How to teach a parrot or parakeet to crawl through a tube or jump through a ring? This article should explain to you just how to teach parrots to go through different objects upon sight of them.
The tube trick is one of the easiest tricks to teach to parrots and parakeets but the biggest challenge is to avoid scaring the parrot or making it claustrophobic. A solid background in targeting is virtually mandatory, but already knowing some other tricks is advisable. The parrot should be tame and accustomed to handling prior to teaching this trick. If your parrot isn't comfortable with hands or does not know how to target, you can refer to a different article about taming and basic training.
The first thing to do is source a tube suitable to the size of your parrot. The smallest parakeets (namely Budgerigars), can go through a toilet paper tube. For small parrots such as a Senegal Parrot, Cockatiel, or Conure, you can use a piece of 3"-4" PVC pipe. You can also be creative and scout out other tube ideas such as carpet rolls and poster tubes. For the larger parrots, you're on your own. I used a 6" PVC coupling to avoid having to buy the entire pipe (which can be quite costly at that size). For even larger parrots you will have to get creative and keep your eyes open for suitable tubes. When they get that big you may even consider making your own by rolling cardboard or some other material.
It is not a bad idea to start with a shorter tube so that the parrot can have confidence that it can make it out on the far end. If you are using a toilet paper tube, you can cut it into a shorter piece and then go back to a longer one later. For some of the other options you may be stuck with what you got, but try not to make it terribly long or you won't be able to train effectively. You should be able to insert the target stick from the one end and have it emerge at the other side. If you can, tape down the tube during the course of training or have another person hold it for you to free up both hands for training. You will see in my video that I managed all by myself while holding the tube but it is definitely easier if you don't have to worry about holding the tube.
I recommend teaching this trick on a small table or an enclosed distraction-free area on the floor. I do not suggest teaching tricks to parrots on furniture or the kitchen table because that may encourage them to land where you may otherwise not want them. Try to have a place dedicated for training that you don't worry about having ruined. So besides the tube, all you need is a target stick and a clicker. I know that clickers are hard to come by, so I am now selling Parrot Training Clickers on my ParrotWizard online store for everyone who's been asking about where to get one.
Now we are ready to get to the training part. It is important to get the parrot comfortable around the tube and not let it get scared. So don't immediately shove your parrot into the tube but instead let it play or target in the tube's presence. Once the parrot is comfortable around the tube, you can begin targeting the parrot toward the tube. At first it doesn't matter that much where as long as the parrot is being rewarded for coming closer to the tube. Always click and reward when the parrot touches the tip of the target stick.
As the targeting progresses, aim the parrot closer and closer to the opening of the tube as you continue targeting. Then start targeting through the tube. Insert the target stick at the end of the tube away from the parrot so that the target stick comes out the other end right by the bird. Let the parrot touch the stick outside the tube but close to the entrance and then reward with your other hand. Now begin holding the target stick deeper and deeper into the tube so that your parrot has to progressively stick its head in further into the tube. After it has done so, it can back out to receive it's treat.
Once you get to the halfway point where the parrot is willing to go halfway into the tube to touch the stick, you can pull the stick out and show the parrot the reward on the other side. So rather than backing out it has to finish its way through the tube to get the treat. After this point you should be able to lead the parrot through the tube by moving the target stick just ahead of the parrot without letting it touch. Just pull the stick through letting the parrot follow. Once the parrot emerges from the tube, you can reward without letting it touch the target stick. After this, you can check if placing your parrot at the entrance of the tube is enough for it to go through on its own. You may need to remind it to go through by showing the target stick or treat at the far end. Never reward the parrot for going around the tube though. It must only receive treats after going through.
Continue practicing these steps until the parrot makes the connection that going through the tube earns it the treat. It's just a matter of repetition until it happens. Truman made this bridge on the third training session. After targeting him through, I was preparing another treat. Without targeting, Truman decided to go through the tube again on his own. After rewarding this, I knew this was the final stage of teaching the trick. It only takes a few times rewarding the parrot for going through the tube on its own for it to realize that is what it has to do. However, the early targeting parts must not be rushed because if the parrot becomes scared of the tube, it will refuse to go through all together.
At first, reward the parrot for going through the tube whenever it goes through. You have to be ready with multiple treats and clicker in hand because it may decide to go through unexpectedly. You want going through tube to be a super rewarding experience. However, just going through the tube whenever it feels like it does not make it a trick. The last step is putting the trick on a cue. For the most part, just the sight of the tube is a sufficient cue. I like to supplement all visual cues with a verbal cue to use for encouragement so I also say "go through tube." To teach the parrot to go through the tube immediately, take the tube away and then present it. Have the tube in one hand and clicker/treat ready in the other. Place the tube down with the entrance facing your parrot and wait for it to go through. At first you can wait longer, but eventually you should not reward long waits. If the parrot doesn't go through within a reasonable span of time, take the tube away and try again. Give big rewards (and don't make it go through again for a while) when it goes through as soon as you put the tube down. Take the tube away after you reward for going through so that it does not go through again until you cue by putting tube down. If the parrot is not going through when you put the tube down, go back to practicing the previous methods or wait for a more motivated training session.
Keep practicing the trick for some time and make it more challenging. Put the tube down further from the parrot so that it has to come further to get to go into it. Also, begin angling the tube more and more away from the parrot so that it has to come around to search for the entrance. Don't start immediately with the tube entrance turned away or the parrot might not realize what is going on, but if it is at a slight angle, it will realize it has to come around to it. Make sure the parrot is used to going into the tube from either end and regardless of which way the tube is oriented. If you get into too much of a rhythm (like always going left to right), then the parrot may be learning a specific motion rather than the general trick. You'll know the parrot really knows the go through tube trick when you can place the tube in front of your parrot on any surface and pointed any direction and the parrot walks over, goes through the tube, and comes out the other end.