How to Train a Cockatiel? (Expert Guide)

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Ali Shahid

It is well known that cockatiels develop positive relationships with their owners. Having a cockatiel and training it can be an interesting experience. Cockatiel training not only tames your bird but strengthens your bond. Now the popular question is :

How to train a cockatiel?

You need a great deal of patience, some experience, and a little bit of luck to train a cockatiel. To begin with, you must earn its trust. Eventually, you will be able to train your cockatiel well enough to teach it some tricks as well.

As I understand that you might be eager to begin training your new pet, let’s not waste any time in getting started.

Cockatiel Training

How to Tame a Cockatiel

1. Make Your Cockatiel Comfortable

Building a strong bond with your cockatiel is essential. Before you can start training, you need to gain the bird’s trust. It is natural for any new bird that has never been around humans to be fearful of them. So, I advise you to gain the trust of your cockatiel first.

Spend quality time with the cockatiel, and talk to it regularly so it becomes accustomed to the sound of your voice. This is particularly important if you’re working with a recently acquired cockatiel.

2. Quiet Place for Training

Pick a calm spot to train your bird. Make sure it is not in a noisy room with lots of movement. Find a quiet room and close the doors and windows. Keep the cage nearby so your bird feels safe. If there are fans, turn them off so your bird isn’t bothered.

3. Talk to your cockatiel

After giving them time to become familiar with you and their surroundings, initiate the bonding process. Begin by talking to your cockatiel while you are outside their cage. Remember, it is not so much about what you say, but how you say it. Keep your voice steady and relaxed.

You can say anything as long as your tone is gentle. Avoid abrupt changes in volume; instead, speak softly. It is recommended that your position should be slightly above the cockatiel’s eye level in order not to appear intimidating. Continue this practice for a few days before progressing to the next phase.

4. Offer treats
Providing a treat to a cockatiel is a wonderful method to create a connection. You can use a millet spray for training, as cockatiels usually enjoy this food. Be sure the treat is suitable for their species to avoid any negative effects.

Offer the treat by holding it just outside the bars of their cage, not too close to them. This arrangement can motivate them to come to you on their own. Allow them to peck at the treat for about 5 seconds, then shift it around to see if they’ll approach again.

5. Repeat the routine daily

Practice your daily routine of talking to them and enticing them to approach you. Keep the sessions brief, not exceeding 15 minutes, and repeat them a few times a day to prevent causing any anxiety. If your cockatiel becomes stressed due to your presence, patiently wait until they regain their composure before proceeding.

6. Minimize the Training Time

Keep the training sessions within a 10-minute timeframe. Shorter sessions maintain your bird’s engagement and prevent them from becoming weary of the training. Aim for 2 or 3 such sessions each day. When concluding a session, offer your bird ample praise to create anticipation for the next one.

If the bird displays aggression, promptly conclude the session. For instance, if it starts flapping its wings or attempting to bite, wrap up the lesson promptly.

7. Be patient and consistent

Stay steadfast and patient while working with your cockatiel. Birds grasp concepts through repetition, which implies using the same command consistently when introducing a new trick. Remember that extensive practice is essential.

It might take several months for cockatiels to fully grasp a new trick. If the bird seems to be getting vexed, take a pause or switch to a different trick. Avoid reprimanding or shouting at the cockatiel if it doesn’t adhere to your instructions. Such actions will merely hurt the bird’s perception of training sessions.

How to Train a Cockatiel to go onto your Finger

1. Open the cage

As your cockatiel becomes more at ease with your presence, you can begin teaching them the “step up” command. This entails having your cockatiel step onto your finger, allowing you to move them in and out of their cage securely.

To initiate, open your bird’s cage. If your cockatiel feels comfortable, they may remain composed as you approach, or they could even move closer to you. Always ensure that all doors and windows are closed before opening their cage.

2. Move your hand steadily closer

Whenever you open their cage, gradually bring your hand closer over time. Your bird might even take food from your hand or come closer to you. As you approach your bird, hold out two fingers horizontally. Maintain this hand position and offer a reward if your bird remains calm.

3. Show your Cockatiel its Favorite Treat

If your bird seems hesitant to leave its cage, grasp a morsel of its preferred food in your palm. Place this hand behind the hand you intend for the cockatiel to step onto. Make sure the treat is within the bird’s view to encourage its interest. Employ a favorite treat, like a piece of kale, millet spray, or strawberries.

4. Touch the chest with Your Finger

Apply gentle pressure with your forefinger on the cockatiel’s lower chest, creating a perch-like position just above its legs. The pressure should be enough to slightly unbalance the bird, prompting it to adjust its balance. As the cockatiel responds by raising its leg when it senses the imbalance, seize this chance to train it to step up.

5. Give a verbal command

Right when you press your finger against the cockatiel, use a clear phrase like “Up, up!” or “Step up!” The bird will start connecting this command with stepping up. While you give the instruction, maintain eye contact with your bird.

6. Move Your Finger Under the Foot

As your bird begins to regain its balance, slowly lower your forefinger toward its feet while keeping your hand stable. Your cockatiel should then step up onto your finger. Allow the bird to enjoy the treat in your opposite hand and offer verbal commendation. Consistent practice is essential for your bird to learn this trick over time.

