Thursday, May 1, 2008

Einstein's Relationship with the Towel

When Einstein was young (about 2 years old) she was occasionally belligerent with me. (For example, wouldn't get on my hand when I repeatedly asked her to.) I would say to her, "Want me to get the towel?" I would then go get a particular blue towel, wrap her up and physically remove her and place her where I wanted her to go. In 1999 we were not familiar with positive reinforcement training. We used the towel to coerce her to step up. She hated it!

Then it came to pass that all I had to do was just ask her, "Do you want me to go get the towel?" and she would immediately comply to my wishes. No toweling necessary. I don't take this approach any longer, but now, sometimes when she is asking for something... and if I don't respond to her immediate demand... She will say to me..., "Want me to get the TOWEL!!!!"




Aside from the humor, quickly we learned this was not the right thing to do! Not only did it make her scared of the towel, it also made her distrust us. We learned our lesson! We began using positive reinforcement and offering treats when she would not step up for us. She did forgive us, and our relationship has mended. However, we are still working with her to feel comfortable being toweled. Parronts do make mistakes and I will forever regret making this one.

Moral of this story: If you own a parrot, please learn all you can about Positive Reinforcement Training!
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