A parrot's training plan should be as unique as the bird you brought into your home. Each parrot has its own quirks, and to train him effectively you'll have to find a measure of technique, patience, sweetness, and cunning that works for him. That said, there are guidelines that can help to tame and, more often than not, teach any parrot some simple and useful tricks.
Part 1 of 4: Ensuring Training Success
Step 1. Create an environment conducive to training
Think about what we do to teach young children. They are more likely to learn when they feel safe, calm, comfortable and alert. The same goes for parrots.
- Find a quiet space where you and your feathered friend can concentrate on the task at hand. The place should be familiar to him so that he does not feel threatened during training.
- Do not try to train the parrot when it is very agitated. Wait for him to calm down. Keep in mind that training with treats is most beneficial when your pet is hungry, so training before meals is ideal.
Step 2. Prepare
Despite the friendly and caring nature of parrots, they cannot be said to be patient creatures. Errors and delays during training can create difficult situations, so it is important to prepare in advance.
- Gather the materials needed for the type of training to be done. They are: portable perch, towel, clicker (if you are going to use it), a wooden rod (for driving training), collar and guide (if you are going to take it outdoors), bitter apple spray (to make it repulsive surfaces that the bird tends to peck at, such as curtains) and, of course, snacks.
- Choose the parrot's favorite snack for him to accept it easily. Sliced apple slices are an example of a treat that every parrot tends to enjoy.
Step 3. Train the specimen from a puppy often, but don't be picky
The proverb says that new tricks are not taught to old dogs, and this applies to parrots as well - and, it must be said, to human beings!
- Start training as soon as you can. You can start as soon as the parrot is able to eat a treat from your hand.
- Do several training sessions a day, preferably at similar times, so that he gets used to it, but most importantly, they take place when the animal's state of mind is most conducive to learning (ie, calm).
- It is good, however, that they are relatively short - no longer than fifteen minutes. It is advisable to end the lesson if the bird starts to disperse and resume it another time.
Step 4. Get him used to eating out of your hand
Rewarding with treats is a common training technique, in addition to establishing the bonds between the owner and the parrot.
- Start the process with the bird inside the cage. Slowly approach and show him the tidbit. Stay calm and praise the bird only if it accepts the food.
- Apple slices are a good snack option for those who are afraid of getting their fingers bitten. Wear gloves if you like, though there is a risk that the bird will be even more tempted to peck at them.
Part 2 of 4: Using Basic Training Techniques
Step 1. Teach desirable behaviors
In the shaping training technique, the bird is rewarded for attitudes, whether intentional or not, that favor the execution of a certain task.
- "Shaping" ("shaping" in English) is an appropriate name for the technique, which consists of shaping, through positive stimuli, the animal's behavior.
- Suppose you want to train the bird to bathe in a small bowl of water. Reward him for, among other steps necessary to complete the task, looking at the bowl, approaching it, touching the water, entering it, wallowing in it.
Step 2. Provide a clicker
All types of pets, from cats to birds, can benefit from clicker training, a click-emitting device (similar to a squeeze pen) that is used as positive reinforcement.
- The click is an audible indication of approval. It must occur immediately after the desired action and be followed by a tidbit. This combination of stimuli is commonly called "click and snack".
- If you want to condition the bird to perch-a subject to be discussed in more detail later-the click and tidbit should come immediately after the parrot perches on your finger or hand. The clicker can, in theory, be incorporated into any training technique.
Step 3. Teach the bird to let itself be led
Training by conduction, which also involves the clicker, takes advantage of the parrot's natural curiosity so that, when investigating a particular object, it performs a trick.
- At first, the bird is taught, through "click and tidbit", to play the tip of a wooden rod, which can be a Japanese stick or a drum stick. Over time, the bird will identify the tip of the rod as a kind of target, which it can use to teach other tricks.
- Driving is a basic trick - that is, it supports learning other tricks.
