Bonding is always a rather nerve wracking time; this thread here will hopefully help you to read what is going on during the key stages of an introduction. Bonding does not start when you put two guinea pigs together; it starts ideally at least one or more days earlier, while you are preparing especially new guinea pigs by settling them in and letting them get to know each other so you can take as many stress factors out of the crucial bonding itself as possible. It also doesn't stop when you put the guinea pigs in their cage after the bonding; it is a process that takes time, exactly like you would experience yourself when moving in with somebody you have previously not known, only that the actual guinea pig behaviours differ from our human one. Unlike us humans, guinea pigs need to play everything out in full, which in these days of political correctness can come across as the dominant guinea pig being "mean" to the submissive one. However, unlike us, guinea pigs instinctively know what is going on and understand dominance behaviours very differently. The range of friendly and aggressive behaviours is actually the same for both genders and is understood instinctively by all guinea pigs. What differs during bonding is often the choice of behaviours. Each bonding is unique, as the dynamics depend entirely upon the setting, the characters involved and their interaction. In a successful bond, you will get mutual interest/liking and a balance of personalities that complement each other. Guinea pigs are individualists and when two individualists meet, anything can happen! Boars more often than not will start with a humping spree (which can be mutual), whether it is with another boar or sows, while sows only mount as an expression of dominance or when in season; however, sows can also mount boars during bonding, so don't panic! Aggression in boars is generally more straight forward and easier to spot than in sows. It is important that you know that any boar bonding differs in one crucial point: you cannot separate boars and interrupt the bonding halfway through. Once you have committed to a bonding, you have to let the boars work it out until there is a clear success or failure. If you split because your nerves fail, you condemn your boys to start all afresh right from the beginning - and you can imagine how well that is going down with them! In this thread I am trying to follow the dynamics of two friendly, but quite different bondings, which can hopefully help you understand better what is going on. One is a bonding between two evenly matched 3 year old sows and the other is from bonding in a young sow into an adult sow group with a neutered "husboar". For full information on bonding and re-bonding and the full range of dominance behaviours please read carefully through the tips in our introductions and dominance behaviour guides. This thread here DOES NOT repeat all the necessary and vital information to make your bonding a successful one, but is more of an additional illustration to help you understand the dynamics during the crucial stages of a bonding. https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/introducing-and-re-introducing-guinea-pigs.38562/ https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/dominance-behaviours-in-guinea-pigs.28949/ Setting up an introduction - "Neutral territory" doesn't mean completely unknown/new space for each bonding, but somewhere that is not a regular part of any piggy's territory and that doesn't carry the scent of just one of the bonding parties. - Have oven gloves at the ready in case you need to separate severely riled up piggies or piggies that are very much on edge. NEVER go between fighting piggies with your bare hands; the instinctive bites can very deep and do permanent damage if you are unlucky. - Generally, you usually put a larger piggy or a group in the pen first when introducing newbies, but ultimately, it doesn't matter too much, as it is nopig's territory, so they start on an even footing. - Start off with some fresh grass or hay in the middle of the empty bonding pen that is neutral territory for everypig (can range from an unused cleaned cage to your bathtub to any wipeable floor like underneath the kitchen table to give timid/frightened guinea pigs an added feeling of protection or a lawn run, if necessary covered with a blanket) to give the piggies a chance to size each other up. - For boars, a soft toddler safe humping toy that you have rubbed against both boars beforehand can help to draw off some of the usual humping "fire". - A small tunnel or cardboard box with two baby-sized exits on opposite sides can also help when bonding a baby boar with an older/adult boar. - If the bonding goes on for some time, please refill the hay and add a water bottle. - With a group, a timid piggy may sit apart for a while or even squeal submission loudly and high pitched whenever a stranger comes close. - Mild teeth chattering between insecure piggies is also fairly common; distract them with some more grass to give them time to get used to the presence of strangers. - Young guinea pigs tend to be very vocal and often quite dramatic. Keeping the distance: Friendly getting to know behaviours (acceptance phase) Washing when sitting next to a new piggy (ideally reciprocated): "I am not hostile to you and would like to get to know you" Coming up to a piggy, nose to nose sniffing or following round Mutual bum sniffing Ear licking or nibbling from the more dominant piggy translates as "I want you to be part of my group". This is also called power grooming. Grooming Accepting a hump from a boar (be it sow or another boar) is also a sign of friendly acceptance. Acceptance has not happened - if one or both guinea pigs persistently refuse to interact (give it more time and try again another day, ideally with more preparatory contact through bars or living next to each other). However, if a piggy resists any contact with another piggy repeatedly and persistently, please leave be. - if there is an instant dislike and major hostility, including a full-on fight, please accept that success is not likely to happen. Like with humans, the exchange of signs can sometimes be very subtle and can escalate very quickly if a sign is misunderstood or the exchange of signals is heading the wrong way. Love or hate on first sniff exist in the piggy world as well as in the human world!