When I first started being interested in Parrots – it was hard to find parrot training videos. YouTube didn’t have a lot and the worldwide web was not very helpful either. However over the years, it has ADVANCED so much it is amazing to see where we are today. The PROBLEM IS…. Some information isn’t the RIGHT information.
As much as I would love to sit here and bash other trainers and tell you to just follow me and I’ll teach you EVERYTHING you need to know, I won’t do that. How you train your parrots/animals is a personal preference and just like me you may start to follow one type of trainer and switch it up along the way. I look at where I came from to where I am today and I’m extremely happy. I’ve read books, purchased e-courses, googled online, joined bird forums, joined parrot groups, made connections with breeders and I just continue to try to keep my network open. A lot of people have different opinions on what is wrong and right for parrots, I compare it to having kids, at the end of the day it is your choice. Some people are very opinionated so you have to be careful on how you approach the conversation with them or else it could turn into a very bad interaction very quickly… Like having a conversation about religion – OUCH! I try to stay away. I voice my opinion and I accept their opinion, if I can help better the situation someway, some how then I am all for it otherwise I can sometimes only be an ear. I love hearing people’s passion for their birds even if I don’t agree with all of their methods.
Anyhow back to the main topic: There are some methods some trainers use that are just not giving the parrot a choice and I think this is something you have to consider when looking at different trainers. The word is getting out there that positive reinforcement is the best training method to use, doesn’t mean everyone uses it correctly and completely understands the whole science behind it but as long as you’re following someone who is trying to implement that then you are on the right path. Things to look for…. 1) The parrot is being asked for a behavior not being forced or coercion into it. 2) The parrot and trainer is enjoying their training time today and both are being respected and last but not least – 3) The training session is ended on a good note, not with a tired or worn out parrot.
For example: To get a parrot to step up, you should press against their belly just above their feet. – IF you agree then you are unfortunately WRONG! That is NOT giving the parrot a choice and it is FORCING the parrot to do something. Next option is putting your hand in front of them and using another hand to cover the bird as shown in this video below… Again another method that is WRONG.
Now this trainer isn’t a bad trainer, he just isn’t educated properly.
Now in the below video you can see that I am not applying a hand over the bird nor am I putting pressure on his belly to step up. I’m not teaching you how to teach your bird to step up in this video but this is an example of how it should look and even I should have put my finger further out so he could have made more of a choice to step up or not.
This next video below is teaching how to step up onto the hand and it’s pretty close to what you want to observe… For example it doesn’t apply any pressure to the bird and they respect the bird once the bird moves away so it’s great to see…
Out of all 3 of these trainers the last two is who I would be interested in following. The last one gets my vote because it is actually teaching the step up process so you can see that there was no force applied. Not to criticize my own work but I would have to see how I taught the step up process before committing to following me. HAHAHA, Now I know I need to make a “how to step up video”. So, it is great to see the finish product but to make sure the trainer is teaching that parrot properly, I would have to see how it was taught in the first place. This is the only way to know if you should be taking advice from a trainer or not.
For one more example if the trainer tells you, “It’s okay just keep taking the bites and eventually the bird will stop biting you.” This is a trainer you do not want to follow. Or if the trainer says, “You need to show the parrot who is boss or who is in control or show them that you are the dominant one.” This is a trainer you do not want to follow. Again these are just my opinions but I’m telling you this because I’ve been down this road already. I used to be one that would say, “If the bird sees that you do not react from the bite, it will eventually stop” because that was what I was taught. However now that I’ve gotten more informed I can see how wrong that statement was and how you could definitely be making your situation worse. The sad thing about this is that people are giving this type of advice in all the bird forums and so forth. My hope is sooner than later people will learn that this method is called “extinction“. Although “extinction” can work, it is a very hard procedure to follow as before it works the bites will get harder and harder and harder. I don’t know about you but I rather a nip over a bite that draws blood any day so how long will you be able to “take that bite” for? It’s better to find another way. This is just one of the examples that is very bad advice.
So be careful of who you decide to take advice from: trainers, friends, bird forums etc…. Just always ask yourself…. “Is this advice Empowering the bird or forcing the bird?”.
We want to always EMPOWER our pets. I hope this helps!