How Do I “Un-Train” My Swearing Parrot

True story:

Dateline: Tel Aviv:

Following a petition from a local animal organisation, the Tele Aviv District Court grants a restraining order prohibiting the owner of a pet parrot who refuses to quit cursing from injuring the bird in any manner. It had been suggested that the bird be condemned to death or that its tongue be removed, causing the organisation to take legal action.

Dateline: South Africa:

A stolen African Grey parrot was found when authorities recognised the bird based on its exceedingly filthy vocabulary. It was recognised when the owner provided the authorities with a list of terms that the bird knew. Officers were taken aback by the parrot’s language and begged with its owner to return it.


My buddy Jerry also had an amazing story:

“Boy, I’m happy I’m not the only one with this issue!” I had a beautiful African Grey that couldn’t stop cursing! The last straw came when several elderly women came to see us. Suddenly, a torrent of profanity that would make a sailor blush escapes from the rear room! The stunned expression on our guests’ faces drove me to take action to put a stop to it.

But how exactly? I’m not going to be able to kill the bird. Oh, I thought about it when he plundered my candy dish on my computer desk one day! Or the time he chewed through multiple cans of soda because he liked the sound of the soda spilling all over my kitchen! I just couldn’t do it.

Severing the tongue is heinous! However, something had to be done… and I knew it would take some time, perseverance, and rough love to get there.”


DISREGARD the bird. Make no verbal or visual contact. The bird is cursing in an attempt to grab your attention. That is what you will hear if you use a curse word!

When your bird speaks a suitable word, praise him and give him a reward. Pay close attention to and emphasise the nice word. If the bird says or makes undesirable sounds, put him in “time out” by removing all toys and food from his cage. This should be a separate cage designated as a “time out” cage, so the bird understands he is being punished. Allow the bird 15 minutes in “time out” before releasing it. Interact with the bird and use this interaction to persuade him to say further words. In general, this is how continual reinforcement works in training.

Never physically punish the bird since it will be distressed and you will lose your relationship with it. It merely exacerbates the situation.

Find out where kids are acquiring these words….they are learning them from you, friends, or family members. Put an end to it!

Turn on the TV, use other alternate sources, or just undertake basic teaching courses based on repetitious learning and reinforcement to teach the bird new phrases. The bird will realise that if he speaks right, he will be able to capture your attention. Swearing will just place him in “time-out”.

Allow the bird to maintain one swear word, though, since if he is taken, the police may need a means to identify him.

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