How to Train Pet Birds

Why is my bird not talking? Why is my bird not stepping on my hands? These are common questions we receive from bird owners. 

In the video below, our Avian expert, Dr. Laurie Hess, discusses how you can start training your pet birds.

Watch How to Train Pet Birds on YouTube.

Video Transcript

Hello, I’m Dr. Laurie Hess, Director of Pet Health and Nutrition at ZuPreem, here with my pionus parrot, Dale, to tell you a little bit more about training your bird.

Now, obviously, one of the cool things about parrots is that they’re incredibly smart. Many of them can say many, many words, although he won’t do it on cue for you. Dale is a pionus and they’re not known to be great talkers but he does say “Hi Dale” and “good morning” and “I love you” and “Hi, baby bird”. It’s taken many years for him to learn those things, but it’s a lot of fun to be able to teach your bird language and have them actually say it in context, so I’ll say “good morning” and he’ll say “Good morning, Baby Bird” right back to me and I know he knows what he’s saying and he’s saying at the appropriate time.

So some birds are great talkers, others are not. And most birds though, really do like to spend time out of their cage and interact with their human flock mates. That’s something that you have to work on very, very gradually over time. So you may want to start with one type of behavior like stepping up on your hand, for example, and start to train that. Usually, what I do is I recommend opening the cage door and letting the bird come out on his own time. You may want to put your hand out and put a little treat on the other side of your hand so that the bird leans forward with one little foot to grab the treat and then maybe goes back, and then over time, maybe days to weeks, starts to put all of his weight onto your hand to get that treat.

Remember, it’s about positive reinforcement. Birds and people, for that matter, do behaviors usually to get something good or avoid something bad. We don’t want to use bad behavior. We don’t want to reinforce that. We want to reinforce positive behavior. So, using the bird’s favorite treats in training and only in training really motivates the bird to learn to speak.

If you repeat birds words to the bird or to stand in your hand or step on a perch, just be patient and realize that birds aren’t machines. They, again, have personalities and they can get very tired so you don’t want to push too hard — just a few minutes a day and you can train your bird to do incredible things.

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