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Am I doing something wrong with training??

bhansenuta

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Okay so its been a couple days since I last posted and I'm just losing all hope. I'll try and explain. My cockatiel Theo (barely 5 months now) was getting so good at stepping up and once in a while he would do it without millet! I've had him for about 5 maybe 6 weeks. I trained with him for about 5 minutes two to four times a day and all was going perfectly! One day he went for my hand like crazy instead of the millet which was right there. I let him bite it for a minute and just held still and didn't make a reaction, but he just kept biting! It started to hurt so I took my hand away, closed the cage and turned around for about 30 seconds. He started kind of whimpering for me but I waited for the full 30 seconds before turning back around and trying again. Same thing! I assumed this meant we should stop training and just layed on my bed (about 5 feet from his cage) and we talked back and forth to each other.

Every SINGLE time I've tried training since then (about 7-9 days ago), he bites my finger super aggressively over and over and over again! I've taken to closing his cage and leaving the room for about 2 minutes when he does this which is torture for him and he cries and screams but I just wait. Then I come back in and retry. If I do it with a perch he'll step up fine about 90% of the time. If I lay my hand in his cage with millet on it, he goes and eats the millet. If I have my finger in the step up position anywhere near him he freaks and attacks it, even if the millet is way closer than my finger! I don't get it! I've been perch training because he hates my finger so much, but I still try once or twice and its always the same. He's not scared of my hand, and not even my finger (I hold the millet and stick my finger out and he's still fine) its just he won't step up and hates when I have my finger near him. I don't understand and its making me feel horrible! I have never forced him to step up so I don't understand why he hates it. Whenever he steps up he gets millet, lots of soothing words, and gets his cage door open and a ladder to his play gym which he's crazy about. I have only been letting him go on his play gym when he steps up to try and entice him more, but it rarely, rarely happens (think twice or 3 times a week.)

His food is about 60% pellets, 25% seeds, 15% veggies, so he's not just eating millet all day. He has a good sized cage about 24 x 24 x 38 inches full of perches and toys, a food dish and a water dish. I used to have two food dishes but he started getting insanely aggressive if I went near it to change and when I took that out it all went away. I'm in the room usually 3-8 hours a day with him and when I leave he screams for me. I try not to go back in until he stops screaming but that can take forever and sometimes I need stuff so I'm not crazy consistent about it. I know he likes me (because why else would he scream for me for what seems like hours and talk back and forth with me) but it doesn't seem like it right now... I've tried leaving my hand perfectly still when he bites it but he literally won't stop. I've tried turning around but he doesn't care THAT much. So I've just been full on leaving the room and he hates it but it must not be working because there's no change??

Any advice is appreciated!
 

Mizzely

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Are you letting him come out of his cage without stepping up?

I had a Hahns that was terrified of hands. She adored me, but I was NOT allowed to touch her. I would open her cage door, she would come out, and then fly over to me and cuddle with my face. If I asked her to step up and only allowed her out of her cage if she complied, I would have had NO relationship with her.

My point is, sometimes you have to allow them to dictate parts of the relationship so that the relationship can move forward :)
 

scrape

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To me, it sounds like he's getting cage territorial. Try training outside the cage, and letting him come out on his own.
 

bhansenuta

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To me, it sounds like he's getting cage territorial. Try training outside the cage, and letting him come out on his own.
Even if he'll come out if I use a perch?
 

bhansenuta

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Are you letting him come out of his cage without stepping up?

I had a Hahns that was terrified of hands. She adored me, but I was NOT allowed to touch her. I would open her cage door, she would come out, and then fly over to me and cuddle with my face. If I asked her to step up and only allowed her out of her cage if she complied, I would have had NO relationship with her.

My point is, sometimes you have to allow them to dictate parts of the relationship so that the relationship can move forward :)
I get it, that makes sense. It's just that he used to 100% allow my hand anywhere near him and would almost always step up. I guess I thought maybe that would help to entice him to step up but I'll stop only keeping his cage open when he steps up.
Thanks for your advice!
 

scrape

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Even if he'll come out if I use a perch?
It's just easier to let him make the choice. I have a treat ready when mine come out, so they are still rewarded. I wouldn't use the perch, but it's up to you.
 

Cloud

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When you are asking him to step up, was he on your shoulder or was he on perch/play stand?

It is hard to see his signals when he is on the shoulder. You should slowly move away your hand when he bites. Letting him bite doesn't work, your finger will bleed. He was trying to communicate with you, you still have to respect his wish. Have you tried other training like target training or something else, maybe he needs more stimulation? so he can feel good about his accomplishments.
Be careful when he is lowering his head, it looks like he is crouching down, he is about to bite.
Also, try not to shove your finger under them, my cockatiels don't like it.
 
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Begone

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Always let him come out of his cage on his own. And no treat for it either, to come out should be rewarding enough.
To make them step up before going out will only learn them to be helpless.
I'm in the room usually 3-8 hours a day with him and when I leave he screams for me.
You must learn him to be more independent. If not you will have a very demanding and sad boy later when you not can be with him that much.

He can fly? If not let him.

