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Parrot Behavioral Issues - Many Problems, One Common Answer

Updated on April 8, 2020

Anyone who is well familiar with animals in general, and birds in particular, can tell you that there are certain key 'tactics' that will garner you more results with an animal than nearly any other.

Having owned birds for years, and both sought and given help concerning numerous behavioral issues, two of these 'universal concepts' tend to stand out.

 

The first is simply Time and Patience.

Time and Patience together can help to solve almost any bird behavioral problem.

"I'm offering a new brand/type of food, but my bird won't eat it!"

Time and Patience. Continue to offer him/her your new food (as well as the old food, if they're really stubborn), and eventually they may figure out that perhaps you aren't trying to poison them.

"I can never get my bird to happily spend time outside of the cage/play with me/socialize!"

Time and Patience. Leave the door open, and let them decide on their own if they want to come out or not. Eventually, they most likely will, if it's on their own terms.

"My bird has a biting problem!"

Time and Patience. Spend time close to the cage, talk to them; let them do things on their own terms, don't force them to do anything. And try to avoid reacting if they should happen to bite you, even if it hurts.

"My bird is unfriendly!"

Time and Patience. Like with biting, just being there, calmly and quietly, without forcing them to do anything they don't want to do.

"I want to teach my bird to go potty on command/in a specific place."

Time and Patience. Give the command or take them to the desired location frequently, especially if you see common body language signalling they are about to go, and be sure to make a big fuss about what a good bird they are if they should happen to go at the right time.

It may sound repetitive, and of course there are specific things to address specific issues, but "Time and Patience" are perhaps the key aspects to overcoming almost all behavior issues in birds (unless, of course, they stem from medical issues.)

 

The second concept, similar to the first, is to always respect your bird; its thoughts, feelings, motives, fears, desires, and so on. Of course, there is also a matter of respecting the damage a bird could do if it wanted to, but that is very much secondary to what I mean.

Imagine you were relaxing after a long day, and someone reached into your bedroom to make you come do things completely according to their whims, regardless of how you might feel about it. You would probably get very cranky about it, or even fight back. Why would you expect your bird to react any differently? There are times that someone 'forcing' you to do something is appropriate... if you are in danger, for instance, or if you need to do something 'for your own good' but don't realize it (think more in terms of during childhood than as an adult.) This likewise holds true for birds; if they are in danger, or there is a need for them to do something specific (change diets, get in their cage for the night, etc.) then gently making them do certain things is called for. Otherwise, let them decide to on their own terms.

The vast majority of birds really do want to socialize and spend time with their human flock; to be affectionate and entertaining, for nothing more than the joy your reactions give them (of course, excited negative reactions may be seen as every bit as rewarding as positive ones.) But again, many must be allowed to do it on their terms, not yours. It all goes back to that same Time and Patience thing, again. You shouldn't make them come spend time with you outside the cage; instead, be generous enough to allow them the honor of getting to come out with you. This basic shift in how you look at the situation, though small, can have a very large impact on your bird's attitude.

It may sound silly, self-centered and egotistical to 'grant the privilege' for your bird to do exactly what you wanted them to do in the first place; but, it can give your bird an important level of confidence, a feeling that it has a say in its life and what it will and will not do. It is almost sure to both get better results, and make for a much happier bird, and one that is more sure of itself.

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