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How to Discipline a Bird—A Comprehensive Guide for Bird Owners

How to discipline a bird

Are you fed up with your bird misbehaving by biting and screaming at you? You may be wondering how to discipline a bird and correct these bad parrot habits.

Well, you came to the right place because, in this article, we’ll address bad bird behaviors and discuss:

  • How to discipline a bird for biting and screaming
  • Tips on disciplining a parrot and how to prevent feather-plucking
  • Rules in parrot training that you should know of to ensure you’re correcting bad behavior effectively

So, if you have a wild bird that needs help in breaking bad parrot habits, let’s dive right in!

disciplining a parrot's bad behavior

How to Discipline a Bird—The Do’s and Don’ts

Here are tips on how you should respond and correct bad parrot behaviors and the ways you should avoid them:

How to Respond to Bad Behaviors

1. Determine the underlying cause

Finding the root of the problem before disciplining your parrot is crucial to ensure your ways are effective. Here are some possible causes of his undesirable actions and some possible solutions.

Causes of Birds Misbehavior:
Cage Issues

Birds need a spacious cage. So, if the bird’s home is too small, it may get easily agitated.

You also need to ensure that the location of the cage receives enough natural light and that your bird can interact with you and other family members.

Remember to put your bird’s cage just below eye level. This way, your pet won’t get threatened by taller people or think that he is superior because he’s taller than his humans.

If you just recently brought your pet bird home and it’s misbehaving, then maybe he’s uncomfortable with the new surroundings.

It takes time for avians to adjust, so you need to be patient when dealing with them.

Sleep Deprivation

Another potential stressor that causes a bird to misbehave is lack of sleep. Large birds like parrots require at least 10 hours of sleep per night to live happily and healthily.

If your bird is experiencing sleep deprivation, you can help in breaking bad habits in parrots by putting the cage in a quiet room or covering it.

Boredom

Birds are social animals and they need lots of socialization time and mental stimulation to stay happy and occupied.

They can get bored, or even worse, depressed when they’re left alone for a long time and may react by screaming and acting out.

So you need to provide them with toys and spend at least 2 to 3 hours of socialization per day.

Fear

Birds may also become aggressive due to fear. Those in the wild naturally have a fight-or-flight reaction. But birds with clipped wings can’t fly high so their natural reaction to fear is to fight.

Illness

Sick birds may experience stress and pain and exhibit aggressive behavior. If you’re worried about them having potential diseases, it’s best to visit your avian vet immediately.

Dominance

Birds may also act out to show that they’re dominant. They can get more territorial when they’re feeding and breeding.

If that’s the case for your bird, try to take him out of the cage more often so he’ll be less attached to it.

Some species are innately aggressive during that season but others are calmer and less aggressive.

2. Ignore the negative behavior

If your bird is screaming, biting, or acting out, you need to remain calm and avoid yelling back.

Your loud declaration of anger or grievance can be interpreted by your pet as excitement based on your body language. So, it may think that you’re praising his behavior.

So, just ignore your bird to make him know that he’s crossing the line and he should not repeat such undesirable pet bird behavior.

3. Reward good behavior

Positive reinforcement is the best way to discipline a bird and you can do it by rewarding your bird’s positive actions with his favorite snack or treats.

You may also shower him with praise and attention when he’s behaving well so he’ll realize how he should act.

4. Express your feelings towards their misbehavior

Pet birds are clever enough to read their owner’s body language and facial expressions. When you frown at your bird, he’ll realize that you’re not happy with his actions.

5. Talk to him in a soft manner

Tell your bird that his actions are wrong with a soft, low voice. It’s an effective way to teach and discipline a bird without using punishment.

6. Make up with him

After expressing your displeasure towards your bird’s actions, encourage him to step onto your hand and back to its perch or cage.

Give him time to reflect on his faults for a few minutes and they make up and interact with him again. It will send a signal that you’re no longer upset and he’s now doing a good job.

Rules in Disciplining a Parrot

1. Don’t use punishment – it doesn’t work

Using punishment like removal of attention, timeouts, cage-rattling, yelling, feather pulling, and squirting with water is a trust-breaking technique that should be avoided at all costs.

Instead of curbing negative behaviors, it will only damage your special relationship with your avian companion and you.

It sometimes works since some owners reported that their birds stopped screaming when they shook their cage. But that’s just a temporary positive result.

2. Never hit your bird

Birds are weak and fragile and hitting them with even just a sight force can cause injury or death. Physical abuse can also lead to psychological problems and traumas that are irreversible and promote aggressive behaviors.

3. Don’t hold a grudge

Birds are sensitive and clever enough to sense that you are not happy with the way they behaved.

