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Thread: Getting my piggies to trust me again

  1. #1
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    Getting my piggies to trust me again

    Hi there! I know a few of you have been following my previous threads, so I just wanted to give a quick update on my two piggies' (Cheddar and Pickles) progress to date (and throw a question in there as well).

    So since their new cage has arrived, they've been much happier and don't seem to fight at all which is great I've converted to felt bedding too because the cage is so big (makes it easier for cleaning!) and they seem to love it also! They're always popcorning now and seem very glad to have their own space, so it was definitely the cage size that was causing the problems.

    Pickles has been a bit poorly though and we have had to take him to the vets a few times. I noticed a lump one night and it turned out to be an abscess, which the vets think might have been the result of a previous fight they had. So he had to be put on antibiotics, but the poor thing had a bad reaction to them and I had to rush him back. Turns out he had an icky tummy, so he was put on priobiotics as well.

    All is well now, but he seems very traumatized by the whole experience. First with the vet having to shave him to see the lump, and then with me having to drip-feed his antibiotics through a syringe. And then because of the diarrhea I had to bathe them both a couple of times too which you can imagine they hated.

    Since then Pickles doesn't like being handled whatsoever, and squeaks and chatters his teeth at me whenever I try to hold him and hand-feed him veggies. I have a fair few scratches where he's tried desperately to escape my grip. This attitude seems to be rubbing off on Cheddar too, and although Cheddar never really liked being handled anyway, he never used to nudge me and rumble as much as he does now.

    So my question is, how do I gain their trust again? Whilst I've only had them two months, and they are still very timid, they've never shown this much aggression towards me before. I feel like I'm failing them and taking a bit of a backwards step

  2. #2
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    Aw, I'm sorry you've had so much trouble.

    My advice would be to start from scratch. Forget all your backwards steps and bad luck so far and reacquaint yourself with them all over again.

    Don't pick them up just yet, unless it's absolutely necessary. If you keep 'forcing' them to be held while they're so uncomfortable with being handled, they're only going to see you as a threat. Prey animals like guinea pigs see hands coming at them like a predator's talons, and it's frightening for them until they learn to trust.

    You need to be really patient. Keep trying to get them to take treats from you. Make it something they find irresistible. If they don't take it from you after a while, don't just leave it for them, take it away with you. (If you leave it, they'll learn to wait you out and get it when you're gone.) And don't use the treat to lure them out and pick them up, or they'll stop trusting you. It's to get them comfortable being close to you so that you can pick them up when they're ready.

    When you do pick them up, pick them from underneath and make sure to support their back end, and hold them gently but firmly enough that they feel secure. Don't stand up and carry them about too much until they're more confident, just hold them while sitting down, calmly and quietly.

    I know it's been a couple of months already and you want to be able to give them a squish and a cuddle, but stay patient, be gentle, give them time. They'll come around. Stay positive.
    Heather.


  3. #3
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    Everything Heather said is 100% correct. Give them some time. Animals are very good at forgiveness but it does take a little time. Bribing with veggies always helps too.
    Mom to: Shooter-Blue Heeler; Kallie-Red Heeler Mix; Ranger-Red Heeler; Boots-3/4 Coonhound 1/4 Australian Shepard
    Eve and Fiona-Guinea Pigs
    Oh and three non-furry kids!

    Join the crazy cavies at www.piggiephun.proboards.com. All species welcome
    My endless random ramblings: http://kcksss08.blogspot.com/

  4. #4
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    Sounds like great advice Heather.

    Patience is always the key when dealing with nervous animals. You had to get Cheddar well, after all. Now it's back to the baby steps.

    Keep us posted Nikki.

  5. #5
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    Thanks all for the great advice. I thought this might be the case. I best buy lots of cucumber then!

    Do you have any ideas on what signs I should look out for - in terms of when I can start handling them more again?

    I've pretty much left them to it the past couple of days, handfeeding them veggies at dinner times. They soon come out of their houses for their treats, so fingers crossed they are already on their way to forgiving me.

  6. #6
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    Wait until they are consistantly coming out to greet you and see what you have. While you are feeding them, you may want to start giving them gentle pats on the head and pet them. When they are good with that, you should be able to move on to more handling.
    Mom to: Shooter-Blue Heeler; Kallie-Red Heeler Mix; Ranger-Red Heeler; Boots-3/4 Coonhound 1/4 Australian Shepard
    Eve and Fiona-Guinea Pigs
    Oh and three non-furry kids!

    Join the crazy cavies at www.piggiephun.proboards.com. All species welcome
    My endless random ramblings: http://kcksss08.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
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    Do you think I'd be moving too quickly if I were to have floor time with them?

    I used to do this before they moved cages as I wanted them to get exercise. I'd sit with them for about an hour and whilst they still hated being picked up, on the whole they didn't mind me being with them and talking quietly to them. With their inquistive nature, quite often they'd come up to me and have a good old sniff. Sometimes Cheddar would even be brave enough to use me as a climbing frame to get back into his cage. I felt like it was good bonding time, but I don't want to go back into it just yet if you think this could be too soon.

