by Diane Burroughs March 29, 2016 7 min read

Why Parrot Training is Important

Many parrot owners will agree that their pet’s behavior is the foundation of a rewarding relationship. When we acquire a parrot as a pet, it is the desire of every owner to be able to bond with a beautiful, emotional pet that can talk to us! We all want to be able to  handle our parrot safely and offer it routine enrichment on a daily basis. When a parrot screams, bites and refuses to come out of the cage, than developing a training routine is in order.

Parrot training helps reduce anxiety which results in parrot feather plucking.

Parrot training ensures that the pet learns and develops manners.  Mom and Dad parrots in the wild spend months teaching their babies the social expectations of the flock.  This helps the baby know how to interact with others, rely on others and be a purposeful member of the flock.  Domestic parrots need to learn the routines of your "flock" and it is your job to teach them.  Hand-reared parrots simply don't learn manners by the time they are relinquished to their adoptive home.  Second hand parrots have mis-learned expected behaviors and manners.

A parrot that doesn't have boundaries or know it's expectations is more anxious than ever. Parrot anxiety, a feeling state that is often the crux of parrot feather plucking, can be managed in a number of ways, one of which is learning parrot manners.




Every parrot should know a few simple manners to be a fun, safe flock member in most households.  These manners is just the beginning, though, because parrots are much more intelligent than most of us know.  Recommended parrot training expectations include:

  • Stepping up and stepping down when instructed
  • Coming when their name is called
  • Understanding the concept of either "No," or "Leave it"
  • Complying when asked to "Stay"
  • Accepting care and comfort from all members of the household

Best Parrot Training Methods

Parrots are so incredibly intelligent and emotional that you'll want to use tried and true parrot training methods.  There is a ton of evidence out there that strongly shows that parrots respond to positive reinforcement versus punishment.  After all, if you were a flock animal in a foreign environment, you'd need loving redirection and purposeful teaching to know what is expected of you.  That's why, we at strongly endorse Clicker Training and Applied Behavior Analysis methods to teach your intelligent pet what is expected.  These parrot training methods endorse rewarding behaviors that you like with treats and positive attention. When combined with planned ignoring of unwanted behaviors, it doesn't take long for Polly to know what behaviors you like.  "Parrot training" should take place over the entire course of your relationship with your pet. 

The purpose of this blog post is to coach you on the most effective parrot training supplies that will speed up your efforts.  

Positive Training Mehods

Research abounds.  All animals, including parrots, respond best to positive training methods that reward desired behaviors so much that undesired behaviors disappear.  Of course, you'll want to seriously ignore unwanted behaviors, but you can easily shape desired behaviors by knowing how to break a desired behavior into small, reachable steps and chaining them together. 

In other words, say, you're training your pet to not scream.  (Peachy, a Moluccan Cockatoo, is prone to screaming.) I take several steps to reduce this unwanted behavior.

  1. I have a specific training space for teaching quiet vocalizations.
  2. During training time, I work on whistling and speech in a quiet format.
  3. I purposefully ignore loud and purposefully attend to quiet behaviors.
  4. I encourage loud vocalizations when he needs them, morning and evening, on his perch with flock like interactions. During these times, I encourage loud,  playful interactions.
  5. When out on his stand, I again, purposefully engage with Peachy when he is playing, safely preening, talking, whistling and other fun to be around behaviors.

Here are the supplies that help me with parrot training:

Training Perches

At school, you had your desk and at home you had a desk or a routine for homework.  That piece of equipment signaled you that you had to concentrate on learning. A training perch is a critical piece of parrot training equipment. Your bird will need a specific training perch that you use to get it's attention that learning time has begun. The training perch should serve the best interests for the parrot and the owner, as well, given the size of the parrot. Here are two of excellent alternatives that a parrot pet owner can consider. 

