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Need some advice training two cockatiels


Checking out the neighborhood
Hey people! I'm new here, and was just wondering if I could ask for some advice/help.

I've got two cockatiels, a male and a female. Which my family got out of a pet store roughly 18 months ago, they were about 6 months old. They spent the first few months in a big cage and started getting used to my family and were doing ok.
After a while my mother found a really big aviary for them and from then on they lived in the garden for close to a year. Whilst they absolutely loved it and had made plenty of friends with the local birds who would come and sit next to the aviary and chat away with them, they didn't get as much human contact and so got a bit feral. I have moved out now, and they can unfortunately no longer stay at my parent's house so I have taken them with me. So... I want to get them trained up.

They already seem quite keen as the male whistles at me a lot and makes kissing noises. Especially when I'm doing the washing up. On a good day, they will eat millet out of my hand and don't seem hugely phased by my hands. And on a bad day my hands are the devil even if I have millet in them (I'm sure a side effect of being pet shop birds). If someone could help me with a training schedule that would be super helpful. I often get the "just do stuff" response from people, but there are so many questions. How long should each session be? How many sessions a day? If they are being skittish should I just come back another time/day? Where do I progress to next after they consistently take millet from me?

If someone could do an absolute knowledge dump on me with some instruction on what each step of the process looks like, I would be so grateful.


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Training sessions should be short and sweet. Animals have short attention spans, so if you try and make a training session long, they'll get bored, tired, irritated and it wont end well.

Training sessions can be 3-5 minutes long, and that's okay! You can build on them over time but you do want them short in the beginning. Besides, it's better to have several short and sweet training sessions throughout the day over one long one anyway! How many sessions is entirely up to you and your birds!

It's hard to define a specific training guideline as training will vary depending on not only the human but also the animal.

If you would like to introduce some fun training, you can do some target training! That is, you choose an item you want them to target to (could be a knitting needle, acrylic stick, an empty pen case, a bamboo skewer, a toy, etc) and teaching them to target their beaks to that object. They don't necessarily need to touch it in order to be target trained, simply teaching them to move towards it can be enough! This in turn can then be used to train new behaviors.... such as coming out of the cage, going into the cage, stepping up, stepping off of your shoulder, turning in a circle, etc!

And i would recommend training them "together". Monkey see, monkey do. If one has a hard time learning it, it may be easier for the other to pick up... and once one figures it out, the other one may be better able to follow along!