Teaching Your Bird the Step-Up Command

"Step up," or just plain "Up," is the most important command you teach your bird. When you ask your bird to perform this motion, he should step up onto whatever you're offering, be it your finger (for smaller birds), your fist or arm (for larger birds), or a wood dowel or perch. The step-up command establishes you as the leader and is the basis for all other training.

If your new pet was hand-fed and well socialized, he may already know the step-up command, but even if he doesn't, expect him to pick it up quickly. Teach it to him by following these steps:

1. Place your hand (if he's friendly) or a T-perch or a dowel (if he's not) gently against his breast, just above the legs, and say "Step up" in a firm but friendly tone.

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A T-perch is just what it sounds like: a perch shaped like the letter T. Some trainers don't like using a T-perch or dowel, and recommend putting a towel over your hand instead.

The pressure triggers an instinctive reaction, and the bird usually steps right onto the perch or hand.

2. Follow with lots of praise and even a seed treat or two.

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Make "Step up" a normal part of everyday life with your bird; you can use the command many times a day. The request and response are not only convenient in all kinds of situations, but they also constantly reinforce your gentle leadership.

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