Parrot Training 101

Pet Training

petvblog

November 9, 2020

Parrots are fascinating and complex creatures that are great to look at, and a hoot to be around. They’re characterized by their brightly colored feathers and their sharp curved beaks. They have strong legs and four toes on each foot, two pointing forward and two projecting backward. Their toes help them perch tree branches and clamber through the jungles’ foliage in the Southern Hemisphere where they’re from. 

Birds aren’t usually what comes to mind when you think about companion animals. In reality, parrots are very intelligent and emotional creatures. They crave connections, and they never stop surprising the people around them with their endearing and quirky nature. Researchers have shown that parrots are capable of displaying kindness and generosity. They are one of the few species capable of doing so!  

How to Tame a Parrot?

Parrots have been popular companion animals throughout history. They have the impressive capability to mimic non-avian noises like human voices and can also do many incredible tricks!

If you have a parrot, we have good news for you: you can learn how to train and tame it! Not only is developing a relationship with your parrot and having them do tricks fun, but it’s also good for your pet.  

Learning and playing provide your feathered friend with things to do and keep them motivated and engaged. It also gives them a purpose! However, each parrot has a unique personality and behavior, so you’ll need to tailor the training plan to your bird’s specific needs. You will have to hone in on your friendship with the parrot, be patient, and develop bribery for effective training. Here you’ll learn how! 

Things to Keep in Mind While Training a Parrot

Working with your parrots and tending to their need is time-consuming. What’s more, since they have long lifespans, the hours add up. However, with dedication, love, and patience, you’ll reap the benefits and be amazed by watching your bird learn incredible things. First and foremost, bird-proofing is a must. Keep doors and windows closed, disable ceiling fans, and make sure other pets, if you have any, are away from your parrot.  

Any parrot can learn to do tricks if you invest sufficient time and follow the right steps. There is no maximum age for them to learn tricks. However, if they are babies, training can prove very difficult. With parrots that are less than one year old, invest your time teaching them good behavior and familiarize them with your home instead of training.  

That said, begin the process of training your bird as soon as they’re mature enough. So long as your parrot has reached the point of being capable of eating a treat from your hand, you can begin training. 

Another important tip is to let your parrot fly. People are often concerned that their parrots will fly away or fly out of the house. But if you maintain a proper relationship with a parrot and make sure it is dynamic and motivated, this should not occur. In fact, the parrot should fly to you instead of from you. 

Keep in mind that in the wild, they would spend hours flying at a time. If your parrot is caged 24/7, they will become aggressive, making training rather difficult on top of harming its well-being. While the time the animal spends outside the cage is important, you should also make sure that it is quality time. Keep them engaged and entertained! 

Training Dos and Don’ts

Remember, birds are naturally wild animals and are therefore not as affectionate as dogs and other pets. Seeing them opening up to you and doing tricks is part of a journey: it takes time. It may be difficult at times, and you may experience some challenges along the way.  

Repetition is critical: it can be a matter of repeating certain behaviors a few days or months in a row for parrots to grasp what you’re trying to teach them. The basis for all training and what you need to focus on is your relationship with the parrot. It is essential for training because your parrot needs to trust you to learn cool tricks comfortably. 

Vocalizations and a relaxed stance are displays of happiness and comfort, which you can interpret as signs your bird trusts you. Stay away from tasks that seem to scare your parrot. Try instead to do things with baby steps. It’s all about patience, discipline, and perseverance.  

Avoid training your parrot when they’re tired: you need to respect their limits. Pushing your parrot too hard will not be fruitful. Try not to train your parrot when they’re agitated, as they’ll have a hard time concentrating. Keep in mind that training with treats works best before mealtime when the bird is hungry.  

Setting up for Success

Foster a proper training environment in an adequate space. Create or find a quiet area. This is key for learning because it will enable the parrot to focus on the task. Also, it’s important that the space is familiar so the bird feels safe and comfortable. Do what you can to make sure you can maximize your parrot’s attention in this learning space.  

