how to punish a bird for biting

Using Excessive Aversive Stimuli

These methods may even cause pain for the pet in addition to making them uncomfortable. Removing feathers from a bird, hitting it, or even just flinging its beak and shaking it all symbolize a relationship that has deteriorated to the point where reason is no longer applicable. These methods are harsh and create a vicious cycle of fear and aggression that is hard to break, instead of teaching the bird what it needs to know to be a useful member of the family. In light of the current understanding of these extraordinary animals, it is astonishing that certain methods described in books written as recently as fifteen years ago still exist. Given that parrots are only two to three generations removed from their wild counterparts, they still possess all of their natural fight-or-flight instincts. We feel incredibly honored when these essentially untamed creatures express the degree of trust we know parrots can give. The most basic betrayal of that trust is to purposefully cause these animals pain. Simply, we should never use pain to motivate our birds!!!.

Trust Building Versus Trust Destroying

It is imperative that we ask ourselves this question prior to implementing any training program. By applying this straightforward standard to evaluate the methods mentioned above, we can see the possible harm they may bring about. Will the action I’m about to take strengthen or weaken the trust between my bird and me? The wonderful news is that there are alternatives!.

Time-Outs, Ladders, & Other “Old Wife Tales”

A cursory look up of parrot training methods reveals a number of long-standing customs that, upon closer inspection, might be considered forms of discipline. According to behavioral analysts, a punishment is any outcome that, when combined with an action, works to make that behavior less likely to happen again.

Let’s examine more closely at some of the typical suggestions that are made when seeking guidance on how to handle a challenging behavior issue:

how to punish a bird for biting

We see time-outs take various forms with parrot training. Our attempts to implement time-outs include placing the bird back in the cage, turning out the lights, covering the cage, and banishing the bird to a distant room. These forms of discipline presuppose that the only thing that will motivate our bird to come out of its cage is to spend time with us. Since parrots are complex emotional creatures, it is impossible to make assumptions about their motivations or emotional states. Should the bird be experiencing fatigue, hunger, or anxiety, putting them in their cage might be exactly what they need. Perhaps our bird is acting out to get our attention because it truly wants it. Running over to pick up the bird in this case, even for a short while, and placing it back in the cage would teach it that acting out is a way to get attention.

Time-outs must be used right away following the behavior in order for them to be effective training techniques.

  • To break the link between action and consequence, all it takes is the time it takes to either: a) pick up the bird and put it back in the cage or in a distant room; or b) run over and cover the cage or turn out the light.
  • Second, the reason that initially sparked the bad behavior must be successfully eliminated during the time out. As we’ve already looked at, it’s nearly hard to pinpoint the precise reason behind our bird’s motivation at the precise instant before a behavior happens.
  • Thirdly, in order to emotionally connect with the bird, time-outs should only last 30 seconds to a few minutes at most. If we leave it any longer, we run the risk of the bird forgetting why it was initially put away. Sadly, how often do we believe that putting our birds in special long-term cages is a justifiable way to “make the punishment fit the crime”? Perhaps their cries have been driving us crazy for an hour or more, and we just want some quiet time. Perhaps this was our first bite that broke our skin, so it was extremely painful for us. Even though we may initially think that our actions are justified given the situation, a closer look will show that our true subconscious motivation is actually retaliation.
  • The bird needs to be put back in its proper location and given the chance to exhibit more appropriate behaviors in order to receive reinforcement. This is the fourth and final essential component to making time-outs effective. When we are training our parrots, this last step is the most important and the one that is most likely to be skipped or neglected.

We spend so much time worrying about what our birds should not do that we neglect to train them to engage in constructive substitute behaviors. Our bird will be more motivated to behave well than to act badly if we teach it that good behavior will result in rewards from us.


How do you punish a bad bird?

Placing the bird back in the cage, turning off the lights, covering the cage, and relegating the bird to a far away room, are all examples of our attempts to apply Time-outs. These punishment methods assume that our bird’s only motivating factor is spending time out of his/her cage with us.

What to do after your bird bites you? no response or emotion… try not to even flinch, just take the bite if possible. If you draw back, or yell..the bird got what he wanted..and biting can become a game for your bird. First things first.

Why is my bird biting me so hard?

Birds will truly bite now and then, but only if they are frightened, startled, or if they feel cornered and vulnerable. Chances are that your bird is not trying to be aggressive, as biting is not a dominance behavior in birds.