how does a bird harness work

Is there a fool proof method for harness training?

Nothing you do with parrots is guaranteed to work; they are too smart! However, training them from birth is a fairly surefire way to start. When given hand feedings after it has grown most of its feathers but before it flies, a baby bird is more docile than an adult.

If the harness is put on by the hand feeder right before the feeding After feeding, he removes it once or twice a day and the young bird quickly learns to associate a harness with a valuable reward. That association remains when the bird grows up.

Several guests at the Think Parrots exhibition in Surrey recently complimented Artha on her Aviator harness. ‘Is it easy?’ several asked. “Of course,” I casually replied, knowing that Artha was generally known for being obedient. However, I have to admit that she started growling to show her displeasure after I had removed and put on the harness four times. She did so very softly, so only I could hear it.

Artha and Casper enjoy some December sunshine

When I show Artha and her friend Casper the harness, they both stick their heads through the loop.

But I cannot claim the credit. Barrett Watson, their breeder, harness trained both of them as unweaned chicks.

They were handfed from 2 week old. Once accustomed to their handler, baby birds will accept any unusual maneuvers.

By the way, when the bird is fully fledged, giving it food from a syringe will make medicine much more acceptable. Using this technique, I was able to train two Rock Pebbler chicks at six weeks old to wear a harness.

Owners frequently lament that their attempts to train an older bird to wear a harness were unsuccessful or that the bird would not accept it.

One method of harness training

First, get the bird used to seeing a harness. I overreacted by leaving the harness visible to Perdy Cockatoo in the aviary and abandoning her; ten minutes later, she had torn it to pieces!

Arrange training sessions before feeding time. Keep them short and always end on a positive note. Choose a harness in a shade that echoes feather colour. It helps if your bird is already clicker trained.

You could begin by using a few ribbon strips that match the harness’s color. Place them across the bird’s back, and if it accepts, give it a treat and use your clicker or a bridge word like “good” or “well done.”

Let the bird dictate the pace; don’t rush it. Click and treats her after she accepts the ribbon on her back for two seconds before removing it. African Greys.

Use your bridge word, “Good,” “Good Bird,” or whatever it is, and give the treat to a non-clicker-trained bird. Gradually she’ll allow the ribbon to remain for longer.

Then put two pieces of ribbon laid across her back. It may take a few days to several weeks for this habituation to take hold. Just don’t hurry.

Keep it fun for the bird. Keep an eye on her body language. Does she seem eager and interested, or is she leaning back and fluffing her feathers to avoid you?

When a bird exhibits signs of stress, harness training won’t necessarily fail; instead, you should stop and find another enjoyable activity to do with the bird at that particular time.

Once she accepts the ribbons, acclimate her to the harness gradually. Allow her to view it, possibly nibble on it, and receive a reward. It will be simpler to acclimate your bird to wearing a harness if she is more willing to “work” for the treat.

You can hold the stick outside the neck loop as wide open as you can if you have trained your bird to touch a target stick. Next, urge the bird to touch the stick by poking her head through the larger loop. Don’t rush. And never push! If the bird doesn’t react, go back to a previous phase or try again the following day. Never use any force. Your goal is to make the bird feel at ease with whatever is surrounding its body.

Reduce the size of the loop after the bird has ingested a treat through the enlarged head loop, then put the harness on her back. Timing matters here. Too fast won’t work but neither will too slow. If the bird shows resistance, stop training it and come back to it a few days later.

Teaching older birds to set an example can be beneficial. Perdy, the Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, was allowed to observe Artha being harnessed and unharnessed before I fitted her with a harness. Because Cockatoos love being touched so much, it is said that harness training them is easier than training Greys.

Give a treat after the harness has been put on the animal. If you are utilizing an Aviator, you will need to slide the clips tighter or snap and close them at the appropriate moment.

Never try to yank the harness on the bird and give it treats. You will not win this battle! The bird will grow more nervous and possibly even panic. What should have been a joyful, sharing experience instead causes the bird to become afraid and leaves you feeling shocked.

How about the older bird?

I believe the bird can become used to the harness if you are patient, confident, and have a good outlook. Additionally, the bird must permit you to touch its body and under its wings.

A bird that has been trained to settle peacefully on your hand, arm, or shoulder is what you need. In the absence of these prerequisites, the bird may end up developing new anxieties.


Do bird harnesses work?

I think they make a great safety device to back up solid training when you take a bird outside. There are many potential problems with trying to fly them in a harness, one is that, even with elastic leashes, the bird comes to an abrupt halt when they hit the end of the leash, resulting injury.

How safe are bird harnesses?

Many birds are quite easily able to free themselves from the harness or the leash which means that they could escape. Have the fit and width adjustments checked by an experienced avian vet. Birds breathe with their whole bodies. Owners may unknowingly fit the harness too tight, hampering the bird’s breathing.

How long does it take to harness train a bird?

If you follow the extensive directions that came with your Aviator Harness, check out our blog, and search out other training tools you will soon know how quickly your bird will get used to his or her new harness. With a good training plan and a cooperative bird, you should plan on at least a week.