Boars too attached to each other

rorajane

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Hey everyone,

I have two wonderful boars named Griffin and Felix. We adopted them one year ago (April 29 is our adopt-aversary) and they were both roughly 1 year old when we adopted them (so they are 2 now. Though i think Felix might be a bit younger than the shelter thought). They were already bonded together from their previous home which made everything really easy. There was a little fighting when stupidly listened to the petstore and got a smaller cage but quickly built a big enough enclosure for them to ease the fighting and they have been good since.

My problem is that i'm having a hard time with them bonding with me. Whenever they are separated, at all, Felix gets very anxious and starts crying for Griffin. Griffin will usually be fairly relaxed until Felix starts crying but then instantly he seems to get anxious once he hears Felix crying for him. So after a year of having them, i haven't been able to get them used to being held, pet, brushed, etc.

I love that they are so attached and worry about each other, but i would love to have the kind of relationship with my piggies that i see so many other people have with theirs. I try to follow everything i read about how to build trust with them. They aren't terrified of me. If i have food in my closed hand ,they will climb on my hand and nudge me. They will smell my hand any time i put it in the cage (to see if i have food) if i make a wheek noise at them, they respond with a wheek back (which is really cute). They aren't afraid of me, but they won't let me pet them or hold them.

Does anyone have any more suggestions on what i can do to build up that bond between me and my piglets? I'm also really scared for when the time comes that one passes away because they are so so attached i worry about what issues that will cause with the remaining piggy :(
 

Siikibam

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What exactly do you see as the bond you want to have with them? Is it being able to hold them, them allowing you to stroke them?...

Have you tried taking them both out and sitting with them on the sofa? You could sit them on a fleece and cover them so they feel comfortable. Or, if you have a play pen, you could set it up and put them in then sit on the floor.

What happens if you try and stroke them as they’re in the cage? Do they scarper? Are you stroking them somewhere they don’t like? I’d say try when they’re eating.

Something to bear in mind is that some piggies don’t like being held. You may have to accept that yours may be like that.
 

rorajane

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What exactly do you see as the bond you want to have with them? Is it being able to hold them, them allowing you to stroke them?...

Have you tried taking them both out and sitting with them on the sofa? You could sit them on a fleece and cover them so they feel comfortable. Or, if you have a play pen, you could set it up and put them in then sit on the floor.

What happens if you try and stroke them as they’re in the cage? Do they scarper? Are you stroking them somewhere they don’t like? I’d say try when they’re eating.

Something to bear in mind is that some piggies don’t like being held. You may have to accept that yours may be like that.
Thanks for the reply. The bond i want is mostly just being able to pet them and hang out with them more than just observing. I do sit in their play pen with them and feed them. They'll climb on my legs a bit to get food but will then run away if they can't reach the food without properly climbing up. If i try to pet them in the cage they back away. They sometimes run but usually just back away from my hands. I try petting them on their head, chin, and cheeks. I stay away from their backside because i know piggies don't like their backsides being touched. I try to pet them when i feed them. If i'm holding food they reallyl want, i can touch their cheek while they eat it but if i weren't holding it they wouldn't allow it, if that makes sense.
When i am able to hold griffin (who is easier going) he will be okay with me petting him and happily eat in my hands until Felix starts to freak out, and then almost instantly, Griffin will switch from being calm and relaxed to trying to get back into the cage. I can only hold him while sitting on the floor because once Felix gets crying, Griffin will leap from anywhere to get to him.
I haven't tried the couch because i'm worried of them falling off :(
 

Siikibam

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What do they do if you just put your hand in the cage, with no food in it? Did you start from long ago trying to pet them, or is a recent thing? They do trust you hugely because they will climb up on you when you sit in their pen, and will eat from your hand.

As said above, try having them on the chair. I don’t think they will jump off. And you can always divert them if you see them going too close to the edge. I’d try that, and stroke them as they’re sat there. But bear in mind they may not like it. I think there’s a couple of slaves on here whose piggies don’t really like being stroked.

As for trying to get back in their cage, our girls do that if I hold them and sit next to their cage, or put them down for a small wander around.

Have a read through this thread as well and see.
 

Sophie B

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I can’t really relate, my pigs took less than a week to tame (all three of them, possible exception of -RIP- Smudge)

What I did is I let them settle in for a bit then I get them used to my voice, slowly putting my hand in the cage. At this point they were jumping and running back into their house at every tiny movement. They had a tiny cage, which they still have but with a large run around it.

