I thought it would be interesting to start a training journal so that I can record my experiences and others can help or learn from my mistakes as well as (hopefully) my triumphs.
I am a lifelong animal lover and owner, but this is my first budgie. Most of my knowledge of working with prey animals comes from horses. Though I did have an Amazon with my ex-husband, she went with him in the divorce. So, in addition to learning from this board, I'll be thinking as I would with a nervous, young, horse when it comes to my new little guy.
I purchased a Medium Vision cage a week or so ago and stocked it up in a way that I hope will be fun for a young budgie. Then I picked out an picked up my little guy on Tuesday. I'll start there:
I arrived home about 5 pm with a very scared budgie. I put him in his cage, made sure he had what he needed and then left him alone to hopefully settle in. I came in and out of the office, and talked and whistled to him quietly, but got no response.
I was a bit worried this morning that he was still clinging to the side of the cage, frozen in fear. Thank goodness for Talk Budgies! I found a thread letting me know this was normal. Whew!
I spent a large part of the day just hanging out with him. I continued to read up on TB, chatted whistled and clicked and even read out loud to him a bit. I also took some pictures to post and was informed that he is, indeed, a he! If I hadn't read up here before hand, I never could have picked a male.
Thankfully, he finally started moving around the cage some at around 1 PM. I also played a few YT videos to him and he finally chirped back in the early evening.
I watched a show this evening about animal odd couples and there was a deer that had been raised by a dog. The deer's name was Pippin and I thought that was perfect for a budgie. I had no clue that apparently it is a fairly common name for these guys. Is that so?
Ahh, well. I like it anyway. Pip fits him to a "t".
Pip seems to be starting to relax even more. Yay! I felt so bad that he seemed so totally terrified initially.
I can finally see signs that he's been eating, drinking and producing plenty of healthy poop! He's spending more time on his perches and less clinging to the bars. He also seems to be adjusting to his wing clip. I'm actually very pleased with the clip they gave him. He can't gain much in height, but can flutter around his cage and get from place to place well. I plan to allow him to be flighted as soon as he's tame enough.
I spent more time today talking and just generally chatting with him. I decided to only play the parakeet audio sounds while I was in the room. I want Pip to connect me with good things! In addition, I make sure to chime in and make sounds, whistles and phrases myself while the audio plays in the background.
This afternoon I worked on getting Pip to be comfortable with my hand in the cage. As I mentioned, I thought about how I wanted to do that, with the idea of handling it like I would with a scared horse.
Basically, I'm using the idea of pressure and release. I would apply pressure (putting my hand slowly in the cage) and would only release the pressure when he gave me the response I wanted. Of course, I'm doing this in very small steps initially and rewarding even the smallest try towards a correct response.
So, I would slowly put my hand in the cage. If Pip remained where he was I would praise him and remove my hand (remove the pressure and whistle to him as a reward for not panicking). If he would take fright, then I would continue to hold my hand where it was until he stopped panicking. At the very first sign of him landing and pausing, I would remove the pressure by removing my hand. He seemed to pick up on this quickly. Once I could slowly place my hand in the cage and then remove it with no major panic on his part, I stopped for the night.
I then spent some time talking and whistling and played the happy budgie sounds for him once more. Then I was done for the day.
More talking, whistling and just hanging out in the office today. I changed Pip's food and water, without any undue panic.
He does seem to forget about being clipped if he gets nervous, but is getting better at knowing what he can do and what he can't.
Early afternoon, I did some more work with my hands in the cage and he seemed to accept this just fine as long as I didn't startle him. I was very pleased. I usually keep my sessions to only ten minutes or so, but then work with him numerous times with a break in between to relax and think.
Late afternoon I decided it was time to try a little step-up with a hand held perch. I used a chop stick, as it was easy to move about in the cage. Initially, he was pretty scared of the stick. So, I spent some time just getting him used to my hand and perch in the cage. Release of pressure (removal of hand and perch) and happy sounds when he was calm.
I then began to gradually approach Pip with the perch. All I asked initially was that he let me hold it close to him. He did very well overall, though he did panic and flutter around the cage a few times. I worried I'd pushed him too hard, but I just waited until he calmed down a bit, removed the pressure and then tried again.
Then, success! The first time he landed on the perch it was accidental. He was fluttering towards another perch and landed on the chopstick. No matter! I transferred him to the perch he was aiming for, removed the pressure and praised as much as I could. I then put a treat in his cup (he won't take it from my hand yet) and played happy budgie sounds.
I let him think about it for awhile and then tried again. By the third session, I only had to follow him once before he stepped up. More praise, removal of pressure and happy budgie sounds played. The forth session, he stepped up on the perch the first time I asked. I held him up for a moment before putting him back on his favorite perch, praising and ending the session. I wanted to finish today on a good note, so I stopped there. However, I am still coming in and out of the office and talking to him regularly.
So, that's where we are so far. I've been worried a few times, but I'm feeling really good at this point with what we've accomplished!
Oh, and I need some better pictures, but here's one of the few shots I have, just so you can put a name with the face.