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Time Out

A "time out" is a technique an owner uses as a reprimand to discourage a bird's unacceptable behavior.


As applied in training situations, the time out is defined as a period of time in which an animal is unable to earn positive reinforcement. Used as a reprimand, its function is to demonstrate to the animal that its most recent behavior is unacceptable.


In the world of parrots, the “time out” has been described in various ways. Most unfortunately, one parrot book instructed owners to reprimand their parrots by putting them in the bathroom tub and turning out the lights. This technique anecdotally led to several cases of feather destructive behaviors and is rarely, if ever, recommended now.

Another manifestation is the “time-out cage” in which a misbehaving parrot is removed to a cage in a room by itself and left there for a period of time. This method has also proved to be less than useful in many cases, since the bird has to be picked up – therefore reinforced – prior to its ending up locked up and alone. Another potentially negative side effect to using the cage as a punishment is the potential for creating a negative connection. After all, a parrot spends much of its time in a cage and we want them to enjoy that time, not perceive it as punishment.

A more effective application is to momentarily turn one’s back when a parrot does something “wrong,” therefore using a parrot’s own body language to express disapproval of a behavior.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

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Reader Comments
I suppose there would have to be a special cage used only for "time-outs" for it to work. To have another cage around might prove to be a bit difficult for some.
Elaine, Darien, IL
Posted: 9/24/2010 2:12:08 PM
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