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Topic: Jumpy, skittish dove
Message: Posted by: haywire (Jun 8, 2006 08:39AM)
I took the plunge and got 2 doves after seeing a local lecture.

I got many books and videos but I am still having a problem with one of the doves.

Interestingly, one of the doves is perfect, I could not ask for better. She flaps a bit when produced, then settles down and stays in my hand. She is not fearful of me at all, and is eager to perform.

The other dove is a whole different story, thought I have spent equal time trying to reduce both birds hand shyness and equal time training, she is not liking the work.

She flies off my hand as soon as produced, flys all over... She hates coming out of the cage, runs from my hands, dosn't like being handled much.

I am considering just using her for the box type productions or dove tray/dove pan stuff, since she does that stuff fine, and just get a few more for body loads but I'd rather just stick with the two doves.

Any tips for reducing her skittish nature other than to continue training her? Been working with her everyday for 2 months, and it seems she is showing little or no improvement...

The well behaved one is a pleasure to work with... they are sisters I was told also... same parents, so that's interesting how they can be so different...

Message: Posted by: Dave Scribner (Jun 8, 2006 10:35AM)
Steven, doves are just like people. Each has it's own personality. It's not unusual for one dove to act differently than another. Unfortunately, the only solution to your problem is just constant handling and training. With that said, understand, occassionally you will run into a bird that just will not be trained. It doesn't happen often but it does happen.

Normally, 6 or 7 weeks of constand everyday training is all thatis necessary but it could take longer. I'm not sure where you train your birds but you could try this. Of course carefully remove the bird from the cage and hold it with both hands to prevent fly off. Go to a confined space like a short hallway. The object is to give the dove nowhere to go and perch except on your hand. At first, just stroke the bird from head to tail over and over again until it gets used to your touch. Then proceed with the jump from hand to hand. Although I don't like this method, you could restrict it's food supply until you are ready to train. Put a small amount of food in your hand and eventually the dove will learn that you are a friend and will do what you want in order to eat. As I said, I don't like this method but in some cases, it may be the only way. Of course once trained, you'll have to reduce the food availability in your hand.
Message: Posted by: haywire (Jun 8, 2006 10:47AM)
Yes I have a feeling I may seperate the bad bird to another cage so I can restrict its food intake until training time, I don't like that method either, but If I attempt hand feeding 3x a day its not like I'm starving it. If it still won't eat I'll give up for that day and feed it.

When I first got the doves it would take the food from hand, now it won't.

Thanks for your advice, will try that hallway thing today.

Message: Posted by: themaestro (Jun 8, 2006 11:05AM)
In every batch of doves I've gotten over the past 25 years, I've had at least one very docile, easily trainable dove. And one totally neurotic. I found that after years and years of working and playing with them, the neurotic ones got better. Some.

However, I have come upon a different method than the traditional play with them and getting used to you kind of training that I call "conditioning." In this method, I make sure from the first that the dove is never allowed to fly away from me. When I first take them out, if I pet them at all, I hold them finrmly cupped in my hands, not allowing them to flap their wings and possibly fly off. Then I will just take the bird out, put it in the harness, and into its dark space, leaving it for ten to fifteen minutes. Then produce the bird, let it flap a little from hand to hand--or whatever I need it to do during the act--and then put it up. With the bright lights, and being unsure of itself, it will stay there and not fly off. Then as you do this often enough, the bird will be conditioned to doing this. Since I started using this conditioning method, I've been able to get the birds working into my act much faster. Now the neurotic ones will still act that way getting them out of the cage, etc., but do their job perfectly in the act. In my act "The Maestro" it would be disaster if the bird took off, and it never has in all the years I've done it. I've even had times when a bird fell off my hand, but instead of taking it off, it would stay there fluttering, waiting for me to get it and put it up. Because it had been conditioned that that was supposed to happen.

