Parrot Training Resources and FAQs
Where Can I Find Information About Parrot Training and Parrot Behavior?
Besides this blog :) I highly recommend any book or article written by Barbara Heidenreich, Melinda Johnson, Mattie Sue Athan.
For example, Barbara Heidenreich’s Good Bird! A Guide to Solving Behavior Problems in Companion Parrots, Melinda Johnson’s Getting Started: Clicker Training for Birds, and Mattie Sue Athan’s Guide to a Well Behaved Parrot can all be found at Amazon.com.
In addition to books by these parrot trainers, I also can’t say enough good things about Bird-Click, the Yahoo Bird Clicker Training group – a discussion board founded and run by Melinda Johnson, author of Clicker Training for Birds. The group is a completely free resource offering step-by-step instruction on any trick you could want to teach your bird, answers to all your questions and a ton of support by the group’s members and moderators. Please join – it’s worth it!
Also check out Karen Pryor’s site clickertraining.com for a ton of clicker training resources including Getting Started Clicker Training for Birds – Kit, which includes the book above, a clicker, a target stick and bird treats you can use for rewards.
My Bird Doesn’t Trust Me Yet. How Long Until I Can Start Clicker Training?
You don’t have to wait until your bird trusts before you can start training. The process of training is in itself a way to build trust. You can learn more about how clicker training is perfect for taming fearful or aggressive birds in the Bird-Click group.
Where Can I Buy a Bird Clicker?
If you’ve gone to a pet store to ask for a “bird clicker” you probably got a blank look from the sales associate. If you ask for dog clickers, however, you’ll probably get directed to the aisle for dog training supplies. So what’s the difference between bird clickers and dog clickers? Nothing!
If your local pet shop doesn’t carry clickers for clicker training, you can buy a bird clicker online here.
Alternatively, you can use a retractable ballpoint pen, or anything that makes a sharp, distinct and unique sound to “mark” the behavior you wish to capture and reinforce.
What’s the First Thing I Should Teach?
Conventional wisdom is that the first thing a parrot should learn is how to step up, but if you have a fearful or aggressive parrot, teaching step up first might not be possible. Clicker training the “Bird Click” way is great because it does not require putting yourself in biting range. After treat testing and charging the clicker, the very first trick to teach a parrot is called targeting.
What is targeting? Targeting, in the context of bird training, generally describes when the parrot touches a target stick (like a chopstick, not a perch) with his beak. It’s a great first prop trick to teach because it can be used to lead into other behaviors, such as getting the bird go go back into its cage by itself and eventually to step up.