Video:Train a Bird to Step Upwith Lorelei Tibbetts
Bird training takes time, patience, and a lot of practice, but pays off in more ways than one. Learn how to bond with your pet bird and teach it this very useful trick: to step up on command.See Transcript
Transcript:Train a Bird to Step UpHi! I'm Lorelei Tibbetts and I'm a licensed veterinary technician here at the Center for Avian and Exotic medicine here in New York City - and I'm here for About.com.
Make Birds Feel Safe While TrainingThis is Sam. He is a male cockatiel and today he and I are going to help you learn to teach your bird to step up. One of the things that you need to understand about pet birds is that they're going to be your companion and you need to know that they are your friend. They need to feel that you are their friend. So, you never want to force your bird to do anything they don't want to do. We know that these birds really respond much better if you help them learn to trust you first.
Train Birds Not to Fear HandsWhat I like to do when someone gets anew bird, depending on how tame he either is or isn't. Some of these birds have already been hand fed, so they are already not afraid of hands. And some birds are afraid of hands. So, if you have a bird who is scared of your hands, you may want to start by teaching that your hands are actually a good place to be. So, you might want to start by offering them their favorite food while they're in the cage and just having it on your hands, so that they can eat it from your hand.
Reinforce a Positive Training ExperienceIf you go to ask your bird to step up,' they may try to bite you, just like Sam did to me. It doesn't mean he's mean. It just means that he's scared and doesn't know yet that I'm his friend and that my hands can be trusted. So, what I'll sometimes start with is his favorite food. This is a tiny piece of spray millet and I try to teach him that this is something he wants. You can see he already knows, and you can see he's watching it. Sam is very smart, and he's looking at it with his eyes and he's thinking that it would be a nice thing for him to have.
Don't Rush Training a Bird to Step UpSo I might start by putting my hand near him and letting him understand that my hand isn't a threat and I'm not going to hurt him. Keep in mind the process of teaching birds to step up could take several days to a few weeks and you don't want to ever rush them. I want to show him that there's this treat here and he's being very good by not biting my hand or not being aggressive towards my hand. So, I'm going to give him a little treat. Maybe now I'll move a little bit closer. Good bird. Now I'll give him another treat because he's not biting me and he's being a good bird.
Praise a Bird While TrainingWould you like another treat Sam? Good bird. They also respond to verbal praise, some birds really like to have their head's scratched. When they do something like that, like he bit my hand, you just start over again. You don't force your bird to do anything he doesn't want to do - you don't scold your bird, you don't punish your bird. You just start over. I'm going come back to this step where he was more comfortable from the start.
Train the Bird to Step UpHe's being good, so I'm going to give him another treat. Eventually what will happen is Sam is going to respond. If he lets you get your hand closer and closer and he will eventually learn that your hand is the place where good things happen.
The end result is going to be a bird that is comfortable sitting on your hand. Perhaps taking food from you, perhaps not. And usually, they'll readily step-up, not needing the food reward at the end.
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