Distract parrots away from bad behavior to create positive behavior

A parrot is a very intelligent creature that was built to live in the wild. As a result they learn patterned behavior quickly and can easily form bad habits that way. Negative behaviors however can be turned into positive situations by distracting the parrot away from a bad behavior by doing something good or fun.

Parrots are not domesticated animals like cats and dogs. They still have a wild instinct that makes them interesting, mysterious, and challenging at times. Dealing with a parrot’s negative behavior is sometimes difficult and is a frequent reason that parrots are rehomed.

If you have your parrot perform a simple trick for instance, or provide a toy, or use clicker training as a distraction away from negative behavior then constructive activities become the focus. Sometimes even basic praise will alter the negative situation. For Goldie my sun conure, it’s counting games, and sing-song which she loves. By singing Goldie a silly song I can remove the anger with positive energy.

When Goldie is bad, I don’t yell at her or punish. If needed I calmly take hold of her from behind with her red blanket and wrap her in it for a moment to prevent a bite. I then place her in her cage with a little song. When she has calmed down she can come out to look out the window while we point out interesting things or play tickle belly. If I don’t need to put her in the cage then just changing that negative behavior with a silly song or a simple question such as “Are you a pretty girl?” usually works well.

At every chance a negative is turned into a more positive pattern. Going into the cage is a fun thing when there is a song for instance. A near bite is forgotten as I start counting to Goldie from 1-10 while waiting for a response from her.

This is not to say that you should ever reward bad behavior-no. For example if Goldie screams and I come running to her then I am rewarding her and she will continue to scream and scream more often to get what she wants-my attention. This creates a pattern that must be broken.

Distraction is making the parrot forget what all the fuss was about in the first place; it is replacing the negative with a positive memory. So ask yourself, “What does your parrot like to do?” the next time your parrot starts to get aggressive and misbehaves. Then when you notice that bad behavior about to start replace it with a positive pattern of behavior.

It does take knowing your parrot’s body language to work for you. You need to know the signs of aggression, what sets them off, and what their mood is at any given time. Once you have an understanding and some amount of trust built up then changing behaviors is much easier. For instance when I first got Goldie she was cranky, noisy, nippy, and distrustful. She didn’t know how to live with people or what was going on and frankly I didn’t know much more about her either.

Goldie at almost 8 years-old now has gradually evolved into a silly, observative, mostly well behaved diva. Now and then she does misbehave-usually wanting to poke holes in my clothes these days-but she is easily distracted and loves attention; so swapping for good behavior is painless and ultimately rewarding for both parrot and keeper.




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