Pet parrots are remarkably intelligent creatures that can learn a variety of behaviors with some patience and training. For evidence of this keen intelligence and training ability, look no further than the myriad training tools, training treats, books, CDs and videos available to pet parrot owners. Much like a dog is capable of a surprising number of impressive tricks or obedience commands, parrots are every bit as able to learn and respond to positive-reinforcement training. Like dogs, parrots grow attached to their owners and wish to please them.
The Parrot IntellectNot to say that the canine and avian mind work in the same way, but there are some parallels that can be made between the two as far as the training process goes. However, while positive reinforcement through rewards and praise is always the best way to train both types of animals, dogs will learn from negative reinforcement like shock collars, while parrots simply do not respond well to this type of training strategy.
Essential Tools for TrainingA few of the popular training tools for dogs also work for birds. Clicker training is one such tool. Like dogs, birds will eventually associate the sound of a clicker with positive things like edible training treats. The clicker sound is a good thing to the bird and it will learn that it is doing what its owner desires when it hears this sound. Eventually, the edible treats can be replaced by the clicker and are not as necessary.
Effective training should begin with a short list of core training tools such as an assortment of food treats, a training T-stand, and a clicker. Clicker training is most useful once the bird settles down and begins responding to its trainer. Some of the training kits provide worthwhile ideas for employing the clicker. These kits often contain a book or video, as well as a clicker, to show how to best use this training tool
The first goal in the training process is getting your bird to concentrate on you. Have patience and understand that the training process goes in stages and will not happen in a day or even a week. As the saying goes, you must learn to walk before you can run. To accomplish this, a simple T-stand training perch is extremely important. This should not be a tall T-stand but rather a small training T-stand that will work on a tabletop or floor.
First Things FirstFor extremely nervous or nippy birds, taming is the first step rather than trick training. Most parrots these days are domestically raised and hand-fed when young to establish human imprinting and bonding, but there are also a great number of "rescue birds" that are in need of new homes. Many of these second-hand birds have been cage-bound for years and have grown wary of humans, especially unfamiliar ones. These birds will not hesitate to bite, much like their imported counterparts did in years past. In these cases, a proper wing clip will prevent the bird from injuring itself by flying into wall, mirrors or windows in a panicked effort to escape. This is also an important step in having the bird concentrate on you, the owner and trainer--a critical first step in establishing trust.
To tame a bird it must be away from its cage. The cage is a bird's "security blanket," and when owners wish to make contact or interact, it will retreat to this haven if possible, often running to a corner and nipping if an effort is made to remove it. Leaving the door open and allowing the bird to exit on its own is often the best plan. Birds are inquisitive creatures, and given the option of exploring its cage top they usually can't resist the opportunity. The cage door can then be closed and the bird removed to a training area out of sight of the cage.
A bathroom floor is an excellent place to begin. One person should do the training, and this person should be alone on the bathroom floor with the bird and its portable training stand and/or training hand perch. Bird do not like being on the floor, and a bird that wouldn't hesitate to bite you while at its cage will be perfectly willing to climb aboard a hand-held perch for transportation to the training stand. Many birds can skip the hand-held perch and will step right on a hand for transfer to the stand. Use the "step up" command when the bird steps on your hand to perch, and it will quickly learn this is the desired behavior. Use a palm-down approach with fingers held together to prevent the bird from inflicting a painful bite. The trainer must follow through with initiating contact and never be intimidated by the bird. Remember, birds are smart, and they will quickly learn that they can keep the trainer at bay and avoid contact.
Advanced Formal TrainingOnce a bird is able to perch on its owner's hand and step willingly from hand to T-stand and back, more formal trick training can begin. There are plenty of training videos, CDs and books filled with fun ideas for trick training. CDs also can serve to help a bird learn to talk. Many parrot training options are possible for the pet bird owner with patience and perseverance--even advanced tricks and an entirely free-flighted pet is entirely within the realm of possibility.
This informative post was written by the experts at Bird Supplies. For more information on parrot training and more, make sure to visit BirdSupplies.com.