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Teaching a cockatiel to step up

Outstrech

Walking the driveway
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12/31/20
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Erica
I have a lutino cockatiel named sunflower. He's around a year old and he takes food from my hand :). The next step is to teach him to step up. However, whenever I place the dowel (he doesn't like hands that much) near him, he tries to bite it. What does this mean? Is he scared of the dowel? Most videos say to push lightly right above the feet. I'm scared if I do that I will lose trust. Thanks for any help!
 

Outstrech

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Erica
I tried to show him the stick and then the millet a bit behind the stick, so he can't reach it without stepping onto the stick, in hopes of getting him to step up. He bit the stick, so I got rid of the millet too. Will this work? Should I just wait till he steps on, and let this be the only way he can get millet?
 

mak

Rollerblading along the road
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He might just be testing the sturdiness of the stick. Does he seem angry / scared when biting it, or is it more of a nibble? If he is testing then just hold the stick there and see if he will step on. Even if he raises a leg to step on, reward him with some millet and praise.
 

SparkyConure

Sitting on the front steps
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for our cockatiel i found keeping still and calm works best - i also dont use a dowel. I use my forearm and set some millet on it. If he bites you no matter how hard it is, dont react and stay still. He will realise he doesn't intimidate you and if he wants the food he has to step onto your arm for it. If he begins by nibbling it standing beside your arm thats great. It takes ages but its worth it.
 

Outstrech

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Erica
He might just be testing the sturdiness of the stick. Does he seem angry / scared when biting it, or is it more of a nibble? If he is testing then just hold the stick there and see if he will step on. Even if he raises a leg to step on, reward him with some millet and praise.
It's more of a nibble sometimes, more hostile other times.
 

Outstrech

Walking the driveway
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Erica
for our cockatiel i found keeping still and calm works best - i also dont use a dowel. I use my forearm and set some millet on it. If he bites you no matter how hard it is, dont react and stay still. He will realise he doesn't intimidate you and if he wants the food he has to step onto your arm for it. If he begins by nibbling it standing beside your arm thats great. It takes ages but its worth it.
How much does a cockatiel bite hurt?
 

Outstrech

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I tried it again. He opens his mouth, which he does when he's scared. I know if I go closer he might bite the dowel. It is ok to go closer?
 

mak

Rollerblading along the road
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I tried it again. He opens his mouth, which he does when he's scared. I know if I go closer he might bite the dowel. It is ok to go closer?
You don't want to scare him, that wont help. How long have you had him for?
 

Outstrech

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Erica
But, something nice happened. I put the stick in front of the food bowl, and instead of pellets put millet in his food bowl, and in his little brain i think he thought the stick was an extension of the bowl, so he put 1 foot on it. what would be the next step?
 

ParrotNuts

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But, something nice happened. I put the stick in front of the food bowl, and instead of pellets put millet in his food bowl, and in his little brain i think he thought the stick was an extension of the bowl, so he put 1 foot on it. what would be the next step?
Congrats. I used the same method to train my budgies and next I would get him to step up to the dowel fully and then slowly inch my finger up towards the upper end of the dowel. When it was at the upper end, I stopped using the dowel and get him to step up to my finger :D
 
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Outstrech

Walking the driveway
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Erica
Sunflower was stepping onto the dowel fully to get millet, but he lost his balance. :sad8: Now he's a bit spooked. What should I do
 

Outstrech

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What kind of music do you reccommend?
 

SparkyConure

Sitting on the front steps
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well done! yes i echo the above too.

What we do with taming new birds is only put limited food in the cage too - i know that seems mean but it isnt as long as they have water and access to some plain food. I sit the cage right beside me while Im working at home and lay millet (or other very appealing treats) over my forearm . Sometimes i get a dead arm haha, but i place my forearm just inside the cage beside the food bowl. Don't keeping looking at the bird, try to look away. Also, Ive found if you are eating some snacks yourself they are more likely to want to join in! The first time his feet come on your arm, dont react, let him gain confidence. Also , he may bluff and be defensive with his beak, sometimes they hiss too! If this is when he has approached your arm for the food, ignore him, he is trying to get you to move away so he can get it without your arm there. Never approach or corner him if does this though, that will scare him. Our 'teil still on occasion does this if he is grumpy and we say 'no bite' and ignore him. It doesn't hurt, much haha. My advice also is not to let them out free until you have them stepping up, they just get scared when its time to go back in and you undo all your hard work.
 
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