Training Your Parakeet
It’s easiest to purchase a bird that has been hand fed and weaned. These parakeets are already familiar with human hands and have no fear of them. They have developed a sense of trust and can easily become very attached to their owners.
If you are buying an older parakeet, spend some time with him before making the purchase to see how he reacts to new people. Does he know to “step up” onto your finger or does he shy away from you? Will he take food from your hand? If the parakeet you have your heart set on doesn’t have these basic skills, you will need to spend a lot of time with him to teach these skills.
After your parakeet has become accustomed to his home and you, you can begin teaching him to perch on your finger. Start by putting your hand slowly in the cage and let him become familiar with your fingers. Do this three times a day for approximately 15 minutes until he doesn’t shy away from you hand any longer. Then start placing your finger next to his perch and gently push up on his chest where the legs are. This will cause him to jump onto your finger. If your bird is still wary of your finger, start by holding a stick for him to perch on and then move to your finger. Once your parakeet will sit on your finger inside the cage, begin removing him from the cage and see if he will stay put.
If you are breeding parakeets, you must make the decision of whether or not to allow the parents to feed the babies or if you would prefer to hand feed them. Parakeet’s that are hand fed as babies are very friendly and make wonderful pets. Each time you feed them, you need to spend a little time working with them to get them used to human hands. Just feeding them and moving on to the next bird is not enough.
Additional information on hand feeding will be given in the breeding section of this book.
Training your parakeet to speak requires a lot of patience.
Your parakeet will not actually learn how to speak but will mimic or repeat words or phrases. He can also learn to sing or whistle songs. Male parakeets are more adept at speech than females. It’s also easier to teach a single bird rather than more than one at a time.
Younger parakeets are easier to teach but older birds can learn also. Make sure there are no distractions during your time together. Since parakeets love routine, working together is easier if you do it at the same time every day and keep the session to no more than 15 minutes in length. It can take only a month or a full year for your parakeet to learn its first word or phrase. Additional words will come easier. Start with a single word and work until your bird begins to respond by repeating the word. Have other family members say the word whenever they spend time with the parakeet or just walk by his cage.
Yes, parakeets can be potty trained to poop in one spot. This really makes a difference when it comes to laundry detail. Potty training a parakeet is similar to training a dog. You need to become familiar with your bird and anticipate when he will need to go. Watch him for signs such as becoming antsy or squatting or backing up.
Carry your bird to the place you want him to go such as over a trashcan, in his cage, or over newspaper. Repeat a certain word or phrase while your doing this such as “Bathroom please.” Just make sure it’s not a phrase that the parakeet can repeat in public and embarrass you.
Birds will usually need to go when they first wake up and after eating. Some parakeets will have stronger instincts that others and will try not to go on their favorite human perch.
You might rather the bird go in his cage. If this is the case, be sure not to take him out of his cage until he has pooped. Watch first thing in the morning after you uncover his cage. As soon as he poops, take him out of the cage. Periodically put him back in the cage and bring him out as soon as he has pooped. Soon he will become aware that he is allowed out only after he poops.
Depending upon your bird, it could take a few days to several weeks to potty train him. If you or the bird doesn’t have the patience to keep at it, forget it and just accept the occasional accident that will occur. There is no need to stress yourself or your bird unduly.
Returning to the Cage
Most parakeets will associate their cage with safety and comfort and will have no trouble returning there. Just leave the door open for them. Other parakeets will need to be coaxed back in with special food or treats. Some birds will rather sit on top of their cage a while before returning. You may have to physically lift your bird on your finger and place him in the cage if he is being stubborn.
Teaching Them Not to Bite
The first thing to remember is to always be gentle. Never hit a parakeet or speak harshly to them. They respond better to kindness. There may be the occasional parakeet that just doesn’t want to be handled. In that case, just leave them be and find someone else to lavish your attention on.
If your parakeet is usually friendly but only bites once in a while, pay attention to when he does become aggressive and decide if it is something you did. Then, change your actions. If he is just being playful, and biting at your fingers, curl your fingers in away from the bird and gently push his head away from them. You might accompany this action with a gentle command.