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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Polly wants a cracker... » » Training doves. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

abracadanny
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I recently got two doves. I tried using Dan Sperry's method to train them for about 3 weeks, and it didn't work. Does anyone else have any advice on how to train them to fly back?
Alexo
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Keep in mind that when you first get them, they're probably going to be too afraid of you to be able to train. The only thing that really works is persistence.

How soon after you got them did you try training them? Where did you get them from, and how old are they?
abracadanny
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I started training them about a month after I got them.
1906Alpha1906
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Hi, Abracadanny - sometimes there are doves that just won't learn. It's just the way it is with animals (and people for that matter! *haha*). As much as you train and try, sometimes it won't work regardless.
As Alexo stated, if the doves are new to you, you have to establish a 'relationship' with the bird first. They have to know they can trust you first before you start trying to train them. It takes time is all. Dove magic is hard work, and maintaining a consistent training schedule is a must with animals.
Even if you do get the birds to fly back, it's not going to happen 100% of the time when you actually perform, so take that in mind when you are doing this. Doves will spook easily and can veer off to another direction if the flight path is not 'clear to them'. I have one flyback, and a recent show proved that anything could happen - the dove flew out, turned to come back, and a spectator got scared (had no idea she was scared of birds!) and started swatting at the dove like it was a fly or something and screaming. The dove, of course, got spooked and took off another direction and landed stage right and walked over to me instead (she did apologize after the show *smile*). While, yes, the dove came back, what if there were a higher spot to go to? The dove would have probably gone there and eventually come down, but then again, may not have because I am sure the dove was frightened with someone swinging and screaming at it.
Anyhow, flyback takes time, so just keep trying....it will happen, but establish that trust factor first beforehand and your work will be easier.

-Alpha
Michael J. Douglas
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What behaviors are they demonstrating when you are training them? Is there a specific place they like to go and perch instead of coming to you? If so, they've designated that the "safe place." Remove it if possible, and any other distractions at this point, because the goal is to have you become their safe place.
Also, I believe Sperry likes to train his birds in pairs. While this may work for some, the birds can also pay more attention to each other than you.

Keep working at it!
Michael J.
�Believe then, if you please, that I can do strange things.� --from Shakespeare�s �As You Like It�
Dave Scribner
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This subject always gives me a chuckle. It seems that every new dove worker jumps right into training for the fly back. I mean, no personal offense, Abra, but why the rush? Why does every dove worker have to do the fly back? Sure, it's flashy, but there are so many other things that can be done with a dove, and every production does not have to result in a fly back.

Now, back to the question. You said you started training them a month after you got them. What did you do with them during that month? Did you try to handle them or get them used to you, or did you just let them sit and then began training?

Full training should take about 6 weeks or more, and the fly back should be the last thing that is worked on. The doves must get used to you, realize they are in no danger and that home is wherever you are. If they are not, there is no reason for them to come back to you.

There are many sources for training techniques, Andy Amyx's 'Doves 101,' 'Tony Clark Unmasked' and Greg Frewin's 'Complete Course in Dove Magic' to name a few. You start off small, tossing the dove from hand to hand, gradually increasing the distance each week. The final step is tossing the dove in an arc, which is the beginning of the fly back.
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Regan
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How old are the doves? Age can make a difference. The older they are the more difficult they are to train. Also, how ytame were they? As Dave mentioned, you have to spend time getting the doves used to you. It is difficult to train them until they are really tame and unafraid of you.

Regan
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sperris
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Take them off the training and try again later - everybody here made valid points that for the most part I'm pretty sure I mentioned in the DVD: there will be doves that just won't learn it.

Your guys just may not be in tune for it, give them a different job - put them in the dove pan or dove bag and take a break from trying to return flight train them and work with them on something different and come back to it another time...
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abracadanny
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Dave - during the time I was not training them I was just playing with them.
Everyone thank you so much for the advice
Dave Scribner
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Playing with them is part of training. I assume you mean you held them, let them sit on your finger, walked around with them etc. That's all part of getting them used to you.

It does not replace the 6 weeks or so required to fully train your doves especially for the fly back.

