Did You Know That YOU Are A Bird Trainer?

Did you know that YOU are a trainer? Blue and gold macaws

Does the idea of training your bird put you off? Are you thinking: “I don’t want to train my bird, I just want it to behave”? Are you unwilling to begin a process that you might not have the time or energy to commit to?

I get it. Life is busy and complicated enough without having to delegate time to training an uncooperative bird.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you already are a trainer. You train your bird every day – every time you interact with him. Training is nothing more than teaching and learning. Your bird sees everything you do and she pays close attention to how you respond to the things she does. She bases her opinion of you on your actions. She learns every day.

For example:

  • You step your bird up from the perch in her cage and bring her into the living room for playtime with her family. Tomorrow when you reach into her cage, she will willingly step up because her experience says that interaction with you will have a positive outcome. That’s training.
  • Your dog runs through the room and frightens your bird. You remove the dog from the room and return to offer her comfort. She has learned that you have her best interests at heart and that she can trust you. That’s training.
  • Your bird screams when she is in her cage until you release her. She has learned that when she wants to come out of her cage she should scream. Unfortunately, that, too, is training.

Congo african grey and rosebreated cockatoo

Birds are naturally trainable!

The kind of training we talk about here just adds structure to a process that you have already set in motion. It helps you to tighten up the loose ends, making expectations clear for everyone involved. It teaches you how to be the director of the interactions you have with your bird.

Birds are naturally trainable because they are prey animals. It is in their most fundamental constitution to watch everything that goes on around them – it’s a survival strategy. They are also intelligent and absorb information easily. All of these factors put together speaks to their ability to learn quickly.

Training should not intimidate you. It is ridiculously easy. Children are especially good at it because they don’t over complicate it, they recognize training for the fun that it is. You will score big points in trust when you engage in any activity that allows you to earn your bird’s trust.

Blue throated macaw

If you follow Birdtricks.com, you are probably aware that the One Day Miracles reality series became available over the summer. In it, Dave and Jamie Womach go into the homes of 12 bird owners and teach them how to use training to overcome their parrot’s issues. Everything was recorded, and you can witness the enormous strides each owner took with their bird IN JUST A SINGLE AFTERNOON! No joke.

I admire some other bird trainers in the avian community, but the Womachs never fail to entertain and keep things fresh. There’s no sleepiness and fast forwarding through their videos. Training is not supposed to be a chore. Click here to learn more: One Day Miracles.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

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