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Discussion Starter #1
Spooky's gone through several aggressive phases, but I chalked it up to hormones. He calmed down for a while after I started using Avi-Calm; in early July I boarded him for a week while I was on vacation. When he came home he was sweet as a peach. He's been amazing!

The past 10~ days, the aggression started again.

Before he'd go nuts and fly around the room when he didn't want to be picked up or though he was being put away. I considering clipping him, but I haven't. He no longer does that and he loves flying around. Instead, when he thinks he's been bad, he flies onto the floor. And I cannot. Pick. Him. Up.

If I use a perch, he goes around the perch to viciously attack my hands. He has started attacking feet, too. The only way to put him away without injury is to unceremoniously towel him. This is not helping matters. Clipping him now seems out of the question because it would only "ground" him more often.

He will step up for me inside his cage, but that's about it. If I try to remove him from my shoulder or even switch him from one hand to the other, he bites.

He's always been dominant (he's never "asked" for a head scratch by bowing in his life, he just butts you with his head until you pay attention to him.) But now if he's on my or my SO's chest, he pecks if he wants attention. We've tried ignoring it but he just pecks harder. He also has a habit of suddenly attacking/pecking my hand while he it sitting on it, even when I'm not moving.

I can't pick him up with my hands anymore. I don't know why. I've devolved to normally placing him back in his cage with my shoulder. I know this is not ideal but right now I can hardly handle him with my hands at all, unless it is 100% on his terms. Until I can get past this hoop, I can't train him step up/step down/come here, which is the best way I can think of to help him behave better. He's a smart and sociable bird so I've never really HAD to train him. He'd just listen.

A few days ago, after going after my SO's face and hands while they were just sitting together, I tried to give him a bath. I never force it. When he didn't move to climb down my arm into the tub (he likes showers) , I turned off the water and started to stand up. He lunged at my face! The next day, when I was cuddling with him on my chest (which he demands), he started pecking my hands then lunged at my face again before I even had the chance to stop giving him scritches.

The next morning he hissed at me when I went into his cage to change his food and water. This has NEVER happened. Normally he steps up without me asking because he likes to hang out while I tidy up his house. I left him a lone for a little while;he finally let me change the paper. Later that day he left his cage on his own and hung out on my shoulder as I worked as usual.

Since then (two days ago) he's been much better. No aggression or attacks. I was trying to be as zen as possible to help him regain whatever trust he might have lost, and thought I was making progress.

Then this morning, while I was cleaning out his cage and he was on my shoulder as usual waiting for his nutriberries to be replenished, he attacked my face. :cry: Out of nowhere. Drew blood. It's gonna scar. He's bitten me that hard before, but only on my arms/hands. Never, ever on my face, or while he was on my shoulder.

I've been trying, during this whole period, to bribe him with a piece of millet in my hand to step up. He just attacked my hand, then angrily bites the millet, then my hand again. :(

Every day I loose a little more trust with him. I can't even trust him to quietly hang out on my shoulder anymore. I'm started to be afraid to handle him. Even when he comes to me, he still often will attack in some way. I don't know what to do, what I've done, or how to fix it. there is a void of mistrust and fear, on both our sides at this point.

I leave the cage door open when he's out. And after dinner he has free reign until bedtime at 9:30. Cage door is open; he happily goes between playing in there and coming out to hang with us. So I don't think he views the cage as a punishment.

He's a year and several months old at this point. 13 hours of darkness each night. We have him out for 4-6+ hours a day, plenty of one on one interaction and hang-out time. All his food is kept inside his cage. He's on Avi-calm. I only pet his head/neck/face, not his back or under his wings. He doesn't mope and rarely screams (only when he's annoyed--sometimes I need to put him away while I'm working if he wants to run amok on my desk). He sings, talks to himself and to me, plays, generally does not seem bored or unhappy. His weight is good and consistent. Before recently, I've been able to back off when he opened his beak at me before I upset him. Now he rarely gives warning. Just attacks. There've been no changes in his environment. The only two weird things to report are

-he was chewing on the bars of his cage a lot for a while. I moved some chewable toys into his favorite spots and now he chews on them instead.

-he's had watery poops for a few days, but i understand this can happen from stress.... and he's clearly not at ease right now.

I don't know what the problem is and it's driving me insane. I don't know what to do, how to do it, or if I even can. I can't have bird I don't trust... that's no life for either of us... I don't want to watch him slowly become untamed and unhandlable. Someone suggested I get him a friend, but I really don't want two birds if I can't even manage one.

