How to Tame and Train Your Parrot
Despite the common thought, the most frequently asked questions about parrot training are usually connected with the very basics. Many parrot owners have no idea how to order their avian pets to leave the cage or just to stop biting.
There is no point in purchasing tons of different tutorial books, DVDs and other stuff about some complicated teaching methods if you are not aware of basic concepts of handling. This article can help the beginners learn the ropes about taming and training parrots. This tutorial will come in handy for an owner of any parrot, no matter whether you have just bought a parrot or you own a bird for a long time and you want to get to know how to handle it. Of course, parrot's age, species and its history affect the difficulty of handling and the time it will take. But if everything is done in a proper way, these techniques will definitely work. The only exception is chicks. If you have one, you should consult with an experienced breeder to know how to take care of the fledgling properly.
Getting Parrot into the Cage for the First Time
If you have just purchased a parrot, the first challenge you face will be transferring the parrot from the box or travel carrier into a cage. First of all, close all windows and doors in the room and put the box near the cage. The bird will be scared so it is unlikely that it will leave the carrier even if you open it and put it close to the opened door of the cage.
Then, try to use the stepping up method: open the carrier slowly and block the opening with your hand not to let the parrot fly out. Start bringing you hand toward the parrot bit by bit. If the bird doesn't react aggressively, keep doing that. Move your finger (or your arm if the parrot is too big) parallel to the perch the parrot is sitting on, a bit above its feet to let it step up. Once the bird steps up, carefully transfer it to the cage and let it step up on the cage perch.
Otherwise, if the parrot reacts to your intervention aggressively, opens its beak or tries to snap you, try another method. You need to grab it, move it out of the carrier and transfer into the cage. The safest place to grab the parrot is its neck – you are not likely to hurt it and the parrot won't bite you. And make sure you are not grabbing it by its belly because it may harm the parrot. If you are afraid of holding the parrot with your bare hand, you can wear a glove or even use a towel to wrap the bird in it. It will be much easier if you perform everything quickly.
Regardless of the way you choose, don't let the parrot escape, even if it bites you because catching a flying bird and getting it into the cage is a serious problem, especially if you do not have much experience.
If the step up method worked, you won't have much trouble with basic taming. In case you had to use the method of force, you'll have to train your parrot to step up.
Also, if you manage to transfer the parrot into its new cage, give it some time to settle down and don't overwhelm it with odd attention. Don't be scared if the parrot eats little or doesn't eat at all for the first couple of days. The only thing you should do is to provide the bird with the access to food and water.
Approaching the Cage
First impressions are crucial because they will affect your further relations with the parrot greatly. During the first several days, you should approach to the cage very carefully and slowly not to terrify the bird. If it still fears, try to avoid eye contact with it when you are close to the cage. If you scare the bird, even accidentally, it will take much more time and effort to prove the parrot that you won't harm it.
In case your bird becomes irritated or angry as you approach the cage, the following method will be useful for you.
Enter the room and start approaching to the cage until the parrot reacts angrily. Do not move either forward or back and wait till the parrot calms down. Once it happens, just walk away. In such way the parrot will learn that the only way to be rewarded with your leaving is to be calm. Repeat this method over a period of time, each time getting closer and closer until the parrot become accustomed to you.
Determining Treats for Your Parrot
The easiest way to learn your parrot's most favourite treats is to offer it a mix of nuts, seeds (especially millet), as well as fresh and dried fruits. Parrots usually choose their most favourite food first; then they eat the second and so on. Consequently, you will be able to see a well-determined list of treats they like. Parrots usually need some time to get used to the unfamiliar food. Once you get to know your parrot's favourite food, use it only as a reward for training. As a daily meal, you can serve it vegetables and pellets.
Getting Parrot out of Cage for the First Time
Getting your parrot out of cage every day is very important both for the parrot's health and for your daily cage cleanings.
If you just open the cage, the parrot won't fly out of it at once. There are 2 methods of getting the parrot out of cage for the first time: the force out & reconcile method and the target training method.
The first method is easier but it is more stressful for the bird. It can be used more effectively if you deal with young parrots. Just ask the parrot to step up (or use any other technique which you applied getting the parrot out of carrier) and it will be rewarded with the time outside of the cage. This method is recommended for experienced parrot owners.
The target training method is appropriate for those who don't have much experience and owners of rescued or rehomed parrots. The main advantage of this method is that both the parrot and its owner have an opportunity to get acquainted with each other much better.
The first stage of target training is teaching the bird to accept treats right from your hand. Sometimes this process takes several seconds, sometimes even several weeks. The most important point is that you shouldn't scare the parrot, so do everything with patience. Take the treat and extend it to the bird. If it recedes, just wait until it comes closer. It may take several attempts so don't worry if the parrot is afraid of eating from your hand.
