Training Tidbit – Bird Have Opinions

 

If you have a bird, you know quite well your bird has opinions! There are foods he will eat, there are foods he will throw. There are people he likes, and people he doesn’t like. There is music he likes, toys he hates, and many other things in his world that he will tell you about.

This is FANTASTIC! A bird that has opinions is a bird who also has choices. He has the choice to visit a new person. Or not, should he choose not to.

One common myth is that a bird should be COMMANDED to do something. If he won’t visit a new person, then you are to MAKE him visit. I’m not sure who started this myth. But it surely wasn’t our birds!

Instead, it is my recommendation that a bird be given the choice to visit, or not. Listen to the opinion of your bird. Forcing him to interact when he clearly doesn’t want to will only get you (and him) frustrated. It will destroy trust. It won’t give him any confidence the next time he needs to visit a new person.

Instead, try putting the odds in your favour. If he makes any move towards the new person, give him reinforcement! If he touches the new person, give him reinforcement! An if he chooses to move away, let him! That’s a perfectly correct option as well. The empowerment he gains from moving away is usually enough to give him extra confidence. BUT if he DOES go visit the new person, reinforce him!!

We can “stack the odds” in our favour any time we want. You can choose whatever your bird enjoys as his reinforcement and give it to him for being successful. For touching a new toy. For trying a new food. For going to a new person! That’s a good way to use reinforcement. But equally as important is allowing your bird the choice to NOT. When we listen to those opinions we are saying to the bird “I hear you, this is hard. That’s ok! Take your time!”. This is a great trust building exercise. Give it a try, it works!