Avian Expert Articles

From “Problem Parrot” to TV Star

Lara Joseph and cockatoo Rocky at the Animal Behavior Center in Sylvania, Ohio

In our world, the adherence to time as a measurement to determine what we do and what we choose not to do is an adopted standard. Simply put, there are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a life. With this reality, we make choices. Some choices work out good endings, others produce unfortunate results. It’s not that humanity is inherently bad or selfish, it’s that time is an essence that requires thought and effort. When one goes against the usually accepted process to terminate what might become a wasted effort, then we have someone who has decided to dedicate precious resources of valuable time to create change to what might be thought of as unchangeable. With that, we look at the immense dedication of Lara Joseph.

Lara Joseph is an animal behavior consultant and trainer at a life-choice she owns, The Animal Behavior Center. Located in Sylvania, Ohio, this center was established in 2013 to provide intensive training, a series of workshops and enrichment projects, along with plenty of patience and love to those creatures deemed needful in the behavioral process.

With these selections of helpful services available to people with problematic creatures, The Animal Behavior Center actively seeks to restore a social aspect that has been neglected, as well as dealing with a myriad of pet anxieties. In addition, there are unfortunate physical problems that need to be attended to, abnormalities like blindness, deafness, and other life-defying disabilities. Lara Joseph has made it her life’s work to restore normality as best as can be achieved for the creatures she comes into contact with…like Rocky.

In 2006, Lara acquired a cockatoo that had been scheduled to be euthanized because of his unsocial behavior. He would bite frequently, fly at people aggressively, and exhibit other adverse behaviors.  The bird, a Moluccan cockatoo, was 8 years old when he came to the attention of Lara, who, having undertaken extensive training in behavioral sciences felt that she could change the bird’s unwanted behavior patterns. She adopted the bird, thereby saving it from being euthanized.

Helping Rocky

It was determined that Rocky did not understand human intentions because of improper handling. Lara revealed that Rocky was screaming for attention, something that he likely had with a previous owner. With her skilled observance, she noted that Rocky was reacting in ways that indicated he was being forced to do things, like “Step up,” or “Go back to the cage,” all resulting in lunging and biting. With that knowledge, she was able to show Rocky other ways to communicate and to react in ways that wasn’t aggressive. Over the years, she has effectively changed Rocky Valentine’s (as he is now named) conduct to that of what is considered highly socialized. His displays of love and acceptance are a grand testament to the dedication of Lara Joseph. And this has led to his becoming a commercial star.

Recently, Rocky Valentine was chosen by Stanley Steemer to star in a series of “That’s Gross…but it happens” commercials with a dog named Toby. Toby’s untidy behavior prompts hilarious reactions by Rocky. You can see a collection of four of those Stanley Steemer commercials here.

Rocky Valentine is but one of the fortunate creatures being helped by Lara Joseph. A quick trip to her well-designed website will underline all of her experiences with certain pets in a blog, as well as offer a series of highly effectual classes and services that will bring new life to creatures in need of help. She has a weekly live-streamed video called Coffee With The Critters. Overall, she offers her extensive knowledge to zoos, aviaries, shelters, sanctuaries, and individuals the world around.  You can access her Facebook page here, and her website here.

This article is more about Lara Joseph and her willingness to step outside the constraints of time to effect change, as it is about Rocky Valentine. She is a part of a growing collection of people who willingly place their personal lives on hold to make the lives of creatures a positive one.

14 thoughts on “From “Problem Parrot” to TV Star

  1. Thanks to you, Lara Joseph, fabulous creatures such as Rocky Valentine are helped to adapt in a world sometimes altered by their previous owners or unfortunate accidents. Rocky would’ve been euthanized and that would’ve been a terrible waste to our world. Thank you again Lara for all your caring, loving, hard work you put in to make G d’s creatures well, strong and beautiful again.

    1. Thank you all for the fabulous comments. Diane, many birds can become overstimulated and bite as a result. I reinforce calm behaviors when birds are on or near me. It is also easy for birds to over bond to one person. This can cause many behavior issues for us, the parrot, and the other people that live in the house. When I have a bird that is over bonding to me, I take control of my environment, meaning asking others to not get to close to me when the bird is on or near me, to prevent a bite. I will also work on getting other people interacting with that particular bird to help prevent it over bonding with me. We do this through training.

  2. My love bird has been with me since March 2019 and he was born in January, 2019. He has a big cage, lots of toys. I am home most of the time so he is out of his cage a lot. He always comes to me first. I set up toys and play with him. My son he is always gentle with, but with me he gets overly excited and bites me a lot. He wants my undivided attention all the time. Any tips?

    1. Please follow her weekly live stream on the animal behavior center Facebook page at 9am. You will learn so much from watching her live stream and can also sign up for the parrot project fb page she offers(paid subscription) where she live streams training and gives advice

    2. Hi. Reading this reminds me of my conure. While he’s socialized with everyone in the family, he seems to choose me to play on. Your bird is a baby and with you being most of the time, it seems like he hasn’t yet learned how to play on his own. Do you have a play stand for him? Do you give him some time when he has to be away from you while you are home? Another question, is he flighted? If so, then this gives him control of when he gets to be with you. The way I’ve dealt with my conure playing aggressively is that I’ve used the word no, then placed him away from me. He was originally clipped when we got him so that helped. He couldn’t fly back to me. Also, I redirected with toys. I’d give him something else to chew on while on me. He can still get excited these days, especially when I’ve got something in my hands he hates, like a medicine bottle, but it’s better. It takes time to get to know your bird’s body language. Find what gets him excited, what is happening around you, what might be triggering him. There’s definitely a source. If it’s you, then limit your contact together. When he does something appropriate, praise him. When he’s agressive, give him a time out. Remember, these little guys are like toddlers and nothing like dogs or cats. Take some time to observe, observe, observe. We have 4 birds, a conure, 2 cockatiels and a Quaker and they are all different. We’ve had to find what works with each one, just like kids. I know this is a bit long but I hope this helps. Good luck

    3. Diane, for some reason my response was posted under someone else’s comment. Thank you all for the fabulous comments. Diane, many birds can become overstimulated and bite as a result. I reinforce calm behaviors when birds are on or near me. It is also easy for birds to over bond to one person. This can cause many behavior issues for us, the parrot, and the other people that live in the house. When I have a bird that is over bonding to me, I take control of my environment, meaning asking others to not get to close to me when the bird is on or near me, to prevent a bite. I will also work on getting other people interacting with that particular bird to help prevent it over bonding with me. We do this through training.

  3. Laura Joseph has steadily been increasing her world presence by saving animals one case at a time. She is a much needed, science based Force Free trainer who shares her knowledge in full.
    Lara can change your life.

  4. Thank you Lafeber, Lara, Rocky Valentine! We need more articles like this to inform people that birds, pets need gentle approaching, soft words to make a friend. I will pass this article along and so happy you all work hard to educate the people 💞💫

  5. Lara is such an amazing person! Not only is she beautiful on the inside but also outside! She is also very thoughtful and caring not only for animals but of the human kind. I was lucky enough to meet her a few times and had a heart to heart chat. She is a great listener, very thoughtful, caring person who I look up to very much.

  6. Lara is such a blessing to so many animals and people!! I’ve learned a lot about my own animals through her and her groups!! Thank you Lara for everything that you do!! <3

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