It didn’t take them long to get used to me, but it won’t be the same for every pig, done take ages to tame, others don’t.

Every time I take them out I take them both, the sole reason being because I’d feel bad leaving them away from each other, I’d imagine this isn’t the same for everybody.

My boys are very friendly and outgoing, they will run up to the bars as soon as somebody enters the room, usually begging for food!

However they don’t like to be too near each other, and make that known by rumblestrutting etc

I hope you work it out soon, I rambled on so I hope that makes any sense whatsoever and that it helps
 

Guineapigfeet

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My three girls are far more into each other than they are me! They trust me: they’ll take food, they’ll climb on me if I sit on the floor, they come up to me and follow me across the room. But they don’t like being held. If I have them on my lap, and they’re eating, then they’ll tolerate a certain amount of strokes but they decide they want to go back with the others fairly quickly. None of them like being restrained, which is understandable for a prey animal and them telling you they don’t like it is a good sign ; they trust you enough it say ‘I don’t like this’ without you eating them!
Mine are still making progress at 3 1/2 years old but they’ll never be cuddley-pigs and I have had to accept that
 

Wiebke

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Hey everyone,

I have two wonderful boars named Griffin and Felix. We adopted them one year ago (April 29 is our adopt-aversary) and they were both roughly 1 year old when we adopted them (so they are 2 now. Though i think Felix might be a bit younger than the shelter thought). They were already bonded together from their previous home which made everything really easy. There was a little fighting when stupidly listened to the petstore and got a smaller cage but quickly built a big enough enclosure for them to ease the fighting and they have been good since.

My problem is that i'm having a hard time with them bonding with me. Whenever they are separated, at all, Felix gets very anxious and starts crying for Griffin. Griffin will usually be fairly relaxed until Felix starts crying but then instantly he seems to get anxious once he hears Felix crying for him. So after a year of having them, i haven't been able to get them used to being held, pet, brushed, etc.

I love that they are so attached and worry about each other, but i would love to have the kind of relationship with my piggies that i see so many other people have with theirs. I try to follow everything i read about how to build trust with them. They aren't terrified of me. If i have food in my closed hand ,they will climb on my hand and nudge me. They will smell my hand any time i put it in the cage (to see if i have food) if i make a wheek noise at them, they respond with a wheek back (which is really cute). They aren't afraid of me, but they won't let me pet them or hold them.

Does anyone have any more suggestions on what i can do to build up that bond between me and my piglets? I'm also really scared for when the time comes that one passes away because they are so so attached i worry about what issues that will cause with the remaining piggy :(
Hi!

Please respect their bond and take them both out together for a joint cuddling session. You won't lose out and they will be much calmer if they are not stressed out. Since you do not know their background, you don't know what they have gone through and why it is vital for them to be together at all times. By trying to come between them, you try to devaluate their bond instead of cherishing it. Love thrives on sharing. ;)
Having a hapless guinea pig totally centred on you is in fact a very selfish desire: it demands from another species to ignore all its own social needs and desires and ditch them for you instead of including you into their own world by their free will. Concentrate on building up a social interactive relationship that is a lot more than just cuddles and concentrate on slowly building up mutual trust instead! It is worth it because you get ultimately a lot more out of it and have some happy pets into the bargain, not just one satsified human!

Most guinea pigs, if given the choice, are not keen on being cuddled for long and rather want to be back with their friends. If you take them out together, they are more tolerant of sitting with you.
How To Pick Up And Weigh Your Guinea Pig Safely
Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips

Here are tips on how you can make friends with them in ways that they will instinctively understand. Trust grows on a bed of mutual respect. If you respect their needs and give them room, they will trust you sooner than if you put your own human centric concepts of what you want your pets to be first. Take the step and try and see things from the eyes of your piggies! They are a social species in their own right with very complex social interaction, and they can lead you on a very fascinating journey into their world once you get past the narrow idea of guinea pigs as animated cuddly toys. Interaction with your piggies can be sooo much more and is not restricted to a session on the sofa! ;)
Enrichment Ideas for Guinea Pigs
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
 