Although your displeasure with their behavior can serve them a lesson, prolonged negative attention can inflict emotional stress on your bird.

how to discipline a bird for biting

How to Discipline a Bird for Biting

Birds don’t bite because they’re naturally mean or aggressive. In fact, most baby birds tolerate being touched all over their body without attempting to bite.

While many adult pet birds tend to become nippy, baby birds typically will not.

So how do you discipline a bird for biting?

parrot training to stop biting

1. Set Him Down

The best way to handle parrotlet biting problems is to gently put the bird down to give him a time-out like a child having his tantrums and walking away. Then, ignore and do not acknowledge that behavior.

Then wait for him to calm down before picking him up again.

This way, your bird will realize that he loses his perching privilege every time he bites.

Remember to be gentle and even-tempered when doing this because if you act frustrated and handle your bird roughly, he’ll become afraid of you. And that can probably lead to more biting.

If the setting him down method doesn’t work over time, then maybe your bird doesn’t want to be held.

Not all birds are the same so if your bird doesn’t like being touched, setting him down is a reward for him.

But here’s another tip that might work for your pet bird.

solution to parrotlet biting problems

2. Give Your Bird More Chew Toys

Another tip on how to stop a bird from biting is giving your bird some safe chew toys like wood, cardboard, or leather toys.

It can prevent him from biting you and damaging furniture or other objects in your home.

By giving them safe chew toys, you’re fulfilling their desire to chew and teaching them that their toys are appropriate to bite but human fingers aren’t.

how to discipline a parrot for screaming

How to Discipline a Bird for Screaming

Screaming is a common complaint about birds. Usually, pet birds that talk are also skilled in screaming. But it’s the natural way of communication for birds in the wild.

So, know that when your bird is screaming, he’s just being himself. That’s how birds are designed.

Avians in the wild also scream to vocalize in the early morning and towards dusk as they gather in trees to socialize and eat.

If your pet bird acts out and screams regularly, he may be bored, lonely, stressed, sick, or not getting enough food or sleep.

So how should you discipline a parrot or other pet birds that scream loudly?

The solution will vary depending on the reason why they scream, so that’s what you should find out first.

If your bird is not feeling well, you may need to visit your avian vet. But if he’s lonely and bored, you can use toys to keep him occupied.

Never reprimand him by yelling back because your bird may think that he’ll get the attention he wants by screaming and he’ll likely continue screaming.

Others cover the cage or turn off the light when their bird screams. While it’s a form of positive reinforcement because you’ve given him a little attention, be careful not to acknowledge his screaming.

The best solution is to ignore him and pay attention to him only when he’s quiet or making acceptable vocalizations or singing.

This way, he’ll stop screaming to get the needed attention. It can be hard of course to ignore a bird’s ear-piercing screams and squeaks.

But by choosing positive reinforcement, you can teach your bird that he can gain the attention he wants by behaving well and staying quiet.

Now we’ll talk about another frustrating problem for avian owners.

how to discipline a bird for feather-plucking

How to Discipline a Bird for Feather Plucking

Feather plucking, sometimes referred to as feather picking is a behavioral disorder that destroys a bird’s beautiful feathering, and decreases its ability to keep itself dry and warm. It occurs when a bird plucks out its feathers and in worse cases, damages the skin.

Feather picking can either be a medical or behavioral issue. The medical causes of feather picking include:

  • stress
  • skin and feather diseases
  • poor diet
  • viral, bacterial, or fungal infection
  • parasites
  • exposure to toxins

A full physical examination and laboratory test are necessary to determine the medical cause of feather plucking. If the results don’t pinpoint any medical cause, then it’s likely behavioral.

The behavioral causes of feather plucking are:

  • lack of mental stimulation or boredom
  • sleep deprivation
  • sexual frustration

Boredom may be due to a lack of socialization time with humans or other birds, appropriate toys, or foraging opportunities.

So how should you manage a feather-plucking bird?

Tips to Fix the Destructive Feather-Plucking Habit:

Balanced Diet

One way to combat malnutrition-cause father-picking is to provide a balanced and nutritionally complete pelleted diet, supplemented with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and a few seeds.

Remember that seed diets are high in fat and can lead to obesity. So you should only use seeds and nuts occasionally as treats and for training purposes.

If your bird had an all-seed diet, you may need to discuss how to wean your bird off of it and what pelleted bird feed is the most appropriate for your pet.

Sleeping

Birds need 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Some birds like to be covered at night but others prefer being in a separate dark room.

These creatures need a constant sleep schedule. So, we recommend setting timers to ensure your bird gets optimum sleep every night.

Bathing

Most parrots take showers through rain showers in the wild and they’ve carried that trait as pets.

They’d love bathing through a mist from a spray bottle but you can also bring them to shower with you. There are also shower perches available online.

