Hans_Wolp

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Dec 13, 2021
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Parrots
Cockatiel
I just got my first bird three days ago from a privately owned pet store. He's a cockatiel that's just over a year old and I named him Winston. He is an absolute sweetheart and took to me immediately. Within the first 10 minutes of me putting him in his flight cage, he was already eating and asking me for head scritches. He loves it when I lavish him with attention and he is constantly dancing and chirping at me. The problem arises when I put my hand in his cage. Being my first bird, I was scared to take him out, worrying that I might not be able to get him to go back in. I decided to use him eating out of my hand as the litmus for me attempting to take him out. I placed my hand in his cage, pinching a cluster millet between my fingers and offering it to him. Upon my approach, he gave me a warning bite. I attempted it 2 more times with the same result, being careful not to push it on him and make him uncomfortable. I figured that since he already seems pretty attached to me, maybe just letting him out in the small bedroom and seeing what would happen would be the best course of action. I opened his door and gave him plenty of space, but he had no interest in going anywhere near it. I tried to coax him out with millet, even going so far as to hang it on the door and just wait. He still wouldn't go near it. It was at that point that I realized that the poor little guy has probably never been outside of a cage in his entire life. That would explain why he gives me warning bites when my hand is in his cage too. I realize that I'm going to have my work cut out for me with training him and that I am pretty much starting from the ground up. Thankfully he likes me and he's non-aggressive. Is there any advice you guys can give me on getting him out of and into his cage and how to train a cockatiel that has never really been handled by a caregiver before?
 

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wrench13

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Nov 22, 2015
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Yellow Shoulder Amazon, Salty
Welcome and be welcomed.

At 3 days in his new home,. its too early really to ask him to do much. Its great that he already likes you and takes scratches from you. If you can, start "step Up' training within the cage, if the door permits your big hand to fit! A lot of parrots take a week or more to get acclimated to their new home, so yes, take it easy on him. In any type of training remember:

Be consistent - ask for the action the same way, every time, so you don't confuse the lil guy. Use both verbal and hand signal to ask for something. And everyone in the household should use the same request.

Be immediate - have the treat or reward close at hand and reward immediately when there is positive reaction, no matter how small. If your asking for step up, and he raises his foot, that's a positive action, and reward immediately, and so forth. Keeping it immediate lets him associate the requested action and the reward.

Be realistic - Rome wasn't built in a day. Don't start out asking for a complex action. Break the action into smaller chunks and work on building gradually.

Other tips - I keep training sessions brief, 10-15 minutes at most. It's OK to have several session in 2 day, but I do one per day, and it's always at the same time every day, so Salty comes to the session knowing that it's time to learn. Some folks will recommend that the session be done before the next feeding time, but I don't. Find a nice well lit but quiet place to do training, so there is not a lot of distractions.

Good luck! Parrots are amazingly smart animals, but within each group there will be smart ones and REALLY smart ones ( and some, alas, pretty dumb ones), so gauge your expectations accordingly. Check out some of Salty's trick training videos, link below, to see what is possible with applied, sensitive training!
 
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Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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Full house
Congratulations on your new friends. You are have a good start with being able to pet head.

I'm all about getting them out. You can try putting perches on the outside sides and by door and top too. Treats everywhere. Then I'd plan on a few hours of sitting by open cage door, chair mugged right up next to it turned sideways. Read watch videos don't be all 100% focused on him. Talk to him from time to time offer scratches or treat. Then go back to doing your own thing. The hope is he will want to climb out on you or cage and explore. If it doesn't work after a couple of hours try again later.

Good luck.
Here is a great article on learning bird behavior
 
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