Helen82

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Haven't really got any advice, just wanted to add my experience if it's helpful/reassuring that it's not just you! Both of my guinea pigs seem quite happy and contented and are reasonably confident around me - but they don't like to be stroked or held and we still haven't hit upon a stress-free way for me to pick them up yet. I've had my guinea pigs for about 7 months now - I started with three: Jess and Primrose who were about 2 and a half years old at the time and had lived together before arriving at the rescue, and Stanley a much-younger male who was bonded to the girls at the rescue for me. Unfortunately I found out that Jess had an untreatable lump/block around her intestines not longer after I adopted them and she had to be put to sleep when I'd only had her for six weeks (that's her in my avatar). She was the most confident and vocal of the three and at that point she and Primrose would take food from my hand but none of them liked to be stroked or held. My immediate concern was the new dynamic in the cage; Stanley had only really known Jess for the same amount of time as me, so even though she was his favourite out of the two girls I hoped he would be okay. I was more worried about how Primrose would react having spent years with Jess and how she and Stanley would get on as a pair. So I didn't make as much progress with my interactions with the guinea pigs for a while because I felt it was more important for them to work out their own relationship with each other first. Thankfully (apart from a few troublesome days when they were both having meds for different reasons and Stanley got fed up with it all) they both seem to rub along together fairly happily.

During this time Stanley has also gotten more confident with me and will take food from my hand; I tend to now hand feed them their breakfast and they forage about for their tea. Making changes to the room they live in and me being unwell on and off through the winter meant that they didn't previously have much floor time; now that I've moved their cage to the floor I just open one of the C&C grids and they come out of their own accord. Perhaps because they'd lived here for a bit before being able to have free roam of the room, neither of them were particularly scared when I first opened their 'front door' and both went off eagerly exploring. If I sit on the floor with a towel on my legs and put some pellets on the towel they will either climb up my leg to steal them or briefly sit on my lap to eat the pellets. They'll hop about over my legs and also give me a nudge if I'm in their way! But as yet no stroking and they don't really like to be on my lap. I just accept that it will either take longer for them to come around to these things or perhaps they never will - the main thing is their relationship with each other and that they're happy. On a practical level, vet trips would be easier if they were more comfortable with or accepting of handling, and I worry how we would get on if one of them were to get seriously ill and I needed to do a lot of medicating/feeding. But generally I'm happy to take things at their pace and not force the issue.
 

VickiA

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I’d say that in reality I have had only a few piggies out of a great number over the years who have actually liked being handled. I’ve had 3 real lap pigs and the rest have either simply tolerated my interaction or done their best to avoid it! Guinea pigs are not natural cuddlers and their first reaction to anything as a prey animal is to run away. I respect their different personalities. In fact I rathe enjoy it.
My view is that as long as piggies are handleable enough to be taken to the vets when needed or to be fed medicines or syringe feed when needed then that is fine with me.
Of the current piggies in my house I would describe Holly as wild. It takes me an age to catch her, I struggle to get her weighed each week and it takes 2 of us to cut her nails. All she wants to do is get away from me when I’ve got her out. I’ve had her about 3 years! Ralph is fast to catch, but loves a short cuddle, chin rub, nuzzle and is easy to weigh and nail clip. Angel (foster pig) is easy to catch and cuddle, but wants to be back in her cage in a few minutes. And Winnie (her companion) is never seen in public if we are in the vicinity and runs like the wind. I have struggled even to weigh her on my own. And I like to think I’m an experienced owner.
 

Caris

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I'm still a relatively new piggie owner (1 and a half months!), and, as far as bonding is concerned, I'm not really bothered if they only ever see me as the creature that gives them food, so I'm not too sure what advice I can give, other than just enjoy every moment with them. Don't compare your relationship with them to other relationships people might have with their guineas. They're all very individual characters with their own little personalities and quirks. I think sometimes not expecting anything or wanting anything from them helps to stave away any potential disappointment. There are so much more to piggies than just handling them. I love just watching mine sleep, for example. I could do it for hours! (other than my initial, omg, they've died! reaction, it tells me that they're happy and comfortable in their home). And when they start randomly popcorning... It's very entertaining, albeit watching them destroy their carrot cottage is a little heart wrenching. "That cost me £15!".

I'll also admit I actually don't like holding mine that much because I spend the entire time more tense than them, worrying that they're going to pee on me (they never have, but one day), and Arthur in particular likes treating me as a mountain that needs climbing. I end up with scratches and cuts all over me (they haven't got sharp nails, but I have extremely thin skin!) and with a guinea pig sat precariously on my shoulder who refuses to budge and insists on shoving his face in mine (I worry he'll bite my nose, lol), and Merlin sits there with an expression that basically says "Can I go now?" It's not very fun.

