By nature, birds are wild creatures who are use to living according to their own habits and impulses. These instincts do not disappear just because a bird is born in captivity. A bird must learn how to behave in a family setting. Unless you want a screeching, screaming, uncontrollable parrot ruling your life, you will need to invest some time and effort into training your pet. Training books and bird training courses can be extremely helpful in this process.
Why You Should Train Your Bird
You should train your bird so you can actually enjoy its presence in your home. A loud, unruly, untamed bird can disrupt your home life and cause disagreements between family members.
You should also train your bird to keep him happy and content. An ill-mannered parrot will find himself neglected and ignored by the humans in his life. He’ll spend most of his time cooped up in his bird cage since no one wants to be around a disruptive parrot.
It Doesn’t Happen All By Itself
Before purchasing your parrot, you dreamed of the perfect, well-behaved bird who talked up a storm, performed delightful tricks and was a joy to be around. You imagined showing your amazed friends how your bird could play dead, step onto your hand and imitate your voice. But now, reality has struck. You suddenly find yourself with a feathered nightmare. Your bird doesn’t see to do any of the things you imagined.
This is where training comes in.
Clicker training is one of the most successful methods of teaching your bird. It’s simple, easy and fun. It stimulates the mind and keeps the bird happily engaged in the training process.
What is Clicker Training?
Clicker training is based on positive reinforcement. The focus is on immediately rewarding the bird for desirable behavior. If you consistently use the clicker, the bird will begin to make a mental connection between the sound of the clicker and your approval or praise. Since birds are smart, it won’t take them long to catch on.
1. Introduce the clicker
The first step is to familiarize your bird with the clicker. Depending on the bird’s personality this may only take a few sessions, or it could take several days.
Approach your bird with a treat in hand. When the bird takes the treat, sound the clicker immediately. You should repeat this several times. The goal is to help the bird associate the sound of the clicker with the reward.
After the bird gets used to the clicker, take it a step further. Help your bird realize that in order to receive a treat or reward, he has to work for it. For example, if you make a high-pitched sound and your bird cocks or shakes his head, reward him immediately.
Once your bird is used to the clicker and understands what it is for. You can start training.
2. Start small
In order to perform a single trick or behavior, your bird must learn multiple steps. For example, if you want to teach your bird to wave his hand, the first step is for the bird to lift his foot. So take it slow and help your bird master each step before proceeding to the next.
3. Keep each session short
If training sessions last too long, your bird will become tired and discouraged. Keep the sessions short, interesting and fun for your bird. They should be no longer than 10-15 minutes. If your bird gets frustrated or disinterested, give him a break and then continue.
4. Pay attention to your bird’s mood
Before starting a training session, make sure both you and your bird are in a good mood.
5. Limit distractions
Be sure other birds, noisy children and the TV are all out of the way. Birds have short attention spans and are extremely alert to their surroundings, causing them to be easily distracted.
6. Be consistent
Schedule a specific time for training each day. This will help your parrot remember what he has learned.
Easy Tricks to Teach Your Bird
There are an abundance of amusing tricks you can teach your bird using clicker training.
Start with simple tricks such as waving, wing-flapping, and peek-a-boo. As your bird masters these concepts you can introduce more advanced tricks like picking up the phone, doing a somersault, climbing a ladder, ringing a bell, pulling a bucket, placing coins in a piggy bank, playing dead and putting a simple puzzle together.
When training your bird, read as much as you can. Birdtricks.com offers a phenomenal bird training course that includes a whole section on trick training. This is a great resource. It’ll help put you and your parrot on the fast-track to success.
Training your bird is just as important as training your child. If you want a happy, healthy feathered companion, you’ll need to invest a lot of time and effort in teaching them proper behavior. The rewards are great!