Popular Tricks to Teach Your Cockatiel

1. Turn Around

Let’s chat about teaching your cockatiel a neat trick called “Turn Around.” It is like getting your bird to do a little spin. Here is how you can do it in simple steps:

Find a comfy spot for your cockatiel, like a perch where it can hang out. Hold a treat just under its beak, and as your bird goes for the treat, use a word like “Turn” or whatever word you pick as a signal for the trick. 

While your bird is reaching for the treat, give it a slight nudge so it has to turn just a tad to grab it. Once your cockatiel gets the hang of this, show some excitement and reward it with the treat. 

When your bird gets good at this, move your finger down a bit toward its tail while still keeping the treat below it. As time goes on, your bird will start to figure out that it needs to turn around to get the treat that is behind it. 

At first, you might have to start with the treat close to its beak and then guide it down towards its tail. Your bird will catch on. When your bird becomes a pro at turning, you can guide the treat back to where you started. 

These clever cockatiels usually catch on pretty fast. If you keep using your chosen word every time you do the trick, your bird will soon know that when you say that word, it is time to turn around. So, that is the scoop on teaching your cockatiel to turn around. It is all about taking small steps and enjoying the fun together.

2. Shake Hands

To teach your cockatiel the “Shake Hands” trick, start by getting a treat ready. Slowly move your finger toward your bird’s feet. When you’re close to its foot, use a command like “Shake hands” or whatever phrase you want to use for this trick. 

Then gently touch your cockatiel’s foot. As you practice more, you can gradually slip your finger under one toe and eventually under a few toes, giving a gentle lift. Your cockatiel might get the hang of it at any point during these steps. It’s super important to always use the same command to keep things clear.

Now, to make this different from the “Step up” command, you can try curling your finger slightly when you ask your cockatiel to shake hands. This makes a visual signal that’s unique to this trick. Keep in mind, that cockatiels are good at watching things, and they have strong eyesight.

3. Walk a Tightrope

Due to their natural ability to climb trees and walk on branches, cockatiels are excellent at walking along a rope. With a bit of guidance from you, it can even appear as an impressive feat to people watching.

You can start by creating a strong tightrope using two supports and a clothesline. To make things more interesting, you can use a ladder to get to one end of the tightrope. Here’s how you can teach your cockatiel this exciting trick:

Begin by leading your cockatiel with a treat, and as it takes steps from one support to the other, make sure to praise its progress. This gradual approach is key.

Next, position your cockatiel on one end of the tightrope and hold a treat on the opposite side. Use your chosen command word along with a hand signal to let your cockatiel know what you want it to do. This helps your bird understand the task.

Encourage your cockatiel to walk along the tightrope toward the treat. In the beginning, it might need a bit of encouragement, but with practice, it will become more comfortable.

When your cockatiel successfully walks the tightrope, show it a lot of appreciation. Let your bird know how great it is to follow your command and complete the trick.

4. Shake Head

Train your bird to shake its head by giving rewards whenever you observe it doing it naturally. It’s enjoyable to teach them to respond to a specific question with this action, creating the illusion that they’re saying “no” in response.

5. Fly on Command

This simple trick benefits both you and your bird. It aids in training your bird to fly from a designated spot for safety. Position a treat where you want them to take off from, and employ a command to link it with their flying action.

6. Whistle Songs

Whistling is a natural behavior for cockatiels. They tend to imitate you if they hear your singing or whistling. Try whistling a brief tune to your cockatiel. Whenever they mimic you, offer a reward and say “Sing.”

Interesting Fact:Training a cockatiel can vary in the time it takes to see results, ranging from two days to two weeks, or even up to two months. The key is to stay patient and persistent, working on it every day while maintaining a calm and gentle approach. Remember, building a strong bond with your cockatiel and establishing trust is just as important as the training itself. So, keep at it, and don’t lose heart.

Frequently Asked Question

If my cockatiel hates me, what should I do?

To build a connection with your cockatiel, you can begin by sitting near her cage and engaging in gentle conversation. Place treats in her dish without making sudden movements towards her. Over time, she might become comfortable sitting close to you and showing interest.

It is crucial to let her decide when she’s ready to approach you. Taming her requires patience and respect for her comfort zone. Allow her to take the lead, and only when she’s at ease will progress be possible.

When Should I Start Training A Cockatiel?

Training your cockatiel is similar to training many other species, including humans. Like with most creatures, it is ideal to begin training your cockatiel when it’s young. Young cockatiels are more adaptable and attentive, making training easier.

For the best results, aim to start training your cockatiel between 8-12 months of age. In the event that you are a little late, start preparing before the first six months of the year. Training adult birds can be more challenging and might not yield the desired outcomes. So, early training sets the stage for a smoother process and better results.

Is it difficult to train a cockatiel?

Cockatiels prove to be quite trainable due to their high intelligence and social nature. While building their trust might present a challenge, it is a hurdle that patience can overcome.

The key is establishing yourself as a friend in their eyes and linking your presence and touch with positive moments. By ensuring your pet connects you with good experiences, you’ll be on the right track toward successful training.

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