Trainer’s Corner: Crate Training your Bird

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If you have a pet, chances are there is going to be a time when you will need to put it into a carrier. It could be at a groomer or a veterinarian. It could be to transport your animal. It could be to contain your pet when you need to clean its cage. There are many reasons.

I talk about the importance of teaching young puppies to feel good about resting in a crate but crate training is really for whatever pet you have. The time to teach your animal to at least feel neutral about being in the confinement space is NOW, not when you have to do it. If, for example, your bird has a history of anxiety related behaviors when in the carrier, by the time you have reached the vet or other destination, it is already in a heightened state of distress.

Mostly I write about dogs as that is where much of my work is focused. However, today I wanted to share with you how I taught my bird, Dreyfuss (a pionus) to go into and be comfortable being in her carrier.

You will see in the video that I always teach this at the pace that the learner (in this case, Dreyfuss) tells me she is comfortable. How do I know? Because I am not seeing stress signals and SHE is making the decision to progress. There is no force used. I allow her to choose to get close to, then get into, and then stay in the crate. If at any time she did not want to be near or in the crate, she could have communicated that to me and I would have listened. I am reinforcing her in very small steps toward my final goal of having her stay in the crate with relaxed body muscles, even when I closed the door.

When you teach my choice and by going at a pace in which your learner is comfortable and still wanting to be in the lesson, you are empowering the learner.

Lisa Desatnik, CPDT-KA, CPBC, is a certified dog trainer (and certified parrot behavior consultant) with So Much PETential who uses and teaches the most positive strategies for changing pet behaviors. She offers individualized dog and puppy training for manners and problem issues. Learn more about her at www.SoMuchPETential.com.

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