Training with your pet bird should be fun. Here are some training tips to keep you both happy.
A few basic behaviors that every companion bird should know are: Step Up Command: The most important behavior you can teach your bird is the Step-up command, in which your bird reliably steps onto your finger, wrist or onto a hand-held perch. Your bird should automatically offer a foot when you say "Step up” (or whatever cue you use) while you simultaneously offer the hand or perch. A reliable step up makes it easier to retrieve your bird in an inconvenient or even dangerous situation. It also ensures that other people can work with or retrieve the bird without either party feeling nervous or threatened. To get your bird stepping up, gently offer your wrist, finger or perch at the spot where your bird’s abdomen meets the top of its legs, and give the cue, "Step up.” Most birds will naturally raise a foot to step onto the offered object. Praise and reward the bird, and then repeat the step up a few times.
Keep your hand or wrist steady, so your bird feels confident stepping onto it. Step-Down Command: You can also train your bird to step down onto a playgym or its cage. If your bird likes hanging out with you, you’ll have to make it worth its while to step down. Contact Call: You are your bird’s flock, so naturally it wants to keep track of where you are. Teach your bird a special whistle, word or phrase to use when it wants you to respond. If taught correctly, this Contact call can replace that ear-piercing shriek that your bird likes to use when you leave the room.
If your bird has already learned that screaming seems to make you reappear or respond (i.e. yell or admonish), it will take much more persistence and patience to change the behavior. To teach your bird a Contact call, use a consistent phrase – for example, "Be right back” – each time that you leave the room. Call frequently to your bird while you are out of sight. This will let it know that you are nearby. If your bird makes the desired Contact call, respond immediately by either calling in return or poking your head into the room. Do not respond when your bird is screaming. Consistency is crucial in this training. It might not seem like such a bad idea to occasionally respond to your bird’s screams, but resist the urge. You’ll be rewarded later on.
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