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. Put the basketball in the hoop. Step up for a stranger. Wear a harness. This is wonderful. It is really helpful to have a clearly defined goal. Yay!
What we forget is all the tiny little baby nano 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. Great. Let’s all agree that shaping is a great way of getting your bird to play basketball.
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 expect anything to happen, you’re sorely mistaken. He has no idea what’s going on. So how can we set this up? How can he succeed first try?
The first step I would suggest is just touching the ball. Can your bird to 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. Success should be easy! Set it up so that is so darn simple, your bird wins every time. And, even if you make it a smidge harder, he’s still likely to get it right. 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 and you’ll be playing basketball in no time!