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We just got a lovely parrot named Jhon. We want to teach him to yell that he has been turned on into a Parrot.

Is repetition the only way?

Are there any rewarding teaching method's using food like we do with dogs?

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  • Be aware that some syllables/phonemes are difficult for birds. My brother spent mamy years trying to convince his military macaw to say "I'm a fluffy dinosaur" (which, of course, he is) but Pickles absolutely refused, though he has picked up a fair vocabulary of other phrases. Best guess is that some of the sounds just weren't in his range. – keshlam Jun 2 '15 at 20:56
  • Shorter phrases are also easier, of course. – keshlam Jun 3 '15 at 0:45
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That's from a dog training point of view, I've never had (or seen) a talking parrot.

What you want to do is called shaping. The idea is to obtain the final behavior by reinforcing successive approximations.

To give him the information "great, you're good, keep going" you may want to use a clicker (or any clear, distinct sound) and food treats. The clicker allows you to mark the correct behavior precisely and then to deliver the food treat a few seconds later.

First condition your parrot that a click means a treat is coming. Do a few repetitions, click then treat (the treat comes after the click, not during the click). That way he'll understand that the click predicts that a food treat is coming. For the shaping to be effective you'll need good timing for your click.

Then you're all set to shape any behavior you want.

If he starts repeating what you're saying you don't necessarily have to repeat it all the time: let him figure out what you want. Reward (= click and treat) every tiny step in the correct direction, especially at the beginning to get him interested in your new game.

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