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Go Back   Talk Budgies Forums > Budgie Talk > Taming and Bonding > Training Journals


Training Journals Keep track of your training progress here with a training journal.
Thread Description:Handling a mistreated budgie

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  #1  
Old 08-30-2015, 01:38 PM
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Default Taming Tally

Note: This may be very hard to read. Please be warned that I describe some abuse in here to better explain how it's affecting her behaviour.

I noticed that the question of how to handle a very skittish/fearful budgie comes up every so often. As Talia has had a difficult life, I thought it may help someone else if I keep a journal here recording our experiences.

Overall Goals:
  • Reduce (and hopefully eliminate) biting.
  • Lessen her hatred of hands/people.
  • Tend to cage/food without being attacked.
  • Allow us to examine and administer treatment without undue stress.

She doesn't need to be a tame bird. She doesn't have to like us. But for her safety, we need to be able to handle her. That's what we've decided to work towards.


History

We took Talia in at the beginning of this month after coming in contact with her former owner who decided to rehome her after her boyfriend promised to kill the bird if she didn't.

After seeing Talia in person, it was hard to deny she was a mistreated animal and the owner eventually admitted to us a few of the things that the boyfriend had been doing. He'd repeatedly flick her head and try to slap her out of the air while flying. He'd corner her and pull her feathers out. He'd poke her with things, trap her, and shake her cage. He'd rile her up and encourage her to bite everything, but if she bit him, he'd hit her.


The Effect of Abuse on Talia

She's is surprisingly curious about everything and adventurous. I was expecting her to be more withdrawn, but no. She has to check out -everything-.

However, she has some severe anger and frustration issues. Pretty much everything sets Tally off and if she's angry, she will literally fly straight at you and try to bite. She grinds her beak down and tries to pull off flesh, so avoiding bites is definitely a priority. (She already managed to get my partner and one of the nurses at the clinic.)

If she can't reach you, she'll start bashing her beak -hard- against the nearest object.

There are times that, in the middle of the night, she's annoyed some creak or another woke her and she flies into a rage -- attacking her toys with her high pitched squeaks. The idea may sound amusing -- my SIL thinks it's hilarious -- but I assure you it's terrible to hear. You can hear how out of control she is and the amount of frustration that she doesn't know how to deal with. She's -angry-. She's a budgie, you know? She should have a charmed, happy life where her big tantrum is because she wants to play with a ball she dropped. She shouldn't be trying to lash out so hard at something that she's literally willing to hurt herself.


Current Goal

Right now, our big thing is getting Tally to realise that biting isn't going to get her what she wants. Lyta was a biter, too, and we had a lot of success with following Lindsey's Biting - A Learned And Often Avoidable Behavior.

In order to achieve that, we're going to have to actively work on reassuring her that she's safe here. The way I see it, it's my job to woo her and encourage her to see us as something positive in her life.


Conclusion

Poor Talia's had a tough time of it and the amount of care she needs is really intimidating. Fortunately, my avian vet FIL has taken interest in my 'pet pet project' and my partner is incredibly supportive. But, just as important, I have the wonderful resources available here at TB. God knows I've read over all the stuff written here about troubled birds on multiple occasions.

All I can do is hope that what we're going through here can help someone else. Thanks.

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  #2  
Old 08-30-2015, 01:56 PM
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Default Reassurance and Biting Reduction

We're putting an emphasis on keeping all of Tally's interactions with us as positive as possible. My partner has come to the conclusion that he can't give Talia the patience she needs, so he's stepped away from her care at this particular phase.

I do have him just quietly giving her a couple buds of millet a day. The process is this: he stands by her cage and holds his hand about an inch out of reach. If she goes to attack him, he keeps his hand there and drops the millet on the ground.

If she doesn't go to bite him, he'll give her the millet (while keeping fingers out of reach) and praise her quietly.

So far, we have seen some progress with this. She went from trying to attack him 100% of the time to now only about 25%.

What I've been doing, on the other hand, is giving her company. I've been spending several hours a day right next to her cage, doing my work there and occasionally giving her a treat.

Like my partner, I hold my hand away from the cage to make sure she can't bite me before I give her the piece.

She hasn't attempted to bite me at all in the last two days. (Millet is definitely her Achilles' heel )

For the first couple of weeks, when I'd talk to her, I'd keep my eyes averted and make sure she didn't feel like I was staring at her.

In the last few days, I've been talking to her directly. She seems to occasionally allow herself to enjoy the attention and will hop over to latch onto the side of the cage to look at me.

It's been really nice to see her fluff up.

I'm hoping to start conditioning her to clicker use soon, so I've added a clicker to the bottom of her cage so she can play with it. She seems to really like the bright colours.

