Training your pet parrot
Posted July 12, 2018
benefits of training parrots extend well beyond the entertainment
value of owning a talking bird who can do entertaining tricks.
Training strengthens the bond between owner and parrot, provides
companionship, and increases the health and well-being of the
Connie Woodman is a bird enthusiast and a graduate student at
the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical
Sciences. She studies animal welfare as part of
the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps and AIR-TT
programs. Woodman believes the
training parrots should be enjoyed by both the parrot and the
“If the training session is uncomfortable or coercive then the
training is being done improperly,” Woodman said. “A good training
session should be a mix of behaviors the animal already knows and
behaviors that challenge their abilities.”
A common misconception is that outcome of training should be a
‘well-behaved’ parrot. However, the goal of training is actually to
keep your bird mentally and physically active. Most parrots do not
need to be taught manners; in fact, Woodman said that the natural
behaviors of a healthy parrot are pretty compatible with the human
“The less compatible behaviors of parrots, such as chewing on
wood or making loud noises, really can’t be avoided,” Woodman
explained. “However, if your bird does have a behavioral problem,
such as fighting or repetitive screaming, then behavioral
modification training can help improve the bird’s behavior.”
One frequently practiced form of behavioral-modification
training is operant conditioning, in which the bird develops an
association between their behavior and a punishment or a reward.
Operant conditioning can be used on all kinds of birds including
parrots, finches, doves or chickens.
However, there is a crucial step to take before training your
parrot. Woodman said parrot owners should begin with socialization
because it is the most important and beneficial step in training.
Parrot socialization must begin when the bird is young and continue
throughout their life.
“A well-socialized baby bird will readily step up onto the hand,
go in and out of the pet carrier, try new foods, play with a new
toy, and will sit quietly and happily while accepting petting,”
However, some pet stores and breeders socialize parrots before
they go to their forever home. In this case, Woodman said to expect
a price increase for adoption. This price increase is worth it,
For bird owners looking to train their pet, Woodman believes the
best place to start is an internet search for videos so new
trainers can observe the process. Woodman also recommends training
Like most companion animals, parrots require a large amount of
attention and affection. Socializing and training a parrot requires
time, energy and effort. However, in the end, the benefits of
socializing and training your parrot will outweigh the demands.
Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science. Stories can be viewed
on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for
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