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Protecting Piggies From "little People": Any Tips?

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Carrotyd

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Every so often Harry and Lloyd have to "endure" a visit from my nieces, who love the guys but (being three young girls under five) aren't exactly the calmest/quietest.

To minimise the stress a visit from them might induce in our lads, we take a number of precautions. For instance, we only let the girls in one at a time with a responsible adult (bit like the rule our local newsagent imposes in school kids) into the spare room where the piggies live, and - if we hold them - the girls are only allowed near them if my other half or I are holding them. And, once again, the girls are only allowed in to see them one at a time.

The visits are never that long - 30 minutes at most - and only ever few weeks or so, and we make a real effort to minimise any disturbances they get for the rest of the day after, but - despite our best efforts - always seem a bit more withdrawn after the little people have been and gone.

Is there anything else you guys think we should be doing to make visits like this easier for the guys?

On the other hand, we'd had to discourage visits completely, as I think it's important for kids to see/hear how much effort goes into looking after pets and to educate them about how to look after them well, but not at the expense of the frayed nerves of our special little guys, obviously.
 
I think you're doing a good job already! We have a friends son that comes over every once and a while that's about the same age. I let him see my rabbit when she's out in the yard and she'll come over and sniff him but runs away when he tries to come after her. I don't let him see the pigs (because I feel like an animal should be able to escape if it wants/needs to), but that's just me. He doesn't have any animals at home so he doesn't have any sense of what is okay with them. He once tried to horseback ride my 14 year old spaniel and squished her right to the floor. Even after I scolded him several times. I was not impressed. I'm generally not impressed when it comes to kids anyways Bahahahaha! I sort of dread when my mom invites them over My mom is always wondering where she went wrong as both my sister and I don't want kids! I usually refer to them as little Nazgul ;) But I think what you're doing is very fair and makes it safer for both sides!
 
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You're doing a better job than me. I often find out too late that my niece and nephew have snuck into the guinea pig room. Luckily neither of them can reach Romano or Matthew being in a high up cage but the two more skittish piggies are lower down and they often reach in and terrify them both. It really annoys me. I tell them to not touch things or 'to come out of the room' and distract them with something else but often I'm not aware they are up there because the room is next to the toilet and they pretend they need the toilet then go see them.

I'm lucky they know not to feed them anything but Holly loves to try and stroke Ryou who hates being stroked -he's never liked it- and so he often runs away.

I thought recently of adding a bolt to the top of the door so they can't reach it but us adults can. Luckily my nephew is 9 so he knows not to do anything I don't want.
 
Hmm yes little ones.. I have a 2 year old who today I turned my back for 2 seconds and I find her sitting inside the cage with one in her arms. She was very good mind you and they didn't seem too bothered at all, hopefully that's the case and not me just hoping so!
 
Haha I don't let little people in my hone full stop, last time one visited I had to disinfect my tv screen after it licked it and my sky remote ended up soaking in a bowl of washing up liquid as i cannot stand the drool and sticky fingers they have! However I have some fairly lively friends who are a bit scary for the animals and I'm fussy about who can handle them. But I find that if the pigs have ever been unsettled by my loud drunk friends (I never get drunk so I'm always able to protect them from volume and make sure they are ok in the spare room) I always wait til my friends leave and then either give them all a nice calm quiet cuddle at the end to remind them that normality is still here or ill sit by their cages and give them treats and nose tickles as a reward for their tolerance. Lucky for them parking for visitors is non existent so my friends havnt been round very often at all.
 
Haha! I'd agree with @MyGuineaPigPals regarding lively friends - I find it's much harder to tell them what to do than children! I have one friend in particular who loves animals and is of course very gentle with them but is very impatient and likes to just bulldoze her way in for a cuddle (literally breaks the cage apart!) She also gets very frustrated that I often refuse to get them out (they're not huge fans of cuddles so I try limit them a bit) so as soon as I jump down to the toilet she's grabbed one by the time I get back (honestly don't know how she does it - takes me a good 10 minutes to coax them out!). I now try to time cuddles with her visits so I can get them out for her without worrying she'll stress them more by catching them the way she does (I've trained them to know they go in the cozy to come out the cage, that way they don't get stressed worrying I'm gonna try grab them everytime I come near!).

