Training Tidbit – New Year, New You

Welcome to 2021! Start the year off on the right foot by doing some fun training with your bird.

Often people think either “training is hard” or “training teaches tricks" or "tricks aren't useful”. I think we can all do some fun training which is both EASY and USEFUL. How is that even possible?

Start by finding something your bird REALLY likes. Does he dive into your movie popcorn? Steal spaghetti off your plate? Go crazy for a head-rub? GREAT! That’s the first thing we need. Something he LOVES. This is called a “reinforcer”. He can have his reinforcer, use them all for training!

Next, we need an action. Does your bird run? Hop? Flap? Jump? Stretch really tall? Lower his head? Find something that is observable and easy for him to do. He might do it already!

Then put them together. When your bird does the ACTION, he gets his reinforcer.

When your bird STRETCHES TALL then he gets a POPCORN. (Cockatiels and Greys do well with this)

When your bird RUNS he gets a BALL THROWN. (Caiques and Conures do well with this)

When your bird BOBS UP AND DOWN he gets a HEADRUB. (Cockatoos do well with this)

Make this a fun, easy game for both of you. Practice this many times until it is fluent.

WAIT – How is this useful? I promised you easy AND useful.

This allows your bird to ask you for his favourite thing and creating a two-way communication. The bird says: “hey Human, I want that, I bet if I bob up and down I can have it”, and the Human says “hey I see my bird bobbing up and down, he must want a popcorn”. It creates an easy way for your bird to say PLEASE, without resorting to screaming, biting, divebombing or other problem behaviours. Wouldn’t that be great?

Be sure to practice and have fun. Enjoy living with your happy bird!

- Robin