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Dec 14, 2012

Rufo introduces itself... dancing!

As indicated in the heading of this blog, I intend to join theory and practice of training techniques to help improve the relationship with our pets. So, today I turn aside theory and show you a couple of videos with examples of what can be achieved by applying the techniques I intend to explain in this blog.

Personally, I think talking is the silliest thing our animals can do, but it is undeniably a striking and distinctive quality, and probably the one that has brought more people closer to parrots, so in this first video, I discuss briefly some tips to make our parrots learn to talk in context. You may have to excuse me but it is recorded in Spanish (I promise to make future recordings in English too).
Briefly, what I am explaining in the video is that I tend to repeat the question and answer several times during a week or so, trying to make it funny (watch your voice pitch), and repeating it only 5 o 6 times in a row (more  is not necessary and is boring for both). Then, during a normal training session (lets say we are training the retrieve, for example), we throw only the question and see if the animal responds with the answer (in that case, click, treat and lots of praise) or he doesn’t (in this scenario, juts keep on training the retrieve and, afterwards, keep repeating answer&question some more days and try again). Soon I will stop to explain the different techniques we can use to encourage this type of contextual vocalizations.

Dec 13, 2012


The consequence obtained by an animal immediately after a behavior is performed, is called "reinforcement" if it causes the behavior to recur with greater frequency or intensity, and "punishment" if it causes it to decrease in frequency or intensity.

Also, as we have said on other occasions, that reinforcement will be "positive" if it involves the addition of a stimulus and "negative" if it involves its removal.

The most effective procedure to modify behavior is based on positive reinforcement, as generally the subject will be willing to work hard to get that reinforcement, whereas to avoid a negative reinforcement is usually applied the "law of least effort" to escape stimulus that produces aversion (plus it has been proved that the use of these measures increase aggression and apathy (Azrin & Holtz, 1966).

Dec 12, 2012

Operant Conditioning

Developed by B.F. Skinner, it is a learning method (understood as "behavior modification based on experience") supported on the relationship between a given behavior and its consequence, so that the subject can voluntarily decide what behavior develop (operate) based on the result that it will report him.
This approach based on the consequence we obtain exists in all animals, including humans, and is governed by the following premise:

- One consequence perceived as positive after a particular behaviour is given, will cause that behavior to recur more often or  with more intensity (increase);

- One consequence perceived as negative after a given behaviour, will cause that behaviour to recur with less frequency or with less intensity, even extinct (decrease).

Dec 10, 2012


Today I want to begin explaining some basics concepts about the study of animal behavior that later will be of great help when it comes to coach and train our animals.

Ethology is defined as "the branch of biology that studies the behavior of animals", so it is a discipline submitted to the principles that define scientific methodology.

Ethologists seek to understand the reasons that lead animals to behave in certain ways, combining laboratory and field work, combining disciplines such as ecology, neurology, anatomy and psychology. Although the study of animal behavior has been practiced since the beginning of time (it was useful to know, for example, what incited a lion to attack), its boom took place from the second half of the twentieth century when its findings started moving to the behavior of the human being as an animal species.

Exist within this specialty a series of names who, one way or another, have marked its evolution over time so it is interesting to know something about them:

Dec 8, 2012

What is a parrot? AKA Buying a tiger?

Parrots are birds of the order Psittaciformes, which includes about 86 genera and 353 species divided into three families: Cacatuidae, Strigopidae and Psittacidae. They all share some common features such as the curved beak with the upper jaw attached to the skull with reduced mobility, or having two toes forward and two steps back (zygodactyl). They generally live in temperate climates and usually feed on seeds, fruits, berries, roots, leaves ...

But apart from these features that science has identified and meticulously classified, all parrots also share a number of qualities that we should keep in mind when considering purchasing one of these animals as a companion, so we can be sure that they cover all our expectations in a realistic way, such as:

- PARROTS ARE WILD ANIMALS: Have you ever thought about  buying a tiger? A Bengal tiger is a wild animal, even if it was born in captivity in a zoo, maybe its unhappy grandfather was born there too, but it is still a wild animal ... We all know that it is not highly recommended to have a tiger in the room because we understand that it will grow and won´t be able to suppress its wild instincts.

Dec 4, 2012


My name is Eduardo and, looking back, I do not remember any time in my life when I did not enjoyed the company of various animals:

First, I had a dog of unknown breed, who accompanied me for fourteen years. It was my first animal and I will never forget her.

Then I had a rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) rescued from a pet shop where it was mainly fed on sunflower seed and kept in the back shop, away from the light and the window,  so customers wouldn´t noticed her nor her awful feather plucking problem. Back then the Internet was in its infancy and I had to turn to the Madrid Zoo staff to find appropriate information on the species. So, I started to feed her on pureed fruit and baby cereals and juice, and managed her to recover some feathers and even tamed her as to come to my hand on cue, until she died three years later.

Later I had a Boxer dog, whom I extensively trained  and we kept a link impossible to describe in words.
Unfortunately, after a long year of chemotherapy at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UCM, succumbed to an incurable lymphoma.

Then came a dwarf rabbit breed endearing Belier who accompanied us for three years, followed by a handfed nymph (Nymphicus hollandicus) who died of unknown causes at the age of 4 years. She taught me how smart and special parrots can become. I taught her to speak clearly and to fly to my hand on cue, in addition to various tricks. It was a very docile and loving animal.

Currently, I share my life with two French bulldogs, several goldfishes in a pond, a group of discus fishes, and the oldest of them all, a Congo African Grey (CAG) Parrot (Psitaccus erithacus) who is nearly seven years old and that I keep since its birth.
Animal intelligence and beauty has always fascinated me, and other values ​​such as the undying loyalty that they exhibit. The special relationship I had with my unforgettable boxer, in part due to the close relationship we developed through training, produced in me an enthusiasm for the field of animal behavior, that I currently attempt to satiate training Rufo, my dear CAG (whose image presides this page).

During this time, all my life indeed, there have been many books on the subject that I've read, many specialists I've talked to, and lots of people to which I will always be grateful for helping to expand and improve my knowledge of animal behavior, and in particular on those fascinating animals parrots are.

With this blog I intend not only to inform people how fascinating parrots can become, and the peculiarities of their behavior, but also the enormous commitment and difficulty required for their proper maintenance, so I will resort frequently to science (psychology and ethology especially), trying to unify my experiences and knowledge in a site that I hope will serve to help you in the management and training of your feathered companions.

From the conviction that understanding why behavior happens it will be much easier for us to provide a better environment to our pets, and thereby greatly enhance our relationship with them, my intention is to combine theory with practical articles, videos and photographs, helping to spread the science behind the art of training, understood as the way of trying to understand, predict and influence the behavior of our animals, so that our looks improve coexistence in a pleasant and positive way.

As a final note, and for those curious, this blog is the English version of the original one (, written in my native language (Spanish), so I want to excuse in advanced my poor English, promising I´ll try to do my best to explain myself in this language.

Thanks for being there.

Greetings to all!