Positive reinforcement in Parrot Training

Parrot training is a big part of integrating parrots into our daily life and Positive reinforcement in parrot training is the only kind way of training pet birds. Our birds are incredibly smart, but it’s important to guide their curiosity, intelligence and extremely social dispositions. If we don’t, we might end up with a bird that’s “difficult to handle”.

Whether you’re thinking of just teaching your parrot the basics or want to turn it into a master of performing fun tricks, your basic starting point is the same. You’ll want to adhere to the principle of positive reinforcement in parrot training.

Why should you train your parrot?

When someone talks about parrot training, you might be thinking of those YouTube videos of birds performing cool tricks like putting a tiny basketball in a mini hoop. That’s one of the many things you can train your parrot to do, but it’s obviously not an essential trick.

There are some other things, though, that do actually come in really handy in day-to-day life with a parrot:

  • Stepping up: Having your bird step onto your hand and stay so that you can inspect it or move it around.
  • Come here: Having your bird fly over to you from wherever it is.
  • Travel cage training: You don’t want trouble getting your bird into its travel cage if an emergency vet visit comes up, so you should work on making it comfortable going in there.
  • Harness training: Teach your bird to be comfortable in a parrot harness so you can enjoy time outside together.
  • Stopping screaming: Read Barbara Heidenreich’s article about how she trained her parrot Misty to stop screaming by being positive about silence or whistles rather than punishing noisiness.
  • Stopping biting.
  • Teaching your parrot to be comfortable with new things.
Conure on a finger - Positive reinforcement in parrot training
Teaching your bird to step up is one of the many potential uses for positive reinforcement training.

What is positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement for parrots involves giving your bird something it enjoys as a reward for good behaviour: a treat or attention. For this reason, positive reinforcement is also referred to as reward training.

On the contrary, negative reinforcement involves punishment for bad behaviour.

Why does positive reinforcement work better?

Now that we know what positive reinforcement is, you might be wondering why you can’t just use the “regular” method of discouraging bad behaviour through punishment. There are some reasons for this:

  • What you see as punishment, your parrot might see as reinforcement. If you run into the room yelling “shut up!” when your parrot is screaming, it’ll take that as a sure sign to continue. After all, their screaming resulted in you giving them attention, and that’s something they love receiving.
  • You might inadvertently create negative connotations around things that should be positive. For example, if you put your bird back in its cage when it does something you don’t like, it can end up becoming very resistant to being brought to its cage.
  • You might break the bond of trust between you and your bird. Harsh punishments can make a parrot completely distrustful and actually cause more behavioural issues, like biting.

Positive reinforcement steps & applications

By now you’re probably wondering how this magical concept of positive reinforcement works in practice. If you’re itching to start training your parrot, fill the form below and we will email you a simple 1 page Guide with 3 steps you need to follow when using positive reinforcement parrot training. 

 

Conclusion

Our conclusion is brief: you should be training your parrot, even if it’s just the basics or to keep its brain busy. And when you train, use positive reinforcement. You’ll be blown away by how fast these smart birds learn!

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