I just addressed a question about training the Aviator harness on a forum.
I forget all the details of how the Aviator recommends training, but I know they don’t emphasize how slowly you need to go and don’t break it down into small enough steps. I think if they were honest about that it would probably decrease their sales because people would perceive it as “too difficult”, or at least too time consuming.
Here are some tips for those very first steps.
If you’re seeing visible avoidance reactions, you’re going too fast. Too many of those and it will become a serious aversive and instead of training to wear a harness, you will have trained to hate harnesses.
At each step go only as far as your bird is comfortable with. A big problem with the Aviator is doing the loop over the head in baby steps. Starting with treats through the loop is good, but when it comes to actual contact that’s a huge step. When you approach that part don’t even try to put it all the way on. Just put it over his beak or head as far as he will allow without backing off, then immediately remove it. BIG treat. Repeat it at that level as long as it takes until he’ll allow a little bit more. It may seem like you’re not making any progress, but you’re actually setting up a big history of reinforcement. Repetition is good!
When you get to the point where he’ll allow it all the way over his head, be prepared to remove it immediately at first. You don’t want him to feel trapped. Just over the head and off, then treat. When that’s going well, you can do over the head, treat — BIG treat — then off. Then leave it on a little longer before the treat. Always be prepared to take it off immediately if he wants it off.
Lots of praise and treat at the end of session!
Complete Harness Training Series.