Bird Training 101
A bird is one of the cleverest animals you can choose as a companion pet. That being the case, you want to make sure that your bird knows who is in charge (that would be you), and knows how to behave respectably in social situations. Most parrots can never be fully domesticated, always retaining a bit of their wild side. But with consistency and patience, you and your bird can happily coexist in the same “nest.”
Keep in mind, too, that some birds have very long lifespans, so the lessons you teach now will make the difference between living with a pleasant, semi-domesticated animal and an unapproachable, unruly flying menace. Here are 10 training tips to get you started:
1. Be prepared
Before you begin any training routine, equip yourself with the proper tools:
- Treats, such as nuts or fruits, that are not part of your bird’s regular meals
- A sturdy perch or dowel that you can hold in your hand
- A small, light colored towel
- A small sized stick or dowel
- Bitter apple spray for deterring your bird from biting and chewing inappropriate objects (e.g., window blinds, furniture)
- Bird harness/leash (choose the size according to your type of bird)
- Pet carrier or travel cage (for when you need to travel)
2. Be realistic
Just like you, your bird is an individual with its own personality and preferences. Some commands will take longer to teach than others, and there may be tricks that your bird will just refuse to do, no matter how good the offered treat is. And just as there are moments in the day where your mind is sharp, your bird will have moments when it is more receptive to learning and being handled.
Pay attention to your bird’s cues and learn to recognize them. Your bird will feel safer and more trusting when it knows it has no need to feel anxious. Keep the training sessions short and consistent. Ten to fifteen minute sessions spaced out two or three times a day should be enough.