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Cockatiel refuses to be trained

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

Cockatiel refuses to be trained

Postby Chickenraptor » Sun Jul 25, 2021 11:17 am

So Piper, my 4 year old cockatiel, is difficult for me to train. He was well behaved as a baby, got really moody and stopped listening to anything and started biting when he was around 1 year old, and would only be able to be handled by me for a while after visiting his breeder/babysitter. His breeder has unfortunately passed away a couple years ago and when we moved to a new home two years ago, Piper became a nightmare to train.

He's generally a pretty nice bird and will come out to eat breakfast with me and sit on my shoulder or fly around the living room and chatter on top of his cage at me just fine. All of that is of his own accord and I let him come out and hang out with me often.

When it comes to any sort of command, training, or stepping up though he's the worst.

Whenever I try to tell him to step up, if he is anywhere near his cage or perch he refuses. He no longer hisses at my hand or any perch but he will walk away, go hide in the top corner of his cage and chatter at my hand or the stick, or just fly away if he has the option. I can get him to step up while he has fallen onto the floor, but that is the only way he will get onto my hand or any perch I am holding with any reliability.

Treats don't really work well with him as a reward for training and he sometimes will take them from my hand and sometimes will just walk away or even hiss at his treats. Depends on his mood.

Whenever I do get him to step up, 9 times out of 10 he will immediately blast off to go hang out on top of the blinds or above the refrigerator and then he will even flock call at me if he can't see me at his new perch.

Basically I'm at a loss on where to go now with his training and how best to do it. I can't find a treat or reward that he likes enough to train him with, he simply flies away any time I get him on my hand, and I have a hard time getting him out of his cage if he has decided that he doesn't feel like leaving it today.

I used to have a training perch for him that worked well for me, but he is for some reason terrified of it ever since the move and no amount of millet placed tantalizingly onto it will solve this.
Chickenraptor
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Cockatiel
Flight: Yes

Re: Cockatiel refuses to be trained

Postby Pajarita » Mon Jul 26, 2021 9:15 am

Hi, Raptor and Piper, welcome to the forum!

First and before anything else, I must clarify something that you might or might not know. Not all parrots are the same. There are two kinds (this is not a scientific classification but an aviculturist one): companion species and aviary species (cockatiels are aviary). Both can bond with people and both can be trained BUT you will never get the same degree of bond or of willingness to 'obey' in an aviary at the same degree that you would with a companion species. Why? Because companion species are almost always handfed and imprinted to humans so the bond is much deeper than you would get with an aviary species even if the bird was handfed as a baby (because aviary species lose part of the bond once they mature). A sexually mature companion species can be content living with a human alone as long as the care is great but an aviary species will never be really happy without companions of their own or a very similar species no matter what you do or don't do. They simply know very well they are birds and that you are not. That is as to the actual bond but then there is trainability. Now, all parrots can be trained but aviary species are much more flighty, have a shorter attention span and are not as willing to please their owner (because their bond is not that deep).

Having said that, let's go to the details. You say rewards no longer work and the only way that can happen is if you free-feed protein and never took the time to figure out which is his high value item. I am not trying to make you feel bad, I am just stating what I think is the problem so you can correct it. No parrot should be free-fed protein food, it destroys their liver and kidneys, causes obesity and cardiovascular disease, messes up their endocrine system making them overly hormonal, etc BUT, aside from the fact that this is terribly unhealthy for them, there is also the fact that the greatest majority of parrots would only consider a protein food as a high value item so, if you feed high protein all the time, where is the incentive for the parrot to do anything when the reward is something he doesn't really crave? Solution: change the diet and figure out what is his high value item.

You say that he no longer steps up... well, there is the fact that aviaries are more flighty (they need to move/flight more) than companions but it also has to do with what, exactly, you do with the bird after he steps up. A parrot that is going to be put into the cage almost every time he steps up, is not going to step up for very long (they are pretty smart and figure out fast that 'step up' means cage). This is also related to the number of hours the bird spends out-of-cage. A bird that is out of cage only for a few hours a day is not going to go into that cage willingly but a parrot that spends enough time out and is only put in for a few daylight hours in the cage, will gladly go into it without a single problem. To give you an idea, I have 6 parrots that live in cages (the others live cage-free in a birdroom) and, of these six, five of them (the sixth is a handicapped GCC that cannot fly on her own and spends her entire day on me) go into their cages on their own when I give the command: "Go home!" and I do not ever train them or reward them when they do obey, but their cages are open at 5:45 am and, although they go in (by themselves) when I give them their breakfast for 15 to 20 minutes, they are out until 2:30 or 3:00 pm (they get their dinner at 6:45pm and get ready to roost after). Same thing if what you do is put him on a perch to train and he no longer wants to train.

Last but not least and I hope you don't take this the wrong way but I love birds and I don't really give advice to benefit people but to benefit the birds so I feel I need to tell you this for his benefit: your bird is not happy. He is all alone with a human who cannot give him what he needs to have a content life in captivity (it's not you, it's every single person who keeps a single aviary parrot as a companion - nobody can do it, not with a healthy, strong bird). Would you, please, please, consider adopting an adult female tiel for him? In all honesty, it might really mess up your training because he will be more interested in the female than you but, if the care is right (super strict solar schedule, right diet, lots of flying time, etc), you might end up with a more willing bird than you have now because it will make him happy and that's what love is all about, isn't it? Namely, wanting the object of our affections to be happy and healthy. Think about it.

Let me know if you need further clarification on diet, solar schedule or anything.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 18391
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Cockatiel refuses to be trained

Postby Chickenraptor » Thu Aug 05, 2021 4:37 pm

Good to see I chose the wrong forum.

I never told you anything at all on his diet and how much time I spend with him daily. You assumed the worst of me and assume the worst of anyone it seems. I looked at a few other threads and your actions are misguided and downright mean I see. Pretentious people like you are why so many people give up on their birds and those birds end up rehomed with trust issues.

Why the hell are you going on here giving advice to people seeking help with taming and training when you have admitted on other threads that you don't do anything of the sort with your own birds? If you have no experience in the area of training birds, then don't go giving 'advice' telling people how to care for their birds in ways they in a lot of cases, cannot provide.

Don't go around telling people that cockatiels can't be trained at all just because you don't want to put in the work with one bird to do so and would rather instead have a massive flock to take care of without spending the time each needs individually on training.

I'm pretty sure he's better off here in my care where he plays and sings and sits with me happily then off on a craigslist ad to who knows where, but since you're assuming so much about me I'll just assume you'd prefer it that way.

I got some good answers from this forum in a google search but I guess that was years ago when there was a bit more variety and not some prick with 18 thousand posts on the forum preaching their way of handling their birds as the one and only way it can be done without being an animal abuser.

Thanks for the advice, now kindly stick it up your ass.
Chickenraptor
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 2
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: Cockatiel
Flight: Yes

Re: Cockatiel refuses to be trained

Postby Pajarita » Fri Aug 06, 2021 9:07 am

Oh, my dear, you have anger issues and that never bodes well for the animals who live with people like you. But aside from that, I recommend you read everything twice because, obviously, your written comprehension is deficient.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 18391
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


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