I'm new and need help training a macaw!


New member
Jun 12, 2012
1 male Blue and Gold Macaw
1 male and 1 female Eclectus
:blue1: My family took in a blue and gold macaw this past February from craigslist. We were told that he is a male about 5 years old. His former owner was rough, and we saw negative enforcement for discipline when we visited to bring him home. They told us he could be handled and was gentle. They had clipped his wings so he does not fly. He talks and responds to us, is very energetic and loves to please. He is the sweetest bird :D, but we haven't been able to handle him yet. Sometimes he gets so excited and overwhelmed that he will be rough - striking, "dancing," attempting to reach outside the cage to bite. He will greet us when we walk into the room, and sometimes let us briefly "pet" him through the bars. He will take treats through the bars from our hands, and you can reach through an open door with a nut which he'll take without biting your hand. He comes out of the cage easily on his own and has been on the outside of his cage about 5 times; we know he has to come out more often and be handled. However, he will not step up and cannot be controlled except marginally by getting him to follow nuts so that he will go back in the cage. He wants to wander to the floor and we worry he will not go back to his cage afterwards. He has seen the cats and dogs but not our two ekkies (easily controlled by the way!!) which are in another room. We have heard target training might be a way to control him, but haven't found enough info to try it. We would appreciate any ideas as this is our first macaw. Any websites to suggest how target training is done with a macaw?
With target training you use a clicker, and a stick(a chop stick or skewer). You have them touch the end of the stick, click your clicker and reward.

Starting clicker training
[ame=http://youtu.be/6z-yiDIjn2s]Clicker Training Made Easy - YouTube[/ame]

Touch training(you don't have to say target)
[ame=http://youtu.be/OGb6bn73MJk]Kili & Truman - Modelling Target Training (1st Step) - YouTube[/ame]

Power pause(featuring aggressive blue and gold)
[ame=http://youtu.be/nuERdlr2BZg]Parrot Training Video THE 'Power Pause' Technique - YouTube[/ame]
well if he does get on the floor that is the best time to pick up most birds. but do target training that works very well. i with my bird dont use none of them i just show him that im not scared of him n show him im the boss if he trys to bite i will grab his beak n tell him no thats bad... but hes is 4 n you really dont know his pass very well i would do target training, yea that video that web site its birdtricks.com they are really good from what i heard i never try them but herad good things from other people
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@Copperarabian Thank you. I watched the videos and they were very informative! It seems workable although our B&G will initially need to be trained in his cage cause he will not stay on a perch outside of it. Maybe we can have success inside and then move him to a stand outside the cage door to work on step up.:rolleyes:
@MacawGuy Thank you for the info. How do you show him you are boss? Is it true if they make contact and won't let go you push your hand toward them?

Thanks again,
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O just him ur not scared. Take your thumb n pointer finger n grad his beak n tell him no when he trays to bite.
my blue and gold macaw dose same best way to get them of the cage so you can handle it. is to take the door of the cage and put it on top of the cage use ur hand or somethink make it walk on top of the door when macaw on the door lift it of the cage and take macaw in the next room on the door put macaw on the floor.i got do this every time with my macaw as she has lost parts of here feet and will not step on ur hand my macaw will be very friendly when it way from the cage and you can handle it
if the macaw is bite the best thing to do is use a red spray bottle put it on jet and only use it when macaw bit ,shouting ,or thing you dont like spray on jet to chest from a distance and say no it dose work my macaw dont shout only talk and they never bite.
I will definitely defer to the many years of wisdom on this board that are much more experienced than my wife and I are regarding raising a Macaw. We have had a B&G Macaw for only around 2 years.

BUT the following, IMHO, is not the proper way to train any bird. They are highly intelligent companions, not cats or other pets.

If you grab a Macaws beak and restrict their natural movement, I feel, it can cause extreme fear and stress in the Macaw and create serious situations.

I will not address spraying the Macaw with a pistol grip sprayer with water. I think it is way wrong. Would you use this technique training a child?

I have an idiot brother that had a GreenWing and would poke him with a stick as training.

Sorry, but as I learn more about our Macaw I realize they are more like children and less like pets.
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Repost due to glitch

I would recommend reading "Don't Shoot the Dog" ([ame=http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Shoot-Dog-Teaching-Training/dp/0553380397]Amazon.com: Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training (9780553380392): Karen Pryor: Books[/ame])

There are some good training techniques in there that can carry over in training birds.
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@friedsoup- Those videos are very helpful:)! @macawguy- Thank you for all of the advice!:) @mxdeanmay- Thank you for getting the bird away from the cage idea:) @azdesertrhino -Thank you, we also agree that our birds are more like children than pets. We want to try target training before anything else. :) @Alisana- I will have to look into the book! Thanks:)
I agree with the last post. We've had our blue & gold for 3 years. Have you been bitten or has your bird scared you? Although they attempt to bite they may not actually bite so you may want to move into the bird with hand closed versus fingers opened to see if it is only a scare tactic. (easier said then done) However, if you lay or sit around the cage as your bird comes out and gets used to you it will be inevitable that your bird will get used to you and want to come to you. Spend as much time interacting as possible. A great way to introduce your fingers to your blue & gold is to have a lump of peanut butter because they absolutely love peanut butter. this way you can get close without your bird becoming aggressive. good luck because there is no quick way to earn their trust and love, it comes with a ton of interaction.
I actually would spray a kid with a bottle, and maybe even poke it with a stick.

but never my bird.

