How To Teach Parrot Training Tricks: Perfecting the “UP” Command [Part 1]

In this report, you will learn exactly, step-by-step, how to teach your parrot two simple trick behaviors and one more advanced trick. But, first you’ll learn exactly, step-by-step, how to perfect the “UP” command because that is the command on which the other basic tricks are developed. So, let’s get started!

Perfecting the “UP” Command

I was asked recently if the first “trick behavior” we are going to cover was a real trick or just “training”. I had to answer that any trick or behavior a parrot learns is “training”. The “UP” command is the most basic behavior in training either manners or tricks, making one of the most important behaviors you can ever teach your parrot.

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You want your parrot to perfect the “UP” behavior so that it will perform the behavior on request without even thinking about it. It should be completely automatic that any time you ask the bird to step up onto your hand or finger it will immediately do so without ever attempting to refuse or even hesitating at all.

9 Steps For Perfecting The “UP” Command

First, I’ll list the steps needed to accomplish this training and then I will expand on each step. Here are the steps in a quick-view format:

Step 1: Choose a consistent training time

Step 2: Take parrot to training location

Step 3: Show the reward

Step 4: Speak the command

Step 5: Move forward below the breast and above the feet

Step 6: Continue moving gently forward with your finger or hand

Step 7: Praise and reward

Step 8: Repeat, making this into a game of “Ladder”

Step 9: Watch for automatic foot lifting

Now, let’s look at each of these steps in more detail so you’ll understand exactly how to teach your parrot how to step up instantly and consistently, perfecting the UP command:

Step One: Choose a consistent training time

It is best to teach your parrot behaviors and tricks when it is slightly hungry and not tired. Choose early morning, around noon or about the time your parrot normally has dinner to teach behaviors so that it will have already napped and feel energetic and ready to interact as well as interested in food rewards.

Step Two: Take parrot to training location

It is never a good idea to train your parrot on or too near the cage. This can result in the bird protecting its home instead of focusing on the training.

Take your parrot to a quiet location with which it is familiar and comfortable. Choose a spot where there is no other activity. Don’t attempt to train your bird where children are playing or the television is blaring. Don’t select a location that the parrot doesn’t know well or it will begin looking at the new surroundings and fail to pay any attention to you and the training session.

Step Three: Show the reward

When first teaching a behavior, you’ll probably choose a favorite food treat. See Appendix A for more information on reward selection. Let your parrot know that a treat is readily available which he or she especially loves to eat.

Step Four: Speak the command

You must choose the word or phrase you’ll consistently use to request your parrot to step up onto your finger, hand or forearm. Never vary from the chosen command so that your parrot will clearly understand exactly what you are requesting and can respond correctly.

Position your finger or hand just below the parrot’s breast and just above its feet. This is the natural position in which a parrot will step from one perch to another or from one tree limb to another.

Step Five: Move forward below the breast and above the feet

Very gently, as you speak the command, move your finger, hand or forearm. Do not move so quickly or with such energy that you startle your parrot but do move with enough momentum that the parrot will understand the fact that you wish it to move to your presented hand or arm.

Step Six: Continue moving gently forward with your finger or hand

If the parrot does not immediately lift one foot to step onto your hand or finger, continue to move your hand toward the bird gently so that it will have no choice but to step onto your hand. If your parrot is tame, it will naturally avoid having your finger or hand touch its feet and step up.

Step Seven: Praise and reward

If you parrot steps up, give it lots of praise and additional rewards such as food or scratches.

Step Eight: Repeat, making this into a game of “Ladder”

By repeating the process, you can turn this into a game of ladder, moving your free hand back to the front each time and again asking your parrot to step up. At first, repeat for only five or six times. As the parrot learns to enjoy the game, you can repeat it more times but limit the number to prevent your bird from getting bored with the behavior, keeping the training to less than two minutes.

Step Nine: Watch for automatic foot lifting

Once your parrot has been performing this super-simple trick for several sessions, start noticing if its foot rises instantly when you speak the command requesting it to step up. Once the parrot begins to respond without thinking about the command, you will be ready to move on to other simple tricks.

About the Author:
Nora Caterino, known as the Mississippi Bird Lady, or just Bird Lady for short, has trained, raised, and lived with birds for over 30 years. You can subscribe to access news, articles, videos, forums, and receive unlimited one-on-one advice and coaching for one full year. For one-on-one coaching and advice, simply join the Elite Parrots Club at

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