Father bullying son - what to do?

bluetrooth

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We recently got ourselves two Teddy guinea pigs and are a little worried about their bonding/happiness. The pair is a father (approximately one year old) and son (a few months old).

They never show any actual signs of aggression or fighting, so no serious issues, but the father never seems happy and constantly seems to be bullying the son, who in turn is literally the sweetest, happiest piggy we've ever had. The son is social, loves pets, popcorns, runs around, etc. The father in contrast seems moody, sulky, and regularly chases his son out of his hideys, steals his food even though he himself has plenty, etc.

We've had guinea pigs before, and we know it's common for them to steal each other's food and to chase each other around, but this is a constant, ongoing, one-sided dynamic where one is non-stop bullying the other. And considering that he doesn't even seem happy here, we have seriously considered giving him away to then pair up the little one with a (hopefully) better match. I am very hesitant to do this, because I hate the idea of giving up a pet and wouldn't do this lightly.

It just seems unfair to the sweet, little one to have to live with a constant bully. Are we overreacting? Is there perhaps a way for us to help socialize the big one? Should we wait until they're both fully grown to see their dynamic? I honestly have no idea. I just don't want our piggies to be unhappy, or for one to be unhappy and make the other one miserable because of it - which it what it often looks like now.

They have plenty of space, their own hideys, hammocks, plenty of hay, food, fresh vegetables, etc. The father simply seems intent on bullying his son.


TL;DR: we have two guineas, father and son. The father continuously bullies the son. What do we do about this?
 

Qualcast&Flymo

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It sounds to me as though, now the son is a teenager, his dad is just making sure that he knows who is boss. If the son is still happy and popcorning and gaining or maintaining his weight, then it doesnt sound like anything to worry about at present. Obviously things could change, the son could start to want to be the boss, but at the moment I don't think the dad is "bullying" the son.
 

Wiebke

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We recently got ourselves two Teddy guinea pigs and are a little worried about their bonding/happiness. The pair is a father (approximately one year old) and son (a few months old).

They never show any actual signs of aggression or fighting, so no serious issues, but the father never seems happy and constantly seems to be bullying the son, who in turn is literally the sweetest, happiest piggy we've ever had. The son is social, loves pets, popcorns, runs around, etc. The father in contrast seems moody, sulky, and regularly chases his son out of his hideys, steals his food even though he himself has plenty, etc.

We've had guinea pigs before, and we know it's common for them to steal each other's food and to chase each other around, but this is a constant, ongoing, one-sided dynamic where one is non-stop bullying the other. And considering that he doesn't even seem happy here, we have seriously considered giving him away to then pair up the little one with a (hopefully) better match. I am very hesitant to do this, because I hate the idea of giving up a pet and wouldn't do this lightly.

It just seems unfair to the sweet, little one to have to live with a constant bully. Are we overreacting? Is there perhaps a way for us to help socialize the big one? Should we wait until they're both fully grown to see their dynamic? I honestly have no idea. I just don't want our piggies to be unhappy, or for one to be unhappy and make the other one miserable because of it - which it what it often looks like now.

They have plenty of space, their own hideys, hammocks, plenty of hay, food, fresh vegetables, etc. The father simply seems intent on bullying his son.


TL;DR: we have two guineas, father and son. The father continuously bullies the son. What do we do about this?
Hi!

I agree with @Qualcast&Flymo . How old are your two boys exactly?

Please take the time to read the green practical and detailed guide links below; they take you through all aspects of teenage, including how you can work out whether a bond is dysfunctional by allowing your piggies to have their own say on that issue as well as other boar issues that can make a difference especially during the teenage months (see chapter 3 of the boar guide about dos and don'ts with boars).

You should find them very helpful in managing this challenging period as the guides will give you the tools to assess and reassess the situation yourself as it develops. We can ultimately only make any general guesses based on your report, which is already filtered by your own perception.
Boars: Teenage, Bullying, Fighting, Fall-outs And What Next?
A Comprehensive Guide to Guinea Pig Boars
 

bluetrooth

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Thank you so much for the replies, they've been very helpful. I also went through the guides.

One of the boys is about 1 year and two months old, the other is only 3 months old. I do have some questions/concerns regarding the older one's behavior. The person who sold them to us called him Pavarotti because of his tendency to "sing" for food, but ever since he's been with us (almost two months) we've never heard him squeal/whistle for food. The younger one squeals happily every time someone opens the fridge, but his father has never once let us hear his voice.

I don't think we've ever had a guinea pig that didn't do this. This combined with the info that he was apparently very vocal before, makes me wonder what's going on with him. Especially also in context of his behavior (doesn't like pets, can be a bit of a "bully", doesn't popcorn, etc.) Any advice? Should we perhaps handle him more? Is this just a character type, or potential signs of an unhappy piggy? He does eat and move around and is curious about new things and all that, so he doesn't quite seem too down otherwise.
 

Siikibam

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I think given he doesn’t seem to like being stroked I wouldn’t go to handling him unless necessary (weekly weighing and general check). You have to be careful about using the word bully because that is an entirely different thing. How long have you had them and how long has they been together before you brought them home?
 

bluetrooth

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We've had them for about two months now, and the previous owner says they were always together.

So you would advise respecting him not liking pets as a character thing, and not handling him more? Cause that's what I was wondering, if it makes sense to try and "socialize" him by picking him up, putting him on our laps, giving him treats, etc. or if it's better to just respect how he is and not try and change it at all.

He doesn't seem to mind too much being picked up. I can cut his nails relatively easily, I can pet him once I hold him, but when he's in his cage and I try to touch him, he does shy away from it. The most important thing to me is just that he's happy. I don't mind if he's less social, as long as it's not symptomatic of him not feeling good here or anything.
 

Siikibam

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Some piggies just don’t like being petted and a lot never get used to being picked up. That’s just how they are, very individual. Mine don’t like being picked up but the boys and one of my girls like a cuddle. The other girl preferred to sit next to me in a cat hide and would come out and have a sniff/look around. The boys love a fuss and the girls generally only let me stroke them if they’re eating. I respect that and leave them to it. I rarely/never do lap time now - they’re outside so I squeeze in a quick cuddle when I’m doing the weekly weigh.

Perhaps just go back to the beginning and start again with feeding veg. Maybe give him a small stroke on top of his head while he’s munching, if he’ll let you. I ‘present’ my finger within view of the girls before I go in to stroke them. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t 🤷🏾‍♀️
 
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