Okay! That's about it for the update for now. I'll add more to this once we get a little further along.
  #3  
Old 08-30-2015, 06:06 PM
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Keep up the good work. Karma for taking such good care of Tally and making sure she gets the care and patience she deserves. It won't be easy, but I'm sure you can do it!

You've made great progress already and I'm sure she will continue to make excellent progress through your care. Looking forward to updates!
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Old 08-30-2015, 06:56 PM
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It was so hard and painful to read of the abuse poor poor Tally has had to endure. I feel such anger towards the cruel, sick idiot who did those things to her. But I'm so happy she's now with you. Keep up the good work, and keep us posted on your progress. And....when the time is right, give Tally a kiss (or send her an air kiss, if you have to!) from me and Jenni and Simmi with our blessings. Xxx
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Old 08-31-2015, 10:03 AM
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Hey, thank you all so much for your support. It really means a lot.

We finally were able to pick up Lyta from the vet, so the two have been calling to each other nonstop like a couple of particularly loquacious teenage girls. It's so cute. It's lovely to see Tally fluff up like that. I really think that when the time is right, her having a real friend is going to make a difference.
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Old 08-31-2015, 12:41 PM
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Thank you so much for taking in Tally, giving her patience and understanding and love. I hope that she comes to love everyone in your family, but especially Lyta. Please keep us updated!!

Last edited by justmoira; 08-31-2015 at 12:42 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-31-2015, 02:35 PM
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It is wonderful that you were able to get Tally out of that awful situation, I will never understand how people can abuse animals. I have had fearful birds become much less so once they can see other birds comfortable and at ease.
Hopefully that will eventually be the case for Tally and her days of abuse will not even be remembered.
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Old 09-09-2015, 07:42 AM
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Thank you guys so much for the support! It really means a lot because a lot of people I know are a bit perplexed why I'd even bother.


A Sudden Introduction

On advice from my vets, they suggested that Lyta and Tally are ready to be in the same room. The girls have -loved- it. Lyta is normally an incredibly calm, gentle budgie but she's been clinging to the side of her cage to look at Tally. (And Tally's hanging upside down to look at Lyta. Because Tally isn't just a budgie, no. She's a monkeybird.) We've assembled perches so they can now sit as close to each other as possible.

Tally hasn't had any out of cage time since we moved her into that room a few days ago. We're pretty sure if we do, she'll go right to Lyta's cage and that could cause a problem. (We think it's especially important to introduce them on neutral ground).

Lyta, though. She surprised us. Usually when we take her out, she flies around the room once and then lands on her perch. And stays there for the next six hours. Not this time. She flew to Tally's cage where they talked and fell asleep after Lyta asserted dominance. It was adorable to see them both fluff up from the company.

It was tempting to move it ahead of schedule to let them meet officially today, but going to stick with the plan for this weekend: I want to make sure my partner is here in case something goes wrong. We need to keep watching to see if she throws any more tantrums. If she does, I'll put off the interaction a little while longer.


Lady Chomp-A-Lot

We're still in the process of trying to train Tally out of biting. She's managed to get us both really good, especially if she feels we aren't being fast enough with feeding her.

She loves being spoken to. If I lower my head to talk directly to her, she fluffs up. If, though, she sees a hand or fingers anywhere nearby, she attacks. We're still working on accustoming her to the idea that Hands Are Fun And Bring Treats.

I started conditioning her to the sound of the clicker, but she seems to feel threatened by it. So where Kosh literally got used to what a clicker meant in the matter of a few minutes and Lyta took maybe a couple of days, Tally's still boggled by it. We've tried using different clickers, but she doesn't like the sudden noises. All we can do, I think, is just be gentle with it and encouraging.

So, I expect we'll still be doing conditioning for a while yet.


Tantrums

One of the reasons we're considering letting Tally and Lyta meet is that Talia's tantrums have faded off. When we first got her, everything that happened that she didn't like would mean she'd attack the nearest object to her -- to the point where I was really worried she'd hurt herself.

Recently, though, that's calmed down heaps. She's pretty much stopped the angry attacking in the last week and, instead, does this furious little chitter. The chittering isn't happening as often as it was, so that's giving me a lot of hope here.

I think she's really starting to settle in here. Maybe one day, she'll even feel safe.
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Old 09-09-2015, 10:15 AM
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Wonderful news! Sounds like you have made great progress in a short time and that Lyta has been a good role model for Tally.
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Old 09-09-2015, 07:37 PM
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Lyta really has been. She's my sweet, elegant little girl. And her willingness to hop onto my finger has encouraged Tally to start doing the same thing.

Of course it makes feeding them in the morning interesting because now they both crawl over my hand and into my palm while I'm trying to change over their food dish. It's been wonderful to see Tally get so comfortable though I got to take care that I don't make sudden movements with my fingers or my skin will totally regret it.
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