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Training and Bonding Give and recieve tips on training and bonding with your cockatiel here.

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Old 03-21-2017, 05:30 PM
chico's_chica chico's_chica is offline
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Question Mark I think taming my cockatiel is hopeless

Hi everyone! I'm new to this site, and a pretty inexperienced and bad cockatiel owner so don't hate me.

So here's how the story goes. Seven years ago I was playing outside with my brothers and sisters on a farm in Virginia. All of the sudden, this bird flies down and lands in the front yard. For some reason, he doesn't fly away when we approach him so we investigate. We notice he has a little plastic bracelet around his foot with some numbers on it. Upon further investigation, we find out he was a Breeder bird from Florida who had somehow ended up here. His original owners didn't care much and said we could have him.

My Dad bought him a cage and got one book on cockatiels. The book explained the basics of what type of cage to get, what type of food and how to teach a bird to step up. With some work, my Dad eventually taught the bird (named Chico) how to Step up on to his hands.

But then that was it. For the first year we had him we were making good progress with his training, but then it went all down the drain. My little sister (who was around three at the time) had gotten tall enough to reach Chico's cage. She pulled at his feathers, tried to touch him and pet him and ultimately ended up terrifying him.

After that, he started to bite, hiss, and back away from any hands who came near him. He stopped stepping up on to my Dad's hands and he ultimately gave up on him.

He only left his cage about twice a year after that, because getting him back in was such a difficult task no one wanted to do it.

About two years ago, I tried getting him some toys for his cage so he would be less bored. He ended up destroying one of them, and kind of ignoring the other one.

About two months ago, my sister and I decided to try letting him out of his cage. But he wouldn't get out. He used to always try to get out of his cage at every opportunity and had even learned how to use his beak to lift up his cage door. But he stopped getting out, or even having the desire to get out.

A couple google searches revealed to me that Chico was likely something called "cage bound". I read a few articles on it and it seemed to be the case.

But I didn't know what to do from there. I ended up sitting near his cage in all my spare time. I would talk to him and made sure to leave his cage door open for as long as I could.

After two months, I finally made progress and he left his cage. Now he leaves his cage all of the time. When I get back home from school he starts chirping like crazy and waiting right by his cage door. The only way to get him to calm down is for me let him out.

But here's the problem. He still bites, hisses, flies around and runs away. When I let him out of his cage the only way he goes back in is when he feels like it.

Two days ago I let him and out and my Dad grabbed him with two oven mitts to get him back in. I tried to tell my Dad that grabbing chico like that would only make him more scared of hands, but he wouldn't listen.

Chico isn't completely afraid of hands though, he eats grass out of people's hands for some reason. Well, he doesn't exactly eat it... he only chews it. I tried to get him to eat diced fruit, but he wouldn't. I tried to get him to eat shredded cheese but he wouldn't. He won't even eat his own pellets out of someone's hand. But for some unknown reason, he'll take grass out of my fingertips. He usually is nervous about it though, and he slowly moves foward, grabs the grass blade and quickly backs away.

I have no idea where to go with training him from here. I could try to teach him to "step up" again, but he's terrified of hands. I can't use positive enforcement on him and condition the fear out of him because I can't give him treats. My Dad won't buy actual cockatiel treats and he won't eat anything I have at home.

All the articles I read talk about training baby cockatiels or cockatiels that seem to be better behaved than Chico. I have no clue how old Chico is, but I know he's an adult.

So is it hopeless to even try to tame Chico? Should I just let him live the rest of his life in his cage, afraid of humans and interaction? If there is hope for him, what should I do?
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  #2  
Old 03-21-2017, 06:47 PM
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I suggest you research target training. Once you train him to touch something with his beak you can use it to teach him to step up onto a stick before moving on to stepping up onto your hands.

Getting him back in the cage will be easier if you feed him in meals instead of free feeding, because he will be motivated to go back in the cage and get his dinner. That's a good place to start.


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Old 03-22-2017, 05:26 PM
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I'm not sure how to train him to touch something with is beak, but maybe I can figure it out if I research a bit.

Chico's been through a lot since I've had him, and maybe more before I got him.. Are you sure it's even possible to train him at this point?
 
