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Please don't say it is their nature and they just do it. Because then it would be a dog's nature to poop in a house (which my dog never does).

Also, I have 2 parrots, for some reason the one NEVER poops on me. Worst case he will lean backwards to not hit me. I have no idea where he learnt this.

But my other parrot does not care about pooping on me at all. He will just poop while walking or doing anything. Any ideas? It has come to a point where I can't really put him on my shoulder (which he loves) because I am really grossed out about poop on me. And I don't want to be one of those people who act like poop on my shoulder is not a big deal. And I don't want to carry a towel on my shoulder either.

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    "Because then it would be a dog's nature to poop in a house (which my dog never does)." - Why retort the obvious answer with a fallacy? For one, a bird's digestive system is fundamentally different from a dog's, so why would you compare the two? This is what birds do. – Chavez Apr 12 '19 at 11:01
  • Because I taught my dog where to poop and where not. So it should be possible with a bird (as proven with my other bird). Maybe that comment of mine was not necessary and I should remove it? – Paul Kruger Apr 12 '19 at 12:09
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Some birds can be effectively potty trained (although not all - it varies from individual bird to individual bird). There's no hard and fast rules to work out whether they can or not - you just have to give it a try and see if it works. That said you'll stand a better chance with larger birds (who can "hold" the poop longer than smaller ones such as budgies) and the younger the better.

Before you begin

Observe your bird for a few days, you should be able to pick up on some behavioral clues that they are about to defecate. Most will have a little mannerism or stance that they do - you just need to work out what your bird's is. You should also be able to pick up on your bird's routine - some will do it at specific times of day or in response to certain events such as eating a meal. Make a note of how long they typically go between defecating.

Training

Train them to defecate in response to a command - you can use a spoken word/phrase or a clicker. If going for a verbal command you want it to be something that a) isn't likely to come up in general conversation and b) you don't mind if your bird picks up to say itself (if your parrot is a talker!).

So when you see the cues you picked up on earlier have the bird "step up" to where you want them to defecate and say the command. Try and keep the intonation of the command as much the same as possible to make it easier to learn - they don't understand the language but instead will be picking up on how it sounds.

Then, when the bird defecates reward it with a treat/fuss/praise - ideally you want to be giving this treat only for defecating on command during training or you risk confusing them and getting some unwanted pooping!

This will take a few repetitions to sink in - how many will depend on the individual bird. But eventually you should be able to get them to defecate on command (rather than on their schedule) Some never get there! Some will learn to defecate on command but won't ever get the additional step of not doing it elsewhere - which obviously wouldn't solve your problem. This is where the time interval we observed earlier came in - if you want to have your parrot on your shoulder you can have them poop on command, then you know that you have a certain amount of time before they need to go again and can take them back to the toilet to do it in advance of them taking matters into their own hands (feathers).

DO NOT Use punishment or reprimands - it doesn't work with birds, and can easily have the opposite to the desired effect and lead to them defecating for attention!

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  • One question on this, say I hold him over an area where he should poop and I say my command "poop polly". At first he obviously won't do anything when I say this, so should I just keep saying "poop polly" for 15min until he actually poops? Won't the 50 times of saying "poop polly" teach him that he can actually just poop whenever he wants to? – Paul Kruger Apr 15 '19 at 5:13
  • @PaulKruger This is why you need to identify the behavioral signs that they are about to poop - then you have them step up to the "toilet" and say the command before they actually poop. The repetition of this sequence is what builds the association. – motosubatsu Apr 15 '19 at 12:57
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We have 2 African grey parrots; When we take them out of the cages ( usually first thing in the morning) , the first thing is to put them on the "poop stand" where they almost always immediately poop. I think we started by not picking them up until after they pooped, no rewards or punishment. As I remember they picked it up very quickly.

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