Bonding with your Bird

Now that you have your showmanship bird, let’s talk about ways of bonding with your bird (that won’t negatively impact their behavior at shows).  Giving them a couple treats after training with them is fine and all, but you definitely don’t want them to associate all interactions with treats (only “treat train” birds for the caged show), and here’s why!

If you want a bird to face you at all times (as you do while cage-training show chickens), then you train it using treats.  If your showmanship chicken does this, then it is practically impossible for you to get it to show the judge a good side profile while posing or walking.  The learned behavior that people always have treats often backfires when the bird refuses to stand still for a pose or walk in a straight line.

Of course, with Modern Games and other breeds that must pose with a high station, you want to train them to pose using treats, but you have to be careful to teach them that they only get treats if they pose nicely, so they don’t learn bad manners.  Stretch them out and pose them like their breed’s picture in the Standard of Perfection by dangling a treat in front of them, but make sure they are facing the left or right, not directly towards you (to avoid the behavior where they face you).  After they achieve a good pose, let them take the treat, but don’t stretch them so far that they hop.  bonding with your bird, modern gameIf you are bonding with your bird and trying to make them feel comfortable around people, I recommend spending a lot of time with your bird outside of  “training time.”  My favorite method to tame chickens is to sit with them in their cage and talk to them while offering food.  After they become comfortable enough with my presence to take food from my hands (it may take a few days), I begin holding and petting them (don’t chase them) when they come up for treats.  When they are comfortable with that, I start bringing them inside my garage (or house, if your parents allow it) and have them in my lap (no more treats at this point, you don’t want them to learn bad behaviors) while I work on homework or watch movies.  At this point, I spend most of my time at home with my showmanship bird(s) in my lap, doing homework, reading, or watching movies.  I normally have a puppy pad under them to prevent messy accidents.  Watching movies (especially loud/flashy action films) or listening to music/the radio is a great way to get your bird used to new sounds, and it desensitizes them to sudden noise.

It took about two months (spending an average time of 2 hours/day with him) to have my current showmanship bird (a Black Sumatra Bantam Cock) totally desentized to practically everything, and once he was completely comfortable with me, he took about a week (working him for about 15-20 minutes a day) to be fully trained in posing, walking, and caging.  The steps I took to tame him down before beginning training made it a much more enjoyable experience for both myself, and my bird.

Written by Elizabeth Wilson