Skip to main content

Now is the time to train your parrot to do tricks — here’s how

Is there anything cuter than a parrot doing tricks? We don’t think so, either. Contrary to what some people may think, it isn’t cruel to train your bird to do tricks. Training your feathered friend provides mental stimulation and physical activity and helps create a lasting, affectionate bond. Not only is training your parrot an effective bonding technique, but it also will make cleaning your parrot’s enclosure and trips to the vet much easier. If you’ve ever wondered how to train a parrot, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through training tips, common training mistakes you can avoid, and all the supplies you’ll need.

A scarlet Macaw playing with a green plastic telephone.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Getting started

As it turns out, you really need only a couple of things: a training perch and some of your bird’s favorite healthy treats. Training any animal requires time and patience. Here are a few tips to help you out.

  • Work on training only when you and your bird are calm. Many parrot owners claim their bird can sense their moods, and you’ll want to avoid agitating your bird if you’re feeling anxious, sad, or angry.
  • Keep training sessions brief, positive, and to the point. While research shows that their brains have evolved much like human brains, parrots still have short attention spans. Around 10–15 minutes several times a day is ideal for training.
  • Don’t give your bird a treat every single time he does a trick. Instead, praise your parrot rather than doling out a treat after every repetition.
  • Look on the bright side if sessions don’t go the way you want. It’s easy to become frustrated when your parrot isn’t learning as quickly as you would like. Stay positive and consistent, praise your bird for a job well done, and try again tomorrow.

Bird training basics

When it comes to training your bird to do tricks, it’s best to start with the basics. Teaching your parrot to step up from a perch — whether it’s an actual perch or your hand or wrist — makes vet visits and cage cleanings a breeze. Here’s how you can train your parrot to do several entertaining (and sometimes useful) tricks.

Step up

Approach your parrot when he’s alert and attentive. If he’s distracted by food, he won’t want to learn. Due to your parrot’s body shape, he’ll have a much easier time stepping up than stepping directly across or down. Hold your perch of choice slightly above the level of your bird’s claws, offer your bird a treat, and say, “Step up.” Keeping the treat out of your parrot’s reach makes it much more likely that he’ll take a step. Eventually, your parrot will know it’s time to step up without a treat. In some cases, you’ll only have to hold out your arm for him to step onto it.


Your feathered friend will need to know how to complete the step-up trick before you can start teaching him to wave. When your bird is sitting on his perch, say “wave” and offer him your hand like you would during the step-up trick. Parrots move one foot at a time, so when your parrot lifts a foot, slowly move your hand away. Praise your bird for waving, and make sure you give him a tasty treat.

Blue and yellow Macaw riding a tricycle.
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Did you know that you can teach a parrot to dance? Not all parrots will cooperate, but it’s adorable when they’re willing to play along. All you have to do is play your favorite music and dance. Scientific studies have proven that parrots love music almost as much as humans do. You can also find videos of parrots dancing online. Seeing other birds dance to the beat may be all the encouragement he needs to start grooving.


Just like dogs, parrots can be taught to fetch. Offer your bird a small toy he can hold in his beak, and when he takes it from you, tell him “fetch.” Allow your parrot to play with the toy as long as he wants. After he loses interest and lets it fall from his beak, tell him “drop it” and give him a treat. Repeat this step a few times. Next, place the toy on the floor and let your parrot pick it up. Be sure to tell him “fetch” when he picks it up and “drop it” when he lets it go. After several repetitions, try to catch the toy when he drops it. Eventually, your parrot will associate dropping his toy into your hand with praise and treats.

How not to train your parrot

We’ve covered a few basic tricks you can teach your bird, but learning what not to do is equally important.

  • Don’t shout at your parrot when he misbehaves. This teaches your bird to fear you, which can have serious consequences.
  • If your parrot is doing something naughty, don’t try to punish him. Even negative attention is better than no attention, so you may be reinforcing his behavior without meaning to.
  • Don’t be negative. You want your bird to look forward to training sessions, not dread them.
A blue and yellow Macaw on roller-skates.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Getting to know your bird’s personality is essential to training. Once you know his likes and dislikes, you’ll be able to offer the most appealing treats — and tell when he’s had enough for the day. Training takes patience and persistence, but the bond you’ll build is worth every minute.

Editors' Recommendations

Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
How to tell if your older dog’s health decline means the end is near
Signs your old pup is close to the end-of-life period
An old Great Dane with a white face leaning against a man's side.

If you've stumbled across this article after searching terms like "old dog behavior before death," we are so sorry for your situation. There's nothing we want more than for our fur babies to live forever. Unfortunately, death is a part of life we all must face, and the loss of a pet is a major trauma because of the tight bonds we form with our fur babies.

Knowing death's a part of life doesn't make the loss of a pet any easier — it can be as difficult as losing a human family member. Despite the many ways we can try to grieve once our beloved pet has passed, it can be helpful to know the end is near. Here's what you should look for if you suspect your dog may be nearing the end of the road.  

Read more
Is your dog barking nonstop? Here’s how to get your noisy pup under control
How to step in and help your noisy dog stay quiet when barking nonstop
Dog barking at night

If you’ve ever tossed and turned because your neighbor’s pooch barked all night, then you know how incredibly frustrating a noisy dog can be. Don’t let your pup be "that" dog in your community. While it's perfectly natural for Fido to bark occasionally, excessive barking at unreasonable hours or for long periods is unneighborly.

Experts at the American Kennel Club (AKC) say that preventing nuisance barking should be a top priority for responsible pet parents. If you live with a loud four-legger that barks nonstop, take steps now to resolve the problem before your neighbor complains (or you lose your mind).

Read more
When do kittens start eating food? Know the facts for your fur baby’s health
Consider this your guide to weaning kittens from milk or formula to solids
a white kitten with blue eyes in a cat tree

By the time you usually bring home a brand-new kitten at eight to nine weeks old, they’ve already gone through a significant transition: being weaned from milk to solid foods. However, you may find yourself in the trenches of new kitten parenthood at an even earlier stage. If you are fostering a kitten or have found a newborn, you have likely been bottle-feeding them milk or watching their mother nurse.
In these cases, you may wonder, “When do kittens start eating food?” Weaning is usually a natural process, particularly if the Mom is involved. If you’re bottle-feeding, the process may be a bit trickier, and you may have to help lead it. Regardless of your situation, understanding what to expect can help you know when to have kibble and water on hand as a kitten gets ready to wean. Consider this your guide.

When do kittens start eating food and drinking water?
The weaning process involves going from the mother’s milk to kibble and water, which is what a kitten will eat and drink in some form for the rest of their life. If the mother cat is around, she’ll know when the time is right to start weaning, and it’s best not to interfere.
Generally, kittens will start to be ready to take small tastes of solid foods and water at around three to four weeks. The food and water are complimentary at this young age, so don’t worry too much if they play with it more than they eat it. They’re still getting most of their nutrition from Mom or a formula in a bottle.

Read more