Did you know statistically 96% of dogs turned into rescues have had no obedience training?
We haven’t found the statistics for birds and parrots but we suspect they are just as high.
Many people get infatuated with only the bird. The beautiful feathers, the possibility of speech and having a lifelong companion.
Unfortunately, life gets in the way and although we have good intentions sometimes our pet birds don’t get the attention they need.
So when we do want to interact with them, we may try to take them out of the cage and they bite our hand, sometimes quite painfully.
We know they’re intelligent but once the bird is out of the cage we may have a hard time getting them to do what we want. Working (learning) with raptors lately has become a counterpoint to my exposure of birds and parrots over the years.
Working with Craig Hendee, master falconer I’ve learned how regimented discipline learning programs for the birds cause them to be well trained predictable animals.
In the hours that I’ve been working with Hawks & Falcons, from the ages of four-month-olds to teenagers not once was I bitten.
Something I’ve come to expect dealing with parrots that I don’t know well.
Granted raptor training involves a great deal of time seven days a week indoors and out of doors. Fortunately for us our birds and parrots are pretty smart and by spending a mere five, to 15 minutes a day it’s easy to turn what sometimes appears to be a dysfunctional bird into a rewarding pet.
Clicker training is all about positive reinforcement. Birds do not respond well to negative feedback i.e. “bad dog”.
Clicker training has been used for years with Hollywood animal stars and in zoos and they’re ever so simple to implement you’ll be amazed.
It’s an easy process. One-click equals one treat. Treats can be a bit of a millet spray, a piece of nut meat like a sunflower kernel (having the bird crack the shell of a nut during training takes too long so it’s best to use only the meat) or a small piece of a fruit treat.
If your bird’s a biter and is a smaller bird, millet spray works well because it keeps distance between your hand and the beak. For larger birds simply put the single treat in a shallow cup that they can reach easily.
The formula is simple: Touch – Click – Treat. The “Click” must be synchronized exactly at the moment of the expected behavior. When the bird’s beak touches the training stick – “Click”. With biters using a training stick initially can save skin and blood loss.
As your bird’s response improves you can move the stick farther away from the bird and eventually use your fingers to provide the treat when the birds learn to touch but not bite. This method is great for teaching.
Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing