The canary is one of several types of small birds that have been bred extensively for the domestic market. In addition to their singing voices, canaries are also smart enough to undergo some simple training. These factors combine to make them enjoyable pets. They are also affordable and require minimum care to thrive.
The Right Canary
Canaries can be trained. However, training a canary is much easier if you start with the right bird. First of all, you should only have a single bird. A pair will introduce group dynamics and make training more difficult. Second, ask the pet store or breeder to provide you with a young bird. Younger birds haven't formed habits as deeply yet and are more open to training suggestions.
When training a canary, like most other animals, positive reinforcement is more successful than negative. Watch the bird carefully for signs of fear or stress and if they get intense or prolonged stop the training session for the time being. Canaries will pant, almost like a dog, if very stressed. Positive reinforcement for training canaries is typically done by providing them with treats that they like. Fruit and vegetables, especially lettuce, are often the best rewards.
Male canaries are much loved for their ability to sing. However, sometimes a canary needs to be trained to sing. In the past, a young canary would be put in with an older canary that already sang. The young one would start to try and make the same sounds as the older one did and learn to sing. Now however, you can get around the traditional training method by using recordings. Buy a training CD of canary song from the shop or breeder where you got your canary, or off the Internet, and play it for your bird to teach it how to sing.
Canaries are not able to make human noises like some other birds can. However, they can make other noises. If you play certain sounds such as a telephone ring or alarm clock for a canary when it is young, it may learn to make those sounds the same way it can learn to sing by listening to recordings of other canaries.