Now in your case, it's made more difficult by the fact you've already had the bird out and it's gotten conditioned to flying off. So even when produced out of darkness and not being able to see well, it may try to fly off. Still, there are ways to over come it:

First when you get the bird, hold him firmly, cupped in your hand. Maybe with the other hand on top, strong enough to make him stop struggling. Then pet him on the back a little, Releasing a little pressure on the underneath hand. But still where you can control him if he resumes struggling and trying to get out of your hand and fly off. Then put him in the harness leave him and then produce him as mentioned above. However, don't just do it in the open room. Go to a corner, where you can use your body to form a trinagled wall. Also produce the bird down low, with your body kind of hovering over him so there's no way to go up either. At first you may want to just produce the bird into your hands and hold him cupped as above. Them have him just perch on a finger for a couple of seconds, and then move to transferring him from hand to hand. Then put him where you plan to during the act.

You can also use the "cornering" method if you want to proceed in the more normal way of playing with them, fluttering from hand to hand, without them being able--and getting used to--flying away from you.

Another important consideration in this conditioning is time in the hiding place. From the first time you start putting them where they're going to be produced, you should leave them for at least the time they will be in hiding. I know it is a temptation--I know I did it--when first working with doves to put them in and then practice the production with them right away. This will condition them to coming out right away, and cause them start squrming around in anticipation. Particularly not good if using invisible harnesses.

For practicing steals you should develop some kind of dummy dove to use. I usually form mind out of socks and duct tape with something inside them to give a little weight.

Hope this helps,
Message: Posted by: magicalaurie (Jun 8, 2006 11:07PM)
"Jumpy, skittish dove... bad bird..."

An unflappable ;) attitude on the part of the handler can make a HUGE difference to subjects of a more sensitive nature.
Message: Posted by: magic_man204 (Jun 9, 2006 12:57PM)
If you just got the dove right after seeing a lecture and didn't do much research before you got the doves I believe you have made a great mistake. the birds aren't just props they are pets, they are our companions and need to be treated like such.I have been doing research for almost 2 years now and am just getting comfortable enough in my knowledge to start off in dove working. anyway good luck and a lot of handling should get you through. it just takes a lot of time!!!

Message: Posted by: haywire (Jun 9, 2006 01:52PM)

I feel I did suffecient research before taking the plunge, I went to several lectures on dove magic, bought some books on dove magic and dove care in general, spent some time with a friends doves, so belive me, I did my homework.

I don't take owning any animal lightly, I take excellent care of my birds and do consider them pets...


Point taken, perhaps its not good to blame the bird for what may be trainer shortcomings or lack of patience. Anyhow, the training continues and I think I
am seeing some small improvements in my "jumpy, skittish... bad bird".


Message: Posted by: magic_man204 (Jun 9, 2006 02:08PM)
Ok haywire I just love the little guys and want to see them cared for correctly, but if you are confident in your knowledge then good luck. It just sounded like from your original post you went to a lecture, thought they were cool bought a couple and now had no clue on what to do. Good luck and all the best
Message: Posted by: frenchmagi (Jun 9, 2006 07:00PM)
Living in a cage, being manhandled, stuffed in a harness, and on and on, may make some of us a little "skittish" as well.
Message: Posted by: Dave Scribner (Jun 9, 2006 08:38PM)
Raphlo, your description is exactly the type of person Aaron was referring too. A true dove worker does not "manhandle" his doves nor does he "stuff" them into a harness.
Message: Posted by: haywire (Jun 9, 2006 11:44PM)
I am trying to give the birds as much time as possible. I am definitely making progress, especially with the more willing of the pair.

Faith and Love I named them btw, both female. Faith is the more willing and eager of the pair so far.

Love is making progress, just slower than I guess I hoped for since one of the birds was awesome right away. I am no longer discouraged as I was when I placed the original post, I realize now it will just take time and patience to make her feel more at ease with me.

I thank everyone sincerely for their thoughts and advice. Its nice to have knowledgable more experienced guys helping us along.

These are the effects I am practicing with them so far :"

Silk to dove,
General grants ribbons to doves
Newspaper to dove
All with holders I have finished with them with a doves to bunny box.

I have a fire to dove bag, but so far I have only practiced that with socks.

Any other suggestions for other good starting effects for the birds and I ?