Heckled By ParrotsBlue Sky WritingFalconryRebecca K. O'Connor

Examining, Surviving and Loving life with Parrots

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Dogs & Parrots – Some Training Tips

I occasionally have a foster dog come through my house and this means that I have to consider how to immediately train a dog not to eat the parrots. I’m a Brittany spaniel person so this means my dogs are pretty keen on birds. When one of my fosters was relentless about the parrot cages and I thought I would have to turn him over to someone else I was told, “What do you expect? It’s a bird dog.” Well, I expect that a “bird dog” can tell the difference between a parrot, a falcon and a game bird. They smell and move very differently after all. I can tell the difference, so theoretically, the dogs should be even better at it than me.  I’m sure dogs do. The problem isn’t the dog. It’s whether or not the trainer is differentiating and setting up the rules.

My personal dogs (one a foster turned adoptee, one AKC papered) know how to act around the falcons, the parrots, ducks and pheasants. All require a different approach. You work for the falcons and protect them. Parrots are completely off limits. Ducks are for chasing and pheasants are for pointing. Both of these are allowable retrieves. Believe it of not, my dogs get this. If my dogs can do this, I think most dogs can get the rules of parrots.

Consider the way your household is set up and then ask yourself “is there something I could train my dog to do that would make it impossible or at least very difficult to eat a parrot.” My dogs are trained to station on the couch and not move when the parrot cages are open. (Yeah. I let my dogs on the couch. They sleep with me to. Don’t tell anyone!) I’ll admit. I could have an even safer train.

I taught one of my dogs once to kennel up in another room the second a parrot came out of the cage. I did it with reinforcement and praise. I made getting to the kennel for a treat far more rewarding than messing with the parrots. The dog was excited to see a parrot come out, racing for her kennel to get her treat. I always followed her, shut her in for a while with a toy and some snacks. So you could argue it would just as easy to always kennel the dog. I had another motive though.

One day I noticed the dog was patiently waiting in her crate, looking like she was waiting for her reward.  I was puzzled. I hadn’t put her there. Then I thought about her cue, we had worked on her putting herself away as soon as the parrot crawled out. Sure enough. There was a parrot on top of the cage.

You know what? It was totally fun to train and the Britt had a lot of fun learning too. What could you train to make your house safer?


  1. jojo says:

    hey TY is funny….

    I think training the dogs are easy-enough. (tongue in cheek) but i do have a chicken eating dog that i had successfully trained, then has regressed. As a matter of fact i’m not to fond of my roosters and he got one, and ate a piece of his thigh before i could save the durn thing. He’s now living in my house recouperating when he should be in my freezer. 🙁 I had the dog so well trained. for 2 years he’s been good. Its a constant thing i need to reinforce, lesson learned.

    But, what i want to know is how do you house the falcons and the parrots. and keep them apart. Won’t the the predator birds go after the parrots? Or just the vicinity of the hawks upset the parrots?

    oh and how many blogs do you have? heehee… ijust found the other one. 🙂

  2. graham says:

    What do you get if you cross a falcon with a parrot?

    Colourful castings.

  3. rebecca says:

    JoJo — Training is never a permanent one shot, but an ongoing endeavor. So you’re spot on. Go back to the basics. And the rooster?? He would have been tough and stringy anyway.

    The falcons and the parrots are never in the same room. Could I train the falcons not to eat the parrots? Hmmmn. Maybe. A lot of work though. And honestly, some training plans aren’t worth the effort. —spend months training my raptors that parrots are not for eating….or don’t keep them in the same room? (They are always outside, by the way.)

    Good question though. Reminds me that I often find myself saying to difficult “can I train…” questions at lectures…”Sure you can. But is it worth the effort?” It’s your life, after all, not mine.

  4. rebecca says:

    LOL Clever, Graham.

    What do you get when you cross a parrot with a millepede??




  5. Loved your insight!! For once someone got everything correct!! Would you mind if I put a blogroll link back to your post? 🙂

  6. rebecca says:

    Petmafia,com — you went into askimet as spam. Feel free to link me. 🙂

  7. carol says:


  8. Wayne N. says:

    I have had only one encounter with a dog and bird and the dog lost. It was an African Gray and a Lab. The bird would wait until the lab was asleep and then swooped in, landing on his head and pull his ears. The Lab was never hurt, so it was a game to the Parrot. In desperation the Lab started sleep with his head under something, it didn’t matter, a sofa, chair, even newspaper. Our fun loving parrot just changed his target, landing on the floor and playing with the end of the Labs tail. My friends tell me the game continues after 10 years.

  9. Karen W says:

    Long story shortened I have 7 parrots of varying sizes in cages in the family room. We just got an 11 mo. old bull terrier as a replacement companion for our pit bull. We also have 3 cats. I’ve never had a problem introducing all animals and peacefully co-existing until now. The bull terror (purposely misspelled) will not leave the birds alone, jumping on cages and barking.I’m concerned he will let one of them out of the cage and do some serious damage. I know he’s still a pup but I haven’t found a method of discipline that seems to faze him. Any ideas out there?

  10. Kev says:

    I miss my bull terrier more than anything 🙁
    Don’t fancy your chances of stopping that behaviour.
    I have a 2 year old pit now. I’m considering buying an eclectus parrot. Bit worried bout the dog eating him though.

  11. angie charland says:

    Your insights on dogs & parrots are truly helpful. We have longed to rescue a large bird (parrot, cockato,?), but as long-time Gordon Setter Rescue people–always one or two adopted rescues in our family–we also foster, transport, inspect homes,…for Gordon Setter (when there is one in Texas, Oklahoma, etc)
    Welllll,…as empty nesters, we’ve branched out! Now with 2 adopted Great Dane rescues (we also foster for Dane Rescue), 1 eleven yr old mystery mix, 1 miniature Schnauzer and, of course 1 VERY BIRDY Gordon, have we made it impossible to adopt a parrot???
    Two of our crew are registered, working therapy dogs (Dane & Gordon)
    LOVE,LOVE,LOVE your positive reinforcement method for keeping your Brittany’s birdiness in check. Our Gordon Setter is a quick study; it’s doable.
    Lingering concerns include reach of Danes and how a parrot might be affected by a large face peering at them; AND just the extire mix. Our pack isn’t caotic, but I think might become so with barking Schnauzer, birdy Gordon, curious giant Danes & mystery dog all focused on parrot.
    The well being of a parrot cannot be second to our desire to add one to our family — don’t want to selfish & short-sighted. Sorry to be lenghty, but have researched much; need your thoughts and gut feeling.