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Bird training is a thing, and you need to try it with your feathered friend

Adopting a pet means signing up for training classes, and that’s not just for dogs. Nope! Birds too will enjoy learning to come, stay, and speak (sit is a little trickier). While you might have a few tricks up your sleeve, taking your animal to bird training classes will go a long way to getting them to listen and follow the rules. Remember, a pet trainer is giving you the tools to help your bird along just as much as it’s telling him what to do — and what not to do. Here’s how to find a class that suits both of your needs and gets you results.

Bird rides a bike on a clothes line

What classes can I take?

You’d be surprised how much is out there and how many options are available to help you and your flier. Get expert advice on grooming, play, or wearing a harness. Basically, whatever problem you’re having with your feathered friend, someone has already been there and will help you get through it. First, decide what you want to focus on so you can choose the right program, and then tackle it. Do you need your bird to understand the basic commands? Do you want him to learn a few words? Do you think he’d be into bird agility? Start small and work your way up through all of these to have a well-trained showoff flying around.

Where can I find bird training classes?

The good news is you have a ton of options. Many companies offer classes online that you can access from anywhere at any time. If you’re in an area with a breeder or pet store, you might find some local options as well. This allows you to train in one-on-one sessions or with a group of like-minded avian enthusiasts and can help your bird make big strides. Research a few different ideas and then decide which will best suit your family. An in-person class will help with the particulars of holding and communicating, but online can happen anywhere without having to move your animal or invite strangers in who could scare him. Check for free options too on YouTube that will help you master at least the basics. 

How should I train my bird?

With treats, of course. Figure out what motivates your birdie and then offer them plenty for good behavior. But this also rests on you both bonding and having a good foundation to start. Even before you jump into training, you want to get comfortable with your bird in small increments. There are plenty of classes that will train you in these techniques as well.

Bird perches on his owner's finger

Bird tips

Start young

A hand-raised chick will always have more affection for humans than one who’s isolated from people. If you’re doing it yourself, do some feeding right from the start, otherwise, find a creature who has been handled consistently.

Be consistent

It doesn’t stop at babyhood though. If you go too long without holding and petting your little guy, he could become fearful again. Instead, you want to practice every day with perching or feeding. You can work up to the more difficult tricks by building on the basics such as waving and cheeping.  

Use rewards

It all comes down to incentive. Offering your bird his favorite treat will keep his eyes on you and his brain engaged. Nothing makes Polly want to talk more than a cracker after all. Stick with positive reinforcement for getting your animal to engage and stick with the regimen.

While these tips will absolutely help your bird learn a few things, not all parrots are destined to be circus-ready. Many of the smaller species won’t likely get into the really advanced stuff and will have trouble speaking. So know your pet’s limits before you embark on anything too difficult. You don’t want to kill his confidence or wind up disappointed. Alternatively, you may find yourself stumbling into tricks you would never even have thought of because he comes to it on his own. For example, some birds are naturally acrobatic and will take to the swing as easily as they do the air. While a few simple commands are essential, you can take your time to branch out into the extras when he’s truly ready and you have a better sense of his abilities.

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