how to train my bird

Before you teach your bird to step up, it must be calm and not afraid of your presence. You should be able to approach your bird in its cage and drop a treat into its bowl without it moving away or showing any signs of fear (if this is still happening, see my previous blog post on “taming a scared bird”). If you have performed this step enough times, your bird should start to actually come towards you when you approach the cage as it is expecting a delicious treat! The next step is to get your bird to accept taking a treat from your hand.

[Note: If your bird is aggressive and bites – then you would use a different technique to train your parrot such as “targeting” or using a perch to teach the step-up. I will write about that Indian ringneck parrot training method in the following blog]

Go up to your bird’s cage and extend a treat through the bars. Make it a delicious treat, something the bird doesn’t normally get to eat (ie. a piece of cashew or almond). It is important that you hold the treat through the bars and don’t move – you don’t want to scare the bird but you want it to come to the treat and take it in its own time. If your bird doesn’t come up to the treat from your hand within a reasonable amount of time, you could try again at a time when your bird is hungrier, perhaps first thing in the morning before you have refilled its food containers.

Once your bird is happily coming up and taking treats from your hand through the bars, you can start to open the cage door and put your hand inside. Again, use the same technique here – keep pushing your hand forward inside the cage (with the treat clearly visible in your fingers) until your bird shows signs of discomfort. Stop and keep your hand there, wait for the bird to calm down, then take your hand out. Again, it is very important to stop moving BEFORE your bird moves away from you. Try again later and you will find you can get your hand a little closer to the perch, wait for your bird to calm down, then take your hand out. Eventually your bird will come up to your hand inside the cage and take the treat out of your hand.

Once your bird is happily coming up to your hand inside the cage and taking the treat, the next step is to get your bird to step onto your hand. To do this, place the treat further up on your hand, so that your bird has to lean over your fingers to reach the treat. Eventually, you will place the treat up near your wrist so that the bird has to place a foot onto your hand to reach it. It is absolutely vital that you DO NOT MOVE your hand. This is a huge trust point for your bird and if your hand is unstable it will be very unlikely to step onto it again with confidence. You will probably find that your bird steps on and off you hand very quickly at first. But eventually it will stay a little longer on your hand each time.

Eventually, you will place the treat far enough up your arm that the bird will step both legs onto your hand to get it. Let your bird step onto your hand and step off again before you move your hand. Eventually, your bird will happily sit on your hand without being in a rush to get off again. At this point, you might want to use your other hand to give them more treats, to reward them for staying on your hand. Once they realise staying on your hand means more treats, they will stay on your hand while you move it out of the cage. Start by moving it towards the cage door just a little bit, then put it back towards the perch and let the bird step off. They gradually increase the distance until your bird is on your hand and out of the cage. Then reward, reward, reward! But don’t go straight into playing with your bird now. Put your bird back into its cage – it’s overcome some huge fears today so let it have the time to think about what it has just learnt – that hands aren’t so scary after all…in fact….they are actually a good thing!

If youve found this tutorial helpful and youd like to learn the next steps in training your parrot, you might like to join the free Facebeak Fanclub. I share more parrot training guides, helpful tips on solving parrot behaviour problems and behind-the-scenes exclusives with the Fanclub members.

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Are Birds Easy to Train?

Every bird is an individual. How easy or difficult it is to train your pet bird depends on a number of factors, including how much time you have to devote to training.

The animal’s trainability may also be impacted by its age and the way it was treated before you adopted it. Every bird is unique, but certain species are generally easier to train than others.

Some birds that are often easy to train include:

  • Budgerigars
  • Cockatiels
  • Conures
  • Indian ringnecks
  • Younger birds and birds that have been handled frequently

Challenging birds to train include:

  • Amazon parrots
  • African grey parrots
  • Macaws
  • Cockatoos

Very challenging birds to train include:

  • Finches
  • Canaries
  • Doves
  • Older birds and birds that are naturally skittish

It must be peaceful and unafraid of you before you can teach it to step up. Your bird should not flee or exhibit any fear when you approach it in its cage and place a treat in its bowl (if this is still the case, refer to my earlier blog post on “taming a scared bird”). The next step is to get your bird to accept taking a treat from your hand. If you have done this step enough times, your bird should begin to come towards you when you approach the cage because it is expecting a tasty treat!

The treat will eventually be positioned far enough up your arm for the bird to step both legs onto your hand in order to reach it. Before you move your hand, let your bird land on it and then take off again. Your bird will eventually settle contentedly on your hand and not be eager to get off. To encourage them to stay on your hand, you might now want to use your other hand to give them more treats. They will hold onto your hand while you take it out of the cage once they realize that doing so will result in more treats. Move it slightly in the direction of the cage door at first, then return it to the perch, allowing the bird to step off. They gradually get closer until your bird is out of the cage and onto your hand. Then, reward, reward, reward! However, hold off on playing with your bird just yet. Place your bird back in its cage; it has conquered some serious fears today; give it some time to process the newfound knowledge that, in actuality, hands aren’t that scary after all. they are actually a good thing!.

You can begin to open the cage door and place your hand inside once your bird is happily approaching you and accepting treats from your hand through the bars. Once more, apply the same method here: until your bird exhibits symptoms of discomfort, keep pushing your hand forward inside the cage while keeping the treat visible in your fingers. When the bird calms down, stop and leave your hand there. Then remove it. Once more, it’s critical to stop moving PRIOR to your bird moving away from you. When you try again later, you should be able to get your hand a little bit closer to the perch. Just wait for your bird to calm down before removing your hand. Your bird will eventually approach you inside the cage and grab the treat from your hand.

Reach up through the bars of your bird’s cage and offer it a treat. Make it a delectable treat that the bird wouldn’t typically be able to eat, like a piece of cashew or almond). It is crucial that you hold the treat through the bars without moving; you want the bird to approach the treat and consume it at its own pace, not to frighten it away. You could try again later when your bird is more hungry, like first thing in the morning before you’ve filled its food containers, if it doesn’t approach the treat from your hand in a reasonable amount of time.

Should you find this tutorial useful and would like to know the next steps in training your parrot, you should consider signing up for the Facebeak Fanclub, which is free to join. With the Fanclub members, I provide more parrot training manuals, practical advice on how to handle behavioral issues with parrots, and behind-the-scenes access.

FAQ

Is it easy to train a bird?

Training your bird isn’t as difficult as you might think. Birds are highly intelligent and pick up on things faster than you’d expect. Keep the following things in mind when training your bird: Patience and consistency are equally important when training your bird.

What is the easiest bird to train?

Parakeets are among the most low-maintenance types of birds kept as pets, being among the smallest companion birds as well as relatively easy to train in their youth. Males especially are known to be great birds for first-time owners, as they bond easily to their owners and are simple to train.

How do I discipline my bird?

Time-outs. We see time-outs take various forms with parrot training. Placing the bird back in the cage, turning off the lights, covering the cage, and relegating the bird to a far away room, are all examples of our attempts to apply Time-outs.