Training Tidbit – The Rhinoceros Test

The Rhinoceros is a large animal from Africa. They weight more than 2000kg and can run 50km/hour. They are incredibly strong and have skin that is up to 5cm thick. They are an endangered species, and their numbers are dwindling in the wild, so they are often kept in zoos.

Why am I talking about Rhinos? Because they are a great example of an animal that cannot be pushed around. You can’t push them, poke them, whip them, choke them, or even zap them with a cattle-prod. They won’t move. You can try, but they won’t care. Put a leash and collar on a Rhino and see if you can pull him any direction he doesn’t want to go. It won’t work.

UNLESS you can convince him that he DOES want to go that way.

The MOTIVATION is the key. He must want to. I want the animal to see the value in what I’m asking. I want there to be something in it for him. This is a core idea to positive reinforcement and force-free training.

If you are ever unsure if a training technique with your parrot is following this philosophy, apply the Rhinoceros Test. For example, when teaching a parrot to ‘step up’ the common advice is to press into their abdomen to encourage the foot motion. Does this pass the Rhinoceros test? Could you press into a Rhinos abdomen to move his feet? It wouldn’t work. It doesn’t pass the Rhinoceros test.

You need to look at the motivation for your parrot to Step Up. Why should he come to your hand and put his feet on it? What’s in it for him? Ask yourself “How can I get my parrot to WANT to Step Up?”

This is a great tool to help you and your bird create the best relationship; If you can apply the Rhinoceros Test and find a force-free way to work with your bird.

Happy Training!

- Robin Horemans KPACTP