Potty Training Your Bird in Three Easy Steps

This is intended merely as a beginning guide to getting your bird potty trained.

   At some point, you've been pooped on by your bird. This doesn't mean the bird is bad, or hates you; the average companion parrot defecates approximately once every fifteen minutes! Doubtless you'd like a way to enjoy your bird without having little brown stains all over your clothes. This method does require a little understanding on your part, because while a bird can hold it in for a while, it is eventually going to need to poo.Failure to provide the bird with the opportunity to poop in a "safe place" will result in the bird pooping wherever - a step back from where you want to be.

   You will need a perch of some sort. This could be a cheap wooden perch like I use, with a bottom, or it could be something fancier, or it could even been the bird's cage. Since I move about frequently in the house, I prefer a portable perch rather than the cage.

Step Two Step 1. Before you take the bird out of its cage, make sure it poops first. Immediately perch the bird on your finger afterwards and take it from the cage. Do this everytime you get the bird out. Before long, when it sees you coming, it will poop. That buys you 10-20 minutes of poop-free time right at the beginning. This step takes a lot of time and patience. Don't give up and just grab the bird when you get tired of waiting. Getting taken out of the cage is seen as a reward, and to get the reward, they've got to potty first. This may take a few weeks to accomplish. You do not need to have this step down pat before you start on the following steps.

Step 2. After ten minutes or so of being out poop-free, put the bird on the perch. It must stay there until it poops. When it potties, you may reward it by saying "good poop!" or giving it a special treat. Then pick up the bird again. As the bird becomes better and better at it, you do not need to reward with a treat - picking the bird back up is the treat. The bird associates going potty first with being close to you.

Step Three Step 3. This is the MOST important step. After your bird has pottied and is back on your shoulder, finger, wherever, you need to keep an eye on the time. Some birds can wait longer than others before they have to poop, so it will vary from bird to bird. At the appropriate time, put the bird back on the perch. Wait for it to poop. Do not pick it up until it has done so. If it flies off, put it right back on. One of my birds needs to go every ten minutes, another every twenty-five. You will get into a routine where you will see when your bird has to poop, and be able to place it on the perch, and the bird should immediately go. That is what we are striving for. And again, the reward is picking the bird back up. A headrub would not go amiss either.

   As your bird gets better and better at pottying "on command" you may start changing things up a little. If your bird is flighted, try sending it back to the top of its cage when it is "poop time." After the poop, encourage the bird to fly back to you by offering a banana, cheerio, or other treat. Getting the bird to fly back may prove harder than the "potty training," but the results are well worth it. The bird can learn to fly back to the cage when it needs to go, then fly back after it is done. Effortless poop control for you!

   When it is poop time for Darwin, I merely place him on the same surface as the perch. He will climb onto it by himself, defecate, and then jump off and resume whatever he was doing before. This is a result of long-time potty control, as I call it, where he has been following my potty guidelines for many months. He got the idea that the perch was an acceptable place to poop when he was not in his cage, and saved me the effort of trying to remember when he was about to do his potty dance.

Potty training isn't especially hard, it just takes a fair amount of time and patience. Don't make the mistake of treating a bird like a dog during potty training - they don't understand that it isn't acceptable to go wherever they want. Positive reinforcement is the key to training birds. The amount of time you spend getting your parrot to respond to the potty training will determine how quickly your pet learns.