How to train your bird to come to the door of it's cage when you open it
One of the lastest thing I have been training Nana to do, is to come to the door of her cage when I open it. I was thinking that maybe there were some other bird owners that could benifit from out experience. This trick is helpful for a few reasons, the main one being that you don't need to reach into the back of the cage to get your bird out, but that it will be ready for you, easily accessible at the front of it's cage.
Before you teach your budgie to do this, though, you will need to know how clicker training works, and you will have to start by 'touch training' or 'target training' your budgie if you haven't already. I'm sure you can find out how by looking around the forum. You will also need to have a perch set up by the door of the cage you plan on using, this will be where your budgie will go to when you open the cage door.
The entire training process will take place inside your budgies cage, so if your budgie is not acustomed to training inside the cage, do a quick warm up cueing tricks your budgie already knows while it is inside the cage. This is assuming your budgie already knows a few tricks, including touch training.
And remember to keep training sessions short, five minutes MAX. You don't want to bore or frustrate you bird and you want to end on a positive note, not pushing your bird to it's limits and beyond. Offer as many training sessions throughout the day as you can or want, as long as your budgie is willing to train and you give it long enouh breaks between training sessions. Make sure you have completely finished one step before moving on with the next. You budgie should be able to complete the task WITHOUT HESITATION. I present the insructions as one long string of steps, but in reality it will all be broken up into many training sessions over a few days depending on how often you train your budgie.
In the explaination below, when I say something like 'fly from one perch to another' what I mean is get from one perch to another, whether it is done by flying, climbing or anything else. Also, I refer to your budgie as 'it', not because I don't consider it a person, but because in some cases it is a she and in others it is a he.
Here we go:
TEACH YOUR BUDGIE TO FLY TO ANOTHER PERCHE IN ORDER TO TOUCH THE STICK OR 'TARGET'. Your budgie may be touch trained, but that doesn't mean he will be willin to go as far as flying to another perch to get a reward. Start with perches that are close together, so that it takes your budgie a mere hop or even just a step to get from one to the other. Set your budgie on one perch and hold the target so that is accessible only from the other perch, then give the cue. If your budgie will willingly move to the second perch, click when he touches the end of the stick as usual OR the second he has both feet on the second perch; either will do, then reward. After this has been practised more than once and you are certain that your bird has caught on, move the perches further apart from each other, or move to a different part of the cage with another two prchers that are slightly further apart from each other than the other pair, but only slightly. You want to do it in a way that your bird hardly notices that the gap is widening. Repeat the process over and over, widening the gap when your bird is ready, but only a bit at a time until it will willingly fly across the whole cage (or climb across the whole cage) to get from any perch in the cage to any other perch in the cage. Once you have completed this step, your budgie should now be able to get from any perch in the cage to the one by the door WITHOUT HESITATING
If your budgie will not cross even the smallest gap between perches, back up a bit and make sure your budgie will walk a considerable distance to touch the target. Some budgies won't even take a step to touch the target at first. Train your bird to willingly WALK a fair amount of steps, then try the above again. Remember not to get upset or mad at your bird. If you are losing your patience, take a break and cool down a bit.
CHANGE THE CUE FROM POINTING THE TARGET TO LIFTING YOUR HAND TO OPEN THE CAGE DOOR. From now on, you will cue your budgie to fly to only the perche by the cage door from various different starting points. Whether you knew it or not, the cue or the signal for your budgie to perform the desired action (fly or climb from one perch to the other) is you putting the stick near perch you want it to go to. The moment it sees you doing this it knows what you are asking it to do and does it (not before). What we want to do now is to change the cue, so your budgie will fly to the perch by the door when you open the door, not when yu point the stick. To do this, you will first need to start adding an action. You're going to point the stick behind the perch by te door with one hand, and with the other hand, reach to where the latch of the door is, as if you wre opening it. Note that you are just pretending to open the door, really, the door is open the whole time. (You're going to have to juggle the target and the clicker in one hand to keep the other hand free for opening the dor) Your budgie will probably fly to the perch by the door seeing you point the stick. Click when the budgie lands on the perch, and then reward. At first it may not even notice you lifting your hand. Repeat the process at least ten times, and then start lifting you hand only slightly before you position the target. Remember, you don't want your budgie to know that you are making the delay longer. Continue to do this, every now and then prolonging the delay between when you lift your hand to the latch of the door and when you position the target. As you go, you should start to notice your budgie taking off before you even position the target. Now you are ready to try taking the target out of the equasion. If your budgie still flies to the perch with the target completely out of the picture, then you are ready to move on.
If your budgie flies to the perch before you give the cue, or without you giving the cue, don't reward it. You want it to know that it can fly the the perch as much as it wants but it won't get a reward if you didn't give the cue. It is the fact that it is responding to your actions that earns it a reward, not that it is flying to the perch in general.
ADD THE DOOR TO THE EQUASION. Now try the same thing, but with the door slightly closed, only slightly. You wan't your budgie to hardly realise that you are gradually closing the door as you go. So keep doing this, gradually closing the door more and more until your bird will perform the action with the door being completely closed, but not latched. Then you can try doing it with the door latched, only when your budgie is completely ready, when it will perform the action without hesitation. If your bird does it, then WELL DONE! You've succeeded. If not, then keep practicig the trick with your bird without the latch, and every now and then see if your bird is ready to involve the latch.
I find that verbal encouragement helps Nana when she is struggling.
SOLIDISE THE TRICK. Now that your bird knows the trick, it just needs practice to master the it. From now on, before you open the cage door for whatever reason, pick up the clicker and have treats nearby. Be ready before you open the cage for your budgie to respond to the cue.
That's it, I hope it helps. May you and your budgie succeed in this little project and have fun!