How to condition a bird to touch

StormyPica

Member
May 2, 2021
67
34
THE KINGDOM ANIMALIA
Parrots
Stormy(M): blue Australian+English budgie, 2yr old

Picasso(F): green Australian budgie, 2.5 months old

Pepper(M): white pied Australian budgie, 2 months old
Many people want to know this about budgie training, as they are such anxious birds, and usually dont like being touched. Here is how to condition them to touch. DISCLAIMER: this will work differently for every budgie, go at your birds pace!

1: your budgie must have a good bond to you to start. There are a couple options on how to teach this. A: teaching the budgie to lay down on your hand. B: incorporating touch into playtime/happy time. C: using a different training method, one I call touch training. No its not target training.

A: to teach a bird to lay in your hand, you must first teach it to hang in a position parallel to the ground. After this is achieved, you can start bringing your hand up to their back, go at their pace. This is often the least threatening way to go about touching their back.

B: to incorporate touch into playtime, find ways to touch them in which they are comfortable during playtime/ happy time. You can try to roll them onto their back, or you can scratch them in a new place. You still must go at their pace.

C: touch training for me means incorporating touch into every aspect of training, such as tunneling, targeting using a different part of their body, or adding a touching aspect into tricks they already know.:D

Remember, stay patient and be kind! :blue2::greenyellow:
 

chris-md

Well-known member
Feb 6, 2010
4,073
597
Maryland - USA
Parrots
Parker - male Eclectus

Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
Hello and welcome.

Thank you for posting this. There seems to be a disconnect however that perhaps you might benefit from clearing up, your recommending having a bird layin your hand as a tool to get them used to touch. Howeve, I think most will agree it’s the other way around. Most touch phobic birds would never consider laying in a hand until they’ve first overcome their touch phobia.

Unless I’m missing something, this sounds a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Perhaps further context is required?
 

noodles123

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
8,141
173
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
I agree with a lot of what you said, but some birds also just never will really like being touched, so moving at their pace and maintaining that trust is huge. If they are truly fearful of touch and someone keeps trying to touch, that will kill trust and set them back. I just wanted to emphasize this, even though you mention the importance of trust and moving at their pace as well. The thing is, you can't teach a bird who doesn't want to be touched to lay in your hand if they are still fearful of touch- you would have to work very gradually. Laying in ones hand is a huge deal and comes well after they are okay with being touched...so no one should ever hold a bird until it stops struggling or anything like that (there are some very sketchy, old-school ideas out there that basically revolve around overpowering the bird until it stops fighting...but that isn't conducive to a relationship any more than forcing someone to do something at gun point)--- I know you didn't say that, but I just have heard of some really backwards/unethical "training" methods, so I wanted to emphasize that those are bad news.
 
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StormyPica

StormyPica

Member
May 2, 2021
67
34
THE KINGDOM ANIMALIA
Parrots
Stormy(M): blue Australian+English budgie, 2yr old

Picasso(F): green Australian budgie, 2.5 months old

Pepper(M): white pied Australian budgie, 2 months old
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I agree with a lot of what you said, but some birds also just never will really like being touched, so moving at their pace and maintaining that trust is huge. If they are truly fearful of touch and someone keeps trying to touch, that will kill trust and set them back. I just wanted to emphasize this, even though you mention the importance of trust and moving at their pace as well. The thing is, you can't teach a bird who doesn't want to be touched to lay in your hand if they are still fearful of touch- you would have to work very gradually. Laying in ones hand is a huge deal and comes well after they are okay with being touched...so no one should ever hold a bird until it stops struggling or anything like that (there are some very sketchy, old-school ideas out there that basically revolve around overpowering the bird until it stops fighting...but that isn't conducive to a relationship any more than forcing someone to do something at gun point)--- I know you didn't say that, but I just have heard of some really backwards/unethical "training" methods, so I wanted to emphasize that those are bad news.
Agreed! It seems that for budgies, it is less scary for them if the hand is coming from below them instead of above. On the other hand, this is just an option. I'm not saying it's the best way for most birds, but I included it because people often don't think about that as it seems like 'putting the cart before the horse', but it works suprisingly well for some birds. In fact, it was how I taught my extremely touch-phobic budgie, Stormy, to accept a little touch.

Also, I agree that those training methods you mentioned were extremely bad. I am also not saying you need to train your bird to lay down fully in your hand, holding nothing, with full confidence. You can go just to the 'hanging from a branch while being touched with one hand' point, and stop there.
 

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