Secret No. 3 To A Happy Pet Cockatoo
Cockatoos Are Not "Love Sponges"
I believe that the concept that a young cockatoo should never be given any more attention than it will get the rest of its life is nonsense. It’s not the amount of attention that a pet cockatoo receives that spoils the pet bird — it is the kind of attention.
If time spent with a cockatoo involves nothing but cuddling, chances are that the cockatoo will demand constant cuddling, and this results in a very dependent pet bird. A little cockatoo-cuddling is OK from time to time, but instructional interaction encourages independence. This type of interaction involves teaching skills and behaviors through patterning and positive reinforcement. You can start with a few basic behaviors and, if you think it would be fun for both of you, you can teach the pet bird several tricks.
I believe that all pet cockatoos should be taught to step on a hand with a pleasant “Up” command. This establishes a consistent routine for both the pet bird and the person. Most cockatoos love learning to wave. I use the words “Gimme four” just about every time one of my pet birds lifts their foot. From patterning and association, they now know to lift their foot and wave when I say those words. I also have taught them “Eagle Boy” or “Eagle Girl” in the same manner when they spread their wings. These are very easy tricks to teach and can also be used as distractions when a cockatoo starts to scream. A simple “Eagle Girl” without eye contact or a lot of drama can actually “change the channel” when the cockatoo spreads her wings for praise instead of going on a scream session.