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Old 01-13-2020, 12:19 PM
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New Cockatoo Step Up Troubles

Hi,

I'm new to this forum and I was looking for some advice about a bird I recently adopted.

Nemo is a 7 year old Umbrella Cockatoo, and I've had him for two and a half months. He was rehomed twice before I got him. So far, he's very polite and sweet, although extremely reserved for a cockatoo, but that's gradually changing and he's coming out of his shell at his own pace. Not that I have any expectations of him, just he seems to be settling down a little.

I have been thinking about ways to work towards him eventually stepping up, even just for practical reasons. I figured that maybe perch or stick training might be the way to go right now. The only thing is, he's terrified of sticks, he properly panics when I just bring it into his view, so the stick was calmly removed for now. It looked just like a regular wooden perch that any cage these days comes with.

I did some digging online and got the idea of using something other than a stick for this, at least initially. I've been racking my brain since, trying to come up with something that would comfortably hold his size. If anyone has any ideas and advice, I would really appreciate it!

P.S. I have a 4 year old CAG too that I've had since he was very young, so I do have some bird experience, but any advice is still appreciated!

Thanks!
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Old 01-13-2020, 12:47 PM
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Re: New Cockatoo Step Up Troubles

Welcome to you and Nemo! Birds can carry a lot of "baggage" to a new home and are obviously unable to share their fears. You'll observe a lot of behaviors - good, bad, indifferent - as the "honeymoon" phase progresses.

If Nemo harbors fear of sticks, perhaps a slow conditioning of placing a stick progressively closer to his cage? A small section of PVC pipe is sturdy and might not be perceived as a stick. I assume either or both of you are reticent to extend an arm as substitute?
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:30 PM
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Re: New Cockatoo Step Up Troubles

Trigger is deathly afraid of dowels, which is kinda convenient for us. We use dowels as wards against Trigger intrusion, putting them anywhere he's not allowed to perch. (Like on Yoda's cage, Yoda's playgym, our end table where we keep our drinks). He's perfectly happy to perch on anything and everything else.

Here's a few things you might try for Nemo:
PVC pipe with vet-tape around it for traction.
Dowels with shoelaces or cotton/jute rope wrapped around it for disguise and traction.
Branch-like sticks that look different from the ones he fears.
Stick with a sock over it maybe, so it looks more like an arm. Or wrap cloth/clothing around it maybe?
Thick jute or cotton rope, or rope perches.

Good luck!
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:05 PM
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Re: New Cockatoo Step Up Troubles

Here is my favourite method of 'Step up' training. It worked beautifully for my lot and only took minutes before they were stepping up politely. Hope it helps!

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Old 02-12-2020, 12:08 PM
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Re: New Cockatoo Step Up Troubles

Hey, the best way to get step up training is I found to make the birds associate your hand as a good thing. That can be done by hand feeding when they are young, giving treats by hand, starting with a small step and branching out to small pets. To the bird you just got, it still being shy, but you must in my experience use this time to assert what relationship you want ( Like your the alpha, and it's not in charge). Understand even though the bird is 7 years old ...... It has the mindset of a 4-year-old. So you would reward and discipline it as so ( it bites = straight back in the cage and tell it no or bad in a serious voice). If you wish to use perches fine, but that will cause problems later on with handling ( perches are not the best option). And as for his perch dislike, yes there are rope ones, and tree branch-like ones ( be careful not to go cut a tree branch and give that to him, since it could have things that could harm him). But you could hand feed with a spoon some banana ( one of my cockatoo favourites) if you're not comfortable with straight away touching the bird...... Be strict and commanding with set commands for them to set up ( I use the word "come") and I hold my hand like I am saluting as I gently push it into my cockatoo chest ( slightly lower end of the chest). She nows doesn"t need the command ( unless she misbehaving) and will step up automatically. Whatever you do, DO NOT ONLY USE ONE FINGER FOR THIS TYPE OF BIRD! For step-ups. They are very heavy, and you probably will drop them and lose their trust you gained if you do so, or look like your going to drop them is also a bad thing. Also do not just associate your hand with going back into the cage ( that will make them want to bite you), you MUST take time to pet ( head only!!!!!!, no underwing or chest, you will thank me later if you haven"t learned this info yet). Hope you the best.

Last edited by Cyell; 02-12-2020 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:30 PM
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Re: New Cockatoo Step Up Troubles

I think you are rushing it and shouldn't force your bird to step up until he/she is ready. Mine took 3 months to step up and knew the skill already (but resisted out of trust issues with me as her new owner). Cockjatoos are so social that I promise, once you have a bond, your bird WILL want to step up, so long as you keep building trust and moving at your bird's pace. Putting sticks in etc will just destroy trust in a re-home most of the time (esp since cockatoos generally like being handled once they are comfortable). CAGs and other species are often less physical than cockatoos, but you shouldn't need a stick with yours if you are patient.

By repeatedly pushing the issue and trying to get your bird to comply when still new to your house, you are likely damaging trust and prolonging the time it will take for your bird to step up willingly.

I tried to force mine to step up a few times (because I thought she was just being stubborn)---it destroyed like 2 weeks of progress in an instant. We are great now, but seriously---I wouldn't push a cockatoo in this arena. I would bet that yours KNOWS HOW already (it likely isn't a new skill...just one it is uncomfortable with at this juncture).

Last edited by noodles123; 02-12-2020 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:50 PM
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Re: New Cockatoo Step Up Troubles

Bribery works. Get something he really wants (for Rocky, that would be peanut butter toast) and hold it where he can see it, with the thing you want him to step up on in between him and it. He'll have to step on the thing to get to the treat.

We use a dowel rod with a handle for Rocky, a T-stand my husband made because Rocky bites his arm when he tries to have him step up. I don't use the stand because Rocky steps up on my arm just fine. Is there a reason you don't want to use your arm?
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Old 02-12-2020, 04:54 PM
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Re: New Cockatoo Step Up Troubles

Mine also only steps onto my arm--- she only goes on fingers for tricks, but never right away---always starts on the arm, wrist and then moves if needed.
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