Monday, June 15, 2009

Lifestyle Skills

In our world, we all need certain sets of lifestyle skills to operate and function within the various environments that comprise our lives, such as:




Social Settings, etc.

The skill sets are not simply learned once and for always. As we grow and mature, they are further developed. Children on the playground at age 3 have not learned the skills of compromise or taking turns. We understand this will come in time and with experience. Yet, a child of 7 who has not yet learned this skill begins to experience relationship challenges, trouble fitting in, etc.

Our success at learning, implementing and refining various skill sets determines our ability to operate comfortably, confidently and effectively within various environments.

For our companions, naturally our home is their major environment, and
lifestyle skills are equally important! Just as with humans, I believe these skill sets are not static, but can grow right along with our relationships.

Lifestyle skills
can encompass a broad range of behaviors from husbandry-assisting techniques to complex interactions between family members (or family furniture)! The goal is to promote peaceful, harmonious living arrangements and relationships. Let's face it, if we are in a situation where a companion parrot is constantly screaming, dive bombing family members or pets, hanging from the chandelier and chewing the expensive antiques, no one is going to be very happy.

While lifestyle skills can certainly be reactive (addressing new needs and challenges as they arise), the ability to proactively teach skills truly presents a win-win situation that can result in happier homes and less re-homing.

So, how about for this post we start with a few HATs (husbandry-assisting techniques)?

Just a few simple things (many of which you may already do), that when viewed from a slightly different perspective become a special and important skill set!

As you know, from my previous post Instinct to Hide Illness, I am a firm believer in creating a relationship with an avian vet before a crisis presents itself.

While an experienced avian vet will take steps to minimize the stress involved in the visit, we too can take steps in the form of training behaviors that not only come in handy during that vet visit, but actually can become a part of our daily, weekly or monthly routines to ensure and maintain optimal health for our companions.

  • Something as straightforward as the step up behavior, allows us to look at the bird's belly and underside! So, pat yourself on the back - you probably already have one HAT under your belt!
  • Training a step down can assist with weighing as a bird learns, at home, to step onto a flat or t-perch scale. Hanging out on a t-perch scale while veggies are being cut, or while we are together in the bathroom in the morning allows us to quickly get a weight in a 'no big deal' fashion. Just think how impressed the avian vet will be when the bird readily steps down on the scale?! Two goals met: less stress and the ability to keep up with our bird's weight and any possible changes in the home. Now, there's a HAT you can wear with pride!
  • I've taught Coco a simple 'wave' behavior, but with the added twist of doing a "curly finger" wave. In so doing, she keeps the foot up in the air, facing me, allowing me a good look at the bottom of her foot, nails, the functionality of her foot, etc. She has learned to do this behavior with both feet. The cuteness factor of this behavior is only exceeded by the value of being able to examine her feet at any time.
  • Along these same lines a "do an eagle impression" behavior allows the ability to visually examine and touch the wings and their undersides. And, Coco enjoys a scritch in her wing-pits during this behavior!
  • Training the behavior of drinking from a syringe is one of my top-HATs! A bird that learns to drink some yummy apple juice or water from a syringe, and in so doing to view a syringe as bringing something deliciously reinforcing, is a bird that is less likely to need to be toweled in order to administer medication if and when needed.
  • And how about nail trimming and/or filing? There is something to hang your HAT on!
  • A behavior I would like to train in the future is what I will call the "say ahhh" behavior, which of course would allow me (or the vet) to look in her mouth.
The list can go on and on! And HATs are only the beginning of lifestyle skills for our companion birds!

Do you have
HATs that you would like to share? Feel free to click the comment link below and share them with everyone!



wolfgirl1987 said...

This makes me want to teach Jack and Callie both to lift their wings and eat from a syringe

Jim Stewart said...

Another good topic, Robin.

A HAT I like is saying their name so they stop and look at me. Many times simlply saying "Nino" or "Teo", even from across the room, then asking for a behavior has been helpful in distracting undesirable behaviors.


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