Are You Over-Training?

Photo by Dave Location: Musha Cay, Bahamas Shown: Blue and gold macaw "Chayko" 

It seems that most bird owners have a harder time with starting training at all in the first place, but sometimes people once they dive into the wonderful world of training, get a little too excited and can push a training session too far.  Just recently I had someone tell me they were training their bird AT LEAST two hours every single day.  That is over-training.  Training sessions shouldn’t last that long, especially if you’re working on really complicated routines that take a lot of focus from your bird. At the most, my own training sessions have lasted about 15 minutes. Usually though, they are around 1-2 minutes long on average.  The goal of a training session?  
  • To leave the bird wanting more
  • To be fun and interactive, something you both look forward to
  • To always end the session on a high note, or positive note
  • To always end the training session yourself and not have your bird do it by losing interest or flying away or stopping responding

When you over train you can run into the same behavioral problems you see when you don’t do any training (under training should we say?) like screaming, biting, excessive aggressiveness, etc.  Usually when you are just getting excited about a training session’s progress is pretty much when you should end the session.   Think about it; when you have a major breakthrough working on something you want to get a little past that and break and bask in the fact that you succeeded. You don’t want to go so far that you run into another hurdle that you’re now too tired to jump over this time.  Keep sessions short. If your bird is ending them for you, they are too long or not fun enough. Sometimes some training can go longer than others; flight training can sometimes be longer of a session than trick training if your bird is working on building muscle or stamina.  If your bird is out of shape, it won’t be able to handle a long flight training session at all and will have to work up to it.  Learn to read the signals your bird gives you so you don’t push it too far because when that happens, you start going backwards in all your efforts.

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

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