If they're extremely close, then I would use that bond to help further yours. My two get a lot of confidence from each other. If one comes forward for food or to investigate the new thing that the weird human has put in the cage, the other isn't too far behind. They're kind of like kids with the whole "He has something I don't! Therefore I want and must have it!" attitude. And they're always a lot more settled with each other. I've also found that getting them to associate that me being around the cage doesn't automatically mean I'm going to stroke them/pick them up/pester them. Sometimes I will flat out ignore them while sorting out the cage. This doesn't usually go down well with them (!), and results in them actually initiating contact with me. "Pay attention to me, human! I demand that you give me food now! Stop what you're doing right now! Food! Where is the food! I demand it!"

Also, it sounds very much like you already do have a very good bond with them if they wheek back at you and climb on your hand. I haven't yet had the honour of being wheeked at (I think I've only heard them wheek once, and it wasn't for very long). And they have to trust you, because a prey animal isn't going to come up and initiate contact with you if there isn't a bond there. That's actually a lot!
 

rorajane

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What do they do if you just put your hand in the cage, with no food in it? Did you start from long ago trying to pet them, or is a recent thing? They do trust you hugely because they will climb up on you when you sit in their pen, and will eat from your hand.

As said above, try having them on the chair. I don’t think they will jump off. And you can always divert them if you see them going too close to the edge. I’d try that, and stroke them as they’re sat there. But bear in mind they may not like it. I think there’s a couple of slaves on here whose piggies don’t really like being stroked.

As for trying to get back in their cage, our girls do that if I hold them and sit next to their cage, or put them down for a small wander around.

Have a read through this thread as well and see.
Thanks for your response (I read yours earlier but didn't reply). We tried the couch with both of the piggies but that didn't go over well. They started to argue with each other and then tried to hid in the cushions haha!
 

rorajane

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I can’t really relate, my pigs took less than a week to tame (all three of them, possible exception of -RIP- Smudge)

What I did is I let them settle in for a bit then I get them used to my voice, slowly putting my hand in the cage. At this point they were jumping and running back into their house at every tiny movement. They had a tiny cage, which they still have but with a large run around it.

It didn’t take them long to get used to me, but it won’t be the same for every pig, done take ages to tame, others don’t.

Every time I take them out I take them both, the sole reason being because I’d feel bad leaving them away from each other, I’d imagine this isn’t the same for everybody.

My boys are very friendly and outgoing, they will run up to the bars as soon as somebody enters the room, usually begging for food!

However they don’t like to be too near each other, and make that known by rumblestrutting etc

I hope you work it out soon, I rambled on so I hope that makes any sense whatsoever and that it helps
Thanks for responding! you i tried to get them used to me the same ways you did. The first day or two that we had them we were trying to let them just get used to a new home and new surroundings so we tried to give them space and quiet. We made the mistake of buying a very small cage from a pet store that said it was fine. They had a lot of stress from that when we first brought them home and there was lots of arguing with them. We went out and built them a new enclosure that was big enough for both of them (5x2) and then began working on talking to them and what not. They will eat from my hand and come up and sniff it but they won't let much else happen.

I agree with you in taking them both out together when it comes to just hanging out with them. However, Griffin is a long hair and he needs to be brushed and get haircuts regularly. Because of their stress being away from each other i can't groom him the way he needs to be groomed. I can usually brush him a bit but then he freaks out and needs to be returned to the cage. This makes haircuts a daily thing because i can only get 2 or 3 snips before he's done. Also things like health checks, weigh ins, nail cutting, etc, are all really difficult when they won't be apart.
 

rorajane

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My three girls are far more into each other than they are me! They trust me: they’ll take food, they’ll climb on me if I sit on the floor, they come up to me and follow me across the room. But they don’t like being held. If I have them on my lap, and they’re eating, then they’ll tolerate a certain amount of strokes but they decide they want to go back with the others fairly quickly. None of them like being restrained, which is understandable for a prey animal and them telling you they don’t like it is a good sign ; they trust you enough it say ‘I don’t like this’ without you eating them!
Mine are still making progress at 3 1/2 years old but they’ll never be cuddley-pigs and I have had to accept that
Thank you, that makes me feel better. your interactions with your pigs seems pretty close to what mine is.
 

rorajane

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Hi!

Please respect their bond and take them both out together for a joint cuddling session. You won't lose out and they will be much calmer if they are not stressed out. Since you do not know their background, you don't know what they have gone through and why it is vital for them to be together at all times. By trying to come between them, you try to devaluate their bond instead of cherishing it. Love thrives on sharing. ;)
Having a hapless guinea pig totally centred on you is in fact a very selfish desire: it demands from another species to ignore all its own social needs and desires and ditch them for you instead of including you into their own world by their free will. Concentrate on building up a social interactive relationship that is a lot more than just cuddles and concentrate on slowly building up mutual trust instead! It is worth it because you get ultimately a lot more out of it and have some happy pets into the bargain, not just one satsified human!

