How to Teach Your Parrot to Do a Puzzle

Learn how to teach your parrot to do a puzzle from Parrot Wizard Michael Sazhin in this Howcast video.

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They don't call him the "Parrot Wizard" for nothing! In these videos, parrot whisperer Michael Sazhin teaches you how to tame your pet parrot and get him to do all kinds of cool tricks. And, of course, he'll show you how to get your parrot talking in no time at all.

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Parrots are very intelligent creatures and highly capable of learning. Not only can they differentiate colors, but also shapes and concepts. So, teaching a parrot a four-piece puzzle is a way to challenge their intelligence and keep things fun for them. The easiest piece to teach is the circle because it has no square ends, so it goes in no matter which way the parrot turns it. So, at first we start teaching a puzzle by teaching the parrot to put the circle in here by having it fetch to your hand. And you put your hand over the circle. Alright. Go fetch. Then you can get the bird to drop the piece somewhere near the circle. She already knows how to do it. She drops it right in. If your parrot can just drop the circle anywhere in the vicinity that's already worth clicking for and rewarding. But, eventually, you're always going to reward the parrot for dropping the circle closer and closer and into the slot. Fetch. Good bird. The second piece you're going to want to teach is the square. This one's tougher, but it can go in in multiple ways. Wait one second. It can go in this way and it can go in this way. It can't go in on a 45, so the bird needs to learn to turn the piece to put it in. We're going to tap on the square because they already know how to do the circle and she's just going to put the square in. Good bird. It's really important that your parrot have a good foundation knowing how to fetch. And you're going to just keep practicing the pieces one at a time, over and over again. So you're going to teach the circle first. Then you teach the square. Then you go back and teach the square and the circle. You're going to add one piece at a time so that the parrot can learn additional pieces. So, once they know the square and the circle you can teach them to do the triangle. They have to turn it one of three ways to get it into the slot. Fetch. When they're not getting it in, you don't click. And if they miss then you take it away or they're going to keep trying. Fetch. Good bird. When they get it close, even if it's not in all the way but they got it almost right, you reward them for that so they can learn to do it like that. Go fetch. That's good. Alright. Let's try it again. Go fetch. Oh, that's much better. Very good. Alright. Go fetch. Okay. Now you got it in all the way. Very nice. Good bird. Finally, the trapezoid piece on this puzzle is the most challenging because it can only go in one way. The circle can go in any way. The square can go in four ways, the triangle three ways. Trapezoid goes in only one way. What I've been doing is I put the trapezoid facing the opposite direction away from her so she can turn around and place it inward. Kili, go fetch. So when she turns 180, she's heading the right way and can get it in. Very good. Just remember that the puzzle's one of the most difficult tricks you can teach a parrot. And with a lot of time and patience, you can teach the four colors and have the parrot do the puzzle. And that's how you teach a parrot to do a four-piece puzzle.

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  • Michael Sazhin

    Michael Sazhin, the author of The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots, shares his love and understanding of parrot keeping with common parrot owners. With five years of advanced parrot training experiences and appearances on national television shows, he is the ideal blend of expert professional and sympathetic pet owner. Learn about his complete approach to parrot keeping in his new book. And remember: It's not magic, it's just the way of the ParrotWizard.