I have had Captain Beaky since I was twelve, and this was one of the first things that I taught him. It is probably the most important command as without I would not be able to move him about or rescue him from potentially dangerous situations!
The first thing to do is to find out what the best reward is for the bird – some like to have their heads and necks scratched, whereas others enjoy something to eat. Beaky likes apple, so I have a couple of cut slices that I use here. (Whilst training the reward must always be used, but often now I simply say ‘good boy’ when he steps up for me).
To invite Captain Beaky to step up, I put my hand near to his chest with my fingers together and thumb tucked in, slightly higher than the level of his current perch. My other hand holds the reward in front of him to tempt him forwards.
As he steps up I say ‘step up’ and once he has both feet on my hand he is given a few moments to have his apple and absorb the fact that stepping up resulted in something good!
I am now working on teaching Beaky to fly to me – he often does this voluntarily but I would like to be able to attach a command to this.
To begin with I am offering him the treat with my hand far enough away that he just has to spread his wings slightly and hop over to reach it.
As this is a work in progress, you will be able to see this aspect of our training gradually improve over the weeks, so stay tuned for more information!