Clicker Training for Pet Birds

Clicker training is a positive reinforcement training method that makes use of rewards for desired behavior rather than dominance and punishment for unacceptable behavior. The clicker training method can be used to train almost any kind of animal, and bird enthusiasts are having a great deal of success in using this method for the training of birds.

The clicker is a small plastic device with a metal strip that fits into the palm of the hand. The click noise is achieved when the device is pressed. The basic idea for clicker training is that when the pet bird does something that the trainer wants it to do, the clicker is pressed and a reward is offered, either in the form of an edible treat or a scratch on the head – whatever is a motivator for the bird. The click noise must be made at the precise moment of the bird’s obedience so that it is in no doubt as to what the click noise is for. If the bird does not comply, then there is no click and no treat, but there must also be no punishment. The pet bird will soon learn that acceptable behavior results in a positive response from the trainer, encouraging it to repeat the acceptable behavior.

A clicker training session can be a lot of fun and extremely rewarding for both the owner and the bird. Clicker training can be used to teach the bird to leave and return to its cage as well as to co-operate during grooming, such as wing and nail trimming. It can also be used to teach the bird tricks. This interaction can improve the owner-pet relationship regardless of how poor it may have been when training was started, and it can even overcome problem behavior such as screeching and biting. It is recommended that training sessions should not exceed 10 minutes, although more than one session per day is a good idea.

Some bird owners feel that their bird is incapable of being trained, or that they are incapable of training the bird, but the success rate of clicker training indicates that there is virtually no pet bird that cannot be trained using the clicker method. Have a positive attitude, don’t underestimate the capability of the bird and take training in steps until the end result is achieved – above all, have fun!