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ZuPreem Learning Center - Stop Pet-Bird Cage Aggression

How to Manage Your Bird's Excessive Territoriality

By Liz Wilson, CVT

In the wild, a parrot's territorial instinct is extremely strong, because he must protect his territory from invasion. You may also see this territoriality in action in your companion bird. When your bird drives everyone away from his turf, he is exhibiting excessive territoriality and, if unchecked, this behavior can become a serious problem that threatens your bird's future as a companion animal.

Some bird enthusiasts believe parrots should be allowed to be territorial around their cages, but most avian-behavior consultants disagree. It is also not fair to assume that your bird must be at your every beck and call, coming out for interaction whenever it suits your schedule. Just as children are allowed privacy in their own rooms, parrots should have the right to decline human interaction. Experienced caretakers recognize this through careful observation of psittacine body language, and they respect a bird's privacy by not approaching during these times.

Excessively territorial companion parrots act like they outrank everyone in their flock. To resolve this misunderstanding, you should establish nonaggressive controls by patterning your bird to respond to simple commands like "Up" and "Down." Daily training sessions should happen in a neutral room, or in an area the bird doesn't consider his own, and on a neutral perch such as the back of a chair.

Once the bird is responding to commands, you can start moving the training perch slowly out of the neutral area and into the area of your bird's cage. By moving a few inches at a time and then working again on the commands, you can make certain your bird responds correctly. Then, praise him for his good behavior. Once in view of your bird's cage, training may become more difficult, but with patience and consistency, most birds will respond again to the commands.

When the cage is finally reached, you can step the bird into it with the "Down" command, then immediately pick it up with the "Up" command. Repeating this several times teaches your parrot that the commands also work in and around his cage. Repeat this process on the cage top and on any other of your bird's favorite hangouts.

Once your bird is trained, and he wants out of his cage, he must step onto your hand when you say "Up." Do not just open the cage door and let him come out on his own, or he might conclude that he is in control again. Continue to use the commands every day, to remind him that the rules are still in force.

By following these easy training techniques and handling your parrot in a firm, loving, nonaggressive and consistent manner, you can keep control of your headstrong bundle of feathers and maintain a mutually loving relationship.

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