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I've had my girl for about a month now (she's 4 months old), and we're getting along pretty well; she likes to climb on my shoulder and go around the house with me, but isn't fond of pets/scritches yet. We are still working on the "step up command," and I recently got her some treats to help with training.

She does this weird thing when I open her cage; she gets up on the bars near the entrance and stands there, but when I put my arm up to have her step up, she goes back down into the cage. I know she wants to come out because I've been at work all day, and she enjoys spending time with me out of her cage.

I don't want her to think that she's the boss, so instead of just leaving the cage door open and waiting for her to decide to come out, I've given her a few chances, closed it, and then opened it back up a few minutes later to try again.

TL;DR, how do I make my birdy learn the step-up command, particularly when coming out of the cage?
 

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So tiels don't have dominant personalities like dogs. You aren't letting her think she's the boss if you let her come out of the cage on her own. This is all about building up trust. You have to get her to step up outside the cage and then work to being in the cage. Let her come out on her own, she will come to you. Then work on step up out of the cage. The easiest way to do this is with the ladder game, making her repeatedly step up on your next finger over and over again. My birds loved doing this game. For the cage, hold a treat in one hand and make her step on the other hand to get to the treat. It may take a bit but you'll get there. Don't rush her and go at her own pace.
 

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Roxy has great advice, I only wanted to add one thing. If you eventually want to put it on command (I'm assuming the verbal cue "step up"), wait until she's performing the behavior reliably before you add the command. Otherwise, she'll have heard it too much without anything to associate it with and it'll mean nothing, which will make it harder to associate later.

Let's say, for example, you use Roxy's advice about putting the millet just past your hand so she has to step up to reach it. Wait until she's stepping up confidently, no problem, each time you do this. Then, when you see her approaching, clearly going to step up, you add the command. Do this a few times, then you slowly space out the command from the lure (holding the millet where she has to step up to reach it is luring). Spacing them out would look something like this, which each period being a single beat, like the time it'd take you to think the word 'beat' in your head:

Lure (until she steps up reliably for the lure - no command)
LureCommand (say the command as you see her approaching, clearly about to step up)
CommandLure (say the command as you set up your hand and millet to lure her)
Command.Lure
Command..Lure
Command...Lure
Command.....Lure
Command........Lure
Command..........Lure (if needed)

Eventually, the command is associated with the lure "Hmm...everytime he says that word, he holds the millet just past his hand. I might as well just step on to his hand as soon as I hear the word and save myself the time." Also, when you're doing this, make sure not to repeat the command. There should be one command for each repetition of behavior - if she doesn't respond to the command, chances are she doesn't understand what it means yet or something happened to confuse her, such as a distraction in the environment. If she doesn't respond to the command during the learning phase like this, just lure her through the behavior. Remember that: one command for one repetition of behavior (so for each individual 'step up').


Just a note - your hand should always be in the step-up position at the same time you give the command, unless the lure comes first. The lure isn't the step up position, but the millet just past your step up hand.

Also, if she doesn't associate the command to the lure right away, slow down and go back a few steps. You don't want to rush the spacing thing. If she doesn't seem to be getting it, just go back to the point where she was getting it and work your way up from there again.



Also, if you're trying to get your bird to step up onto your arm, that might be part of the problem. I've found, in my experience, that smaller birds aren't too crazy about forearms. If you're doing that, you might try using your fingers, or if you need the extra stability your whole hand. I'm sure it's possible to teach them to step up onto an arm, but it'll be easier to work with a perch more to their size. I personally use one to two fingers, shaped like a finger gun, when I ask Kirby to step up.
 
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