Training Tidbit – Perch Step Ups


We are getting closer to the time of year where the days are getting longer, the weather is wetter, and maybe even getting warmer. We keep these wild animals in our homes (our parrots). To them, these things can signal SPRINGTIME and with it, possible breeding behaviours. Be careful not to label your bird as “hormonal” – that doesn’t really tell me what you bird is doing. Describe each instance with clearly observable actions. Then we can work to modify those behaviours!

One of your best tools when dealing with an unpredictable bird is the Perch Step Up. Time to start training it now, before it become “situation critical”! Find yourself a perch that is easily handled. Some people like a wooden perch, others a rope perch. Choose something your bird is used to. Start to introduce it slowly – yes! Even perches they see every day in their cage can seem different in this new use (remember the ‘generalization’ rules?)

I use a rope perch, and place it flat on a table. Click and treat your bird for approaching and playing around the perch. If they step onto the perch, great! Give them a treat! If not, let them play longer, and receive more treats, to build a solid foundation of positive experiences.

Once your bird is stepping onto the perch, try holding one end and moving the perch 1”. Put it back down and give them a treat! Good work! Continue to slowly shape movement on the perch, inch by inch. “The fastest way to train a bird is to go slowly” – and it’s your job to go as slowly as your bird needs to be comfortable. Soon you will be able to get a perch step up and walk around the room!

Be sure to randomly practice your new perch step ups when it is not an emergency. It’s a great skill to have. Keep maintaining it with a step up, a treat, a fun game, and then returning to the play gym. It’s fun, and it doesn’t ALWAYS mean that the gig is up! If you ever encounter an unpredictable bird, you now have the skills required to keep both of you safe. Good work!