    At the moment whilst they come our for their veggies, and run around the cage when I'm refilling their hay rack, they are still quite jumpy when I try and pat them. It really is heartbreaking because I know I was making such good progress before the vets ordeal! I also think because I assumed they were really happy in their new cage, this was a sign I could start handling them more. Perhaps I was also wrong to think that, hence the setback.

  8. #8
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    Can't answer your questions, but can offer moral support. I know what it's like, to want to see improvement, to want to move forward...but worried about moving too fast.

    Just for an example, I have a kitty I adopted from the shelter over 7 years ago. She was unsocialized, and it took almost two years before I was even able to pet her without her wanting to bite me. For years, I never heard her purr, finally it is now audible. It took even more years before she would get on my lap, at first it was just a few minutes on my chest if I was lying on the couch. Now, she is on my lap here at my desk as I type, with her head bobbing up and down since her chin is resting on my wrist, but it took almost 7 years before she got to this point. It took 3 years before she would allow me to trim her claws, and at first that was only one claw at a time. Then another 4 years passed before I was able to trim all claws, both front and back, in one sitting. Yesterday, for the first time EVER, she kneaded on me.

    Baby steps, baby steps.

    I know you will get good advice here soon, and I will be watching with interest, too.

  9. #9
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    You can go ahead and do floor time. I wouldn't try to grab them or anything. Let it be on their terms if they want to come and visit you.
    Mom to: Shooter-Blue Heeler; Kallie-Red Heeler Mix; Ranger-Red Heeler; Boots-3/4 Coonhound 1/4 Australian Shepard
    Eve and Fiona-Guinea Pigs
    Oh and three non-furry kids!

    Join the crazy cavies at www.piggiephun.proboards.com. All species welcome
    My endless random ramblings: http://kcksss08.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
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    I agree, set up the cage so that they can come out on their own to enjoy their floor time with you. Let them come to you, let them see you're not about to chase them or grab them or do anything scary, that you're just the big friendly human who is gentle and non-threatening and will provide yummies.

    When they're coming to you confidently and they feel safe around you and are happy to let you touch them without running off, that's when to move on to the next step of slowly and gently lifting them for a hold. If they run, don't chase, let them run. They'll come back when they're ready.

    Good luck. Remember the more patient you are with them now, the more they'll trust you and the quicker they'll tame up in the long run. Spend as much time as you can with them, just letting them be. Best of luck with them.
    Heather.


  11. #11
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    thank you all again for your advice and reassurance. i tried floor time with them a few days back (before i read your post heather) but it meant carrying them to another room. again, they didn't enjoy this and pretty much stayed hiding in their tube the whole time.

    patience is a virtue as they say though! i am spending as much time as i can with them (i think my partner is getting a little jealous!) cheddar seems to be making progress the most, and sometimes lets me pat his head. he still hates being held but doesn't seem to put up as much of a fight now.

    i think your right, it will take time but i'm happy to put the work in. i have to remind myself too that they still are only babies (4 months old) so i have plenty of time fore cuddles later on down the line!

  12. #12
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    whilst i have this thread on the go, does anyone have any further tips on picking up?

    whilst i'm trying not to handle them too much, there are obviously times i need to pick them up to transfer them to their run when cleaning their cage. i've followed all the right guidelines, and your advice here, by trying to support their bum when i pick them up, but pickles has got into this habit of kicking his back legs and ends up scratching me quite badly.

    it's not pleasant for me (it really hurts!) and i'm sure it's not pleasant for him either. so any tips on handling a particularly skittish piggy would also be greatly appreciated!

  13. #13
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    Do you have anything like a cuddle cup or something along those lines? In case you don't know, a cuddle cup is a fleece thing that has side and is really comfy for them. Here are some pics that I googled: http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/...uddle-cup.html. You can gently usher one at a time in one of those and then carry each one to floor time in it. You can do the same thing with cuddle sacks (http://www.etsy.com/listing/96242801...w_type=gallery) or a pigloo (http://www.google.com/products/catal...d=0CGYQ8wIwAA#). After you move them, just set whatever they are in down and let them come out on their own.
    Mom to: Shooter-Blue Heeler; Kallie-Red Heeler Mix; Ranger-Red Heeler; Boots-3/4 Coonhound 1/4 Australian Shepard
    Eve and Fiona-Guinea Pigs
    Oh and three non-furry kids!

    Join the crazy cavies at www.piggiephun.proboards.com. All species welcome
    My endless random ramblings: http://kcksss08.blogspot.com/

  14. #14
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    Oh my gosh that is such a cute little thing, the cuddle cup! Every piggie should have one!

  15. #15
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    Funnily enough I have ordered a cuddle sack already, and it didn't even occur to me I could use that! Genius!

    I love those pigloos too! Do they have a base to make it easier for transporting them from the cage to run?

    I'm a total sucker for novelty accessories at the moment. I've dubbed their new cage the 'piggy palace', because they are very spoilt in the way of toys etc... I think those pigloos will be the icing on the cake

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