11401 NE 195th St. Bothell, WA  98011

(425) 486-9000 PHONE  (425) 486-9002 fax

Parrots are wonderful companion pets. However, rescue facilities are full of pet parrots that have been abandoned by their owners, many times for undesired behaviors that are for the most part preventable.


All pet parrots should be willing to do the following:

  1. Step-up and step-down, onto and from: the owner’s hand, all members of the household and confident strangers
  2. Stay on a perch or play gym when put there
  3. Willingly enter the cage or carrier


Step-up: Step-up is the first basic command to teach your bird, and is the key to many hours of enjoyable interaction between you and your pet.

If your parrot is consistently treated with respect and gentleness during this process, he/she will most likely be begging to step up at this point!  You will be seen as the source of all treats, and your parrot will enjoy socializing with you.  This behavior pattern should be “transferred” to everyone your bird meets, so that anyone can pick up your pet.  A parrot that is only handled by one person can become aggressive or fearful towards other people due to poor socialization.

In order to “transfer” this behavior pattern, have all members of the family who are able to handle the bird safely regularly reinforce the step up and step down command with lots of practice, praise, and treats. You should also arrange for your bird to meet “parrot savvy” strangers inside or outside the home who can further reinforce the positive experiences associated with stepping up.  This type of relaxed socialization is very important to help develop happy, confident feathered friends!


Stay: Polite birds should stay on a perch or playstand when told to, and not jump off to follow the owners/explore the house.  Not only is it annoying to be constantly chasing your bird down, your bird could be exposed to many dangers by being in a non-parrot proofed area of the house unsupervised.

It is very important to stay calm and consistent during these training sessions.  Your parrot is very smart, and will learn quickly once he/she knows the rules are non-negotiable.


Go Home:  Birds should be willing to go back into the cage or carrier when asked.  If you are ever involved in an emergency (house fire, earthquake, etc.), your bird’s willingness to respond quickly to these commands could mean life or death!

Again, with patience and persistence, your bird will quickly learn to associate the carrier with good things, and will be very eager to go inside when asked.

There are many other behaviors that you can train your bird to do using similar techniques described here.  We strongly recommend using target training and clicker training techniques, as these can greatly expand your birds’ horizons and create hours of enjoyable interaction between the two of you (see Target Training handout by Susan Friedman and/or Barbara Heidenreich’s bird training materials for help with this).


March 30, 2015

Content of this Care Sheet Courtesy of:

The Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine 

11401 NE 195th St. Bothell, WA  98011

(425) 486-9000 PHONE  (425) 486-9002 fax