Potty Train Your Bird

If people enjoy playing with their pet birds, they should potty train their pet bird. It is more fun for everyone. The pet bird gets to spend more time in one on one interaction, and their owners gets to spend less time doing laundry.

I have been keeping pet birds for nearly 30 years, and I have potty trained several birds with the praise, and scold method that can be stressful to the bird.

However, I wanted to potty train “Buddy” a peach faced lovebird I bought in September, and I accidentally stumbled onto another extremely easy method of potty training birds that is a walk in the park with almost immediate results! Best of all, this method is virtually stress free for the owner, and the pet bird! I find it incredible this technique was not discovered long before this.

Step 1: Wait until the bird is acclimated to his new surroundings, and at ease with you the owner.

Step 2: set up a perch or T stand over a magazine, newspaper, or plastic garbage bag to catch the droppings.

When you first bring the bird out of the cage for a play session, sit him on this perch and give the command “go potty”, or any command you like. If the bird climbs down from the perch or T stand, pick him up and return him to the perch, and give the command again. After the bird relieves himself, praise him, and pick him up for some play time.

Notice the time, and return the bird to the perch in 10 minutes with the command. When the bird relieves himself again praise him again. Keep the 10 minute intervals up with positive re-enforcement, and in time the bird will be conditioned to relieve himself on this perch and not on you.

An easy way to tell when the bird is conditioned is to notice the time intervals from when you perch him to when he relieves himself. By the end of the second day’s play session, Buddy was relieving himself within 5-10 seconds after I set him on this perch. Obviously he didn’t want this perch time to cut into his play time.

After the bird is conditioned to relieve himself on the perch and not on you, start stretching the time out to 15-20 minutes between potty visits. Don’t push this interval much beyond 20 minutes. It is hard on them to hold it much longer than that.

At the end of the of the play session for the day, tear off the top sheet or two, and discard this with the droppings, no fuss no mess.

After the bird is conditioned, there is no need to perch him. Just hold him over the area and give him the command. After he relieves himself praise him, and start having him relieve himself in different areas like over a waste basket, over a scrap piece of paper, etc. because sometimes you may be away from the designated area. and conditioning him to go in different areas. It will be easier on both of you, because you may be on the phone and unable to return to the area every time. Just condition him to “poop on command”.

After the bird is conditioned, observe the bird’s behavior closely. The bird will start acting antsy when he needs to relieve himself, and he will send you a signal of some kind. It’s your responsibility to detect this signal, and provide the bird a place to relieve himself. Over time, the bird will link this activity to let you know he needs to go.

Buddy’s signal is that he turns in circles when he needs to relieve himself. Scampy (my lutino cockatiel) lowers and raises his tail feathers as a signal when he needs to relieve himself.

Now there will be accidents from time to time, so don’t scold the bird. Provide him an opportunity to relieve himself, and you will love your feathered friend more than you already do!

In the last 9 days, Buddy has only had one accident. This is far better than the multiple bombs I used to have in one hour of play time before I potty trained him!