How to Socialize a Newly Weaned Parrot

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How to Prevent Biting

Biting is annoying and can even be dangerous. Though you might consider punishing a bird that bites, it’s not the right thing to do. Punishment can cause physical and emotional harm.

        

The very best response to a bird nipping painlessly on your flesh is no response at all. Some birds perceive almost any response as reinforcement for the behavior.

What if it’s more than just a “nip”? If your bird bites your hand, move your hand toward the bird. He will have to let go as your hand approaches his body. If your bird bites another part of your body, remove him immediately. Use a towel if necessary.

If a previously well-behaved bird is starting to learn to bite, you need to offer your bird distractions to prevent reinforcement of biting patterns and to return to cooperative behavior. If distractions start becoming necessary, then your bird must be re-patterned. Practicing step-ups or other enjoyable routines in unfamiliar territory can accomplish this.

Good Distractions

  • The Wobble. This distraction device can only be used sparingly. If it’s being used frequently, then it isn’t working and should be discontinued. It’s best employed just before the nip but may also be used just as the nip occurs. (It doesn’t work at all if it happens after the nip.)

    Here’s how it works: When your nipping bird is sitting on a hand or hand-held perch, gently wobble or slightly turn your hand so he must momentarily pay attention in order to regain balance. Maintain eye contact and remind your bird either to “Be a good bird” or to “Be careful.”

  • Good Hand/Bad Hand. The most common time for a nip or bite of a hand offered for step-ups is when your bird is being removed from a familiar perch, the inside or top of the cage. This behavior can usually be defeated with improved technique and more frequent patterning in unfamiliar territory.

    Maintain eye contact and offer your hand to be stepped on, being careful to always approach from below your bird. To distract the bird from biting, present an unfamiliar object just out of reach of his beak (with one hand) just as you are bringing your other hand for the step up. Give the “step up” command followed by “Be a good (or pretty) bird.” Your bird is more likely to try to be good than if you say “No!” which can be especially confusing if you’re prompting for a step-up and saying “no” at the same time.

    Eye contact is especially important here. Your bird will often maintain eye contact rather than bite. If your bird is distracted by something, he’ll try to regain eye contact rather than take the time to bite. Even if your bird bites, the unfamiliar object will probably receive the bite. Be sure that the distraction device isn’t frightening to a shy parrot. The distraction object must be big enough to be effective – yet small enough not to frighten your bird – and absolutely non-toxic.

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