I got my budgie three and a half months ago, and he's doing pretty well. He seems to enjoy when I talk to him and will come out of the cage when I leave the cage door open. I never force him to do anything or grab him. I did clip his wings when I got him, because I thought it would make the taming process easier, but it didn't seem to do much and I want him to have fun flying around outside the cage, so I won't be clipping again once he goes through his first molt. When he's out of the cage, he usually plays with toys that I put outside the cage or just sits somewhere on me and preens, or chew on my clothes. Other times when he's out of the cage, I do short training sessions with him. I've taught him to target, but outside of training sessions, he'll only go to the stick if he feels like it. Anyways, he never seemed to have problems with my hand until about two months ago. I realize that I've had my budgie for a very short amount of time, but here's the thing: two months ago, he was perfectly comfortable with my hand. I had no problems getting him to step up inside the cage and bringing him out that way. He would also perch on my finger perfectly fine. After that, he suddenly started to not like my hands. He won't step up anymore, and will just move along the perch when I try to get him to. He also won't chill on my finger anymore and will always fly somewhere else to perch. It seems to me that he likes me, just not my hands. I never figured out why this happened until last night. Last night, i was talking to my budgie before its bedtime and my dad came in and started sticking his finger through the cage bars and making loud noises. I told him to stop, but he didn't and I couldn't really do anything about it. By the time he left, my budgie was pretty freaked out. My dad's not a bad person or anything, he just really doesn't understand animals and he doesn't like animals. Anyways, I assume this is the reason why my budgie suddenly became skeptical of hands. Now my question is, how do I regain it's trust in my hands? Again, I realize that I haven't had it for that long, but I'd like to know the best thing to do in this situation in order to regain my budgie's trust in hands.
If you do a search of the forums for the word trust, you'll see a lot of threads on the topic. One way to gain trust is to offer a treat (millet or even just seed) on your fingertips. Once he starts nibbling, let him get used to that, and then start offering it with the treat moved closer to your palm to encourage him to step onto your hand to get it. This may take days or weeks.
Somehow you need to get you dad to understand that he scared your budgie and that his continuing to do so could have long-term negative impacts on the bird's well-being. Maybe ask your mom to talk to your dad.
If your Dad persists in doing things like sticking his finger in the budgies cage and making loud noises, that is definitely going to undermine your bird's trust in your hands.
What is your bird's name?
It would be helpful if your Dad could understand the reasoning behind what we do and do not do in order to gain a budgie's trust. Asking your Dad to take the time to read the Budgie Articles and Stickies throughout our forum would be a good start.
If you Dad doesn't want to make the time to do that, then I'd suggest you sit down and make out a presentation explaining that a budgie is a prey bird and therefore it is instinctive for it to be very cautious, skittish and fearful of things it perceives to be dangerous. Explain that working slowly, calmly and talking in a reassuring voice to your budgie at all times if very important.
You will need to remain calm, logical and reasonable when you explain these things to your Dad.
With regard to your budgie's fear, you are going to need to proceed very slowly. Take a few steps back in the taming process.
Instead of trying to get your budgie on your finger, simply put your hand in his cage and hold it completely still - Palm up with a few seeds in your palm.
Follow the steps you used in the beginning to get him to trust you. This may take more time than it did initially but just take things one day at a time.
If you feel that your conversation with your dad is at risk of becoming heated, or if he’s just reacting by making a big joke out of if, then I think the best approach is perhaps to just sigh and with sincerity say “I know you don’t think the same way about this as I do, but this is important to me dad, will you please just leave him alone and let me do things my way?”
I see this is a frustrating and sensitive situation. I’m sorry this is happening. The suggestions made above, on what to tell your dad are good ones. But depending on your dad’s personality, you’ll have to approach him in a way that will not offend him, but make him think about what you said. Emphasizing that these are prey animals, and how important to you it is (that he stop teasing and taunting your beloved pet). If there is another adult around that you trust, and who your dad will listen to, that might be a good way to get the message across too.
So for the past three weeks, I've been teaching my budgie to step up with the help of millet and a clicker. He seems to learn very quickly and he'll always step up or fly to my hand during our short training sessions; however, outside of training, for example when he's hanging out with me while I'm using my computer and I want to bring him back to the cage, he absolutely refuses to step up. I'll bring my hand close slowly and he'll just walk away from my hand when I give him the command. Why is it that my budgie is so obedient during training sessions, but outside of training sessions, it's like he forgot everything I've been teaching him?
Looks like he loves being out, and your request is coming at a time that he doesn’t want to go back. Are you using your same clicker and millet technique that you’re successful with at other times? If you try gently pushing your finger up against his lower abdomen, right in front of his feet, that many times will work with getting a small bird to step up. Try that first...
I agree, guess he’s just behaving like a human child “Noooo, 5 more minutes!”
Make sure that you’re not only asking him to step up outside the cage, when you want to return him, and as Julie said, try to give a positive reward for going back inside when asked. - During the time he’s just hanging out with you, every so often get him to step up and then let him return to whatever he was doing and when you do eventually put him back, let him see you drop a ball of millet in his dish.
Try to change his thought process from:
Outside cage, step up -> must be back to cage -> alone
Outside cage, step up -> praise -> maybe, back to play/maybe, back to cage -> yum
Thanks for the replies! I understand what you guys are suggesting and I wish that was the situation, but it's a bit more complicated than that. My budgie isn't worried about not getting enough playtime outside. He doesn't really seem to care whether he's outside the cage or not - if he's inside, he'll just chill out and if he's outside, he'll play with whatever he's interested in. It seems to me that he's refusing to step up, because he's unsure about my hand. When I slowly move my finger closer, he tenses up and walks away. You guys suggested that I push gently against his chest, but when I am able to get close enough to do that, he backs up when I nudge at his chest. This is just so strange to me, because he shows no fear of my hand during training and he enjoys scratches on the head, but like I said, outside of training, he runs away from my hand when I try to get him to come on my hand. I do all of this very calmly and slowly, but nothing seems to work. I know this takes time, and I'm willing to work at his pace, but the way he's acting really makes no sense to me.
As you’re already aware of, progress takes a lot of time, and can be very slow. Your budgie is performing the commands he’s comfortable with in the area of the room and cage where he is accustomed to doing it. He may be a bit more unfamiliar, OR for whatever reason more uncomfortable doing the same command elsewhere, and will just take more time with more reinforcement. For example in dog training it’s called being proofed, when they will obey a command regardless of environment or distractions. It could be that your budgie is still the most secure around his cage, where the step up is naturally more automatic.
It could also be that when your budgie was newer, he was less confident, where sometimes they will actually act more tame or submissive than they are. When they gain confidence, the instincts that cause apprehension start to kick in. It also might have to do with age. Many budgies who are past puberty, no longer tolerate hands as much, and will give you boundaries which you’ll have to respect.
Since I’m not there, these are just some possible scenarios that I can think of, on top of the fact that perhaps it still hasn’t been enough time. Depending on the individual, it can take MANY months to become as tame as they want to become. Remember, some budgies will end up becoming more tame than others, and it doesn’t matter how long you try. Some are just more willing to bond with a human than others. Over time, you’ll see how close your budgie is going to get. Keep in mind they are essentially wild animals, and we can’t expect them to be like a family dog. If you get lucky, then great. I hope that helps.