All pet parrots should be willing to do the following:

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

  • Confidently ask your bird to “step up” while placing your hand immediately in front of the parrot’s feet. Hold a favorite treat in your other hand to help encourage your bird to come forward.
  • When your bird leans forward to take the treat, offer verbal praise immediately and give him/her the treat. Repeat this process, asking a little more of your bird each time. For example, initially you will reward any forward movement towards your hand. Then, wait to reward your parrot until you see one of his/her feet moving towards your hand. Then, wait to reward your parrot until he/she touches your hand with a foot… etc. It may take only one training session or several training sessions before your parrot is comfortable with this process.
  • Once your bird steps up willingly on your hand, ask your bird to “step down” onto perches, the cage, or other locations by holding your hand close to these surfaces and offering your bird a treat once he/she steps onto the new surface. Some birds may be fearful of new surfaces, so move slowly and use lots of praise and encouragement.

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.