Prepare yourself by gathering up supplies that can help you out. For example: 

  • perch 
  • towel 
  • clicker 
  • chopstick 
  • leash or harness 
  • bitter apple spray 
  • treats 

Training often is vital. Hold multiple training sessions during the day, and try to do so at similar times for consistency. Keep them short: sessions should not be longer than 15 minutes at a time. As soon as you notice your bird is losing interest, it’s a good time to end the session. 

Rewards are essential to most types of training practices, and treats will help you here. Giving your parrot treats also helps create a bond. There are many parakeet treats for training you can use, but the ultimate bird delicacy is millet. Purchase some millet spray for your training sessions.

Have the parrot eating it out of your hand. Start doing so from inside the cage. Slowly approach your bird and show the treat. Stay calm while doing so and offer encouragement when they take the treat. Thin apple wedges are also a great option because you can feed them to your parrot without having your fingers nibbled on.  

Basic Training Strategies

There are a few different training strategies that you can choose from. First of all, “shaping” is a training method focused on molding the desired behavior. It’s essentially about rewarding the bird for taking baby steps towards the actual task through positive reinforcement of any approximations they do of the actual task. These approximations should eventually turn into deliberate steps required to complete a training trick or task. 

Let’s say you’re teaching your parrot how to bathe itself. You would reward them first for looking at the bathing dish, then for moving towards the dish, then for touching the dish. Eventually, the parrot will learn to splash around in the dish. 

The “click and treat” is another strategy that uses a hand-held clicking device to mold the parrot’s behavior. Using clicks can help the bird identify proper behavior when you accompany the click with a treat immediately afterward. You can incorporate this into any training. Just click when you see the parrot do the desired task and then offer a treat.  

“Target training” is another interesting option. Use a chopstick, drumstick, or something similar to point toward the parrot and offer a reward when they make contact with the chopstick’s tip. The parrot will eventually learn how to follow the stick around the room, and this task is great to start training your parrot to obey a single command prompt.

How to Teach Your Parrot to Talk

Teaching them to talk is not an easy task. Some parrots don’t talk at all. With that in mind, try to avoid high expectations. Following the right steps, however, can maximize your chances of getting your parrot talking. First, keep in mind that parrots speak to members of their flock. To be a part of the flock, you must start earning your bird’s trust from an early age. 

Parrots learn by listening, and the best way to encourage talking is to talk to them. Use a calm and clear voice to repeat simple words or phrases. Repeating is essential to teach your parrot to talk. Be patient. Start by rewarding any sound they make, and train as often as you like – parrots do not tire of conversing.  

Pick five to ten phrases that you’d like your parrot to say and repeat them regularly. For some parrots, the best moment to do this is when they are in an attentive state, such as when someone enters the room where the parrot is, causing them to get excited. Other parrots are shyer and will prefer to talk when no one is around.

You can also record yourself saying the word and have it play on repeat close to your bird. However, this technique may cost you: you may risk losing the connection with your bird. Also, keep in mind that parrots may repeat things you might not want them to, so watch your mouth around them to avoid this. Remember to “click and treat” whenever they finally learn a word! 

Training a Virtual Parrot

If you don’t feel up to the task of training a real parrot yet, or you haven’t managed to train your parrot, you can always tame one in Minecraft! Learning how to get a Minecraft parrot on your shoulder is easy. Simply feed seeds to a parrot until you see red hearts pop up, and voila!  

The bird will sit on your shoulder and follow you around. If your parrot wanders off, just hold more seeds in your hand until it flies back. If you want to tame more of them, repeat the process. You can even make them dance by putting a CD into a jukebox! 

Conclusion 

Parrots are fascinating, beautiful, and complex animals that make great pets. Strive to create a bond with your bird, and you’ll be sure to be marveled by their quirks, beauty, and endearing nature. Become part of the flock and be dazzled by the connection you’ll share. As you train your parakeet to do tricks, you’ll see yourself growing and learning as well!

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