Teaching George to Shower ------      (narrated by Mum)

 
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Many birds prefer "dish" bathing, and some like being misted or sprayed in their cages.  These options are fine as far as they go, but I much prefer my birds to shower in our bathroom.  It's convenient and makes cleanup (for me) easier.

We shower-trained George right away, using the same technique we used on Laka.  George had been a "dish bather" before coming to live with us, so it took a little time (about 3 weeks) and patience. 


Would you say this bird is interested?  Yeah... definitely.

I began by taking him in with me when I'd have my shower each day.  I'd wheel a T-stand into the bathroom and put him on it.  Then I'd take my shower, carefully leaving the sliding shower doors slightly open so he could watch. 

His subspecies is from New Guinea - a very humid, tropical part of the world.  Living here in Victoria is quite a bit drier, so I knew that even if he didn't choose to bathe right away, just being in the steamy bathroom would be good for his skin and sinuses.

It didn't take long for him to become VERY interested in what was going on. 

 

George is just so NOSY!  On our 3rd day of "shower training" he just couldn't stand it anymore - he had to get a better look at the action - so he flew up to the top of the shower enclosure to get a better view.  It was pretty easy to reach up to get him, so I did.  He wasn't completely comfortable being in the small shower stall, so I just swung the tip of his tail through the water and set him back outside on his T-stand.

Here he is on the 'bird perch' - a plastic/PVC perch that sticks to the wall with suction cups.

Over the next day or so, I continued to bring him into the water with me when he showed interest - but I never forced him.  

We built success on success.  Each time he allowed himself to get wet I praised him for being such a good, CLEAN bird!

We keep a special commercially-sold "shower perch" in the shower for our smaller birds.  It's a great accessory - sticks well to the tiles and folds back flat against the wall when it's not in use.  We just set the bird on it and let the splash-off from our shoulders give a light shower to the bird.

Things went along pretty well, but once or twice there have been mishaps  - and such as the day  George decided to pick at the suction cups.  I had my back turned to him and didn't know what he was doing until I heard him falling behind me.  He wasn't hurt, but sure did get soaked (a little too much, really, but we bathe in the morning, so there was plenty of time for him to dry off before bedtime).


George right after falling down in the shower.  His tail and lower wings are much wetter than he should get for a normal bath, but it was early in the day, plenty of time to dry off.
He wasn't an enthusiastic bather at first, but tolerated it well after about 3 weeks of careful patience and persistence.  I started each shower the same way - with him on his T-stand while I lathered up.  Then when he jumped to the top of the shower stall I'd bring him into the stall and away we go!

Inch by inch he gradually relaxed.  

I put more and more of his tail into the stream, and in the end he was OK with having the water on his back up as far as his neck.

At that point I started putting him directly on the shower perch as soon as the water temperature was comfortable.  He wasn't too sure about that - and the first time he pretty much sat still until I was nearly ready to get out of the shower - and then he'd poke his head into the water.

And so it went.

In all, it took about 3 weeks of working with him before he was ready to accept getting completely wet.

Once he started putting his head into the stream he quickly became an enthusiastic bather - so much so that I found it was impossible to bathe with him - he'd hog the water and push me out of the way.

These days he bathes by himself.  

I offer him a shower about three times a week.  

I put him on the shower perch, position a bucket under him (we are careful about saving water here - we use shower run-off water in my flower garden), and turn on the water so that there's a light spray coming out (certainly not full force).  

He's allowed up to 3 minutes in the shower.  I think he'd be happy to stay there all day, but (again) we are careful about water use.  George has learned that he can't take all day, so he doesn't waste time.  He dives in and makes the most of it right away.

I started him with bath water at the lowest temperature I'm comfortable with, knowing that hot water would likely not be the best, most natural choice for him.  Once he was happy to bathe alone, I gradually tried lower and lower water temperatures.  I've not noticed that he objects to cold tap water, so that is what he bathes with now.

As you can see from these pictures, George's shower perch is positioned so that the water is running only on the very tip of the perch.  That allows George to step in and out of the water at will.  He will tolerate having the water on him continually, but seems to prefer being in control.  I can't blame him.

It's important that his feathers be completely dry by bedtime, so bath time happens only in the morning, never after noon.  Once he's soaking wet, I make sure he's in a warm room free of drafts.

Normally he's enthusiastic, but some days he is reluctant about stepping on the shower perch.  When he's not clearly enthused, we skip the shower that day.  I feel strongly about letting George decide for himself.