Dear Parrot Lover,
Just like dogs and small children, parrots also have the potential to act out and misbehave. This behavior can be tolerated if it only happens once or twice; but if it becomes habitual then you certainly have a problem.
But, just like dogs and small children, parrots can also be trained to stop their bad behavior. In fact, there are a few common ways in which parrot trainers accomplish this:
- Positive Reinforcement
- Positive Punishment
- Negative Reinforcement
Don’t let these terms scare you into thinking that training your pet parrot is going to be an impossible task! By simply having plenty of patience and knowing the right techniques, you can easily train away any bad behavior.
When using positive reinforcement and positive punishment, something of value is added to your parrot’s experience. Conversely, when using negative reinforcement and negative punishment, then something of value is actually removed from your parrot’s experience.
Using positive reinforcement should always be the number one goal of any parrot training session!
However, if your parrot is a bit wilder or is a second-hand parrot that hasn’t yet gained your trust, then there may certain circumstances where using negative reinforcement may actually be in your parrot’s best interest. For example, wilder parrots and parrots that do not trust you may freak out every time you approach their cage. Therefore your parrot is automatically
placed in a negative situation because he perceives you as ‘invading his territory’. You can easily calm your parrot down by simply walking away from his cage and going into another room for a while. Once your parrot has calmed down, then you can then slowly walk back into the room and begin to approach his cage again. But stop immediately as soon as he begins to stress out. Then simply stand there and wait a few minutes until he has regained his composure before walking back out of the room. Each day you can try to walk closer and closer to his cage until he is comfortable with you being in his territory and starts to trust you. With this training scenario you are essentially teaching your parrot that good things happen when he is in a calm state of mind.
Regardless of which training method you use, make sure that you are never harming your parrot psychologically or physically as this will be detrimental to both of you.
Bird Got Your Finger?
Handling the Biting Bird
There’s nothing more painful for a bird owner than when the bird bites. Not only does it hurt your feelings, but a bird’s beak can pack a powerful bite. Depending on what kind of bird you have, it can even break your finger and at the very least, it can rip your skin.
Biting can be boiled down into one primary category: fear and/or mistrust. We don’t want to anthropomorphize birds, so it’s important to understand that he doesn’t bite because he is angry at you or jealous. Instead, something is causing him to be fearful.
How to Change His Fear
Within the category of fear, there is more than one level of fear. There are different values of fear. You have to conquer each level of fear in order to gain your bird’s trust and allow him to open up to you.
According to Chet Womach, the three levels of fear, from his experience, are:
1. Your bird is fearful of you getting close to him.
2. He is afraid of being touched or pet.
3. He is afraid of making contact with you.
You can see that each category is more challenging for the bird, and it’s more challenging for you to overcome. Once you do, you’ll have a bird that not only doesn’t bite you but also enjoys and trusts you.
The Power Pause
The Power Pause is a technique that can be used to help overcome the first level of your bird’s fear: having you approach him. It can help calm him down, stop any lunging or biting he may do, and make him more receptive to you.
Basically, it involves systematic approaches toward your bird in levels, so that you can gradually get closer. You stop at a point where he can still be comfortable, and then he is rewarded by you backing away. He learns that he can trust you. Additionally, the training technique utilizes a clicker to help the process go faster.
There are more strategies for tackling the other two levels of fear, once you make it through the Power Pause. It isn’t a strategy for those levels. Check out a free video demonstrating just how to use the Power Pause for your bird so you can start on the first part of your bird’s fears today.