*Snippet of the Introduction*
“This book could change your life. I don’t just mean that it could make living with your parrot more fun and enjoyable, although I certainly hope it does that. Hopefully, that is why you are reading! What I mean by changing your life is that understanding how to communicate with and train wild animals can shift the way you see the world. It can also help you change the world—or least your area of it. This may seem like a bold statement for beginning a little parrot training book, but I do believe the years I have spent trying to understand and interact with the animals in my life has taught me how to shape my surroundings into a positive, happy place.
“When I give lectures I joke constantly about training ex-boyfriends and using positive reinforcement on the people in my life. The audience laughs, I laugh, and we all pretend like I’m kidding—but I’m not. For example, just saying “thank you” when a person does something you like is a great start to shaping behavior with positive reinforcement. The way the people in your life act to get your attention can often be directly correlated to how you react or don’t react to their methods (reinforcement, in trainer language—there’s a lot more on this topic later). If your BFF loves hour-long conversations on the phone and the only way she can get you to stay on the phone is to call with a crisis, guess what? When you stay on the phone, you are reinforcing her. You better enjoy listening to her latest breakdown because she is going to call with them, often.
“Your actions really do speak louder than your words. More importantly, your actions shape how everyone interacts with you. Behaviors that work—meaning produces the desired result—in an individual’s environment are repeated. This is the basis of behavioral learning theory. (“Theory” meaning an established definition used in science rather than unproven guess, which has become the more common usage.) So if you allow an individual’s behaviors to work when you don’t like what they are doing—in other words, the person gets what they want through their undesirable behavior—you may be creating an unhappy living situation. Shaping behavior and understanding what triggers it and reinforces it is the core of the psychology of human behavior analysis and a basic understanding of this is actually critical to training your parrot as well.”
Check out Rebecca’s new in-depth training book, The Perfectly Trained Parrot on Amazon.com.