Once your parrot feels safe eating from your hand, the second step comes. Now each time before you give it a treat use a clicker. After some training the parrot will learn that after the clicking sound it receives a treat. The click will help it realize what behavior brings the reward. In other words, the parrot will understand what you want him to do to receive a treat.
The following step is targeting. You need to hold a stick and make the parrot walk to reach it and touch it with its beak. Of course, it won't happen at once. At first, let the parrot touch the stick, then click and give a thread. After repeating this process several times, with every next try increase the distance between the parrot and the stick bit by bit. Keep training until the bird makes several steps to reach the stick. If it doesn't work because the parrot isn't hungry, try it again later. In case the parrot is afraid of the stick, wait without moving until it makes a step toward the stick and then click and give a reward. Eventually, the parrot will learn to move closer and touch the stick.
When you teach your parrot to follow the stick wherever you target, do the following: open the cage, put your hand (or a handheld perch) inside and ask the parrot step onto it. To perform this, use the same target-click-reward system. Keep practicing until the bird feels quite comfortable. At this point you can try to carry it out of the cage.
Target Training Parrot outside the Cage
Parrot cage isn't a suitable training area, so you'll need a parrot stand, table top or chair back for this purpose. During the training use the target method described above. There shouldn't be any feeders or toys within the training area because they will distract parrot's attention. Before training let it get used to the training area.
As for the targeting training, you can improve the parrot's skills by targeting higher or lower, toward you or away, etc. In such way your parrot will understand that it needs to touch only the stick's tip. If it touches the stick anywhere except the tip, don't click and reward, just take the stick away and then target somewhere again. A useful piece of advice would be to say a command "touch" or "target" each time to show the stick. Sooner or later it will help the parrot focus its attention on the stick better.
Establishing Training Motivation
Motivation is a primary element of training. But how to make sure that your parrot is motivated enough and the training is effective?
Parrots are usually fed in the morning and in the evening. Consequently, the best time for training is between the feedings, when the bird is hungry enough. So give it as much food as it wants but take the food away for the periods between the meals. Before the first training don't take the food away. Next time, take the food away 1 hour before the training. Then, training by training increase the time up to 6 hours (but not more). Taking the food away for 6 hours isn't harmful for your parrot, and over time you'll understand the optimum period for the most effective training. Make sure the parrot is provided with a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and seeds.
Teaching Parrot to Step up
Once your parrot learns targeting, teach it to step up. To start with, ask it to step onto a handheld perch. Each time target the parrot closer and closer to your hand until you feel like allowing it to step up onto your finger. If you are afraid of being bitten, it is safer to wear a thin leather glove. When the parrot feels comfortable and isn't afraid of stepping up anymore, try the next tip. Each time you target it, say to step up. Eventually, the parrot will learn how to follow your command without being targeted with the stick.
Also, you should try the stepping up exercise in different areas (including the cage), and even ask the bird to step up on other people. If the parrot is afraid of doing it, just try to use the targeting method again.
Basic Taming and Handling
As soon as the basics of handling are achieved, go further. After the following step is accomplished, your parrot will let you touch it and hold it. First of all, you need to receive an ability to touch the parrot. Start with its beak: move your hand slowly to the parrot until it moves or bites. Hold your hand in that position till it calms down, then take the hand away and reward the bird with a treat. Keep doing this exercise, each time moving the hand closer and closer. After several attempts your parrot will let you touch its beak. Perform the same procedure with the body. Eventually, you'll be able to hold the bird. As soon as you succeed, try to pick it up for a few seconds. Over time the parrot will allow you to hold it longer and longer. Even though, soon you will be able to perform this without rewarding the parrot, but it is important to maintain this tameness every day.
Putting Parrot away in Cage
Returning to the cage may be an unpleasant experience for your parrot. Fortunately, there is a solution for this problem: take the parrot out of the cage and spend some time with it just before the meal. In such way, the parrot will perceive returning to the cage as a pleasant event connected with food.
Also, you shouldn't ask the parrot to step up only to put it into the cage. Soon, the parrot will stop doing that and even bite you. To prevent this, each time after asking it to step up, scratch its beak (parrots like it), command to make a trick and reward it or perform any other action to keep it positive.
This article is written to provide parrots owners with all basic information about training and taming. The main point is that if you want your parrot to do what you ask it about, encourage it. Make the training mutually beneficial. As for taming, just present a new place or object to the parrot, wait until it calms down and reward it. If you follow this tutorial you will learn how to train and tame your avian pet easily and get excellent results very soon.
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