One of the surest signs of hormonal behaviour is when a normally tame and sweet bird suddenly starts trying to bite. Often referred to as “bluffing”, this sort of display, all too often, is the reason that many bird owners cite for surrendering their parrots to shelters and rescues. It can be quite frightening (and painful) for owners to deal with the biting stage of hormonal behaviour, but take heart.. it will pass with time. Since birds can’t be spayed and neutered like other pets such as cats and dogs, it is normal for them to lash out when trying to cope with sexual frustration. The best way to deal with biting behaviour is to work around it the best you can, without sacrificing time that you would normally spend bonding with your pet.
For tips on protecting yourself until your pet’s hormones subside.
There is no such thing as a mean bird. It’s true! There are, however, birds that are fearful, and birds with emotional problems that cause them to want to avoid handling at all costs. When birds with these problems find themselves in pet situations, it can be disastrous for both bird and owner.
If your pet bird bites you when you try to handle it, it is critical that you address the issue. To do this, you must set aside time each day to work on handling your feathered friend. When working with your pet, use the following tips and techniques to help your pet understand that handling is safe and fun.
• Move to a neutral location. If possible, move your bird’s cage to a neutral location during training sessions. Removing a bird from its “territory” can sometimes make it more willing to cooperate with its owner.
• Have no fear. If your bird lunges at your fingers when you place your hand in its cage, try not to jerk away suddenly out of fear. Your swift movements will likely make your bird even more nervous and apprehensive.
• Use tools when necessary. If your bird is so aggressive that you cannot safely place your hand inside its cage, try wearing thick oven mitts on your hands. If your bird bites the mitt, gently push in towards his beak rather than pulling away. This will eventually teach him that no matter how hard he bites you, he cannot make your hand disappear.
• Never yell at your bird. Raising your voice in anger (or pain) will not make your bird understand that he has done wrong. In fact, it is more likely to reinforce your bird’s bad behaviour as he will love getting a such a big reaction out of you.
• Try bearing gifts. Offer your bird treats and speak in a soothing voice when you are trying to handle him. Using treats and praise will help your pet be more willing to interact with you.
• Repetition is key. Make time to work with your bird at least once a day to ensure taming success. It sometimes takes a while to build up trust with a bird. Don’t give up!
• Don’t overwork your bird. Keep training sessions at a fifteen minute maximum initially. Birds are intelligent and sensitive creatures, and they need to have some fun in order to maintain their mental health and keep from becoming stressed.
The Rules of Avian Discipline
Although at times your pet may behave in a way that annoys you or makes you downright mad, it’s important to remember these rules when responding to the transgression:
• Never hit a bird. Birds are extremely fragile creatures and even the slightest force can cause severe injury or death. Physically abusing a bird can also lead to irreversible psychological problems, and can promote aggression and viciousness.
• Don’t hold a grudge. Birds are extremely intelligent, but also very sensitive creatures. When you express displeasure with your bird’s behaviour, make the lesson short and sweet. Prolonged negative attention can cause undue emotional stress for your pet.
• Never compromise your bird’s health. “Punishing” a bird by with- holding food or neglecting cage cleaning is never a fit way to deal with a behaviour problem. Such actions are not only cruel, but can cause serious physical and emotional damage for the pet.
Responding to Bad Behaviour
In order for your bird to understand you when you catch him acting up, it’s necessary that you remember the correct way to respond. While a normal “human” response to an unpleasant discovery would be to loudly declare your grievance, a bird can interpret this reaction and body language as excitement — meaning that he may actually think you are praising the behaviour. Conclusively, dealing with a bird’s behaviour problem can be just as much about training yourself as it is about training your pet.
In order to respond properly to undesirable behaviour, it’s helpful to keep the following steps in mind. With consistency and patience, you may find that it won’t take long for your bird to catch on.
• Have the bird step up onto your hand. When your bird misbehaves, have him step up onto your hand and hold him at eye level.
• Be very expressive. Don’t be afraid to frown at your bird. Avians are capable of picking up on facial expressions, and most get the idea if your body language expresses your distaste for his actions.
• Speak softly, but sternly. Use a tone of voice that is low but not loud when you tell your bird that he has done wrong. Be as “matter of fact” as possible, but keep it short. You will be amazed at how effective it can be!
• Place your bird on his cage or perch. After you’ve conveyed your dissatisfaction, have your bird step off of your hand and onto his cage or perch. Allow him to stay there for a few minutes to reflect on what happened, and then go back and interact playfully with your pet, he should know that you are no longer upset with him, and that he is now being a good bird.
Consistency is Key
All birds are individuals, and some may catch on quicker than others. Don’t get discouraged if your pet’s behaviour doesn’t change overnight. As long as you stay consistent with your training methods, your bird will likely understand you sooner rather than later.
Remember that positively reinforcing good behaviour is just as important than pointing out and modifying bad behaviour. If you notice your bird acting exceptionally well, don’t miss the chance to lavish praise on your pet. Birds respond much more readily to training techniques that focus on the positive rather than the negative, so don’t forget to incorporate lots of fun and praise into your training methods.
With a little work, patience, and love, your bird should be acting like an angel in no time. Your effort will be rewarded with a beautiful, intelligent, and well-behaved pet, and who could ask for anything more?