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The Components of Nurturing Guidance
By Sally Blanchard
excerpts from

Realistic Expectations
Parrots are not easy-care pets. They are intelligent birds with complex behavior that is greatly influenced by their interaction with people. While they can be excellent companions, we must never forget that they are parrots with the special needs of parrots. If people have unrealistic expectations about their behavior and capabilities, they will always be disappointed. When choosing a companion parrot, it is critical to cut through the species stereotypes and generalizations about their behavioral characteristics. It is also essential to be aware of the fact that even the best-behaved parrots can exhibit what we consider to be behavioral problems from time to time. It is unrealistic to expect a parrot to always behave in the manner that we expect them to.

Dedication to Learning
The best parrot owners stay open to learning and remain fascinated by the intricacies of parrots. Companion parrot behavior can be a complex jigsaw puzzle with new pieces to put in place all the time.

A Strong Human/Parrot Bond
In order for a parrot to form a strong lasting bond with a person, that person has to have a strong lasting bond with his or her parrot.

Trust-building Behavior from the Caregivers
When a parrot is treated in a manner that builds trust instead of destroying the trust, the bond will be more secure.

Instructional Interaction
Much of the time spent with a companion parrot should be spent teaching, patterning and rewarding new, positive behaviors.

Nurturing Authority
Nurturing is teaching and should be an integral part of parenting and love. Whether it is called dominance or being "flock leader", the owner needs to establish the authority to guide the parrot's behavior. Being aggressive is not part of this kind of authority.

Physical Interaction
Most parrots are highly social animals who are physically affectionate with each other. Cuddle time, petting and mutual preening are important elements in keeping most parrots tame
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Observation: Eye Contact and Body Language
In addition to sounds and calls, parrots communicate through eye contact and body language. Pay close attention to what they are telling you. Eye contact is one of the best ways to communicate with your parrot. A soft, loving eye expression is a very effective way to communicate affection and to calm a parrot. When a parrot misbehaves, an immediate, quick, dirty look is one of the best ways to express disapproval. This stern look should not be maintained for more than a few seconds or it may be interpreted as aggressive confrontation.

Lowering Energy
Parrots reflect our energy and mood. Lowering our own energy is an effective tool to lower the parrot's energy.

Rules
A few basic rules include:
• Use the "UP" command to take a parrot out of his cage.
• A parrot is not allowed to run up his owner's arm to his shoulder.
• A parrot is not allowed out of his cage without supervision.
• Don't reward a screaming parrot by screaming back at him.
• Greet your parrot when you first come home.
• To increase your parrot's sense of security: say good-bye when you leave the room and let him know you will be back.

Verbal Cues and Commands
These should be simple, clear and concise
UP - Use the "UP" command to ask a parrot to step onto your hand. Keep it simple and relaxed.
DOWN - Use the "DOWN" command to ask a parrot to step off of your hand even if he is above you.
OK - A cue to release a parrot from your direct control. This means he can play on his own without your control.
NO - A simple, short but decisive cue to express immediate disapproval when a parrot exhibits negative behavior.

Patterning Exercises
Gradually patterning a parrot to accept new situations and objects will help him become more comfortable. The more familiar a parrot is with a particular behavior, the more likely he is to repeat it.

Anticipation of Need (The Parrot's and Yours)
Knowing what a parrot will do in a specific situation and either avoiding the situation, or planning it for the maximum welfare of the parrot and the household is important. For example, if you know that your parrot will be frightened when large objects are carried past his cage, keep yourself between the object and the parrot or cover his cage. If it is something very threatening, move him to another room before the situation occurs..

Stimulation
The wild parrot's habitat keeps him busy and alert. For their emotional and physical health, we need to provide companion parrots with activity, exercise, attention and safe, gradual introduction to new adventures.

Social Interaction
Companion parrots learn through social interaction with their human "flock". For example, parrots learn to talk much more readily from people conversing with them appropriately than they do by listening to meaningless repetitive phrases on recordings.

Attention
There are three basic levels of attention:
Focused/In-Your-Face Attention: Your total attention is focused on the parrot with no distractions.
Casual Attention: The parrot is with you but you are also reading, watching TV, talking, etc.
Ambient Attention: The parrot is on his playgym or in his cage and you call back and forth.

Positive Personality Traits of A Successful Parrot Caregiver
These include consistency, patience, predictability, dependability, common sense, compassion, a sense of personal responsibility, a calm demeanor, and a dedication to learning. Parrots normally respond well to people with these traits.

A Sense of Humor, Fun and Play
The more fun the person has, the more fun the parrot has and the more fun the parrot has, the more fun the person has…
A contented, playful parrot is one of the best forms of entertainment for the parrot caregivers and a silly human can be very entertaining to the parrot.

Environmental Enrichment
This includes a spacious clean cage with multiple perches, a fun activity-filled playgym, good lighting, clean air, stimulating toys, a nutritious varied diet and frequent bathing opportunities.

Quality Physical and Health Care
Cause-and-effect prevention of accidents and traumas, proper veterinary care, and medical treatment are essential to a healthy, happy parrot.

We've Come a Long Way
The days of a parrot sitting all day on a wooden dowel in a small cage with only a seed bowl, a water bowl and one toy (if any) should be long gone!!


 
 
 
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