It sounds like you're doing all the right things - the only additional thing I can suggest is maybe if you got your nieces to feed them a bit of their favourite veg to create a positive association with the experience. I imagine over time they'll get more used to the situation and become more relaxed with it. My boys used to hate when I had the dog in the room but now they're oblivious to him (as he is to them as well!), just takes experience to realise a situation isn't as threatening as they think it is!
 
Carrotyd, you are doing everything right to make the "small child" experience as stress-free as possible for your piggies. The only other thing you can do is not let small kids near your boys at all! This is the route I take! Personally, I don't think kids should be allowed to have piggies as pets until they are at least, oh, 25 years old!
 
I got my 1st pigs when I was quite young and I treated them properly and whenever a friend came round I was so protective over them(my GPs not my mates) and wouldn't let them hold them. Now a days I'm more laid back though I hate it when my sister brings her horrible little niece around. Last time she came round she knocked my guinea pig cage from my 4ft table and it went flying on the floor, lucky none of my girls were harmed and my sister practically killed her daughter because she is a lover of pigs also. (Lucky she hasn't got an account so she'll never find out I said her daughter is horrible)
 
Carrotyd, you are doing everything right to make the "small child" experience as stress-free as possible for your piggies. The only other thing you can do is not let small kids near your boys at all! This is the route I take! Personally, I don't think kids should be allowed to have piggies as pets until they are at least, oh, 25 years old!
Hey I'm 21 lol! My piggies are treated like kings!
 
It is a very fine balancing act! Children need to learn how to behave round animals and the correct way to handle and care for them. As an ex-teacher it is clear that the earlier they learn to respect animals and gain knowledge about them, the less likely they are to end up abusing or mistreating any animal later in life. I know some very gentle and caring kids, and some little horrors!
 
I still feel like children should be introduced to pet ownership with larger animals: i.e.: dogs, even cats (as long as they can escape). Pets that can't be thrown, squeezed, or smacked around easily. Because that's what children do. It's cruel to allow a child to "own" a guinea pig in my opinion. Guinea pigs cannot teach a child to respect animals because they are pretty much incapable of showing when they are treated improperly. What squealing pig has ever taught a child to let go? A biting pig would, but then that would be a pig looking for a new home. I once dated a guy with a four year old that he gave two puppies to. She picked one of them up by the leg, threw it and broke the leg. She received a long talk from me about treating animals right. Her father didn't care, the puppies went missing in the woods one night, I went out looking for them and found them dead from coyotes. Since then, I've always had a biased opinion about dogs adopted out to farm or outside dog homes and I've always felt guilty that I didn't just pack them up and drive away with them. As kids we didn't have pigs until we were 11 and at eleven, I feel like a child could be trusted with one. But we also grew up with a giant breed dog, so it's different for children that don't have pets. This is all just my opinion though, there are probably kids out there younger than 11 that take full responsibility for the care of their pigs- alas, I have yet to meet any.
 
Carrotyd, you are doing everything right to make the "small child" experience as stress-free as possible for your piggies. The only other thing you can do is not let small kids near your boys at all! This is the route I take! Personally, I don't think kids should be allowed to have piggies as pets until they are at least, oh, 25 years old!

I am not yet 25 and my girls are treated like royalty.
 
I still feel like children should be introduced to pet ownership with larger animals: i.e.: dogs, even cats (as long as they can escape). Pets that can't be thrown, squeezed, or smacked around easily. Because that's what children do. It's cruel to allow a child to "own" a guinea pig in my opinion. Guinea pigs cannot teach a child to respect animals because they are pretty much incapable of showing when they are treated improperly. What squealing pig has ever taught a child to let go? A biting pig would, but then that would be a pig looking for a new home. I once dated a guy with a four year old that he gave two puppies to. She picked one of them up by the leg, threw it and broke the leg. She received a long talk from me about treating animals right. Her father didn't care, the puppies went missing in the woods one night, I went out looking for them and found them dead from coyotes. Since then, I've always had a biased opinion about dogs adopted out to farm or outside dog homes and I've always felt guilty that I didn't just pack them up and drive away with them. As kids we didn't have pigs until we were 11 and at eleven, I feel like a child could be trusted with one. But we also grew up with a giant breed dog, so it's different for children that don't have pets. This is all just my opinion though, there are probably kids out there younger than 11 that take full responsibility for the care of their pigs- alas, I have yet to meet any.

I totally agree, that guy obviously doesn't give two hoots about what his daughter does. My friend who I have known since I was 3 has a daughter who got given some guinea pigs and she treats them like a professional guinea pig owner (if that even exists). She performs all her duties and doesn't leave the guinea pigs care for her mum or dad to do she does it herself, even if she is ill. bless her.
 
