Positive Reinforcement

The efficacy and suitability of ABA lies in its use of positive reinforcement (rewards) for desired behaviors while eschewing any aversive interactions with birds such as punishment or negative reinforcement. The rewards used are determined essentially, by the particular bird. Some respond very well to food treats, other will ‘work’ for a head-scratch or a favorite toy. Where unwanted behaviors occur, a non-antagonistic approach is maintained. Birds are not reprimanded or ‘challenged’ for any unwanted behavior. The concept of ‘dominating’ a bird and forcing it to do certain actions and be 100% compliant is rejected, largely on welfare grounds. As highly social animals, a parrot’s need for companionship and company can be used to ask it to refrain from unwanted behaviors. So, instead of returning a ‘bad’ bird to its cage in response to some unwanted behavior, the caregiver calmly removes themselves from the company of the bird for a few minutes by walking out of the room. Once a bird understands the connection between an unwanted behavior and its favored person leaving it, it has an incentive to cease the behavior.

This section will be dedicated to articles on Applied Behavior Analysis and Positive Reinforcement.

Articles on Applied Behavior Analysis by Bev Penny

Living and Learning with Parrots by Susan G. Friedman

Our Success using Applied Behavior Analysis by Deborah FA

One thought on “Positive Reinforcement

  1. I’m having some new issues with my hahn macaw (2.5 yo). Oscar is biting a lot more (not to hurt me, she never draws blood) but any time a) she needs to go back to her cage b) she needs to leave my shoulder – there are bites and vocal protests. I’ve paired back to her cage with a treat, so the cage is associated with good things. I’m having trouble doing the same with my shoulder and I want to “nip this in the bud” so to speak. yes, I could stick train her – but that doesn’t really resolve the issue. Any advice? I study ABA at school but I can’t seem to figure out this shoulder quandry…I can’t find something enticing enough to distract her from the consequence of leaving my shoulder.

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