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Old 03-22-2017, 07:28 PM
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Yes it's possible Google "target training parrots" it's really simple to do and there are tons of videos and articles on it.


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Old 03-23-2017, 05:52 PM
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Have you seen this step by step guide? I think it will help you a lot. http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=113153

I personally don't really like clicker training. It has it's benefits, but I use a different method for training which has worked for numerous of cockatiels and other birds too. I wrote the article btw.
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Old 03-23-2017, 05:59 PM
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Destroying toys is a good thing. That's how they play!

How do you feel about wing clipping? It's a small process where you clip the primary feathers of the birds wings. It doesn't hurt them and they will grow back in months time.

The reason I ask is because I personally have had better results with clipped birds. They respond better with the taming process. It will also make putting him away in his cage easier and less stressful for the both of you. I do recommend it, but some people prefer not to and that's ok.
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Old 03-25-2017, 12:02 AM
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I totally agree with Haimovfids. its way more easier to tame clipped bird and thats what I do with hissing/biting birds. After clipping I would let him come out of the cage,then as gently as possible catch him with old t-shirt, free the head and cheeks and gently stroke him there (avoid the biting beak)). If you dont handle him,he will less likely be ever comfortable around hands. He will bite at first,but do that every day for at least 10 min for a week or so and one day you will remove the t-shirt and will handle him with your bare hands. Time and patience its all thats needed and any adult bird can be tamed.
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Old 03-25-2017, 03:11 AM
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I can agree that clipping may be a good tool.

HOWEVER. I 100% oppose forceful means of training as stated in the above post. I'm sure the poster means well but let me ask you something;

What is the goal of "taming"? Is it to teach a bird that nothing they can do escape you? Or is it to teach the bird that you are safe and pleasant to be around so that they desire to spend time with you? Now ask yourself which of these outcomes would come about by grabbing your bird and forcing them to accept your touch even if it terrified of you?

Taking the time to build trust might take longer to see your bird sitting in your hand, but do you want him sitting there because he feels he doesn't have a choice, or because he likes you and wants to be close to you?


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Old 03-28-2017, 05:08 PM
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I just wanted to clarify white I wrote the above post about 'forceful training'' It is done to break birds natural instinct to bite,to show them,that hands are safe and wont hurt them. As owners we do hope that our pets wont get sick,but imagine the situation that the medicine must be administered orally. How terrifying handling for the first time would be to already sick bird. But after a month or so of training you may end up with loving pet in your arms. He/she will stay on your finger not by force,but because they want to. Handling them makes them realize that you are safe,that hand give them TLC. I do feel sorry for single birds, whose owners are afraid to touch them,because if they have a company of other cockatiels,they preen each other and therefore do have some physical contact. When I heard for the first time about this method-I was not impressed, but then I tried it and it works,works every time with any bird. If the bird is more comfortable around hands and can be handled-it will enjoy more full life-from interaction with owner,will make a better breeding bird,will be easier to cure and give medicine if necessary,will have less stress because he/she is not terrified of the owner anymore,so for my part I really do think that benefits in this case outweigh the negative thought of forcing the bird to do something,it doest hurt them,but benefit them in the end

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Old 03-28-2017, 07:34 PM
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I really want to be careful in replying because I don't want to offer any disrespect or come across as hostile because that is not at all my intent but it can be hard to tell on the internet

I have actually used the method you are talking about (often called "heart to heart") on budgies and cockatiels. It does produce a bird that doesn't fly away immediately and that CAN eventually lead to a tame and loving pet.

HOWEVER if you compare results from this method to more gentle positive reinforcement methods like target training the evidence is overwhelming.

Your INTENT is to teach the bird that hands are safe and don't hurt you, but the RESULT is that the bird learns that fighting back is futile. These are two very different results; one is trust, the other is defeat.

I'm pretty sure you are a great bird owner who would never intentionally harm or encourage others to harm a bird. You also make great points about the importance of taming and towel training that I agree with; I just disagree with the method.

Ultimately we will all do what we think is best for our bird, but I felt I needed to speak my peace on this particular method so that the OP could have multiple view points on the matter.


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