He has flown around the house once or twice when he got too nervous, I'm worried he might get hurt, and I've read that it will help in building trust.


Clip nails and beak?

The vet asked about this, They are long but he doesn't bite hard or scratch my arm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ronald Byrd ane welcome to the grey forum to you and your new friend and companion.

You said you just picked him up on Sunday. This will be IMO you should give him time to settle in and get to know his new home, get to know you and the things around him.

Take some time to build a relationship and trust. They will respond to you much better when they feel comfortable with you and their new home.

I do beleve step up is one of the most important things they should know. As far as the cage that is their safe place and some greys are cage aggressive untill they know you.

I am not a fan of ciicker training, but that`s ok because a lot of people are. IMO relationship first training secound.


P.S. IMO clip wings no

nails yes

beak check with vet.

Edited by Ray P
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, Ray has given you great advice. It really is too soon to try and train. It will not build trust any sooner, it will probably do the opposite. Just give him time to settle in, talk to him, encourage himi, praise him, give him treats.

I agree with having him vet checked. I WOULD not clip his wings, it can be very stressful if he is used to flying. He won't hurt himself, greys are very skilled fliers. I would have his nails and beak checked.

You will have to gradually change his diet, there is way too much sugar in fruits, you should try some cooked veggies, it can take time before he will try them, but eventually he will.

My amazon does not like my hands in her cage, since it is her place, I respect that and don't try. She will allow me to put her back, but I allow her to get out, it keeps her happy! You should be able to ask your bird to step up, and when he does, praise him. Don't go overboard. In time when he is settled in, he will want to please you.


Remember, this bird has NO idea, who you are, how kind and loving you can be, if this is a safe place or a scary one, nor does he even have a clue that this is HIS new home, his forever home, or if he will be hurt or abused, or loved and adored forever. He will learn these things over time with patience from you, but it will take time, slowly he will understand, but it has to be in his own time, not pushed on him.

Sounds like you only want the best for him, and he will learn that, and where does, it will be well worth it to you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Ray. Your new bird needs a vet check. Nails and birds need clipping. Diet needs to improve, start mixing a healthy diet in with his usual diet. Introduce new healthy fruits and veggies as well. He probably will throw them back at you, but don't give up.

As far as training... need to focus on building a relationship of trust, as others have said. Read some books with your baby. Sophie LOVED Dr. Seuss.( she still does, 12 years later.) nancy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for adopting an older Grey. The others have all given good advice but I will also say please don't clip him. As he is a flyer it could make him very unhappy and insecure. I understand why some might say it would help to build trust because he will need you more to carry him but he would be much more likely to have a flying accident. The reason most birds have wings is for flying. It is a big part of being a bird! If his talons are very long it may be because he has not got enough suitable climbing perches that his talons can grip and his beak will benefit from good things to chew on. Unpreserved wood branches from fruit trees are good for both climbing perches and good for chewing as well. Many parrots seem to think that reducing wood to sawdust, paper to shreds and computer keyboards to their component parts is their chief reason for being!


Steve n Misty

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Ronald for giving this bird a new forever home and it seems he is responding to being allowed out of the cage more and the extra attention so keep up the good work for I see a lovely relationship building here.

Please do not clip the wings as it could cause more harm than good, a bird has wings to fly, that is the way nature made them and they should be allowed flight opportunities.

It is best to allow your grey to come out of his cage before you ask him to step up, a lot of greys are territorial about their cages, they see it as their safe zone and do not like any intrusions so always let him come out first.

You shouldn't have any trouble with having him step up if you are not afraid of a bite, that is the mistake of the former owner and the bird knew it and used it to his advantage to keep him away. You may get a bite from time to time but that is all in the owning of a wild animal and you can avoid most of them by paying attention to the body language of the bird. We have a sticky in the training room that will help you with that.

I think it is best for you to just concentrate on building trust right now and wait on the training for it will take some time for him to feel comfortable in his new home and with him being 9 years old he has some baggage that you will have to deal with as he is set in his ways by now. You can work on stepping up and such but leave the more involved training for later on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...