Laddering Your Parrot

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   Laddering is an effective technique used to combat dominance issues in parrots. It is useful in training new birds, who may not have been handfed, and in keeping alpha animals in check. It can be used safely for aggressive birds by using two perches instead of your fingers.

   If you've never laddered your bird before, take it to a room and shut the doors. Perch the bird on one finger (or one perch). Push the index finger of your other hand into the bird's chest until he steps upon it. Repeat this action with the other hand. Make the bird "climb the ladder" for a minute or two, then reward. This exercise can be used while watching television, on the way upstairs, etc.

   If the bird flies off your finger/perch, pick the bird back up immediately and resume laddering. If the bird continually flies from you, it may be time for a wing clip. Wing clipping goes a long way in an attitude adjustment, and will make the laddering exercise that much easier. The fact that the bird has demonstrated it can get away from you whenever it likes is counter-productive to the dominance training. Some birds, especially if they are used to it, can remain flighted while being laddered.

  You can ladder your pet bird as often as you would like. Whenever one of my mated pairs starts to play the "you can't catch me game," they are immediately treated to laddering. If the bird flies off, a wing trim is given and the exercise continues. Keeping your role as top bird is particularly important if the bird is housed with other parrots of its species, as it no longer relies on you as the sole source of companionship.

   Click on the photo in the upper right to watch Pandora demonstrate proper laddering.