Part 3 of 4: Teaching the Parrot to Climb
Step 1. Teach the bird to perch at the beginning of training
The trick, as the name suggests, is for the bird to jump from one perch to another, which can be your hand, your finger, or a makeshift perch (like a long dowel).
- It is ideal for the bird to master the trick early on for several reasons; to know:
- It's simple for both her and the trainer;
- It involves the birds' instinctive behavior (switching between perches);
- It is useful in that it facilitates tasks such as cleaning the cage;
- Can be used in teaching other tricks.
- Changing perches is an easy trick, but it can be taught by methods of varying degrees of complexity, some of which are described below.
Step 2. Try the basic method
If the bird already has basic training or an aptitude for tricks, the simple method may suffice.
- Offer the bird your finger or fist (the choice depends on your preference and size) leaving them at chest level. Birds have the instinct to perch on what they have in front of them.
- Set a command to trick. It could be saying "up" or pressing the clicker as soon as it performs the action. Don't forget to reward the bird immediately.
- In case he doesn't instinctively obey, use guidance and reward the bird's advances, such as touching the perch with its beak, putting one of its feet on it, etc.
Step 3. Use the treat to attract the parrot
The technique involves an unorthodox use of the treat, but the training principle is the same.
- Offer the finger or the hand or the parrot and, with the other hand, hold the treat in such a position that the parrot has to perch to pick it up.
- If he doesn't come up right away, reward any physical contact he has with the perch and, on subsequent attempts, any advances he makes to the perch.
- If you are able to use the clicker with both hands occupied, you can also incorporate it into the technique. Otherwise, use a verbal command such as "up".
Step 4. Train him to climb by driving
In the event that the other methods fail or the parrot has already been trained to let itself be led, driving can make it easier to learn the trick.
- Hold the guide rod (a drum stick, for example) in one hand and offer the perch (which can be your finger, your hand or a long peg) with the other. If you have good manual skills, you can do both with one hand and leave the other free to hold a treat or clicker.
- Place the target in the proper position for the bird to perch, which would be at chest level.
- Reward good behavior immediately, supplementing the stimulus with the clicker or a verbal command if desired. After some time, the parrot will instinctively climb the perch.
Part 4 of 4: Teaching the Parrot to Talk
Step 1. Don't assume that the parrot will talk (or that it won't)
Many people, especially first-time breeders, think that talking is a trick that parrots learn quickly and easily.
Not quite: each parrot is different, and you should never buy one just so it can talk - even if it's a species known for its ability
Step 2. Watch what you say
On the other hand, there are parrots that come out talking with little or no training - there is a possibility that they will learn phrases you don't want to see them repeat.
Anything that is said with a little more excitement - like a sports announcer narrating an event on television - can be picked up by him, and it's worth remembering that he has very keen ears. In short: be careful what you let him hear
Step 3. Train him calmly and from his youth
Parrots use vocalizations to communicate with other members of the pack. Since a bird's propensity to accept you as a member of the flock is inversely proportional to its age, it's a good idea to start training with it at a young age.
- Enunciate the word you want him to repeat in a clear, peaceful tone of voice. Think of the tone an adult would use to teach a child to repeat "Mommy."
- At the beginning of the process, reward any vocalization with a tidbit; then sounds close to words; finally, only intelligible sounds.
Step 4. Repeat as long as necessary
This is the key for the parrot to master speech. The logic is simple: the more he hears a word, the more likely he is to repeat it.
- Train him as often as possible. Parrots have an almost endless disposition to chatter among themselves - a disposition that humans cannot always keep up with.
- There are experts who recommend that the owner record his own voice and loop the recording back to the animal. Keep in mind that in this technique, owner-animal interaction is sacrificed.
- Be patient.
- Make calm, slow gestures when you are close to the bird.
- Try to train him in a distraction-free environment.
- Food is a good reward, but care must be taken to ensure that it is healthy. Dehydrated banana flakes are a healthy snack option.
- The clicker is a very useful training tool.
- The most popular tricks for parrots are: waving, flying on command, turning, spreading wings, picking up objects, hanging upside down, stepping, lying on your back.