Most guinea pigs, if given the choice, are not keen on being cuddled for long and rather want to be back with their friends. If you take them out together, they are more tolerant of sitting with you.
How To Pick Up And Weigh Your Guinea Pig Safely
Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips

Here are tips on how you can make friends with them in ways that they will instinctively understand. Trust grows on a bed of mutual respect. If you respect their needs and give them room, they will trust you sooner than if you put your own human centric concepts of what you want your pets to be first. Take the step and try and see things from the eyes of your piggies! They are a social species in their own right with very complex social interaction, and they can lead you on a very fascinating journey into their world once you get past the narrow idea of guinea pigs as animated cuddly toys. Interaction with your piggies can be sooo much more and is not restricted to a session on the sofa! ;)
Enrichment Ideas for Guinea Pigs
Bonding and Interaction: Illustrated social behaviours and bonding dynamics
Thanks for your reply. I think you misunderstood what i want. I am not trying to selfishly have them solely love me. What i want is to be able to interact with my pigs, and pet them. I want to be able to groom (brush and cut my long hair), do health checks, weigh ins, and nail trimmings without having to do a little bit at a time becasue they will not sit still, and will fight and bite if i don't let them go back to each other immediately, but they also squirm around like crazy when they other pig is out with them for these things. I also want to just be able to enjoy having pets, not pieces of art that i watch and feed some times. I see many people with wonderful relationships with their piggies where they can at least pet them and play with them. Mine do trust me and they are usually okay, but in general, they don't let me pet them and freak out if separated which can make many different things difficult.
 

Wiebke

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Thanks for your reply. I think you misunderstood what i want. I am not trying to selfishly have them solely love me. What i want is to be able to interact with my pigs, and pet them. I want to be able to groom (brush and cut my long hair), do health checks, weigh ins, and nail trimmings without having to do a little bit at a time becasue they will not sit still, and will fight and bite if i don't let them go back to each other immediately, but they also squirm around like crazy when they other pig is out with them for these things. I also want to just be able to enjoy having pets, not pieces of art that i watch and feed some times. I see many people with wonderful relationships with their piggies where they can at least pet them and play with them. Mine do trust me and they are usually okay, but in general, they don't let me pet them and freak out if separated which can make many different things difficult.
Please read the links I have given you and you will see that I have not misunderstood; the tips in there really work and help towards you achieving what you want. :tu:

I just can't repeat all the information in the guide links that have taken me days to write down for every member in just one very long post, or I would not be able to answer as many posts as I do. ;)
 

Sophie B

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Thanks for responding! you i tried to get them used to me the same ways you did. The first day or two that we had them we were trying to let them just get used to a new home and new surroundings so we tried to give them space and quiet. We made the mistake of buying a very small cage from a pet store that said it was fine. They had a lot of stress from that when we first brought them home and there was lots of arguing with them. We went out and built them a new enclosure that was big enough for both of them (5x2) and then began working on talking to them and what not. They will eat from my hand and come up and sniff it but they won't let much else happen.

I agree with you in taking them both out together when it comes to just hanging out with them. However, Griffin is a long hair and he needs to be brushed and get haircuts regularly. Because of their stress being away from each other i can't groom him the way he needs to be groomed. I can usually brush him a bit but then he freaks out and needs to be returned to the cage. This makes haircuts a daily thing because i can only get 2 or 3 snips before he's done. Also things like health checks, weigh ins, nail cutting, etc, are all really difficult when they won't be apart.
I made the same mistake with the tiny cage.
I don’t have any experience with long haired pigs, but it may be worth trying to groom your long haired pig, with your other pig next to him?

You may want to try to use a long vegetable (such as lettuce -not iceberg- and other similarly long veggies) and using that instead of your hand if they’re too nervous, as a treat will entice them!

Are they always together, even in the cage?
If it’s making things difficult for you to do necessary thing such as grooming and weighing, you may need to try to wean them off each other a bit.
Don’t try too suddenly, just slowly increase the time they are separate, remembering not to have them apart for too long. Try this with lap time and groomings.
I’d wait for somebody to back me up here x

I could’ve elaborated in my first post, sorry!
 
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