Birds are very intelligent animals. Scientists believe that cockatoos have the intelligence of a four year old, and can actually solve puzzles, learn words, and even distinguish colors and shapes. Some of them can even be trained to count!
Since cockatoos are inherently curious, all they need is a loving nudge from a patient and dedicated owner.
However, before teaching complicated tricks, you need to tame your cockatoo. That’s actually the hardest part, since at this stage, the bird is still learning to trust you. Spend time just playing with your pet. Hold it, talk to it, feed it treats, and generally make it feel like the “training” session is your special time together. That way, you will meet little resistance when you’re ready to teach it something.
It’s also important to hold the sessions at the same time each day, everyday. You can spend 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your availability and your bird’s level of concentration.
Teach only one trick at a time, and reinforce it constantly. For example, if you want it to say, ‘Hello gorgeous!” then greet it with that phrase each time you approach its cage. Then during the training session, say “Hello, gorgeous!” several times
To avoid confusing the cockatoo, only one person should conduct the formal training sessions. Others can reinforce it (maybe by clapping or showering it with praise each time it calls out “Hello, gorgeous!” to guests), but someone should spearhead each new lesson.
Birds are smart but have short attention spans, so conduct your training sessions in a quiet and uncluttered room. Even little things like the whirr of an electric fan can break their concentration. Also close cabinet doors and weigh down window curtains. Very nervous cockatoos may also get jumpy if they hear car horns or doors being open and shut. In that case, schedule the lesson when the house is usually quiet.
Don’t punish your bird just because they won’t complete a trick. Instead, praise them when they do. Give a treat, pet its head, and make it clear that it’s done something very, very good.
If you feel yourself getting impatient, drop the training session and just spend the rest of the hour just playing with your parrot. If you scream at it, even just once, it may start dreading that time and even refuse to get out of its cage. Remember, a bird needs to trust you in order to take instructions from you.