Creating a bond of trust between you and your pet cockatoo can seem like a daunting task, especially for new pet bird owners. It can also seem like a slow torturing process. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or long process. But it requires patience, consistency, and desire on your part.
Here are 10 tips for creating a long-lasting, trusting bond between you and your pet cockatoo.
1. Daily Maintenance
Simple daily maintenance, such as feeding (preparing), watering, and cleaning, shows that you can be trusted. Doing these things not only helps your cockatoo depend on you, but it also learns to trust that you will constantly provide the needs that it requires.
2. Have some fun time with your cockatoo
Harmless, non-threatening, and non-domineering playtime can show your pet cockatoo that you don’t mean to harm her. Any pleasant moment you share improves the bond you build with your bird. A favorite thing for most cockatoo is a head massage or “scrinch.” My cockatoos would sit there for hours to be scrinched.
3. Give them a lot of toys
Cockatoos love to play with toys. Providing toys and other enrichment items can help create a bond between you and your cockatoo. Like the basic requirements (food, water, and shelter), environmental enrichment is essential for your cockatoo. Toys are fun for them and create a positive experience for your bird. The more positive experiences you create, the better the bond between you and your cockatoo will be.
4. Do not harm
Never be disrespectful or threatening in any action. A threatening instance (yellow, water bottle spraying, etc.) can cause you to back off. Any negative response from you or your actions will be construed as a threat to your cockatoo.
5. Consistently do something good
Always treat your cockatoo with respect and positivity. There is a reason all animal training now uses positive reinforcement (reward good behavior) and no longer uses negative reinforcement (punish bad behavior). The reason is that positive reinforcement works faster, works better, and creates a better bond between the trainer and the animal.
6. Stay calm
Loud noises, quick and sudden movements around your cockatoo, you (or others) running alongside the cage, or other seemingly non-threatening gestures to you or others may be interpreted by your pet cockatoo as a threat. Always remain calm around your bird and pay close attention to gestures that can be interpreted as threatening.
Teaching your cockatoo tricks or behaviors can be a very rewarding experience for you and your bird. Create a mutually rewarding atmosphere where your cockatoo learns to please you and it receives lots of treats.
This assumes that you use a positive reinforcement training program. Clicker training is a training method that creates a positive environment filled with positive reinforcement.
Never force anything on your cockatoo. Providing options for your bird shows your willingness to give them some space and options. So instead of giving them a toy, give them a few different kinds of toys to choose from. Instead of feeding them a vegetable, give them a few options.
9. Talk with your cockatoo
Talking to your pet cockatoo at any opportunity reinforces the fact that you are sharing your space
and not intend to harm it. Most bird predators use stealth and surprise to attack. By talking to your bird, you show that you have nothing to hide and that you are not trying to sneak upon him.
It is also important to keep a soft voice. It may seem crazy talking to a bird, but your bird will learn to like you and wait for you. Also, if your bird is talkative, you can take this opportunity to teach her/him to talk.
10. Eliminate external stress
Keep your cockatoo in a safe and stress-free environment. You can do this by placing the cage in a safe and appropriate place, maintaining a comfortable environment (temperature, humidity, etc.), and keeping predators (dogs, cats, etc.) away from it. Any stress due to the surrounding environment will cause stress between you and your pet cockatoo.