Dan's advice is outstanding. Not every bird will do the fly back. You have to pick and choose. There are so many effects you can do with doves that limiting them to just one, doesn't always work.
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tropicalillusions
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Tulsa Okla
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Abra cadanny, we have always went to the breeder to actually handle the birds before we buy. There is a method of madness to actually find the type of birds that will do good with this training. We would go into the cage, and cull thru the doves. Saves tons of time for the training process, It is tough when you find a small source for the doves, and does take away from the big chances of getting these doves right off the bat. Find a large Aviary, then we can help you with the culling process to seriously increase your odds of getting a bird that will take well to the training., these folks have shared some great tips on some pre training.
Regan
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I will confirm what Dan, Dave and others said about not being able to train some birds to do the flyback. I bought 4 doves at the same time.....that turned out to be 2 pairs of sisters. According to the breeder, and all signs seem to point to this, one set was slightly (maybe a month or two) older than the other set. I put all 4 birds trhough training and it was evident very early on that they were going to learn at different paces. I was able to identify my best 2 flyback birds very quickly, and one of those turned out to be advance at it far better than the other. Not only the flyback, but you will most likely notice a difference in many parts of the training. Some just abdapt better at certain things.

My youngest birds were easier to train. This was not surprising because from the beginning they were also a little tamer than the older set too. Getting them tame is the first step! You can't really get them to learn much of anything if they are scared to death of you.

Regan
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Bill Hegbli
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Nothing was said about the birds being able to fly. I had 2 birds and one could not fly. You must have a safety room big enough so the birds keep in shape. If all they do is sit in a cage, they are just like humans, they will become weak, and their muscles will not stay strong.

In other words, they need exercise on a daily basis.
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Dave Scribner
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Excercise is important. Your cage should be large enough to have at least two perches at different levels so they have to "fly" a bit to get from one to the other. Doves like high places so if one perch is low down by the food and the other is high, they will get some excercise.

Of course nothing replaces actual flying around but you'll find that once they are tame and trained, they won't fly around the room so much. They'll fly to the highest point like a curtain rod, shelf or hanging lamp. A good excercise, which should be part of your training anyway, is set them up on one hand and gently move the other down their breast bone to their feet. They will flap their wings and step onto the other hand. Just keep repeating that about a dozen times. This is also a good excercise for them before a show. It tires them out somewhat and reduces the chance of them flying off. You can also let them walk up your fingers like a ladder over and over. Again, they'll flap their wings and get the excercise they need.

Just a quick tip, when you are excercising or practicing with your birds, watch for heavy breathing and less energy when jumping from hand to hand. That is the time to stop and let them rest. It doesn't take much to tire out a dove and you don't want it falling to the flow from lack of energy.
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RVM7
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I'm going to get 2 doves next week, can anybody give some tips on choosing doves


Thanks,
Maverick
Dave Scribner
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Doves that are breathing work best Smile sorry that just slipped out. I hope you're not getting them from a pet shop.

Seriously, be sure to ruffle the feathers of the birds and pay particular attention under the wings. You're looking for tiny black dots. If you see them, the doves have mites.

Look at their eyes and be sure they are not clouded. They should be crystal clear like marbles.

Watch for signs of heavy breathing as this could indicate a respiratory problem.

Look at the feet. The darker they are, the old the birds.

Finally, look at the beak. The top and bottom should extend about the same length and be straight. An upper beak that is longer than the bottom is not a major defect but you'll have to trim it or have it done periodically.

Those are the negatives. If you don't find any of those things, then you are in good shape and you have found healthy birds to work with.
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RVM7
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Thanks, Dave. Those are really helpful, and I'm not going to get it at a pet shop.

Maverick
RVM7
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I'm wondering of getting 2 or 4. Can you guys give some suggestions on how many I should get.

Thanks,
Maverick
Dave Scribner
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Get whatever number you think you can handle and have the time to work with. If your act only requires one bird, there's no reason to get 4. If however you use 2 birds, 4 would be a good idea for back up.

At first when training, you must spend hours with each bird to get them comfortable and train. So, 4 birds equals at least 4 hours a day training.
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