Whenever people ask me about parrot training, there's a certain amount of parrot training tools I keep on hand. And I don't mean tools you can hold in your hand physically, I mean training tools that I use, techniques, if you will.
I wanted a space where I could store them based on their uses and usefulness so hence, this blog article!
Tool #1: The reset
I use this when a bird is NOT responding to me. This means the bird is ignoring me, not "getting it", hesitant in response, etc.
Tool #2: Approximations (what they really look like!)
Many people think approximations are much bigger than they actually are. They are SUBTLE. They are so small they should go unnoticed by your bird.
Tool #3: A proper diet
I truly feel the diet should be proper before formal training truly begins. This ensures your bird is healthy, and that the treats you are giving are truly treats.
We recommend a morning meal of the BirdTricks diet/natural feeding system (changes seasonally) and a pellet for the evening meal that is made up of quality ingredients.
Tool #4: Treats that your bird actually wants
People have a hard time finding a treat their bird will take in trade for doing desired behaviors. But this video demonstrates why it's so important to use treats!
Tool #5: Being consistent in your training techniques and intentions
It's brutal watching someone make mistake after mistake after mistake. But it's even worse enduring those mistakes from the person. Video tape your training sessions so you can see where you went right, and where you went wrong. Remain consistent so you can accurately communicate with your bird.
Tool #6: It's not the bird's fault, what am I doing to cause this?
Your body position when asking your bird to do desired behaviors is how you are communicating with your parrot. Is what you're doing right? Is it getting the desired behavior? If not, reevaluate.
Tool #7: The Simon Says effect
This is all about repetitions and getting a rhythm for your bird to follow and expect, so when they overcome the challenge ahead, they don't even realize it was a challenge at all.
Tool #8: Jackpot rewards
Sometimes your bird negotiates a certain behavior = higher value reward. Don't forget to jackpot reward those big successes and milestones.
Tool #9: Don't let your techniques morph or get sloppy
So often people morph one technique into another and it loses its power. Target training should stay target training. If you want to teach your bird to go to a perch, station, or step up on objects as a behavior and be moved around - that should be its own trick on a dowel (not a chopstick). Don't let your training get sloppy, constantly re-assess yourself and your technique and make sure it's playing the proper role. Stationing should be stationing, target training should stay as your bird touching a target, etc.
Tool #10: Weigh your bird (training weights save time)
When you consistently weigh your bird, you will discover your bird trains best at a certain weight. If you added sweet potato or egg, or anything to the diet that may make your bird heavier for some reason, you will know from its weight and know whether or not to spend your time training. When clients find their birds training weight, they can save valuable time. You want training to be positive and if you go through it as a struggle, it's not fun for either of you. Know your bird's ideal training weight so you're both set up for success.
Tool #11: Adapt and Adjust
This is the most important to me. Being able to adjust your training tactic and adapt to what your bird is communicating to you. Sometimes we make a training plan in our head of how we want things to go, or even expect them to go, but that is rarely reality. Some ideas work and others don't, simply adapt to the changes and adjust your techniques to fit the scenario as it evolves. This is why one on one consults can be so very helpful; because what we offer as advice will alter once we see it implemented in real time.
Which one of these tools do you find the most helpful to your situation? Which one do you hope to try? And which ones have you had the most success with?