Learn him to be more independent or get a second bird.
That will solve all your problems with him.
.
 

bhansenuta

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When you are asking him to step up, was he on your shoulder or was he on perch/play stand?

It is hard to see his signals when he is on the shoulder. You should slowly move away your hand when he bites. Letting him bite doesn't work, your finger will bleed. He was trying to communicate with you, you still have to respect his wish. Have you tried other training like target training or something else, maybe he needs more stimulation? so he can feel good about his accomplishments.
Be careful when he is lowering his head, it looks like he is crouching down, he is about to bite.
Also, try not to shove your finger under them, my cockatiels don't like it.
He is in his cage. I move my hand incredibly slowly, no fast movements. I have him eating the millet and slowly bring my other hand closer and closer to him, I can tell he sees it. Then I hold it there and let him still eat the millet. If I try and move the millet a cm away he's fine. I move it a tiny bit more so he'd have to use my hand in some way but instead of doing that he starts attacking my fingers like crazy. Its so weird because he used to be so good at it, I don't know what happened! I am not going to let him on my shoulder until I can make sure stepping up and down is pretty much perfected. He has so many toys to play with and it playing pretty much all day so I don't think it has to do with stimulation. I'd watch for his head to lower down, but there's no time, he suddenly chooses a time and strikes.
 

bhansenuta

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Always let him come out of his cage on his own. And no treat for it either, to come out should be rewarding enough.
To make them step up before going out will only learn them to be helpless.

You must learn him to be more independent. If not you will have a very demanding and sad boy later when you not can be with him that much.

He can fly? If not let him.

Learn him to be more independent or get a second bird.
That will solve all your problems with him.
.
I definitely get what you're saying about him feeling helpless so I'll just let him come out when I'm in the room instead of making him step up first. Thanks for your advice! How do I teach him to be more independent? When I'm in the room he's fine and happily plays with his toys but when I leave he gets all sad and it breaks my heart!! His wings were clipped when I got him so he can't fly.
 

finchly

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Hi Bella. cockatiels do weird things sometimes, and he is still a baby. So don't be too stressed out about it. He's just saying "hey I don't like your hand" and you'll have to respect that. Let him see that you respect it, by not putting your hands up at him.

I'm not sure about the shoulder thing? You want to be sure he will step down... will he step onto your hand if you just slide it up under him? I don't know; we let ours on shoulders all the time.

You're rewarding him inadvertently for being sad when you leave the room. Could you get on a little schedule where you leave the room at certain times for, say, a half hour? Once he gets used to that he should settle down.
 

finchly

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To me, it sounds like he's getting cage territorial. Try training outside the cage, and letting him come out on his own.
This is what I think too.

Also I forgot to say - I always put a perch or a platform on the outside of cages, then open the door and walk away. They can come out onto their perch, go back in or whatever. Or fly to me.
 

Cloud

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He is in his cage.
Like the rest, it sounds like territorial behavior. My boy, Cloud, who love to get scritches in the cage suddenly not fond of my hand near him in the cage. At least he was eager to go outside of his cage, so he still jump on my hand because he wanna go out. I stopped touching him when he is in his cage, it is his safe place. I rebuilt my bond with him outside the cage again, then I can make him step up in the cage.
You can try to bond with him outside of his cage.
 
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bhansenuta

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Hi Bella. cockatiels do weird things sometimes, and he is still a baby. So don't be too stressed out about it. He's just saying "hey I don't like your hand" and you'll have to respect that. Let him see that you respect it, by not putting your hands up at him.

I'm not sure about the shoulder thing? You want to be sure he will step down... will he step onto your hand if you just slide it up under him? I don't know; we let ours on shoulders all the time.

You're rewarding him inadvertently for being sad when you leave the room. Could you get on a little schedule where you leave the room at certain times for, say, a half hour? Once he gets used to that he should settle down.
I've tried him on my shoulder but he gets aggressive and will not step down. Or he tries to fly off but since his wings are clipped that doesn't work out so great. If I can eventually get him to consistently step up and down I'd love him on my shoulder and I know he'd love that too. I just need to get to that point beforehand.

I can for sure get on a schedule. I used to be going to school but since this whole virus epidemic, I've been at home a lot more than usual. I leave the room for breakfast almost every day around 9-10 and come back within about 45 minutes, same for lunch, and dinner. And somedays I go to my moms work to work on schoolwork as she has a small office near our house. Is that enough? No two days are the same, but for the most part its kind of similar.
 

bhansenuta

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Like the rest, it sounds like territorial behavior. My boy, Cloud, who love to get scritches in the cage suddenly not fond of my hand near him in the cage. At least he was eager to go outside of his cage, so he still jump on my hand because he wanna go out. I stopped touching him when he is in his cage, it is his safe place. I rebuilt my bond with him outside the cage again, then I can make him step up in the cage.
You can try to bond with him outside of his cage.
Yeah you make a really good point there. I think I'll just spend more time with him outside the cage. I hope that it works!
 

finchly

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I hope that works for you, too. I think the routine you have sounds fine. Birds like routine.

Have you looked through the training section of the forum? You could do some target training.
 
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