Dear Parrot Lover,
Whether you are a new parrot owner or have owned parrots for many years, you most likely want to teach your parrot to do all sorts of tricks. Obviously the most important tricks are actually just simple commands that every captive parrot should know. Commands such as ‘Step Up’ or ‘Step Down’. When said aloud to your parrot, these commands should elicit the parrot’s response of stepping up onto your finger, or stepping down onto a perch.
Another important command to teach your parrot is for him to come to you whenever you call him. To your friends and family members, these types of activities may appear to be tricks that your parrot has learned; however they are actually commands that you have taught your parrot to respond to in a particular fashion.
An alternative trick to teach your parrot is to sit on your shoulder. And no, this type of training is not so that you can parade your parrot around on your shoulder as part of Pirate Halloween costume! Shoulder training helps to strengthen a bond between you and your bird.
Shoulder training consists of a few basic steps:
- Before you begin, you must make sure that your parrot is completely trustworthy and is also trusting of your hand. Your parrot should know the ‘Step Up’ and ‘Step Down’ commands and obey them every single time.
- Using the ‘Step Up’ command, have your parrot step up onto your finger, hand, or stick perch.
- Using the ‘Step Down’ command, ask your parrot to step down onto your shoulder.
- Allow your parrot plenty of time to become at ease sitting on your shoulder. Make sure you are seated in a comfortable chair and do not attempt to get up or move around the room during the first few training sessions.
- When you feel your parrot is well trained and that he sits on your shoulder happily without trying to climb or fly off, then you can slowly start to walk around with your parrot on your shoulder.
However, here are a few warnings when shoulder training:
- Remove earrings, necklaces and other jewelry from your face and neck before letting your parrot sit on your shoulder.
- Wear an old T-shirt. Your parrot may poop on you.
- When walking around with your parrot on your shoulder, do so slowly and deliberately and make sure you trim your parrot’s nails. As you walk, your parrot will use his nails to grip onto your shoulder to keep his balance.
Bird Training Perfection
How everyone learns
Every living animal, including us, has a basic learning style. When we receive a reward we enjoy for a behavior, we do it more often. When we receive a consequence we don’t enjoy, we attempt to avoid doing a behavior.
For humans, rewards and consequences are often less tangible and more varied. For example, most people volunteer to do community service at least partly because they find the experience rewarding for them too.
With our pet animals, the rewards and consequences are more concrete when you look at the patterns. All learning is pattern based. For example, if the same
person is always handling the bird for something he doesn’t like or is afraid of you should see clearly that he avoids this person or perhaps appears to downright not like this person. These things can all be reversed through training and looking at the available rewards.
How to increase behaviors
The easiest way to increase the good behavior in your bird is to clearly reward that behavior. Sounds obvious, right? But it’s not always that clear, especially if you haven’t trained a lot of animals before.
What is rewarding for your bird? Every individual likes something different. Food, attention, and touch are all possibly good rewards, but your bird may
respond to different foods, different forms of touch, etc. than another bird. Learn what he likes and then use those things to encourage the behavior you want to see more of.
The trick to training
There isn’t just one single trick to training your bird. It’s a process, but it’s a whole lot easier with professional training on your side. Tools like clickers are a mainstay of the training process for both reinforcing good behaviors in your bird and also for training a variety of new behaviors and tricks. This may seem like a tricky tool at first, but it’s really quite simple with a little instruction
The bird professionals at Bird Tricks have years and years of bird training experience, and they can easily break down the training tools and principles for you. There are a variety of options available to assist you, but definitely you want to include Bird Tricks as one of your training tools.