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Answers from vets about your pet:

Can Parrots and Cats Swear?

Posted March 11, 2016 in A Pet's Life

Parrot close up

Question: What can you do with a potty-mouthed bird?

Bingo, our 16-year-old Amazon parrot is a wonderful companion to our entire family. Our 14-year-old son has begun to use some bad language. We were tipped off when Bingo began to talk like a drunken sailor. I can deal with my son, but how do I deal with a bird who might shock my beloved Aunt Martha, who’s a nun? — S.J., Stillwater, OK

Answer: The most effective way to clean up Bingo’s language is to refuse to pay any attention to him for saying a bad word. Gradually teach Bingo new words, and while you’re at it, wildly reinforce his new vocabulary.

Replace each bad word with a similar-sounding, but more acceptable, word that you clearly repeat and use frequently. For example, you could teach your bird words like “truck” or “sit.” You could even show the object (a truck), or sit in a chair, so there’s a meaning attached.

While Bingo is a work in progress, perhaps Aunt Martha should keep her distance.

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Steve Dale, a contributing member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team, is a certified animal behavior consultant, and co-editor of “Decoding Your Dog,” authored by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists,” and is host of several pet radio shows. Steve’s blog is www.stevedale.tv

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