1. Pick a location to train. Training is fun if both you and your parrot are relaxed and comfortable. Try to find a place that your parrot enjoys being. This may be in or near his enclosure or another place he frequently visits such as the couch or a play stand. You also want to make sure the location you choose is comfortable for you. You don’t want your parrot perched someplace that is difficult for you to reach. Sometimes trainers end up in some funny positions while they wait patiently for the bird to respond. If this position is uncomfortable you won’t be able to be wait for very long. Also try to pick an area that is calm and quiet. Too much activity can cause your parrot to focus on everything else except you and the training session.
2. Have a stash of favorite treats and toys on hand. When we train a new behavior or trick it is important that something good happens when your bird does what you request. Usually favorite foods are the perfect thing to use to reward your parrot. Try to have tiny pieces of food prepared before you start training. This means you may have to spend some time breaking up pieces of peanut, almond or sunflower seeds before your training session. It is nice to have lots of extra treats on hand in case your session goes really well. You don’t want to run out of goodies! If your parrot likes toys, you can gather a stash of small toys for training. Have lots of different toys to choose from so your bird will stay interested.
3. Have a plan. Before you bring your parrot to your training location think about what you would like to teach your bird to do. You will also want to think about the steps you are going to take to train your parrot to do the behavior. Thinking about the steps will help you decide what props and set up will be needed to train the trick. For example if you want to train your parrot to turn around in a circle, you may need to have a target stick and a perch that allows you to easily move your hand underneath the bird.
4. Make sure your bird is ready for a training session. Two things are very important for training. Your bird needs to be relaxed and comfortable and he also needs to be interested in the treats or toys you have to offer. Try to choose a time of day when your parrot seems to be eager to interact with you and is also happy to have some treats or attention. For many parrots this can be in the morning after they wake up and before they get breakfast.
5. Have fun! When you follow steps one through four you can expect to have a great time training your parrot. If you or your parrot is not in the mood for a training session, it is OK to stop the session and try again later. This helps make sure both of you are enjoying training. It is a very exciting moment when your parrot understands what you are trying to teach him do. This is what makes training so fun. Try these tips with your parrot at home and you will find your training sessions will be very successful.
Barbara Heidenreich has been a professional animal trainer since 1990. Her company Good Bird Inc provides parrot training DVDs, books and workshops. She has been a featured speaker in twenty countries and has been published in nine languages. Barbara also consults on animal training in zoos.
For more information on how to train your parrot visit Good Bird Inc
Barbara's Force Free Animal Training www.BarbarasFFAT.com
Copyright 2014 First appeared in Fledglings Magazine by The Parrot Society of Australia