REMINDER!

Don’t use shampoos or soaps because they contain harmful chemicals and make sure your bird isn’t sick. An ill bird may struggle to control their body temperature and become too cold.

Reducing Stress

It takes time to find what causes stress to your bird but it’s important on correcting bad parrot habits.

It can include other house pets, loud noises, changes in weather, jealousy, unwanted attention from people, and other environmental factors.

New diet and household members or different handling styles can also become bird stressors. So, that’s something you need to look into.

correcting bad behavior in birds with toys

Entertaining Birds

Clever birds need lots of mental stimulation every day. Even if they have plenty of toys in their enclosure, you need to rotate the toys weekly to keep it interesting for them.

But you need to be mindful because removing or moving their favorite toys can cause stress to them.

We also recommend giving your bird complex toys and food-dispensing toys that provide more stimulation.

Try to spend more time with your bird to strengthen your bond. But if you have to leave them for long periods of time, we suggest playing video or audio recordings of you and your family when you leave to prevent separation anxiety.

It can help comfort your bird and make him feel like he’s not alone.

You can also leave the television or radio on while you’re not at home to keep your bird entertained.

Reducing Sexual Frustration

Birds consider their humans as part of their flock. So, when its inclination to mate is suppressed and you spend time with other people, your bird may become frustrated and get jealous.

If the underlying cause of feather-picking is sexual frustration, putting your pet bird into a breeding flock can resolve the problem. But do take note that avians may pass on this undesirable behavior to their offspring due to genetic predisposition.

Medical Interventions

There are behavior-modifying drugs available but you need to consult your avian vet before purchasing one and remember that environmental and behavioral modifications are part of this treatment plan.

If your bird has extremely destructive feather-picking behavior, you may need to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent it from damaging its skin.

But it’s just short-term prevention since it doesn’t address the underlying problem and limits the bird’s mobility and hinders access to food.

how to discipline parrots for biting

Frequently Asked Questions About Bad Parrot Behaviors

How do you punish a bird for bad behavior?

Punishment isn’t effective in correcting bad habits in birds. Most bird pet owners find out that getting or removing away undesirable things from their pets could be a firm way to control their bad behaviors.

Punishing them by physical force is not good for them because it may lead to more aggressive behavior.

What is the most common behavior problem in birds?

Feather plucking, biting, and screaming are among the most common bird behavior problems which are rooted in lack of mental stimulation and socialization, and depression.

Many professional bird behaviorists also observed bird anxiety and other destructive behaviors.

Do parrots understand punishment?

No, birds would perceive punishment as aggressive since they don’t know what they’ve done to elicit your behavior. Punishments only destroy the human-parrot bond and it’s often ineffective.

How do you punish a parrot for screaming?

The best way to discipline a parrot for screaming is to ignore him. Others cover the cage or turn off the light when their pet bird screams.

These can be positive reinforcement techniques that you can apply to your flock.

Why is my parrot misbehaving?

Destructive or aggressive behavior in pet birds can be a sign that they have a problem with their environment or they’re not receiving enough attention and mental stimulation.

Others may act out when they’re sick and can be stubborn like humans.

How do you deal with an aggressive parrot?

One tip on how to tame an aggressive parrot is to slowly and calmly handle them and let them voluntarily come into you.

If ever they are in their cage, avoid putting your hands in their cage because they might hurt you. Instead, slowly give them rewards like treats to help them calm down.

Why is my parrot always angry?

It could be due to territoriality, stress, lack of mental stimulation, dominance issues, illness, or hormonal fluxes during the adolescence period or breeding season.

A parrot may also become aggressive because of fear and trauma or environmental changes.

Why does my parrot hate me all of a sudden?

A parrot’s behavior towards you may change if he’s no longer comfortable with you and your presence.

Other birds are jealous when their owners give their attention to other birds or people. But it’s rare for parrots to hate someone they used to trust and love.

tips how to discipline a bird

How to Discipline a Bird: Our Final Tips

No matter how tempting it is to use a punishment technique when you’re driven by resentment and your subconscious desire for revenge, never use violent actions to discipline your bird. That can only worsen their behavioral problems.

Despite being intelligent creatures, avians won’t easily get why you’re punishing them with force.

So, you need to be careful with your actions.

It’d be better to use avoidance and distraction to shift their focus on other things and stop them from screaming, biting, and feather plucking.

With patience and determination, you can succeed in disciplining a parrot or any other bird and strengthen your bond.

So, that’s a wrap for this guide on how to discipline a bird. We hope our tips can help you correct your bird’s bad habits.

READ NEXT: What To Do If Your Bird Flies Away – 5 Tips to Find Lost Birds

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