Female Timneh African Grey parrot looking up.

What Impacts Our Companion Parrot Most?

What Impacts Our Companion Parrot Most?

Training a parrot is not like training a dog.

Foods may help to open a dialogue. An accepted treat indicates a moment of acquiesce. Not to be confused with trust.  A companion parrot cannot react like Pavlov's dog. Parrots are not hardwired to please anyone. While a dog's domestic nature tends toward pleasing their master, a parrot's exotic nature stares you in the face and challenges you to prove yourself.

What is the biggest influence on our parrots?  

  • Our attitude. The epicenter of a parrot's mindset starts and ends with our own. They are looking to us for information to make judgements about trust and action. They are hypersensitive to emotions, movements, sounds, and objects by nature. A companion parrot is hardwired to take in more information than a human takes in. Humans are judgmental, we rationalize and reject things quickly if they do not fit our personal belief system and goals. Humans are the only creature that can lie to itself and believe the lie. This is the crux of the issue with most companion parrot relationship problems. This is where I start all points of work inside flocks with misunderstandings.
  • Health issues and hormones aside and handled with your vet, a defensive parrot with trust issues picked up that trait from a human somewhere. A human who preferred impatient demands, and quick rejections when demands weren't met. You can wrap all kinds of details and stories around that skeletal description, but in the end, it boils down to that statement. Why is someone demanding? Time constraints, or outside pressures of life, maybe a fight with a spouse. It doesn't matter to the parrot. All that matters is, impatient demands were followed with quick rejections. The why is irrelevant. That's the takeaway for companion parrots. The why something went wrong is irrelevant to a parrot. 

The precious center of a happy Companion Parrot Lifestyle is we as humans are required to be better humans.  A parrot can't be fooled into believing you are a good trustworthy person. They may consent temporarily due to their caging, handling, or fear, but that won't last long. I've walked into flock situations where the trust is nowhere to be found. I blame the human in the room. We go through a laundry list of reasons why the trust is gone. Normally the list starts with a bite. I still blame the human in the room.

Companion parrots are not complicated. They are difficult. Difficult because we are sharing our space with a companion that does not rationalize or simply obey. A parrot knows a lie, but unlike a dog, they will not cooperate nor honor your lie. Period. You can create an obedient parrot (through trust and respect) or you can create a submissive parrot (through fear and uncertainty). The later parrot will become a shell of itself, surviving your demands rather than growing inside your flock to become part of the whole. The later parrot will become ill, will pluck feathers, eat poorly, and give up emotionally.

The most successful parrot personalities in the world were grown in a home full of kindness, patience, and empathy. You can't have that type of fertile ground if the human in the room is impatient, mean, judgmental, or prejudiced in life. It does not coexist.

A happy parrot is defined by the human in the room.

  • You hope your parrot is relaxed, well, RELAX.
  • You want your bird to love every one that visits, well, LOVE every one that visits. You can't be insincere around a companion parrot. They know better. And they will reject you and your company for it. Their rejection might be small like not taking a treat, or not allowing a head scratch. They have you on their probation list. I've been on probation myself.

Parrots are not complicated.

  • Feed them healthy foods as you should eat.
  • Love them as you would hope to be loved.
  • Share life with them as you like having life shared with you.
  • 12 hours of dark sleep time.
  • A doctor for checkups.
  • A bath.
  • Clean water.
  • Toys (employment opportunities).
  • Recognizable routines and schedules for confidence.
  • This isn't rocket science. You are capable of handling the details of a companion parrot, and you don't need to embellish these simple items with complexity. 

But what you must do, what will always have to be done at all times is; be the best human you can be as much as you can. Be nice. Be fair. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be patient. Love. Do not judge. Welcome in. Laugh, a lot. Smile more. Wait easier. Be slow to speak, quick to laugh, and certain to forgive. I suppose this all sounds corny and completely unrelated to having a parrot in the house if you don't yet have a parrot. But I assure you, this is the way. It's the only way that really works. Consider your heart, before you consider your parrot's behavior.

You can't give a parrot a happy home if you too, aren't sincerely happy.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


  • kathy lafollett you have trained me well over the years cause everything you suggest is exactly how live with my parrots!!!life you!!!

    dorothy long leinenbach on

  • This is the best article I’ve read about parrot/human relationships 👏

    Anne Yeater on

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