Learning how to train and communicate with your parakeet is as crucial as step-by-step trick instructions. Knowing some training basics will make learning the bird tricks more fun for everyone. Who will be more entertained by the result, your parakeet or you? There’s no telling, so be sure to enjoy the process!
Learning Your Parakeet’s Body Language
Although parakeets are naturally personable and playful animals, they won’t immediately dive into your bag of tricks. When training your bird, remember to take things slow. Give them sufficient time to adjust to their new surroundings by placing the cage in a peaceful space. Spend time with them daily without moving too close. What you want is to gain their trust slowly.
Observe your parakeet’s body language. If you see them rushing to the other side of the perch, they are probably feeling too stressed and require more time. Frantic movements such as wing fluttering or loud squawking would also indicate that you should give your parakeet more personal space. Yes, animals love their personal space, just like humans.
After your new friend has spent a couple of days in their new home, try sitting close to them and slowly touch the cage’s sides. This move is a subtle way to get them to warm up to you. As more days pass, you can begin the training process by softly whistling, resting your hand in the cage, or lightly touching their feathers. Consistency and a slow pace will produce the best results.
What Is Their Motivation?
Animals learn from the results of and reactions to their behaviors. Whether it’s a bird learning to speak or an otter dunking a basketball, many animals can learn new tasks with the right motivation. Those new skills can give them a happier and healthier life. Learning something new can reduce their aggressive actions and provide a more stimulating environment.
Positive reinforcement will encourage your pet to learn. Observe their reactions to a variety of rewards. You’ll soon discover which incentives provide the best results. For new activities, work with your bird for approximately ten minutes each day. You already know that your little parrot is active and smart, so their curiosity will work to your benefit!
About an hour before training begins, remove the food and any mirrored toys from the cage. It is essential to note that this move does not induce stress for your pet, as the items will only be gone for a short time. Instead, it will create excitement for the upcoming treats and attention they will receive during the training process.
When teaching your parakeet tricks, remember to stay calm and gentle as you did when getting to know your new pet initially. “Step Up” training can begin when they aren’t feeling threatened by your hand being inside their cage. Rest your index finger right below the bird’s chest but above the feet. Push up slightly on the breast area, and they will eventually hop on to your finger.
Say “step up” as they jump onto your finger. Always place your hand in the same position so they can grow accustomed to the experience. With time, you can start saying the words before they hop onto you. By this time, your bird will have learned what the desired goal is. Add more tricks by having your parakeet “step up” when they go from your finger to the perch.
You can use a chopstick as a transportable perch or have them move from finger to finger. Follow the same techniques alongside some positive reinforcement. A further step (so to speak) would be ladder training. Repeat the same command as they climb a small ladder. Don’t forget to offer them their well-deserved treat and click on the clicker every time they get the commands right.
Can Parakeets Talk?
Each bird is different from the next. However, you can train your parakeet to mimic words, sounds, and whistles. Experts recommend bird lovers to have only one bird in their homes to encourage communication. That said, it is essential to remove the mirror from the cage an hour before training begins. Otherwise, they’ll be chattering away with their bird friend and won’t have any reason to speak to you.
To teach this trick, repeat one simple word until your parakeet says it back to you. Like all other tricks, remember to click the clicker and reward them whenever they say the “magic” word. To know whether they’re paying attention, watch for cues such as a head tilt or beak movement. When they’ve mastered the initial word, you can slowly progress with other words and phrases.
Remember to watch your words around your bird. Can parakeets talk? Sometimes too well! Like kids, they can easily repeat unwanted curse words or anything offensive that they often hear. If you don’t want them imitating your cell phone ring, set it on vibrate. If possible, place the cage away from frequent sounds like microwave beeps or oven buzzers. Don’t be surprised if your bird starts barking like your dog!
Prepare appropriate, small treats so your parakeet stays engaged and healthy. A favorite seed, Cheerio, or any other non-sugary cereal, will serve as the perfect reward for their incremental progress and outstanding accomplishments. A tiny piece of millet spray or fresh fruit are other favorites for this lovely breed.
Be sure to pair treats with joyful exclamations! A good example is, “A pretty bird!” Your winged friend will learn to associate the reward with a perky-sounding remark. That way, giving them an immediate food treat won’t always be necessary for all future interactions. If your pet responds positively, excited praise or toys can be great reward alternatives.
Another way to replace the need for urgent treats is clicker training. Although they’re not necessary, experts worldwide agree that clickers are an easy and effective training method for many animals. Here’s how to do it:
- Click the clicker.
- Give a treat.
- Reinforce desired actions with the click and treat combo.
You’ll eventually see that the bird has learned that the clicking sound means they are ripe for a treat. They’ll hear the clicker and start looking for their food reward. Be sure to time the click accurately, so it happens precisely when the positive activity occurs. If they do nothing, there will be no click and no treat. In those instances, do nothing and try again in a few seconds.
As always, remember to be gentle and kind. Like people, some animals love being the center of attention, while others are more hesitant. Watch your bird’s body language and respond accordingly by increasing your visits or giving them more space. Parakeets might tilt their heads if they’re adjusting to something new or when learning.
There is no reason for verbal shouts or any negative physical interactions with your bird. Mistakes will happen, like is the case with humans. Progress may be slow or halt altogether. Every animal is different, so pay attention to their body language during each new task. You can always go back to a previously learned trick so that there’s more time to build on positive reinforcement associations.
We all require an “off” day occasionally, and animals are no exception. If your parakeet tries to bite you at any point, try not to pull away from them roughly. To distract from the snapping, you can softly blow in their face while you remove your hand. You can adjust the trick as needed. For example, use a dowel in place of your finger for the “step-up” training.
Interpreting body language can be confusing at times. They might move away from you because they’re tired, not because they don’t want to learn a new skill. Parakeets are also known to use their beaks for leverage. While it may appear that your bird is snapping at you, they might only be shifting their head so they can be in a better position to use their beak to “step up.”
If you’re a new bird owner, following the tips below will lead you to success:
- Choose the best bird. There are inevitable outliers, but if you’re hoping for a parakeet trick or two, a young, male parakeet is most likely to be teachable.
- Clip their wings. There are pros and cons to clipping your parakeet’s feathers. Having their feathers trimmed professionally can make initial training more manageable and safer.
- Take a break. If you’re feeling annoyed or can sense your bird may be tired or frustrated, it’s time to rest and recoup. Training can be challenging at times, but it should be a pleasure for both of you.
- End on a happy note. After there’s been progress on a new skill or they repeat an already learned behavior, that’s a good time to end that day’s session. Using a special treat and “Pretty bird!” as encouragement will ensure exciting future engagements.
The Gift of Teaching
Increasing the bond between you and your beautiful bird is just one of the many benefits of training them. In addition to the excitement of seeing a new skill performed, you’ll discover that your time and efforts will be rewarded in countless ways. Whether you’re a bird owner with some free time or an aspiring magician, the most important thing to remember when training your winged pet is to have fun!