Interacting with a companion animal is one of the joys of pet ownership. While certain pets seem more naturally inclined toward interaction than others, such as cats and dogs, many pets can be made more social with the right training.

Many people love having tame and trained birds as pets. Opinions vary as to which birds may be the most amenable to bonding, but many birds make great companions.

First-time bird owners are often advised to start with a young bird, as it is often easier to tame and train a young animal than one who is older. Certain pet stores or bird specialty retailers will hand-raise the birds from babies so they become acclimated with humans very early on.

Taming is largely about trust. Therefore, it may need to begin slowly. Gradually go from simply being in the company of the bird to allowing it to grow accustomed to your hand in the cage. Eventually, after you and the bird are comfortable with each other, allow it to sit on your finger or shoulder. According to Rob Marshall, an Australian avian veterinarian, as a bird comes to trust, he or she will also allow touch from the top of his head to the back of the neck. Repeated handling can build up an attachment.

According to the experts at VCA Hospitals, do not overdo your avian acclimation or training when the bird is first brought home. He or she may need to settle in to its new home. Everything is new, and new sights, sounds and smells can be stressful. Once the bird has acclimated, aim for taming sessions between 15 and 20 minutes per day. Also, allow the bird to have some alone time to entertain itself; otherwise, you may end up with an overly attached bird.

Birds can bite, and when they do, it is important to remain calm. Keeping fingers together and curled inward can make them harder to grab. A short, downward shift of the hand if the bird is sitting on it and a firm verbal “no” may prevent the bird from biting. Never hit a bird as discipline.

Having a bird’s flight wings clipped is recommended when letting the bird loose in a home and during training. This also may help the bird be more dependent on you and more trusting of your handling.

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