Bond Building Games

Dave and I make a great team in training because we both like training different things. I really enjoy bond building games like trick training. Dave really enjoys flight training and recall, and I although I enjoy that too, we aren't always able to work on it. I feel like it's easier to trick train since it doesn't require a big, open space.

I thought I'd put together some how-to videos on tricks I've trained my own flock so that you can use it to train yours.

Bond building game #1: The Roll Over

Method 1

Your bird should already know:

  1. What a bridge is (ie: a clicker or the word "good")
  2. How to step up without biting OR how to shake hands

Now, if your bird does not know how to step up or doesn't know the hand shake, or maybe just is not responding to this method, you can apply this one instead...

Method 2

Your bird doesn't need to know all the things it needed to for method 1, in order to use method 2.

I used a totally different method with my male galah, Bandit. Check it out in the video below:

In order to make your bond building games go more smoothly, you really should be using random rewarding.

This is how we use random rewarding:

  1. We give a random treat (so mix up 2-3 different favorite treats in a pouch or pocket and don't look when grabbing one!)
  2. We give the random treat at a random interval (see video for explanation)

Bond building game #2: The Lawn Mower

I made this up based on my silly galah Bandit's natural tendencies. Here is what the trick looks like:

You will learn this trick best by watching my training sessions with Bandit:

Here comes our absolute favorite bond building game...

Bond building game #3: Recall/flight training indoors

Your bird should already:

  • Know what a bridge is (ie: clicker or the word good = treat)
  • Follow a target
  • Possess the ability to fly

This method for flight training/recall uses target training.

Struggling with getting your bird to fly to you? Let's backtrack and overcome getting your bird to make the initial hop to you. I have 3 methods I use to encourage birds to hop, once they hop, they will be more likely to put those wings out and FLY. Remember, small approximations! In other words, BABY STEPS.

Method 1 (Target Training)

Your bird should already know:

1. Target training.

Method 2 (Simon Says Effect)

In this particular video the owner and her daughter are working on the spin. This method can be applied to flight as well. You would start with cueing the flight to the person that the bird is most likely to recall to and then as you get momentum going and a rhythm started you start to bring in the second person with the first person just behind the second person to start. As the bird gains confidence with the second person the first person can faze out to the background.  

Method 3 (Jackpot)

This method works best for birds who are more hesitant than most and need a lot more encouragement to hop or fly.


Bond building game #4: Bird on back/holding your bird like a baby

Your bird just needs to understand the clicker, or the word good to signal it did something right.

Bond building game #5: Spin in a circle/turn around

Your bird should already know target training in order to properly teach the spin in the way that I demonstrate in the videos below.

More on this:


Bond building game #6: Shake head "no"

There are a couple different methods to train this behavior. I chose "capturing" which just basically means I waited for my bird to offer the behavior I wanted naturally, then clicked and rewarded as often as I could "capture" her doing it. Another method is lightly blowing in your bird's face (we show this method on our Taming Training and Tricks series with a blue and gold macaw, however, this made my African Grey become horny! So I did not use this method.)

Capturing can be a slower method depending on how quickly your bird tends to catch on to training.

We teach a bunch more tricks in our Taming, Training and Tricks series below:

Happy bond building!


Beth van Aalst

Such a great article!! There are 3 videos that are unavailable, is that because they have been removed? Is there somewhere they can be viewed? I’d love to watch them.

Beth van Aalst
Richard & Lisa Stanion

Hi Dave & Jamieleigh, My husband and I have two blue and gold MaCaws the belonged to my Mother-in-Law. We have had them for about 8-10 months now and all seed diet. I am happy to report that Bo and Carly are warming up to us more and more every day. I was so happy to see your videos about birds. We are blessed to have found support and knowledge on caring for these giant birds! We are in Boise, Idaho. Please let us know if you ever come to town! I would love to meet both of you. Take Care, be safe, and keep making videos!!!!!

Richard & Lisa Stanion

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