Dear Parrot Lover,
The holidays are finally here and instead of leaving your beloved parrot in the care of a pet sitter or a boarding facility, you’ve decided to bring your parrot with you when you go home for the holidays.
But is your parrot a good traveler? Here are a few things to consider, along with training suggestions.
1. Has your parrot been properly socialized?
Parrots that have not been properly socialized by their owner will become easily stressed during any type of travel. The noise, the smells, the bustle of activity and all of the strange faces that your parrot will encounter can be too much for some parrots. It is best to start socializing your parrot from a young age. Train them to obey your commands, and to be calm when in new surroundings. Introduce them to as many different people and safe scenarios as possible.
Regardless of their species, all parrots easily become accustomed to schedules. During your travel will you be able keep to schedules? If your parrot is used to having dinner at 6pm sharp, will you be able to still give him dinner at 6pm every night while traveling and when you arrive at your destination? Some parrots do not like their schedules to be messed with. A baby bird might have his rest, hygiene, and meals disrupted – and you may have a hard time trying to reestablish such routines.
3. The travel carrier.
Your parrot will need a special travel carrier. Make sure it has a perch and food and water dishes. As soon as you bring the carrier home, allow your parrot to investigate the carrier on his own. Do not rush this! Your parrot must come to accept the carrier as an extension of his cage and should not be forced into it. Otherwise he will become overly stressed every time he sees the carrier. Once your parrot is familiar with the carrier, take a practice run. Load him up in the carrier and go for a car ride. Start short, and keep extending out the travel time. This will help your parrot become used to sounds and motions of the vehicle. Also consider how long your parrot will be in his carrier. You will need to give him extra attention during a road trip so that you can assist him if he becomes too stressed. Parrots can get motion sickness so keep a close eye on your parrot during these practice runs.
4. Health and Legal Issues
Your parrot should be healthy to travel. Since travel causes additional stress, if your parrot is already sick, then traveling might just make him worse. Take him for a well bird exam prior to traveling. If you are planning to travel with your parrot across state lines, you will need to obtain a veterinary health certificate at least 10 days prior to your departure. Depending on your parrot’s species, he may not be allowed in certain states. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services maintains a Pet Travel section on their website. Here you can research your parrot’s species to see if he is allowed to cross state lines or even countries.
Learning Your Bird
Who is your bird?
It might sound strange at first, but the starting point in any training program is to know your bird. What makes him tick? Why does he do what he does? What motivates him?
If you understand what is behind your bird you can go much further in any type of training with him whether that is working on basic training skills like stepping up or on undoing bad behaviors or habits he already has like screaming for attention.
It’s also important to only look at bird related reasons for why he behaves the way he does. What this means is that you shouldn’t ever assign human or other animal behaviors to your bird. Birds aren’t people or dogs, so you want to make sure that you look only at bird characteristics behind behavior.
Establishing a training system
Once you’ve learned more about your bird, his motivations, his behavior, and his body language, you can really begin a solid training system. It doesn’t require hours of training, but setting aside a few minutes every day helps not only train your bird but also establish a good, trusting relationship with him.
Trust is a key component in any training program, and a bird that trusts you is more likely to work with you. Punishment, especially any type of physical punishment, should never be part of the equation. That is far more likely to damage your relationship and any trust your bird may have in you.
Training should be positive based, with or without a clicker as a training aid. Use your bird’s motivations and his likes to reward him with when he does good behaviors.
Using the pros
It never hurts to ask the pros how they do what they do. They’ve learned their knowledge through years of hands-on experience, and Bird Tricks is one such professional bird training system. They’ve learned what motivates many birds. They know what bird language looks like and how it can help guide your training program. You can use their knowledge to help you train your own bird. Professional videos and articles help guide you along the way to establishing your own training program for your bird.