Success Is Easy

Success is Easy!
Or perhaps I should say, Success SHOULD BE Easy!

Often when we start training our parrots, we have a great idea of the end goal. Step up for a stranger. Wear a harness. Put the basketball in the hoop. This is wonderful! It is helpful to have a clearly defined goal.

What we forget is all the tiny little baby steps that line the pathway to our goal. In training lingo we call this “shaping”. It’s like molding clay, slowly, piece by piece, until you finally have the sculpture you want. Shaping is a great way of getting your bird towards these goals.

The part we are focusing on today is the SUCCESS. It’s our job as trainers to set up our birds so they are likely to succeed on their very first try. If you put the basketball net up, hand your bird a ball, and wait, not much will happen. He has no idea what’s going on. So how can we set this up? How can he succeed first try? By using shaping.

Shaping is used so each baby step is a chance for your bird to have success. Each success at each step builds the final goal.

For example, when teaching the Basketball skill, the first step I would suggest is just touching the ball. Can your bird do that? Yes? SUCCESS! There’s an easy one. Good work. OK, now what about picking up the ball with your beak. Yes? SUCCESS! Awesome work. Picking up the ball will be an integral part of our basketball game. Next, can you pick up the ball that’s already in my hand? And drop it right back into my hand? YES? SUCCESS!!!! This is easy!

And that’s how all our training games should go. Every skill needs to be shaped. Success should be easy! Set it up so that it’s so darn simple, your bird wins every time. That way, he can earn his reinforcer and feel that sweet, sweet feeling of success. Keep on shaping towards your goal, bit by bit. Build on each success. Every baby step counts!

  • Robin Horemans

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