Step Up/Step Down or Up/Down

Step Up/Step Down or Up/Down are common cues taught to pet parrots for steping on or off a perch.

Step Up/Step Down or Up/Down are common cues taught to pet parrots for steping on or off a perch.

Common cues taught to parrots in order to get them to step on or off a perch. This is a crucial skill to teach all parrots, no matter how biddable they might seem, especially as youngsters.


Using positive reinforcement, teach a parrot to step on and off a person’s hand when cued. Many pet birds are happy to learn this for the simple reward of verbal praise. Others prefer a head scratch or special food treat as a reward. An excellent approach to the use of the up /down cue is to ask the bird if it wants to interact. Parrots will generally answer such questions with their body language. If they move away, turn their back or tighten their feathers to their bodies, then they do not want attention, so the human should exit without asking the bird to step on the hand. On the other hand, if the bird leans forward, raises a foot or looks eager, then it seems pleased with the opportunity to interact and can be picked up easily. Except for emergencies, such as a house fire, there is no reason to force a parrot to step up just for the fun of it. People should always give their bird a reason for the bird to want to step up.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

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