The Percher

The Percher Parrot Training PerchThis is a table top, T-design and portable stand that can also be used for bird training. It is a universal perch that can be used for birds of all sizes. It is designed with a cone that helps to capture droppings. The Percher can be reconfigured into a finger saving perch where the cone prevents aggressive birds from biting the hand. The perch is easy to clean and the whole perch is made up of parts that can be reassembled into 7 different designs.The Percher has benefits that include that it can be modified easily to protect from bites but in its stand form, it is a distraction free perch. The lightweight portability makes it ideal for trips and perfect for a one person trained bird that is aggressive and or anxious. Generally, it helps the bird to stay focused during training. In terms of design, the Percher has a diameter of 8" and height of 11-1/2".

Travel and Training Stand

This is training and standing perch for parrots. It is designed with a T-perch on an aluminum tripod stand which allow perching of the bird at any safe place. Again, the simple, distraction free design fosters attention during training sessions. The simple, collapsible design makes the Tote Perch ideal for travel and trips since it allows training of the bird in a flexible manner. The training perch is light enough (weighs 2.8 lbs.) since it is made of lightweight aluminum. It comes with two fitted stainless steel cups on both ends of the T-frame so that the bird can be fed even when in remote places. Plus it comes with an easy to carry shoulder tote.

Training Treats

Always use positive research based bird training techniques like Clicker Training for Birds. The foundation of Clicker Training is marking the exact behavior you want repeated with a “clicker” and immediately rewarding the behavior with a coveted treat.

Parrot training treats

Photo: Diane Burroughs,

One way to find out what your particular birds favorite treat might be is to place several treats in a cup, or in a tablespoon attached to the clicker, as shown in the photo above, and observe which one the bird goes for first. Next, remove favored treats from the bird’s routine diet and offer them only during training session. With proper training including treats, one can develop a very intimate relationship with the bird in which the bird is taught a series of behaviors that it gets rewarded for.

The goal is to teach the bird that when it behaves in a way that is acceptable, it is rewarded. Teaching bird tricks is a great way to improve your bond with your bird and teach it fun antics to do that please you Some of the best training treats include papaya, small nut chips, pumpkin seed chips, other dried fruits.


Clickers used in parrot training

A clicker is a small device that fits in the palm of your hand and emits a unique click sound when pressed. Clickers allow you to mark the exact behavior that you want your bird to reproduce. When the bird hears the click and immediately receives a treat reward, it quickly learns that the clicker is actually communicating to it that “hey, I like this. Do it again!”

Clickers drastically speed up the training process, especially when you’re using behavior modification to teach a series of behaviors that require a bird to stretch its comfort level or think about the expected “trick.” We use clicker training to increase a feather picking birds comfort level in wearing a bird collar from being afraid to see the bird collar to fully accepting wearing it. 

Clicker Training Book

Clicker training is one of the easiest yet results oriented behavior training methods for parrots. After getting the treats, the owner can use the clicker to condition the bird to associate a given sound with a certain treat. For example, a clicker sound can be associated with a certain behavior as a motivator for the bird to continue exhibiting the behavior. It is used as a tool for reinforcement and as such it is important to get all the clickers and associated treats right; and this is why a clicker training book comes in handy.

Clicker Training for Birds

The Clicker Training for Birds kit is a companion for clicker training and it contains all the training information that a parrot owner can need to condition the bird. Importance of Props Performance Trainings The main aim of props training is to mentally stimulate the parrot, teach it alternative behaviors that please you, to enhance your trust and bond with your bird and to teach the bird to sustain its attention long enough to carry out a task. Some behaviors can be more wild than desirable and it becomes necessary to teach the parrot how to be more of a pet in the home. Some examples of behaviors that can be modified or eliminated using props training include:

  1. Feather  Plucking
  2. Anxiety and shyness
  3. Excessive screaming and biting 
  4. Poor social skills

Good luck with your parrot training session. Taking the time to train your parrot every day, even if it is only for 5 minutes will make dramatic changes in your relationship with your bird and in its disposition.

If you have comments or ideas about bird training supplies that have worked for you please let us know!


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