How to Target Train Your Parrot

Learn how to target train your parrot from Parrot Wizard Michael Sazhin in this Howcast video.

Target training your parrot is one of the most useful skills you can teach to your bird. What you simply use is a target stick. This happens to be a chopstick, but you can just as well use a wooden dowel. Avoid using pens and things like that, because it may be toxic. Also, using your finger is not the best idea because the bird ends up touching it. You don’t want to necessarily teach your bird to bite your finger. So, a target stick is the best method to use.

Then, I’m going to use my clicker, which makes a clicking sound. I’m going to click whenever the bird touches the target stick and give it a reward. At first, when you’re starting to teach your bird a target, it doesn’t know what a stick is. Luckily, most parrots touch anything you put in front of their beak. When you put that target stick in front of their beak, they may just naturally touch it or play it. Right as they touch it, you’re going to click your clicker and give it a treat to teach it that touching the target stick is what you want it to do.


If your parrot is scared of the target stick, or running away, you can just patiently leave the target stick in front of the bird and wait for the bird to come toward the stick. Even if the bird just inadvertently by accident turns to face the stick or walks in that direction without touching it, if it’s moving towards the stick, that’s progress. Click and give a treat.

Eventually, you’re going to be able to direct your parrot with the target stick and have it turn its head or take a step to touch it. Over time you’re going to be able to use that target stick to teach that parrot to step up and to do other tricks, like this.

Target. Good bird.

Since the parrot is focused on targeting to the stick, they don’t quite notice your hands there as much. They’re less likely to bite since their attention is captivated on the target. They’re forced to step on your hand and touch the stick.

The target stick not only teaches your bird to follow and touch, it also teaches your parrot how to learn. Since it’s such an easy behavior for your parrot to pick up, it’s a great trick to begin with.

Also, it’s useful for teaching additional tricks to parrots, such as turn around by having them follow the target stick.

Target. Good boy.

That’s how you target train your parrot.