Step-up fail, biting boy

Strangebird

New member
Jun 14, 2023
6
9
Hungary
Parrots
Vanjie, Alexandrine Parakeet
I need some advice on teaching my Alexandrine to step up. He's 4 months old and I brought him home 1 month ago, his gender is unknown (I just use he/him for him, becuse why not). He was raised by his parents so he was wild and fearful when arrived.
By now, he's a lovely, active, playful, constantly attention seeking little clown, but I can't get him to step up, simply because he'll bite my fingers if I get it close to him.
I haven't let him out of the cage yet, since I want to be able to make him step up, otherwise getting him back in the cage may be an issue.

Just for context, I'm practically at home all the time, almost always in the cage room, close to him, so he's more than used to me. He enjoys watching me, occasionally mimics my movements, likes vibing in the corner he can be the closest to me, follows me around eagerly, demands to be handed treats, toys, bottlecaps, absolutely anything that i hold and catches his fancy. He likes my voice, he likes when I bop my head and dance, he wants to join in, just hasn't figured out how yet. He also LOVES to have meals together with me, me sitting in front of the open cage and holding some safe food items for him that he can enjoy, so I think he may be thinking of me as part of his flock. I can reach into his cage handing him stuff (in fact, for bigger items I have to and he invites me in), he'll come to me and take it without fear or hesitation - and if he drops whatever shiny he's enthusiastic about before getting bored with it, he looks at me and whines, asking me to pick it up for him, so he doesn't hate my hand being in his cage... as long as it's on his terms.

I always made sure to only associate my hands with positive things, I never touched him, never startled him with my hands, never shoved it too close to him, I just let him come to me and take his treats/toys whenever he wants to (he always wants to) but if my finger lingers on there for a second more, he'll lash out and bite me. Also, if I offer things from my palm, he eagerly comes to me and bites my finger... before stealing the snack. Sometimes angrily, sometimes treating it as a chew-toy, but the result is the same: pain. I have always respected his boundaries and as soon as I can pick on his cues wanting my fingers gone, the fingers are gone...

This obviously makes step-up training impossible.

The only step-up thing that was a partial success happened with his favorite plastic bowl thingy I always pour a little water in, he adores it, drinks from it, licks it and steps inside it... and then bites my fingers that are holding the bowl, or growls for me to take them away, but I obviously can't levitate the bowl with psychic powers for his amusement and if I took my hand off, I would drop the bowl and with him too soooo... that's an uncomfortable situation. And painful.
I'm patient, I know each Alexandrine is an individual, and some take more time than others so I keep being his humble and respectful servant, adjusting to every whim he has but I feel like I'm doing something wrong.

How do I get him not to hate the hand that feeds?
 
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Sounds like you are on the right track and doing everything right.

It just takes time to make that leap from trusting you to trust being on you...

Some parrots might take a month but most I bet much longer.

Instead of holding treats in the palm of your hand what if you extended the treat from your fingers so he can only grab the treat and not reach your fingers.

I think any biting becomes the reward and only reinforces that behavior so I avoid it at all costs.

You got this.
 
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Sounds like you are on the right track and doing everything right.

It just takes time to make that leap from trusting you to trust being on you...

Some parrots might take a month but most I bet much longer.

Instead of holding treats in the palm of your hand what if you extended the treat from your fingers so he can only grab the treat and not reach your fingers.

I think any biting becomes the reward and only reinforces that behavior so I avoid it at all costs.

You got this.
Thank you, ever since he's gotten this nippy, I almost only offer him stuff holding them with my fingertips, he's gentle then, making sure not to hurt me. I do try feeding him from my palm now and again to see if he's gotten more amicable, but same thing, sometimes he takes the treat, sometimes he takes the finger and the treat. I'll make sure to avoid this in the future!
 

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