Sunday, January 19, 2014

5 Tips to Address Parrot Behavior Problems

Most of the time parrots are a lot of fun. But sometimes they do things humans find annoying. This can include refusing to go back into their cage, biting and screaming for attention. Parrots aren’t hatched with behavior problems. They learn through experience to do certain things to get desired results. For example if a scream causes people to come running into the room, a parrot can quickly learn to vocalize loudly to get attention from his favorite people.

Most parrot behavior problems can be prevented. But if your parrot is already doing something you don’t like, here are some tips to help you change his behavior.

1.      Always remember that parrots do things for a reason. Sometimes it is to get something they want, like your attention. Other times it is to avoid something they don’t want to do. For example a parrot who doesn’t like to be touched may try to nip at a hand that is reaching out to touch his head. Try to figure out why your bird might be presenting behavior you don’t like. This will help you work on a solution.

  1. Sometimes changing things up can help get parrot behavior back on track. For example if your parrot is famous for chewing on the wood trim of the house, an easy solution is to move his perch so he isn’t so close to the tempting trim. Or if your parrot likes to dump his food bowls, you can try using a different type of bowl that is easily secured to the cage. Solutions to some problems can be as simple as changing the environment so the bad behavior can’t happen.
  1. If your parrot has a choice between two behaviors, he will choose the one that is the most enjoyable. For example if your parrot climbs down his perch to roam around on the floor, it means the floor is much more fun than the play stand. If your goal is for your bird to stay on the perch, it means you need to make the play stand a lot more exciting. This may involve adding new toys frequently, and giving treats and attention when he is on the play stand. Anytime your parrot is not doing what you want ask yourself if you need to make it more fun for him to do what you prefer.
  1. A great way to avoid biting problems and trust issues is to never force your parrot to do something he does not want to do. Always make sure your bird is a willing participant. Practice learning to recognize the body language a parrot shows when he is trying to say “No thank you!” When you see this, stop what you are doing. Give yourself a moment to think about a way you can make it fun for your bird to do what you ask. It might mean getting some treats or taking a break and coming back later to interact with your parrot. 
  1. The best way to have a well behaved parrot is to train him to do want you want. This means making a list of some things you would like your bird to do. This may include step up, go back into his cage, talk on cue and more. Have training sessions to work on these behaviors so your parrot understands exactly what to do. Once he knows the behaviors, always offer treats, attention, toys or other things he likes whenever he does those behaviors when asked. This will help keep your parrot well behaved for the rest of this life. Remember, your parrot likes to be rewarded for his good behavior just like you do.
Try these tips with your parrot and soon you will find behavior problems are a thing of the past.

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. 

Barbara Heidenreich
For more information on how to train your parrot visit Good Bird Inc  
Barbara's Force Free Animal Training
Copyright 2014  First appears in Fledglings Magazine by The Parrot Society of Australia

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