Everyone should be aware that parrots are difficult to keep in our homes. It is MANDATORY that you enrich their lives, through toys, foraging, social interaction, variety and training.
Start by training simple behaviours using positive reinforcement. It is the most effective, least intrusive form of training available. Studies have shown that animals learn faster, and retain more, when being taught with positive reinforcement training. Scared to start? Here are five common mistakes when training: (and what to do about them)
Identify many things your bird loves. It may be food, it may be treats, it may be a mirror, it may be head rubs, it may be tea, it may be Kleenex, etc. Whatever your bird LOVES goes on the list.
If you aren’t sure, or a previous reinforcer has lost its value, test it.
Take 5 items and present them together, whichever your bird chooses first is the most valuable right now!
If your bird is skilled at behaviours like step up, or recall, you may fall into the trap of letting the reinforcement stop. If your bird is very reliable, that’s great, but make sure to give a reinforcer for his effort. This is especially important in challenging or complex situations.
The BIGGEST training mistake: Using physical punishment. IE: taps on the beak, ‘earthquake’ shaking, laddering, holding the bird down, tossing the bird off you, pushing into the birds chest, grabbing the bird, spraying with water, etc. Any and all forceful means of interacting with your bird will destroy trust. With trust being the basis of a good relationship with our birds, it is not recommended to use any method that will degrade that trust.
With positive reinforcement, there is no corner that you can’t train your way out of!
The ways of the past are being amended. Our birds deserve the best!
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