Stepping Up and Saying Hello
As mentioned in every single pet-bird manual, the first thing we trained Nikko is to Step Up on a dowel. The idea is he to get him familiarized with the stick, and if he climbs on it, then treat him. Before we discovered his passion for sunflower seeds, I used grapes for his training. It was a hard process, as his goal seemed to be to avoid the stick and still get the grape!
Once he learned the idea of doing something for a treat, the process got much better. It didn’t take long for Nikko to step up, both on a stick and on the finger! But when he thinks he doesn’t have the right balance on the finger – he uses his beak to get it and many a time results in a bleed, from the finger, of course! Once we got into the mode of training Nikko, we started the process of Clicker Training and he has made wonderful progress.
Here is Nikko, Waving at you, saying Hello!
Some of you may wonder: Why train pet birds?
This is what About.com has to say:
Birds are complex creatures that sometimes behave in ways that are difficult for us to understand. While some quirky behaviors are normal and acceptable, owners need to know the proper ways to manage undesirable behaviors such as biting, chewing, and screaming.
And Lianne McLeod, has this to say:
Training pet parrots has benefits that extend well beyond the entertainment value of a parrot that can talk and do tricks. Training will strengthen the bond you have with your parrot, who will look forward to the one-on-one attention involved in training sessions, especially when success means lots of praise and attention along with favorite treats. In addition, teaching some simple commands will make handling your parrot easier.
For us, it was simple – we wanted to train him, so that he is comfortable with us and we are comfortable with him and we all have fun! Training him has made our interaction much more wonderful. We know and understand him better and he has a meaningful way of interacting with us. We all have some other activity to look forward to, other than having him just sit with / on us. It is also a good way of distracting him from unwanted behavior. A lot of people are surprised when I say I interact with Nikko over the phone. It is hard to think of a bird being smart enough to understand someone over the phone, but I think that all the time spent with him, training and having fun has added so much more to our relationship!