Just as human children do, parrots need to receive constant guidance as to what constitutes good behavior. Consistent limits and boundaries must be defined. This can be successfully achieved through the application of nurturing guidance principles and the use of positive reinforcement training techniques.
Nurturing guidance is a concept originated by Sally Blanchard (Companion Parrot Quarterly) and promoted by many avian behaviorists. A few of the basic tenets are:
- All interactions with your parrot should be trust building, not trust destroying. Never use aggressive handling, punishment or deprivation techniques with your parrot.
- Use 4 basic commands to establish your role as the flock leader.
- Step Up (to ask a parrot to step on your hand)
- Down (to ask a parrot to step off your hand)
- Okay (to give permission to your bird)
- No (to express disapproval)
- Behavioral problems are NEVER the parrot's fault. Many problem behaviors are a reaction to our own behaviors or a poorly managed environment.
Parrots do not grasp the concept of punishment and it should NEVER be used. Positive reinforcement techniques whereby you use motivation and rewards (treats, cuddles and praise) to obtain a desired behavior is very effective.
For more information check out an excellent article: An Introduction to Positive Reinforcement Training and its Benefits by Barbara Heidenreich.
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