Step ups are random. At times I do it just to give him a chance for reward. His cage is upstairs behind a couple of doors, so unsure how I could target him to his cage, but when it's time to go up for the night, he happily steps up! He loves his cage and is ready to go back gladly. This has always baffled me - I have NEVER done anything funky after he stepped up. I won't force cuddle him, grab him, touch him. I held his feet at one point BECAUSE he would fly away, but I had stopped doing that because I felt it was hurting our trust. Occasionally he goes in a carrier but never battles me. He steps in, gets a treat. He won't try to fly away when going in a carrier. 9/10 he's getting put in because we're going outside to receive some sunshine, a bath, or going to a friends house. He enjoys going out.I understand that he doesn't like to step up... however, if he ever feels the need to fly away instead of stepping up, then you are hurting your training by him feeling the need to fly away... You need to figure out a way to get him to comply without flying away. For example... why do you want him to step up? Could it be to move him to his cage? Can you get him to target to his cage instead of having him step up? If you need him in a carrier, can you teach him to go into the carrier himself rather than putting him in the carrier?
How can you change what you are asking to get the desired behavior while avoiding the undesired behavior?
Can you describe the steps you took on getting recall through target training?
Definitely try changing up his training regime!
For the steps, I'd of course trained him targeting and he LOVES the target game! I would initially be working on step up training with him, so targeting started taking place over my hand. He did not have to touch my hand, nor step on/over it to target, I just had him target near my hand and got it closer each time. He at first would side eye my hand, assuming I am up to no good but decided that nah, I am NOT trying to do anything funky and he'd gladly target all around my hand - hand under him, hand above him, hand next to target stick point.
From there, I wanted him to start stepping onto my hand to touch the target. This is where we reached a hiccup and I had on multiple occasions scrapped that to have him target next to my hand more, as I felt he was needing more repetitions and sessions of target close to hand. After a while, I had decided he definitely knows what I want of him and we resumed targeting to try and get him on my hand. He never really did. He knew the request to step up, so I had gone away with the target stick and for a while, we had a pretty good thing going - he would step up when asked almost all of the time. If he didn't want to, he'd waddle away occasionally and I'd step back, give us a moment to reflect, and ask again. He either would, or would refuse again and I would do a couple of target sessions to end the session. Additionally, at some point during this time, he was actually coming TOWARDS my hand a good 3-4 steps away to willingly step up and earn reward! Then during one session it was as if he had unlearned it all. He would start flying away from my hand again. At this time, I was doing 1-2 sessions everyday for a month at that time (with basic target training mixed in because he finds it fun, of course). During any step up training, I would click and reward for him staying on my hand without flying off - that was a huge issue we had. He'd grab a treat and fly off but I had him sitting there for a good few seconds, knowing a treat was coming for remaining. He has never got truly comfortable remaining on my hand.
After I started seeing this regression, I was recommended by the free flight person I look up to and seek advice from a lot, to start trying to target him to my hand from a distance. He would fly at me, hover for a second, and decide there was nowhere to land. After various attempts, various changing up things to see if other ways would work, I done away with the target stick. I'd use his favorite treat to lure a first recall and miraculously he did it. The wheels turned and he had successfully done some repetitions but would not do many at all before he was back to making his impatient noise, acting once again as if he hadn't a clue what I wanted of him.
I would do these recall sessions daily and had decided no target stick because he seemed uncomfortable landing on my hand with this stick poking towards him - I would usually be starting with some fun simple targets with Safflower seeds as a very small treat. He would only get his favorite, Papaya bits and tiny pieces of Peanut for successful recalls. I would also give him additional Safflower seeds to remain on my hand during this time, typically only 1-2 before I would ask him to fly or step back onto his perch.
We would change distance and my positioning so it was not always the same ol' A to B same spot but at my old house I had little to work with in a tiny house. In the new house, I'm keeping it simple as he seemed to regress so much DURING our stay in the previous house, I wanted to get him back on track.
100% He always receives a click for flying to my hand, and a reward immediately. I never had NOT given him a reward and would even give a whole peanut if he flew to my hand without a treat wedged between my thumb.