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Sandra December 31, 2022

Parrot Training Tips

Training will strengthen your bond with your parrot, it's something they will look forward to because they get one-on-one attention and their favourite treats, but it will also make handling your bird a lot easier.


The place where the training takes place needs to be a quiet spot where they won't get distracted or scared.

Get everything for the training session – treats (nuts/seeds), a training clicker and a chopstick (target training).

Training sessions work best when your pet is happy and motivated by food (a little hungry).

Keep the sessions productive and short. You can train for 2-5 minutes, but most parrots get fed up after 10 or 15 minutes, so train at your bird’s pace and read their body language when to stop. Capture training usually lasts longer, 10-15 minutes, because we are waiting to capture the behaviours vs teaching behaviours we want to see, like step up or come here. 

A few Basics

The step-up command is when your bird steps onto your finger (or perch) or step-down where they step off. Your parrot should offer up their foot while you offer your hand or step off. 

Gently offer your finger to your parrot and say, "Step up." Most parrots will raise their foot naturally and step onto you. Make sure you reward the correct behaviour. Getting your bird to step up and down on command makes handling easier.

You should always have a contact call with your bird that gets them to fly to you when you use it. A lot of our birds will "call" for us when we are not around or out of the room and wait for us to use a contact call back to let them know everything is okay. A contact call can be beneficial if they fly out into the wild (fingers crossed, this never happens!), but that way, you have a call that summons them and has them fly back to you. 

Keep this in mind when it comes to training:

If there is a behaviour you want to see more of or keep seeing (like stepping up), reward them for it and if there is a behaviour you don't want to see (like screaming), ignore it!

Types of Training

“Shaping” reinforces good behaviour and correct responses and discourages unwanted ones. Use a clicker, and when your bird does what you want it to do or has made a positive step towards it, then click and reward your bird.

Capturing is clicking and rewarding a behaviour your bird does on its own. The concept of capturing is offering a treat for behaviours they already do that you would like to put on cue. If you want to see, a behaviour repeated, reward it!

We put "wings" on cue with Mango and captured when he stretched his wings. :)

This basic technique teaches your parrot to step up on a perch or your hand. Use a clicker in one hand, and offer the perch you want the parrot to step onto. Doing this is instinctual, so most birds step up without much prompting. The key is to say, “Step up” over time; it will become prompt. Click the clicker to reinforce the correct behaviour. Over time, move the two perches further apart until the parrot has to walk, hop, or fly to get to the second perching spot. Don't forget to reward with treats!

This is the basis of lots of parrot training because it helps your bird associate a command with an action. You can use a chopstick or something similar. Use a command and when your bird touches the object (with beak or feet), use your clicker and reward. In time, the object or command phrase will get the desired response.