So, my tl;dr questions:

What can I do to train out his aggression, especially related to attacking while he's on the floor?
Do I just let him bit me? Do i return him to the cage when he's bad, or do i ignore it completely?
Am I just... not good with birds? At what point do I give up? :( He's such a good, social, funny bird; all the more reason I feel the problem must be something I've done. Re-homing is something I really don't want to do because I'm not that kind of person... I grew up in a house that rescued and fostered shelter cats. It feels like a betrayal, to him and to my beliefs. but at the same time, I'm aware there is going to be a breaking point. And at this rate, unless I can fix this, re-homing may end up being the "best" option, even though it turns my stomach.

Please, someone help me understand what I'm doing wrong and how to fix this.

(Sorry for uncapitalized words; my shift key is starting to go! I need a new keyboard.)
 

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I am sorry you are having such troubles with Spooky. I know that using a good firm NO will be understood when he bites or lunges ( any other bad behaviors). It also sounds like it still might be a hormonal aggression. You might want to cover him for the full 14 hours at night. You could also change around his toys and perches in his cage. I would definitely return him to the cage for timeouts also, especially when he lunges and bites. As far as when he is on the floor, offer a toy perhaps, to distract him, then offer your finger to get him to step up. Just some random suggestions. I don't think its you or anything you are doing. You are obviously good with birds, you normally have a wonderful bird there. Maybe just try to show less fear (I know that is hard though..) as they do pick up on that. You don't need to give up- I am sure that this will work out for you. Rehoming will only make you feel guilty and sad, and it will not stop his behavior- it may just make it worse. I wish I could offer more, but I am not an expert obviously. Just trying to offer what I can. Hang in there....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much JoJo's Mom. I needed the encouragement. Yesterday was rough. It really shook up my trust level with him.

He understands "no"; he's usually good about coming over to me when I scold him for getting into things he's not supposed to.

I think your suggestions are good; I talked with my friend who has an African Grey who used to be nippy and she gave me a lot of similar pointers. She also said to put a treat in his cage every time I put him in, and to re-train him to step up without aggression by putting him down in several different places, including the top of his cage, then picking him up again and rewarding him. And also occasionally putting him in the cage but leaving the door open, so he stops associating "step up" with being separated from us.

She did say though that always returning him to the cage as punishment might reinforce it; it's usually just as effective to walk away and ignore the bird for a little while. That way they associate biting=no attention, instead of biting=cage.
 

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She has a good point about the cage. I have cats so I have no choice if he isn't being good and I can't stop it...thank goodness Milo is too young to have too many issues right now. Hopefully you will get it all worked out soon :)
 

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Yeah that's one of the problems, I have cats too... right now his cage is in my office which has a door, but in a few months we're moving to an apartment that won't have that luxury.

Every time I take him out and he's being good and asks for scritches, he starts pecking my hands after a few moments. :\ I don't know wtf is going on. I can't tell if I'm being over-emotional about this and taking it too personally, or if i just can't take it anymore.

Rehoming him would make me feel incredibly guilty, but I'm starting to wonder that if guilt is my only incentive for keeping him, is it fair to either of us? This has been weighing on me so heavily.
 

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Francis went through these same things just recently. He bit my face for the first time about a month ago, so hard that I felt totally confused as to how this happened when he was a sweetheart before this. No blood was drawn, but he started to go after my hands and face for about two weeks straight. I didn't like him for it even though my logic said to me that he is animal, he is acting like a bird should act and I have to figure out how to work this out with him.

I didn't trust him near my face and when he was on my shoulder I even put my hand to the side of my cheek so he couldn't get at me. I did the step up retraining again, and worked really hard to take the lead on communicating with him what I wanted him to do, and rewarding him for it.

The hard part was what to do when he bit me. Well, when he bites I guess I sort of decided to act like I would if he were my human friend. I don't like being bit, it hurts and I'm not going to let you do that. So he goes to his gym or in his cage. If he is on his gym and flies back to me, I put him back on his perch a few times til he stays there, and when he calms down, if he calms down, I put him low to my belt level bring him up slowly to my mid section...and give him scritches. it works!

If he doesn't stay on his perch, I put him in his cage and try his mood a little later. It worked for me.

I hope this helps. Francis still gets into his moods, but I've found this method helps me to redirect him until he is in a calm state.
Oh! I should add here that Jojo's mom showed me where to get seeds for sprouting...and it is a great thing I put in his cage so it is not a punishment when I send him back there. It makes him really happy and full, and he loves scritches afterward.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you Francesca. <3

Spooky has been much, much better. His aggression tapered off after a few days of working with him and now he's stepping up (occasionally) without a fuss. He still flies away or to the floor sometimes, but instead of chasing him we simply start to leave. He gets upset and flies over to us 90% of the time. Been leaving a bit of millet spray in his cage every time we put him away, too; that's probably helping. ;)

I bought a clicker. We'll see how it goes; I'd like to train him some real tricks instead of accidentally training bad behaviors. Noticed the other day that when he flies up to the curtain rods, he usually starts yelling "Come here! Spooky come here!", hahahah. WAY TO GO, ME.
 
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