Hand Training

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After your Quaker becomes comfortable sitting on your finger and shows no apprehension, you may want to hand train him. Hand training is not to be confused with hand taming. True, a hand tamed bird will step onto your hand, but this does not mean he is hand trained. A Quaker that has been hand trained correctly will respond on cue, step confidently onto your hand and stay on your hand, allowing your thumb to gently restrain his feet, even if he does not like hands or being touched. Once he is on your finger, your knuckles give him an uneven surface to grasp and he will sit quietly, accepting gentle pressure from your thumb against his feet.

This friction is needed for birds to maintain their balance, and the restraint provided by your thumb provides security and safety. This keeps the bird settled and safe from falls. Once this is gone, the bird is prone to unexpected falls. Something as ordinary as a passing car honking or a plane flying overhead can startle your bird and cause him to lose his balance.

Even if he is uninjured, he has just learned an unwelcome and unnecessary lesson–that human handling can be dangerous. The bird will now begin to associate human interaction with uncertain outcomes, and will not trust being handled.

To begin hand training, with the bird sitting on your finger, gently restrain his feet with your thumb. Hold him towards your chest so that your body is his only route of escape. If he is being held outward and attempts to escape you may have to grasp his chest in your free hand and may receive a nasty bite for your trouble. Catching your Quaker in this manner may result in one of the worst bites you will ever experience, so keep your Quaker facing you until it is relaxed and curious.

Talk gently and calmly to your bird while he is sitting on your hand. Again, sessions should be short, about 10-15 minutes at a time. After all , it is hard for a very active bird to sit still even for a short period of time. Always praise your Quaker verbally or with treats when he reacts the way you want him to.

A bird who has been trained in this manner will not bite or attempt to climb up to your shoulder or crawl all over you, but will sit patiently for a short period of time while you transport or interact with him. Your bird will learn to understand the hand cue and trust you as his handler if you use patience and persistence.

Hand training may take some time: take the steps gradually one session at a time, and your relationship with your bird will begin with trust. Practicing this method of hand training on a routine basis will reward you with a calm, friendly Quaker who is not afraid of being handled. As your training progresses, keep this goal in mind, teaching your bird to trust you.


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