Rebecca K. O'Connor
One of the most important life hacks for parrots that you can implement is being mindful of good behavior. It’s easy to pay attention to the bad behaviors. We usually make a fuss when our parrots climb down from the cage. We also may give them treats to get them to stop screaming. It’s easy to focus on the bad. If we become mindful about paying attention to the good, however, our lives with parrots quickly become much easier.
What does your parrot do that you really enjoy or appreciate? Does your parrot go into the cage without any problem? Does your parrot have a handful of things that it says or noises it makes that you enjoy? Do you appreciate the fact that your parrot gets on the playstand and stays there? Do you have games that you play or tricks that your parrot knows how to do? Make a list. You might be surprised at all the wonderful things you parrot does. Then focus on the positive.
Now that you have a list, are you rewarding these behaviors? Does your parrot get an extra treat when it goes back into the cage? Do you stop to cuddle it when it’s behaving on the playstand? Do you answer it when it makes noises and says things that you really like? It is much easier to reinforce behaviors that you are appreciated than it is to re-train the bad ones that you are accidentally rewarding. If the only behaviors you react to are the ones that are annoying, then annoying behaviors are going to be the norm.
Once you are focusing primarily on the positive, you might notice that your parrot is getting a great deal of attention for undesirable behavior. Are you giving your parrot an almond to keep his beak busy and keep it quiet? Then you’re rewarding him. Do you run over to the perch when your parrot is climbing down and give it extra attention? Then you are rewarding this as well. If you make an effort to be mindful of focusing on the behaviors that you like, then they will repeat themselves and the parrot will offer them more frequently
If you live in a house with others, it is also important to get everyone else on board with staying positive. Print out the list and put it on the refrigerator. Tell everyone that these are the behaviors that should get the parrot extra attention; a toy it likes, a treat, or some play time. If there are others in the house who the parrot enjoys interacting with, then be sure that they also play the positive game.
It seems like a simple tactic, but the more time you spend rewarding the good, the more good you get. Don’t forget as well that treats are not the only reinforcement that we give to our birds. If you have a good relationship with your bird, simply interacting is reinforcement. So make your interactions positive and make them count!
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