Most domesticated birds are intelligent animals, which can make them very valuable companion animals. This, however, means that it’s important to train them when they are young, to avoid having bad habits that will be evident in adulthood.
Living indoors isn’t completely natural for birds, and before your bird gets older and builds on negative behavioral traits, it’s important to train them for basic family manners.
To get started on training your bird, you will need some materials. Pack things like food, a perch, a small towel, a harness if needed, a carrier, and an anklet.
Find your goals
Each bird of any species is an individual, with its own preferences, personalities, and skill levels. Some birds can be taught a variety of tricks, and learn to talk, while with others you will have to be content with being able to hold them quietly and form a bond with them.
Don’t be discouraged or angry if your bird falls into the second category!
Hold it in your hand
Before you can train your little bird to do anything, you’ll first need to get it used to being held in your hand. Establish your role as a master by standing above them, not under their heads, and encourage your bird to come to you rather than take it out of the cage.
Teach It the simple command to walk on your finger or a perch, and keep It at the right height, neither too high nor too low: chest height should be right.
Food can be an important means of training your bird, but only if used in the right measure, and without giving it too much. You want your bird to create a positive association between obedience and reward, a type of training widely used with dogs.
Start giving It snacks when it’s young; when It obeys a command and, for example, gets on your finger, give It some food, and use this method to reinforce positive associations.
If your bird chirps or squeals a lot, this can be a tough challenge to solve. Covering the cage can help stop a bird from screeching; even music can distract and calm It down. Don’t satisfy it screams with attention; this is easy to do, but it will teach your bird that making a lot of noise will guarantee it a reward.
Get your bird out of the house
Most birds like to occasionally go out for some fresh air, and the safest way to do this is to teach your bird to accept an anklet or leash. It’s hard to do when It’s an adult, so start when it’s small! Teach your bird a command indicating the use of the anklet and that you are about to go out, and give It a snack when you can put the anklet on. It’s also important to get it used to a smaller cage, for example for trips to the vet.
Teach your bird to talk
The best way to teach It is to repeat the same things a lot. However, speaking for birds can be very difficult, and they may refuse to, but learn repetitive sounds or phrases that intrigue them. Birds can’t tell swear words, so saying them in front of your bird is a bad idea (unless you want to teach them to swear).
Birds are particularly interested in emotional conversations: words or phrases spoken with feeling are more likely to be repeated than a monotonous conversation.
Get used to the towel
Getting your bird used to using a towel is important, as you will need to use this method throughout its life to keep it still, for example, to trim its nails, give it medicine and transport it safely. Use neutral-colored towels to not alarm It, and start by encouraging your bird to get on the towel, always using snacks.
Once this is a habit, you can start working on wrapping it in the towel, being careful not to squeeze too tightly on Its chest. Hold your bird gently but firmly, with your palm and thumb on either side of the neck and index finger behind to keep it still.
Eliminate the bite in the bud
It’s vital to make sure your bird doesn’t grow into a habit of showing aggression, but it’s important to know that using Its beak isn’t always an aggressive gesture. Birds use their beaks to balance or touch things, so if your bird gets on your hand with their beak don’t be alarmed, and don’t think they’re about to bite!
You also need to know that birds use their tongues and beaks to explore the world around them, so they may want to lick or taste your hand. This is normal and shouldn’t be discouraged, and again, it’s not a sign of an aggressive bite.
If your bird pinches or bites, it should be discouraged. Keep calm and say ” no ” firmly, without creating a fuss.
Birds need to chew and wear their beaks to keep them busy and in good condition, so be sure to cater to this need. Giving your bird a stick to chew on is a good idea, as is rewarding them when they bite into things that are meant to be bitten.