How to teach your parrot the “PLAY DEAD” trick FULL guide
Prior to step 1:
Turn your parrot on his back (best place to teach this trick is on a bed/ thick mattress) and let him get used to it, start keeping him still and when his comfortable with it you can start step 1 (do it at least 15-20 times).
Step 1: teaching the parrot to stay perfectly still (without a clicker):
Your Parrot right leg is grabbing your left hand (index finger) and helps him flip and lay on his back while your right hand (index finger) is doing a circle motions, vocal cue is the word “circle”.
When you see that the parrot is doing it perfectly a few times in a row- do it a few more times with a clicker(about 5 times)to ensure that the parrot can continue to step 2.
Step 2A: hand switching (without a clicker):
Start with 3-4 drills from step 1 (without clicker), if all is good- continue to step 2
Now your right hand will be in a “gun” shape and will replace left hand.
You’re still saying “circle” but no longer doing the “circle” motion- now the gun shaped (right) hand will lead the parrot to flip and lay on his back, like so:
Let the parrot grab your right index finger (don’t forget to maintain the gun shape) and do a “rainbow” motion that will flip the parrot clockwise, it’s ok if he’ll keep on grabbing your hand while he’s laying.
Step 2B: getting less involved:
When the parrot is doing step 2A perfectly you just start getting less involved by doing half a “rainbow” and then a quarter…basically you’ll let him lead the “flip”. at the end you’ll start seeing an effort** from the parrot side (now it’s the time to start using clicker) so reword him vocally+ giving a super treat even if the flip is only halfway… for now It doesn’t matter if he’s perfectly still or even if he doesn’t complete the flip.
When he’s doing these efforts try to release your hand from his grip — that would probably make him lose some balance and the outcome would be- flipping.
Examples for efforts**: while hanging on your hand he’ll start pushing himself to flip and moving his left leg trying to flip as well.
When Chief started to really try and do the flip by himself I added the final vocal (my version to “bang”) cue and continued with the “gun” cue and clicker.
When you’ll show the parrot the “gun” cue he would lift his right leg and wait for you to assist him, then you encourage him to flip on his own, like so:
with your left index finger give him a little push on his wing/upper leg…quickly he would understand that you’re not going to help him anymore and he would start flipping on his own, for now it doesn’t matter if the flip is only halfway/for a millisecond…your only goal is letting him know that he should flip without your help and start getting used to the final vocal sound.
In this step we stopped all hand motions so if the parrot is confused it’s ok to help him to understand what exactly we want by reaching with our left index finger towards his right leg and/or making the “rainbow” motion in front of him…he would get it after a few times(happened to me with chief).
Step 4 and final: going back to the starting point:
When the parrot starts flipping every time and you are sure that he got the point you’ll start intervening like so:
The moment he flips- with your right hand you’ll keep him in that position and when he’s calm (not perfectly still but calm) you click and reward…do it until you see that he’s starting to lay longer on his back, now it’s time to start working on keeping him “perfectly still”…
this is the easy part because he knows it thanks to step 1.
During the process it’s more important that the parrot will get to know the visual cue much more than the vocal…the vocal is less a cue and more like a cool add-on, anyway,
You still have 2-3 more sessions until your parrot would master the trick so he’ll learn the vocal cue in those sessions so……don’t worry about It….the best example is Chief 🙂