Whether you wish to teach your parrot tricks or not, you certainly want to train your parrot in some basic manners commands such as “step up”, “no”, and the concepts of parrot training are basically the same no matter which commands you wish to convey to your bird.
In order to succeed with any parrot training, you must understand that parrots do not understand punishment as do some other domesticated creatures. You will only frighten your parrot and experience serious training set-backs if you try to admonish your parrot through use of loud noises, spraying it with water, screaming at it, or threatening it in any way whatsoever. You must work with your parrot while it is willing to work with you. Keep in mind that parrots have fairly short attention spans, so keep parrot training sessions to about 10 or 15 minutes.
The first step in parrot training basic manners should always be to teach the parrot the Step Up command. This allows you to get the parrot on your finger or arm when you wish to remove it from the cage or return it to the cage, as well as other times when you want your parrot to step onto your hand to travel about the house with you.
Training is made much easier in the early stages by use of a food reward. While some advocate training diets where the parrot is kept hungry, this is not a good way to train a parrot. However, you do want to find a food your parrot really loves and save that treat as a training reward for good behavior. Many parrots love peanut butter, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or sunflower seeds and these items can be removed from the daily diet and saved for training rewards.
How to train a parrot with a stick
If your parrot is not tame, you should begin by locating a spare perch or training stick which you can teach the bird to step up onto before it becomes comfortable stepping onto your hand or arm. If the parrot is already tame, you can begin training with the parrot stepping onto your hand or arm right away. In the case of a tame parrot, it is better to perform training while the parrot is away from its cage, but with the untamed parrot we must begin by getting the parrot to come out of the cage. Let’s look at how to train a parrot that is not comfortable stepping onto a human hand.
Begin by getting the parrot’s attention, opening the cage door and let the parrot see the training stick while you speak the command “step up”, “up” or whatever words you wish to use to mean the action you are teaching. If the parrot moves toward the stick, even a single step, provide a reward and lots of verbal praises. Repeat this process through the first training session. Any movement toward the stick, or in the case where the parrot tries to back away, even learning to not move away, should be rewarded.
The next day, again get the training stick and rewards. Allow the parrot to see that you have these items. Open the cage door, talking in a soothing, calm voice to the parrot to let it know you are not going to hurt it in any way. Again, be sure the parrot knows you have the reward and the training stick. On this second day, as you speak the command, the parrot should have to come a bit further toward the stick in order to get the reward. Once it has made progress toward the stick, only reward behavior that is as good as or better than past behavior. Do not provide rewards for doing less than it has done before. Parrots are smart and it will not take long for the parrot to get the idea!
Each day, request the parrot to do a bit more in the parrot training session than the day before. If it took one step toward the stick yesterday, reward it today for taking two steps toward the training stick. Or, if it came near the stick yesterday, then today it should be rewarded only for lifting a foot toward the stick or stepping onto it.
After some days of regular training using food rewards as well as verbal praise, the parrot will move closer and closer to the stick, eventually stepping onto the stick. The next goal would be to allow you to remove it from the cage on the stick. After that goal is reached in the parrot’s training, you can begin shortening the distance from your hand to the end of the stick, eventually getting the parrot to step onto a very short stick. Soon after, the parrot will be stepping directly only your hand!
If you are performing parrot training with a tame bird, this whole process may take as little as two or three days. However, continue to reinforce the training until it is ingrained in the parrot’s mind that each time you give the command, it should perform the behavior. After the parrot learns the behavior, verbal praise is all that is required. Continue to provide food treats during training for a new manners command. You’ll be so proud of your parrot when it becomes well trained.