How to Perch Train Your Parakeet

Three Parts:Training Your Bird to Sit on a PerchTeaching Your Bird to Perch on Your FingerContinuing Your Bird's Training

Perch training is the most popular of all bird tricks, and it's one of the most basic training routines a bird owner can do. Like any other type of training, perch training takes some patience and dedication. Once you've trained your bird it will be able to perch on command, making things much easier for the both of you.

Part 1
Training Your Bird to Sit on a Perch

  1. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 1
    Offer your parakeet a wooden dowel. If your bird has never used a dowel before, you may need to introduce your bird to the dowel before it will climb on. The dowel will become an important training tool, so make sure your bird gets comfortable with being on and around dowels as soon as possible.[1]
    • Most parakeets need a dowel between 0.5 to 1 inch (1.27 to 2.5 centimeters) in diameter. Your parakeet should be able to wrap about 2/3 of its toes around each perch without overlapping.[2]
    • Hold the dowel gently up to the parakeet's belly. Keep a steady hand so the dowel doesn't wobble.[3]
    • You should aim to place it just above the bird's legs.
    • If you're just starting out your training, it will be easiest to keep your bird in its cage while you practice sitting on a perch. Once your parakeet progresses you'll be able to move training to outside the cage.
  2. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 2
    Give the "step up" command. "Step up" will be an important command in every stage of perch training. It's important that your parakeet gets used to this command early on in the training process.[4]
    • Say the command every time you practice perch training with your parakeet. Remember that consistency is key in any type of training.
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    Lure your bird onto the perch with treats. Depending on your bird's temperament, you may need to lure it with treats onto the desired perch. Make sure you praise your parakeet and reward it with treats every time the bird obeys your command.[5]
    • Hold the treats just out of reach to lure your parakeet up onto the dowel/perch.
    • Millet makes a good treat for parakeet training.[6]
    • Whatever treat you use for training, make sure it's reserved just for training. You want the treat to be something special that the bird will only get when it cooperates during your sessions.[7]
  4. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 4
    Progress to perch training outside the cage. Once your parakeet is comfortable climbing onto a perch inside its cage, you can advance to training outside the cage. Remember though that you should never attempt to train a bird outdoors. Training outside the cage simply means training in a safe room inside your home.[8]
    • Make sure the room you choose does not have any open windows or doors. The curtains should be closed over any windows and the room should be free of pets.
    • Follow the same training steps you used to perch train inside the bird's cage. You may need to use more treats to lure your bird if the room has other distractions.

Part 2
Teaching Your Bird to Perch on Your Finger

  1. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 5
    Make sure your parakeet is comfortable with dowel training. Before you attempt to teach your parakeet how to perch on your finger, it's important that the bird understands the "step up" command. If your bird is not yet comfortable stepping onto a dowel, it may not be comfortable stepping onto your hand.[9]
  2. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 6
    Have your parakeet step up onto the dowel. Before you can get your bird to perch on your finger, you'll want to have it step up onto the dowel. This reinforces to the bird that you're continuing your training, and your bird will realize that more treats can be had if it cooperates.[10]
    • Hold the dowel in front of your parakeet and give the "step up" command as you did during regular perch training.
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    Offer your index finger and say "step up." Once your parakeet is on the dowel, you'll want to offer your finger to the bird. Be patient, as your bird may be anxious or uncertain about what you want it to do.[11]
    • Extend your index finger in front of where your bird is perched on the dowel. Say "step up" while offering your finger.
    • Inch your finger closer to your bird's feet every time you practice finger perching.
    • Keep your hand steady. Your bird will be reluctant to climb onto a hand that's unstable or wobbly.[12]
  4. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 8
    Lure your bird with treats as needed. Treats will help motivate your bird during any type of training, and finger perching is no exception. Continue to offer your parakeet millet or any other special treat that you've had success with during training.[13]
    • Remember that your bird may be scared of perching on your finger if dowel training is still relatively new to it.
    • Be patient and try speaking in a soft, calming voice while you practice training your bird to help put it at ease.

Part 3
Continuing Your Bird's Training

  1. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 9
    Teach your bird the "step down" command. A good companion to the "step up" command is its counterpart, the "step down" command. Step down is useful when you want to move the object your parakeet is perched on, which can be particularly important if it is perched on your finger.[14]
    • While the bird is perched on your finger or a dowel, offer the object you want it to move to.
    • Hold the object just above and in front of whatever your bird is perched on.
    • Give the command, "step down." You're still trying to get the bird to climb upwards, but the command "step down" communicates to the bird that you want it to get off of you or the dowel.
    • Use treats to lure your bird onto the replacement object until it gets comfortable following your command without a reward.
  2. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 10
    Train your bird to "ladder" between fingers. Laddering is essentially a repeated "step up" command that urges your bird to switch from one hand to the other in succession. You'll need to practice this command on a daily basis, at least until your bird gets comfortable with the repeated action.[15]
    • While your bird is perched on one finger, hold the index finger of your other hand up in front and slightly higher than where your bird is perched.
    • Give the "step up" command to get your bird up onto the other finger.
    • Once the bird is on your other finger, repeat the process to get your bird to climb back onto the finger it was initially perched on from your other hand.
    • Try to get your bird to move from one hand to the other as comfortably (and later as rapidly) as possible.
  3. Image titled Perch Train Your Parakeet Step 11
    Use proven training techniques. As you begin to advance your parakeet's training, it's important to use training techniques that have been proven effective by trainers. While some birds are easier to train than others, you should be able to make progress with any parakeet if you stick to a schedule and ensure your bird is comfortable and happy.[16]
    • Stick to short sessions. Aim for 10-minute sessions held two or three times each day to ensure your bird remains focused and attentive.
    • Try to stick to a regular schedule with your training sessions. Aim to train your bird at the same time every day.
    • Leave props and perches in or near your bird's cage for a few days before training begins. That way it will be used to these objects and may even have an interest in using them independently.


  • Have your parakeet's wing feathers trimmed by a vet before letting it out of the cage. A bird's wing feathers will grow back with each molting, but an untrimmed bird will be less likely to cooperate with training.
  • Make the perch size appropriate for your bird. Don't expect a tiny little parakeet to be able to perch on a brick-sized stick. Your bird should be able to comfortably grip the perch in its feet.


  • Never yell at your bird or punish it. Be patient or your bird will become even more frightened of you.
  • Cover your windows with blinds or curtains in a room where you'll be training your parakeet. The bird may not know that there's glass and try to fly into it, severely injuring or even killing itself.

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Categories: Parakeets and Budgerigars