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The power of choice

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The power of choice

Post by InTheAir » Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:53 pm

At the IAATE symposium I attended recently a really key point that was often mentioned by the speakers was the importance of allowing the bird to choose how to behave.

I just witnessed a really nice interaction between Sapphire and my boyfriend that not only illustrated that but convinced Sapphire to choose to do what he wanted her to do.
Dave was going for a shower and I asked him to take both birds. Nila flew straight to his shoulder, but Sapphire was playing in the curtains and didn't want to step up. She was trying to initiate a game of "where is Sapphire?" with him by hiding and popping her head out. Instead of chasing her around or trying to force her to step up, Dave hid from her behind the curtain and peekabooed her when she found him. He then hid again and she found him. Within 30 seconds of this game starting Sapphire had climbed down the curtain to Dave and he asked her if she wanted to step up and go to the shower. She did.
So, in less time than it would have taken to force her, with no biting or aggression, both parties were engaged and had a positive experience doing something together.

I think the importance of allowing your bird to make choices is sometimes overlooked in the home environment, with our time constraints. We have to get our birds into their cages quickly sometimes, so we won't be late for work. By forcing them in our hurry, we can easily build negative associations with going in the cage or towards ourselves.
There are plenty of ways we can get the results we want from our birds while still allowing our birds to have control of their choices.

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Re: The power of choice

Post by Donovan » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:03 pm

That "where's sapphire, peekaboo" game is my bird's favorite. He would rather do that than get treats to fetch a ball, .. which I think is cool because it s hows that he's more engaged in the activity than singing for his supper.

He has recently decided (again) that going to his cage at night is a terrible thing that he doesn't want to do. (in my lack of knowledge early on i spoiled him with too much freedom).

The last few night's I've used a lure to get him to go to his cage, but instead of locking him up and covering him and turning lights out I've been playing the peekaboo game (our version of it) once he goes to the cage.

My thinking here is that he should associate going to the cage at bed time with his very favorite activity. I've only done this a couple of times and of course the results aren't instant, but my hope is that he will become a lot more agreeable about being put away for the night.

I'm hoping that him going to the cage be seen as a mutually beneficial event.

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Re: The power of choice

Post by MissK » Thu Jul 17, 2014 11:29 pm

WOW, Mr. Bell plays "Where's Sapphire Peekaboo"?? Those crazy IRN; they must be using Skype! (Note to Claire and Donovan.....)

:lol: :lol: Sorry, I couldn't resist.......

That story about Dave is delightful.

I agree that choices are important. I also find merit in letting my animals tell ME what to do, part of the time, though mostly it's the dogs taking advantage of this. I get a lot of "stop that computer" looks from my dogs, but they don't really want me. They just want me to be in the bedroom because that's where they want to chew their bones while they ignore me. So I try and go into the bedroom and be there for them frequently, just for a few minutes. All in all, it's very nice.

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Re: The power of choice

Post by InTheAir » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:38 am

Well, Nila is pretty clever, he probably lets Sapph out in the middle of the night to skype mr bell while we sleep!

You're right about listening to what your animals want you to do too! It's not much of a relationship if it always goes one way! We are lucky that our birds are very good communicators, so it is really easy for anyone to read. Sapphire particularly is very expressive with her eyes and always tells you when she has an idea she would like you to participate in. She has also trained me to go fetch her a treat by holding her mouth open, but that is another topic....

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Re: The power of choice

Post by ellieelectrons » Fri Jul 18, 2014 3:35 am

I was at the same symposium as Claire and I remember someone saying that "choice is a positive reinforcer". I thought that was a nice way to look at it.


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Re: The power of choice

Post by sanjays mummi » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:45 pm

It's good to know, allowing Sanjay to "ask" for a shower, allowing him to "signal" it's bedtime, and letting him do things on His terms, are the Right things to do!

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