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?