Female scarlet macaw excited and pinning her eyes.

Communicating Everything While Doing Nothing

Communicating Everything While Doing Nothing

Our companions, parrot to dog, learn when we aren't teaching.

The human psyche needs nothing. To choose to not pursue, and rest. Sleep, naps, days off (real ones where you really don't do anything, not those fake ones to get things done), respites, a change of scenery. Our mind needs these moments to reboot, literally. Short term and long-term memories get shuffled and saved. Our heart rate, stressors, and blood pressure recede. We let go and just let things happen. Without the do-nothing time, creativity dies. Creativity is what allows us to find the humor, the gratitude, and understanding of our daily life. Life isn't about getting things done. It's about being aware of doing things. And to do that well, you're going to have to sit down and do nothing intermittently.

This applies to our companion animals as well. Naturally they just go ahead and do nothing happily. Animals don't rationalize like humans. Companion parrots flourish inside intermittent training. All companions do. Whether you're working on sit, stay, wait with your dog. Or abstaining from eating the La Z Boy chair with your parrot. Allowing time to consider what's been gone over allows your companion to try without expectation from you. 

Consider working with your dog to sit. Fifteen-minute intervals are the best training session time. You do this three times a day. For three days. If you aren't getting the results you'd hoped for, give a day of rest. There will be a moment when your dog is going to think, "Well, hey, what about the treat thing we've been doing? Where's the treats at?" Your dog may just walk up to you and sit. To see if they can find out what your problem is. Obviously, you're confused. Dispense that treat, and congratulations! Your dog was given a moment to creatively connect your idea and what they want.

Parrots and step up follow that same idea. Step up is tricky for a parrot because you aren't asking for one thing. You are asking for three things. Two feet to step and unknown direction. That's a lot to ask of a parrot. Treats work, but they only answer the short-term unknown direction. Your hand, that treat. Step up works great when after they are successfully on your hand, you head to the same place. To end the idea. Back and forth between two locations. Take a day off. Let them expect you and not have that expectation met. Your parrot is going to think, "Fabulous. He's confused, again. Where's that treat? How come I'm not going over there?" Your parrot may just raise a foot to remind you of your responsibility. Dispense a treat! Congratulations! Your parrot was given a moment to creatively connect your idea and what they want.

Allowing our companions to come to conclusions, rather than following root rewards results is a higher level of response and confidence, for them. Training and work. We all need a break so our brains can reboot, reorganize information, and creatively serve up new connections. This is natural. For them and us.

To help our pets change the way they think we'll need to change the way we think, first.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


  • HI! I was wondering if you have seen on instagram the account “what about bunny”. If you haven’t I would love it if you would take a look at some of their posts and tell me what you think. Bunny is a poodle that uses “button” with recorded words to communicate. Thanks.

    Karen Sheridan on

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