3 Ways to Lose Your Bird’s Trust INSTANTLY

Alexandrine parrot Rasta waving while on my hand


I’ve been training alexandrine parrot Rasta for 2+ months now…


But recently I lost his trust and I need to share why so that you don’t make the same mistake with your bird, or maybe you already have and didn’t realize why your sweet bird turned on you.


Way #1 – You pushed the fear threshold too far. 


Alexandrine parakeet Rasta showing his threshold has been violated


Here’s where I went wrong…


Alexandrine parakeet Rasta training


I had a training plan and I asked my husband, Dave, to photograph my training session with Rasta. Last you knew, he was stepping up on my hand with great ease (talked about this and showed photos and video in my last post) so I decided to move the location of this training to see if he would do it on other surfaces as well. I chose the parakeet cage as he loves it there. He was doing great and stepped onto my hand with one foot no problem. I had a feeling he would do it with both feet and asked Dave to take pictures, which he was doing until our puppy distracted him and Dave left the room with the camera and of course, Rasta stepped onto my hand with both feet. I was THRILLED! And then disappointed because Dave wasn’t there to capture the moment.


Well, this whole thing for Rasta was a big under-taking and I was pushing his fear threshold pretty far.


Way #2 – “One More Time” Syndrome. 


Alexandrine stepping up on my hand with one foot before threshold was broken


So I told Dave to get it this time, and that I would do it ONE MORE TIME…


I had not planned on doing it again, and I knew it was pushing Rasta and that’s why I had planned on the one session and ending it on the fact that he did it. But because a picture wasn’t taken, I told myself I would do it one more time.


One more time syndrome is the death of a good training session. If you ever catch yourself saying, “That was great! Now, just ONE MORE TIME…” stop!!!!! STOP THE TRAINING SESSION! End where you just did something great. Don’t push it.


Because this is what my one more time ended up looking like…



Rasta was pushed too far for too long and bit me.


Way #3 – Focusing on something other than the animal in training. 


Instead of knowing better and saying, well, Dave missed it but next session we will put the puppy out and then do the same thing so he gets it… I was too focused on getting the photo and thinking about writing about the journey than I was on just focusing on what was in Rasta’s best interest.


If I hadn’t cared so much about showing it all, I would have never pushed for that one more time and in turn, would not have gotten bit because I would have ended the session positively.


It’s not the puppy’s fault, it’s not Dave’s fault and it’s not Rasta’s fault… it’s mine.


Can trust ever be regained again?


Alexandrine happily stepping up before on table before moving to new training location


Yes, the trust can be regained. In fact while pouting about my mistake I was feeling so down in the dumps about being bitten that I wasn’t doing anything with Rasta the whole day but feeling bad and I was on my laptop and he climbed down and was inches away from my face looking at me like, ‘Why did we stop hanging out? We can work through this, you know…’




Hi, I have a huge problem with my bird. I got her when I was 9, but I was too scared to play with her back then. I am bow 14 and I want to rebond with her, but her body language seems like she wants to bite my fingers every time I approach her. I am willing to be patient and wait for her to forgive me. Please give me advice!


I need help my husband dropped our birds cage lid on her head now she is totally terrified of us our vet said she could have brain damage can she come bk from this ?


Man I feel you! This just happened to me teaching my bird to wave. We we ending a session for another trick and I thought, “Let me just try the beginning of wave.” This is tricky for him as he moves both feet on quickly so I’ve been fearful he’d fall when I move my hand away after 1 foot. Well he placed one foot and didn’t fall. Hooray! So even though it was the end of a session for something else and he had done what I wanted as a quick test I thought, “Let’s see if he does it again!” WRONG. He totally fell between the perch and my hand and grabbed onto my sweater w/ his feet and was hanging. What a fright for him! After that even to step up he was biting my hand. TRUST REVOKED! Going to have to build my way back on that one hardcore. Instead of ending on a high w/ great trust I blew it and now we’re ending on a low w/ him mad at me and me mad at myself! Lesson learned!


This is helpful. I have a problem though I thought you could help me with, even if it’s just to point me to an article or video. My quaker used to step up enthusiastically but I unintentionally broke his trust about a week ago and now he gives me aggressive signs to back off. However, he steps enthusiastically when a treat is involved, just not when it’s not for a treat. How do I get him to want to step up for no treat? Also, I’ve been training him on his cage because he has bad anxiety about anything new. If I get him comfortable with a t perch I’m going to make soon will that help? Please, I don’t know what to do. He still comes out and sits on his door to talk to me. He still likes me, but doesn’t trust that if he steps up I won’t go somewhere. I’m worried that he’ll never step up if it’s not for a treat. I want our relationship to recover from this. Please help.


That’s a good point, I had problems at first with my african grey, I wish you woulda mentioned this before I bought one of ur taiming, training, & sumething program for birds that bite…. but there is a realy good article just like this wit a list of wht to do & not & pushin threshold, how to regain trust & how diet effects, plus good dieting stratigies being on the posts latley, check out the sept bird talk 2012 esp if you have greys bc they are one of the main focus & also good stuff on cockatoos…. the 2 most demanding species in my oppinion buhhh it has all these last few posts plus more info & you can even get it at ur local library for free if u don’t already suscribe or wana buy it at a pet store… you can even check there web site with lots of good tips

Anne-Marie Blake

Hi Jamie, I have a similar problem with a king parrot. He came to live with me last Christmas and was 3 years old then. I worked throught the fear stages with hanging out around him and chatting, then the power pause, then eventually some training. By around March he was stepping up on my hand, waving, giving me a kiss, a few other tricks and we are working on him saying hello. But the problem is I have never been able to move with him on my hand away from his cage or his training perch. He will go to the perch and throw things around until I come and train with him, but as soon as I try to move my hand any distance he decides its time to go back to his cage. He does not want sunflower seed THAT much. I thought patience would get us there but this seems to be where he has drawn the line. Any suggestions?

Anne-Marie Blake

Hey Anne, you have done an awesome job! I think when the bird refuses to go as far as you want, you need to back up to what worked. If I was to move Rasta, I would do it in such small increments that he would hardly notice. I would start by lifting my hand up just barely and cuing another trick (like the wave) so he didn’t notice the movement. Then reward. And increase that slowly. So that eventually he would stay on my hand that was raised up for 5-10 seconds, and then longer and longer. And then add movement going away and reward for standing that for 1 second, then 2 and so forth. A lot of people make the mistake of ‘Oh my bird stepped up! Now we shall walk around the room together!’ and the bird isn’t ready for THAT much and loses trust in doing it again. Small steps forward. :)


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