Everyone knows how important it is to train their dog. However, did you know that it is something you should look into when you’ve got yourself a new feathered friend?
Birds are highly intelligent and easier to train than you think.
In fact, birds can be trained faster than dogs! In our Basic Bird Training Guide, we will go over some essential behaviors that every owner should teach their bird. After all, a well-behaved bird is calmer and more fun to be around.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Before we jump into the six bird training behaviors, we wanted to go through two concepts you must know about; positive reinforcement and variable reinforcement schedule.
So, what exactly is positive reinforcement?
We’ll clear that up for you!
As the Behaviorism school of Psychology gained popularity, scientists wanted to understand how learning takes place. B.F. Skinner conducted his ground-breaking experiments on birds and introduced the concept of positive reinforcement.
We’ve been using this concept in animal training ever since!
A positive reinforcer is something that increases the likelihood of a behavior occurring again.
In simple words, it’s a reward.
A reward can be anything that your bird likes or enjoys. For some, it may be food or exotic treats, while for others, it may be praise. You can read more about it in a previous article we published.
One of the biggest mistakes that newbies make is rewarding thor bird every time it does something you want it to!
Well, there are two main reasons for it:
|Reinforcement is given after a fixed number of attempts.||Behavioral attempts slow down after the reward is given and then picks up.|
|You vary the number of attempts needed before reinforcing.||This option gets the most engagement. The bird tries hard!|
|You reinforce after a fixed level of time.||The bird tries harder as the time deadline gets closer.|
|You vary the time between reinforcement.||Your bird demonstrates steady attempts.|
So, if I don’t reward my bird, wouldn’t it forget the command?
That’s a great question! Forgetting a command is what we call extinctionin Psychology. Skinner studied extinction in detail and how to overcome it.
That’s where the variable ratio schedule comes into play.
Once your bird has learned the behavior, you start getting stingy with the rewards--you only give out rewards after your bird performs the desired behavior on cue at the ratio you’ve fixed.
Simple enough, right?
Let’s now go over some basic bird training commands.
This section of the article will help you learn how to train your bird to perform the following behaviors. Keep in mind that you need to be patient and persistent when training your new bird.
Your bird doesn’t naturally know what you want for it.
So, training is a way in which you’ll be able to tell your bird what you need for it to understand what you mean.
In a way, you’re both learning a new language. That takes time, doesn’t it?
With that in mind, let’s get started!
So, do you want to teach your bird to step up and down your finger? No worries, we’ve got you!
Keep in mind that some birds--like parrots use their beak to secure their way up to your hand. Don’t flinch or pull your finger away! Your bird isn’t out to bite you!
It just wants to maintain balance.
Now that you have successfully taught your bird how to step up on your finger, it’s time to teach it how to step down!
It’s time to celebrate! You’ve successfully taught your bird how to step up and down!
Reward yourself with a treat. You deserve it!
The stay command is crucial to ensure your feathered friend’s safety. Your bird should stay put when told to do so--not explore your home and leave surprise droppings everywhere!
Of course, there are other things to worry about as well--like open fires and fans.
So, how do you teach your bird to stay put?
This wasn’t too hard, was it?
Did your bird get away from you?
Teaching your bird to come when it is called will come in handy many times. It helps your bird know that you’re nearby and what to do. All pet owners know how important a recall command is.
Your bird should be coming to you within seconds of hearing the command. If it is taking its sweet time to come to you, you’re teaching and reinforcing latency.
So, what to do?
If your bird doesn’t respond within seconds, leave the room for five minutes, and try again. Your bird will realize that it won’t get a reward if it doesn’t come to you within seconds.
Finding fresh bird droppings on your desk, couch, and even bed isn’t fun at all! So, potty training your bird to teach it the right place to eliminate is crucial. We’ll teach you how to do it!
Keep in mind that accidents are natural. Don’t punish your bird or get angry at it if it misses a spot.
Foraging, in simple words, means looking for food. It’s what birds in the wild do with most of their time. It’s an awesome way to stimulate your feathered friend’s brain and encourages exercise.
This also helps reduce feather-plucking behavior and provides mental welfare and stimulation.
And, that’s how you do it!
Your bird’s cage and carrier ensure its safety at all times. There are too many things in our homes and cars that can be harmful to our avian friends. But, some birds are divas about going into their cages.
Here’s how to train yours to willingly enter a cage.
See, training your bird isn’t as hard as you might think!
Clicker training helps make reinforcement training more efficient and is great for beginners. No harsh words or punishment is involved, and it’s fun for both you and your feathered friend.
It helps teach your bird what you want it to respond to and helps you train your bird faster.
Would you like to try your hand at clicker training?
The good news is that you can use a clicker to teach your bird all the behaviors we’ve covered above. All you need to do is to replace the reward with click for efficient and quick training.
Of course, you’ll have to charge the clicker first.
Don’t know what that means?
Did we help you with basic bird training?
Training your bird isn’t as difficult as you might think. Birds are highly intelligent and pick up on things faster than you’d expect. Keep the following things in mind when training your bird:
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