Hand Training a Parakeet
Parakeets are EXTREMELY smart and friendly. It always breaks my heart to see a parakeet stuffed into a cage, never let out, never interacted with. Parakeets are flock birds! They thrive on being cuddled, being nuzzled, having that physical interaction with their flock. And if there is only one parakeet in the cage, that flock is you! Hand training is a critical part of owning and raising a happy parakeet.
How To Tame a Budgie
If you have already Bought a New Parakeet and Gotten the Parakeet Used to your Home it's time to now start hand-training it. You can't let a parakeet out to fly around the room until it understands that your hand is safe, and that your finger is a perch it should hop onto when you say "UP". So you need to work on this next.
If your parakeet was hand-raised, this is probably easy. Your parakeet probably already knows the command "up". Simply put your hand SLOWLY into the cage, talking nicely to it. Then gently press your finger against its chest and say "UP" in a gentle but firm voice. She should step up onto your finger. Keep it still and say things like "good bird" in a soft, soothing voice. If your parakeet does this easily, then you're already ready for it to come out and enjoy a bit of flying around.
However, let's say you had to buy your keet from a Bin O Budgies and it is very skittish. You have to train it that you are a friend and to be trusted. Follow the step by step instructions below, and in a few weeks you will have a parakeet that will be your loving companion for years and years. DO NOT SKIP A STEP. Be sure to fully be complete with a step before moving on to the next. This is very important in having this training work properly!
STEP ONE - TRUSTING THE HAND
In step one, you simply get your parakeet used to your hand being in the cage.
Instructions for helping your Parakeet Trust your Hand
STEP TWO - PERCH TRAINING
In step two, you train your parakeet to step up onto a perch on command.
Instructions for Perch Training your Parakeet
STEP THREE - FINGER-PERCH TRAINING
In step three, you show your parakeet that it's OK to step on a perch that also has a finger attached to it.
Instructions for Finger-Perch Training your Parakeet
STEP FOUR - FINGER TRAINING
In step four, still staying just in the cage, your parakeet learns that your finger is a safe perch to sit on.
Instructions for Finger Training your Parakeet
STEP FIVE - OUT-OF-CAGE FINGER TRAINING
In step five, the parakeet learns that her trusted finger is safe to sit on, even if it's outside the cage.
Instructions for out-of-cage Finger Training your Parakeet
The more you interact with your parakeet, the friendlier he will get! Soon you'll find he loves hanging out on your shoulder while you do things, nibbling on earrings or necklaces. When I work at my computer, my parakeets hang out on the curtain rod right next to me, chirping down at me.
Remember, none of this will happen instantly. If you bought a hand raised parakeet it might all happen on the first day - but people who buy budgies out of large bins are in essence buying wild birds. It can easily take several weeks to get your budgie used to you as a trusted person. You have to be patient and work on this every day, to let your parakeet learn about you and learn to trust you. It can't be rushed. Parakeets are extremely intelligent and need to learn to trust you on their own time.
Parakeets do NOT BITE unless they are being threatened. So as long as you are quiet and gentle and friendly with your parakeet, you will have a quite loving companion! In this photo Bob is pretending that Nazo is an Evil Vampire Nazo, but believe me, Nazo would never hurt a fly :)
Watch especially for when your parakeet is getting in new feathers - their bodies and heads are VERY itchy around now! They will LOVE it if you gently scratch at their heads for them, or nuzzle them underneath their beaks :)
Biting Problems with Parakeets
Why "Grabbing and Holding" is NOT a Valid Training Technique
Do Not Train in the Bathroom
Cat / Parakeet Info Homepage