Im kidding. I just couldnt resist
Please do not use a spray bottle on your Macaw, if you do and it freaks them out, they too will learn to hate showers or water in general.
You must reward good to great behavior and ignore the bad stuff.
There are tricks to do when a Macaw bites, for example,
Never pull away from a Macaw who has your finger in their mouth, rather then press towards the back of their throat, this does two things, knocks them off balance and a little choke, they will let go very fast and gives enough time to remove your finger, to prevent a bite: First learn their body language, you can tell when a Macaw is about to bite, their feather raise, they lower their body, the wings are open just a bit, look out here comes a bite, keep your distance. If you are holding the Macaw and they try to bite, use the earthquake, this means just shake the arm or hand they are standing on, this too knocks them off balance and snaps them back into reality.

Macaws are very smart and when you use positive rewards for good behavior, the better you and your Macaw will be.

Best of luck Joe
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@GregPara -the peanut butter sounds like a good idea! Thanks @god61021 -hahaha I thought about that! @JJones1719 -Thanks for the tips. We have heard about the "pushing back" when they bite technique, we are going to try it next time he bites. Thanks!
well spray works i spray my green wing macaw and my blue and gold for one day ever time she did anythink wrong now i dont need spray all i do is show them the bottle and they stops so yes it not right way doing thing but what is the right way there not it no diffrent than say no or use ur hand and grabbing the beak or hit a dog with a paper. now if she on her stand and starts shouting or chewing wood of the stand i just show bottle and she stops. my macaw talk loads there happy. not ever one has loads and loads time to train macaw and lots stuff i have seen on youtube dont work that good when i got my 1st macaw and i was new to it i try all the one on youtube she never stop biting me but she has stop now cos one day spray her but i will put some video on her so ever one can see how happy they are [ame=http://youtu.be/UL_f4LKjUXU]macaw parrot blue and gold talking - YouTube[/ame]
[ame=http://youtu.be/qbhS8Lm-nuo]macaw green wing - YouTube[/ame]
[ame=http://youtu.be/uluDQSCoLgE]macaw walking over to me - YouTube[/ame]
Wow MX, sorry but you really need to do more homework on the care and training for Macaws.
Let me guess here, you do not use a spray bottle to bath your Macaw, Your macaw test you a lot to see what they can get away with, sometimes have bad bouts of screams, more independant and not a complete cuddle bug.
Using spray bottles, news papers to beat a dog, screaming or yelling at a bird, what are you really gaining here other then scaring the crap out of the animal.
Do you know that when Macaws are scared or do not understand how to act around a person, they normally will end up feather plucking and completely stress out and could start to harm themselves.
You should come to my home to see how my two boys interact with eachother and to see how they are trained.
Before anyone purchase a Macaw, the first thing the buyer should ask themselves is, do I have enough time for this animal, if the answer is anything less then no, do not buys this animal.
Macaws thrive on attn, they have to be part of the family, they have to be where all the action is, they need special training on how to co-exist with their flock meaning you without the fear of a spray bottle.
To correct Macaw behavior is so easy to do. Ignore the bad behavior and reinforse the good behavior, this means, if you want a quiet Macaw, give them treats when they are quiet, if you want a Macaw that does not bite you, give them trats when they are not trying to bite you, if you want a Macaw who enjoys showers, give them a treat when spraying them or after taking a shower in the bathroom.
you have to remember that Macaws are like 4 year old children and do learn so never under estimate the Macaw when it comes to learning, Challege them, teach them tricks, solve puzzels, hide their food inside their cage, make games with them when handling them, this is all training and teaches the Macaw how to interact with you. you will soon see that they want to please you and not be yelled at or sprayed.
I do not want this to come across to you to put you down or anything, i hope this helps you with your Macaw or issues you may have, i don't want the readers here to get the wrong idea from you and think it's okay to use spray bottles because it is not okay. best of luck to you Joe
Most definitely agree with you here.... No spray bottles! For any animal!! I target trained my conure in a couple days! Super easy! My greenwing is starting to pick it up. She was a lot harder though. It depends on the bird's gender, age, time of year, how and when you feed them and the 'quality' of the treats you use. My macaw only bluffed and tested me for a few days when I got her, she never bit me though. As far as using any of those other 'animal training tactics' suggested by the spray gun guy-holy crap, we have moved on as a society to understand NONE of those are good ways to train. I bet he still spanks his dog and yells at them when they growl.... Anyway-good luck!!

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