Barbara Heidenreich, has released her 5th DVD on parrot training, The Basics Of Parrot Training, A Live Workshop. This is a 3 DVD set and they were filmed live, at one of her training workshops.
I am always promoting and recommending all of Barbaras books and DVDs, as you know, because I think they are most comprehensive and easy to follow guides to Positive Reinforcement training. If you want to learn anything about training your parrot using, not only kind and gentle training methods, but also scientifically proven methods of Behavioural Analysis, then her products are a must. As I have said in previous articles, I really wish every bird sold, was sold with all of Barbaras books and DVDs, or better still, every person thinking about getting a bird, would purchase and learn from these resources, before they got their bird. It would certainly make life a lot easier for bird owners, and especially their birds.
If you dont know Barbara, she is a world-renowned animal trainer who consults on animal training in zoos, nature centres and animal facilities around the world. Barbara also holds parrot training workshops for professionals and companion bird owners around the world and you may have been lucky enough to attend one of her training sessions here in Australia. Barbara also runs Good Bird Inc, which produces her videos and books and also a wonderful quarterly magazine, Good Bird.
In these new DVDs Barbara shows how to train parrots, in her usual, and very entertaining manner. She has one of her birds, Pudding, a cockatiel, plus an assortment of parrot breeds, owned by members of the audience. This makes the training sessions realistic and shows what to do using positive reinforcement training methods. Some of the birds take to training very quickly, while others are more cautious. Some of the birds present are nervous, which is an excellent chance for Barbara to explain and show important points about boy language, and how to read it. In the last DVD, Barbara shows a African Grey which is demonstrating aggressive behaviour when she tries train it. Again it is a wonderful opportunity for Barbara to point out displayed body language and also discuss different training strategies when dealing with an aggressive bird.
In the first DVD, Barbara discusses the history and background of training and starts right from the beginning in explaining what Positive Reinforcement training is and how to use it. She discusses the use of Reinforcement and Punishment and why not to use force and how to get your parrot to want to do something, rather than making it. Step Up request Vs Step Up command.
Barbara shows examples of using small approximations to reach the desired behaviours. The thing I like most about Barbaras examples, when training birds is, she just works with the birds and lets them monitor the pace. She explains step by step what she is doing and more importantly what the bird is telling her, through its actions and body language. She explains what she is doing and why and when to end a training session and why. Actually seeing her training in real time, without any over sensationalised, or simplified results makes her training DVDs so beneficial and realistic to companion bird owners, trying to learn how to train their own birds.
In the second DVD, Barbara explains the A, B, Cs of behavioural training, common problem behaviours such as biting, screaming, the dos and donts of having birds on your shoulder, feather destruction and over bonding to one person. She discusses the use of Time Out as a training tool and making unwanted behaviours irrelevant, inefficient and ineffective. When discussing the basic tools of training and reinforces, Barbara talks about the use of reinforcers and motivation. She talks about recognising when a bird is motivated to work and the best time to train. When using food as a motivator she discusses the size of treats and how and when to use them. Secondary reinforcers are also discussed, with such things as praise, toys and physical pats and scratches and what the Bridge, Cue are in training.
With the help of birds belonging to audience members, Barbara demonstrates the basics of training a Step-up, Wave and Spin, with each bird working at its own individual rate and capability. All the training is done using Progressive Approximations and Barbara explains what she is paying for and why. If the bird offers an exceptional step in the training, he is given a jackpot as a reward for trying harder. Seeing Barbara do this with a collection of ordinary birds makes it very easy to understand all the training methods.
In the third DVD, Barbara reiterates on what has already been learnt and again shows shaping Approximations in training and explains Systematic Desensitisation, what it is and how to use it and why it is different to Flooding, which is not a good training tool and should not be used.
On this last DVD, Barbara plays the Training Game, with members of the audience to demonstrate how animals might perceive training. It is a good game, which is not only entertaining, but can show how confusing training can be to our companion animals.
During all the training sessions, there are questions from the audience, which allows Barbara to give more relevant information about training problems and solutions to them.
There is a whole section on training birds to accept medical and husbandry procedures, which is amazing to watch and shows how much easier grooming and vet visits can be made using the training methods shown.
At the end of the last DVD, Barbara does a review of everything covered and then poses some questions to the audience, so the can answer common problem behaviours with the information they have learnt during this training session.
These three DVDs run for just over 3 hours and are easy and entertaining to watch with Barbaras wealth of information easily digested with the help of her humour and enthusiasm.
As with any product from Barbara and Good Bird, this a must for anyone wanting to learn more about training their companion bird and one I highly recommend.
This article was published in Talking Birs Newspaper