Our pet parakeets, or budgies, spend most of their day inside a cage. It can get lonesome in there, so taking your parakeet for a walk outside is a great idea.
For protection, many owners keep their birds in a cage when taken outside.
However, one can also train a bird to wear a harness so that it has more freedom on outdoor adventures.
Can you harness a parakeet?
A tame parakeet can be trained to wear a leash and harness to go for walks outside with its owner. Avian restraints are available in sizes suitable for small birds. They should always be supervised while wearing a leash, and must never be tied to a perch.
Can You Take Your Parakeet Outside?
Spending time in the outdoors with your feathered friend is such fun but carrying its bulky cage around is not ideal.
The thought of clipping its wings may not appeal to you, so consider training your bird to go for walks with you wearing a leash.
Bird harnesses are made for comfort and safety. The leash and harness are usually non-detachable.
Harnesses do not restrict its mobility and can be used for free flight training your bird.
Even though parakeets are tiny, fragile birds, they too can wear a harness if it is used carefully.
Bird harnesses are designed with three parts: a small loop at the front of the harness for the head, two bigger loops on each side for the wings, and a little strap that goes across the bird’s chest.
The leash connects to the chest strap.
Tame Your Parakeet First
It is crucial that your parakeet trusts you and is comfortable being handled. To tame a parakeet, give it lots of treats to gain trust.
Get them used to being picked up and having its head, chest, wings and back touched.
Make time for training every day. Aim to work for 10 to 15 minutes, twice a day. Earning trust takes time. Do not give up after a week or even a month.
Always give your bird food and water after training. Reward good behavior with lots of treats.
How To Leash Train A Bird
Putting a harness on your parakeet right away will likely scare it, even if the pet is comfortable with being handled. Introduce the harness slowly and without force.
Let your bird guide the pace of the harness training.
Start by getting your parakeet used to seeing the harness. Bring it out before feeding times so that your parakeet forms a positive association with the new gear.
Place the harness next to the bird and give it time to inspect. Praise the feathered creature’s confidence when it approaches or touches the harness and reward with treats.
Do not let your parakeet chew on the harness. This is dangerous as damage to the leash and harness can compromise the bird’s safety when you are outside.
When your parakeet is relaxed and happy being around the harness, it is time for the next step – teaching the bird to put its head through the harness.
Dangle the loop for the head in front of the bird and gently guide it to stick the neck through using a treat.
When the head is through the harness, give it a treat immediately and remove the harness.
Keep practicing until your bird is confident putting its head through the harness. Build up to keeping the harness around the neck while it eats the treat.
Your parakeet will get used to the physical feeling of the harness, and it will have a positive association – treats!
The goal is to train your pet to voluntarily put its head into the harness – the bird should be comfortable and willing to wear.
Forcing a bird to wear a harness is not only cruel but will ruin your chances of harness training in the future, as your bird will form a negative association with the harness and feel scared whenever visible.
The final step is to secure the bird in the harness by gently lifting each of its wings through the wing straps and tightening them.
Give your feathered friend loads of affection and treats if it lets you do this. The harness should be snug but not too tight for your bird.
How to Put a Leash on a Parakeet
Once your parakeet is trained and comfortable, placing its harness on is quick and easy! Just follow these steps:
- Start by checking the harness for any damage. If your parakeet has chewed the straps or buckles, get a new harness.
- Hold the harness out for your bird to put its head through.
- Gently tuck each of its wings through the wing loops.
- Secure the harness by tightening the strap.
- Wrap the leash around your arm and put your hand through the loop at the end of the leash to keep it secure.
Risks to Consider When Birds Wear a Leash
Wearing a harness does not protect parakeets from the dangers of the outside world. Always supervise your bird while it’s wearing a harness.
Ensure that it is safe from predators, like dogs and cats, and other dangers like cars or being stood on.
Never tie the leash to a perch. Your bird can be injured if it attempts to fly off while tethered.
Take care to avoid the leash from snagging on door handles or getting tangled up when you are carrying lots of bags.
Keep training sessions in the harness and outside walks for parakeets short – 5 to 10 minutes to start with.
You can work up to longer walks but avoid having your parakeet wear a harness for extended periods. It can irritate the skin and damage feathers.
Choose the Right Harness and Leash
Bird harnesses are available from most pet supply stores and online in a wide variety of sizes.
- Choose the smallest possible size for a parakeet. It is important that the harness fits snugly so that your bird cannot escape.
- Choose a harness in a similar color to your bird’s feathers. They will be more willing to accept it.
- Elastic leashes are the best, as they avoid a sudden jerk if your bird flies to the end of the leash.
- Buy a harness and leash with high-quality metal buckles and clips. Parakeets can easily chew and break plastic ones.
With time and patience, a parakeet will love experiencing the new sights, sounds and smells when you take it outdoors.
However, special care must be taken to slowly train a bird to wear a harness to feel safe and comfortable.
The training will take time and dedication on your part, but the effort is well worth it!