Who's a clever bird? Calgary school trains feathered friends

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Who's a clever bird? Calgary school trains feathered friends

Who's a clever bird? Calgary school trains feathered friends

You've heard of obedience training schools for dogs, but this one's for the birds.

Certified instructor Robin Horemans opened the Calgary Bird School a few months ago to help parrots, budgies, cockatoos and their owners communicate better.

"Because you can take your dog to dog training class and help them be a better companion, but you can't often bring your bird anywhere to help them be a better companion," she said.

Horemans uses a technique known as marker, or clicker, training.

"If you think of a dolphin show, they use whistles to train the dolphins. That's the same sort of marker training."

Stephen Johnson, with Sydney the 23-year-old umbrella cockatoo, is one of the students.

"When you're interacting with a wild creature like one of these guys, to a certain degree you have to do it on their terms," he said.

Morgan Watfa recently took her Alexandrian parakeet, Kiwi, in for its second class. "It's good to have it in person, I think … and get some bird-specific training," she said.

Horemans says one of her guiding principles is to let birds be birds.

"We want them to be able to fly. We want them to be able to play. We want them out of the cage and being part of the family," she said.

"But we also want that to be safe, so that nobody's hitting any mirrors."

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