Trust Building

It can be hard for someone to make new friends. You might enter a room of people but be unsure how to approach a stranger. You wouldn’t want a stranger coming straight up to you and touching your face! Making friends is a delicate art. Remember, friendship is built over time. You don’t FORCE or RUSH a friendship! A friendship with a parrot is also like this.

How do I get my parrot to trust me? This is a great question, and a perfect way to start your life together. Start by building trust! Before you teach ‘step up’ or anything else, build trust. We build trust with patience, choice, and positive experiences.

New birds in your home? They need time and patience. Everything is new. There may have been travel involved. They may have been in foster care, or in a rescue for some time. How long would it take you to feel comfortable in a new space?

Don’t try to force anything! Don’t rush!

Learn to watch your birds body language. If you can read your birds movements, you can see their choices. Let them come to you. Using CHOICE is a big part of letting your bird learn in a safe way.

Friends tend to make friends with similar interests, your bird will as well. Find something your bird likes, like a nut, seed, or treat. Then we can use that to build a trusting friendship.

Start by pairing yourself with their treat of choice. You approach, you give a treat (or drop it into the dish) then you back off. You are becoming a Treat Dispenser. This is great! Giving reinforcers means you are depositing into the birds’ Trust Bank Account. (Look for our training tidbit on this topic!) The more you interact in a way your bird finds pleasant/agreeable, the better. Once the bird is looking for you, and eagerly awaiting their treat, you can progress to bigger games!

You might start with a game called “Target”. We recommend target training as a way to build trust. This becomes a fun way to communicate with your bird!

There is NO HURRY. We must invest in the foundation for the relationship so it can endure for years to come. Like building a house, a strong foundation is essential to a long lasting home!


  1. Go slow, at your birds’ pace.
  2. Let the bird come to you (Choice!)
  3. Create positive experiences (use treats!)
  4. When the bird starts seeking you out, progress to games.

More courses on trust building here:

If you need any more advice, or help breaking this down into smaller steps, please email us. We are happy to help!

  • Robin Horemans CPBC-KA, KPA CTP, IAABC ADT


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