Friday, December 11, 2009

Do you Punish your Bird?

Nino (left); Teo (right)
The guy that does their bidding in the center ... (Jim)

If someone were to ask us the question,

"Do you punish your bird?"

Most of us would quickly, and firmly, respond absolutely not!

(...what good would it do, anyway, to take away the bird's allowance, tell them they cannot have any of their birdie friends over to play, and even say no more tv until they behave? !! )

Of course, when we speak of punishment in terms of behavior, it means something quite different than the impression we may have brought out of childhood or life experiences.
When it comes to living with, and relating to, our birds, and especially when working to train or change behaviors, it is important to have a solid understanding of all behavioral terms.

Specifically, what is the definition of punishment in behavioral terms, and what effect does it have on a relationship between human and animal?

First, what is punishment?
Positive punishment occurs when something aversive is presented to a learner, and it results in a behavior decreasing in frequency.

There are 2 types of punishment:
1) Positive Punishment
2) Negative Punishment
A potential dichotomy exists between behavior terms and life experience. If someone were to ask "which is 'better', positive punishment, or negative punishment," many may eagerly choose positive punishment as "better", simply because it contains the word 'positive'!

However, in terms of behavior and the science of applied behavioral analysis, the word 'positive' does not mean 'good'. Likewise, the word 'negative' does not mean 'bad'.
'Positive' punishment does not mean 'good' punishment;
'Negative' punishment does not mean 'bad' punishment!
Recalling from previous blog posts:

An aversive is something a learner will work to avoid.
Thus, the definition of positive punishment can be rephrased to further clarify:
Positive punishment occurs when a learner is presented with something it will work to avoid, and that results in a behavior decreasing in frequency.

Stick around; over the next few posts I am going to write more on the topic of punishment.

  • Are there any real world alternatives?
  • How do they work?
  • How do we assess and analyze the behavior, and create a plan to change it?
Important questions and an important topic that greatly affects the relationship we share with our birds and the enjoyment of companionship.

In the meantime, try your hand at answering the question below the comment section on this page!



Arlene said...

First let me say that Neo and Teo are beautiful.
I'll bet there's no shortage of noise in that house. :-)

Good article Robin. I was trying to rationalize my answer to the question. We'll see if I'm right or not. I see where all this positive/negative stuff gets confusing.

louara said...

This is an interesting entry Robin. Before trying to answer the questions I will have to read it again and try to understand it.

My Gracie-Mae loves to go into our bathroom, she loves it so much that we now have a perch in there for her. However sometimes she jumps off her perch and starts to knock stuff off the counter. I don't say anything to her but I put her on my finger and return her to her perch and praise her for staying put. If she jumps off again I don't say anything and return her to her cage and close the bathroom door so she can't fly back in. I want her to associate jumping on the counter with being removed from the bathroom. She hates it when my bathroom door is closed. Somedays it works and somedays (like today) it doesn't. I am always consistent with my reaction to this behavior. Would this be considered as a positive punishment?
Just to let you know I never use treats as a reward for good behavior. When she doesn't go on the counter I praise her and let her have more "mirror" time in the bathroom. She is a diva and loves to look at herself in the big bathroom mirror, so this is her reward for staying on her perch.

(Arlene great job on the graphics as usual. Waiting for Santa-too cute)

louara said...

This morning the bathroom routine went perfectly! She stayed on her perch and only jumped off once. I put her back on the perch and she stayed there until I was ready to leave the room.
So is this just a coincidence or is she actually understanding what I want her to do?
Maybe I am expecting her to comprehend too much.
I'm going to try the questions now.

. said...

Hi, Loura - it sounds like you are making progress! (I've sent you an email offline so we can continue to explore this!) :)

wolfgirl1987 said...

Both my birds are fully flighted. Jack has a habit every now and then of choosing a no no spot to perch. Typically whenever I see him about to land somewhere he's not allowed to go, I give a loud, sharp ah ah sound. This usually distracts him, and he lands somewhere he is allowed. If he proceeds to try and land where he isn't allowed more then 2 times, he is put in his cage. After 20 mins I let him out again. If he instantly tries to fly to the no no place, he is returned to his cage a second time. 20 mins later I let him out, and if he tries to fly to it, he is returned to the cage for the night. Twice I have used this method and succeeded in keeping him from perching in no no areas.

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