Working With Distractions

Distractions can really put an abrupt halt in training. For example, I had three birds out while attempting to work with just one of them. I didn't plan it that way - I had them all out flying around and then Bondi told me she wanted to work on her "roll over/play dead" trick so I began training on the hallway floor. Well, once Bandit saw Bondi training he decided he wanted to train, too! But... he didn't want Bondi to train. Thus, the distraction. I told Dave to distract him while Bondi and I worked... but that only lasted so long!  

I'm a softie and have a really hard time putting my birds away... however, because I didn't put Bandit away and just focus on Bondi, it made her training session more stressful and less productive. Now, Bandit was an OBVIOUS distraction whereas other things may not be as obvious. I knew an umbrella cockatoo who was insanely distracted by black curtains or brooms. Your bird might be distracted by what is going on outside, other noises in your training area or other people/animals in the environment. It's best to limit distractions in the beginning and add them slowly later once your bird has caught onto the training matter. Just because your bird will perform a trick in a tiny room with complete and utter silence in front of only you... does not mean he will be ok doing it in front of your family members, in the living room with the TV on. Keep all possibilities of distractions in mind when training animals, especially parrots.

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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