I also totally agree with Jennifer D. Very small children, under perhaps 6 or 7 years old, have poor co-ordination and no concept of pain in other beings, and also tend to grab and hold onto things VERY tightly. Small pets like piggies would get squeezed much too hard in their hands, and picked up and dropped repeatedly. I think, being serious now, kids should wait until they're at least 8 before they get a small pet. I myself was 7 when I got my first rabbit. He lived for 10 years and no-one else ever had to look after him.
 
I know, Jennifer D, there seem to be some horrendously behaved kids and parents out there who treat any animal like rubbish, makes me SO angry! Yes, small kids should not handle piggies/rabbits/hamsters etc. unsupervised EVER. Older kids need to be 100% committed to the care of any pet they own and be encouraged to save up pocket money for vet care. I was brought up with dogs and cats from 5yrs old.
 
I have to step in and defend! Not all children are horrible little brats, some are caring and careful around animals! My almost 3 year old is so gentle with our piggies! She knows she isn't allowed to open their cage and has never done so, if she wants to have a cuddle then she knows she has to sit down and I carefully place them on her lap. This way they have never been dropped or squeezed! And do you know what, they love her more than they love me! Even the shy one will take food from her hand when I have never managed it! So I think it's partly about responsible parenting too. My daughter loves animals and respects them because she has always been around them! Sounds like you are doing all the right things and you obviously know your piggies better than anyone, but have you ever wondered if they are withdrawn because they actually enjoyed the interaction while the kiddies were there?
 
Was that last question addressed to me, Mrs Hoggett? If so, my response to that would be, I wouldn't discount the possibility they enjoyed the interaction, but we've only had our two a relatively short time and they're still rather timid, so I'm inclined to think (post-visit) they might be a little bit shell-shocked and hide away for this reason. After all, they're still probably getting used to their surroundings, the noises that come from living in our spare room, and our voices. Suddenly hearing a load of new sounds (and the markedly higher-pitched sound of a child's voice), experiencing the different smells of other humans, etc, is likely to be a bit of a shock to their systems.

In reference to some of the other points raised in this (extremely interesting) thread, it comes down to the individual child, how they've been raised (and importantly how they've been raised to respect animals), their personalities and their sense of responsibility, as to whether they should be allowed pets of their own and access to others.

I've certainly encountered children who love animals, would never want to harm one, but are generally a bit boisterous and accidents do happen. On the other hand, you have kids who love animals, and inherently know how to behave around them, but - once the novelty wears off of having one - get bored and don't want to look after them anymore. Then you've got the deeply committed kids who love them, love caring for them and do everything right for as long as the pet needs them.

Then you have the little s**ts who are just plain horrible to them.

Either way, the parents should know what camp their kid falls into, and whether or not they have the emotional, mental and physical maturity to care for an animal of their own.
 
I have just come across this post and wondered how the many amazingly wonderful guinea pig owners on here have become the way they are. Did they have opportunities as children to interact with animals? I believe so. To learn to treat animals in a proper way children need to be taught how to handle them correctly. Most importantly they also need to see the adults in their lives respect and handle animals with care and gentleness. To own a pet such as a guinea pig also necessitates a child having responsibility for its needs. Obviously this is the adults responsibility ultimately. To say children should not be near guinea pigs to me is wrong as it assumes that all parents allow their children to do as they like to their pets, and all children are wantonly cruel. If one of my children or grandchildren ever abused an animal there would be a severe penalty but this has never happened because the role models they have have been positive towards animals in our care. If an animal doesn't want to interact then that is respected just as if a child is nervous of an animal. Yes children are boisterous but when they are around timid animals you have to tell them to calm down. Children who care for their pets will do this, they just need a little reminder. If the parents cant make the commitment to look after the pets they shouldn't buy them. Unless they are 16 or over children often don't have the financial stability to commit to pet care long term. I don't like to think of some of the terrible families with pets like guinea pigs.There are also some lovely ones where the children are learning to become responsible pet owners and are treating their pets with kindness and respect.
 
I am a nursery manager and took mine to preschool. I sat all the children (23) down in a circle and asked them whether they would like to see what I brought them. We played a little guessing game and I must have told one of them that I have guinea pigs, so he guessed right. We set the ground rules on noise, touch etc spoke about what they eat etc. I brought them in and popped them in a play pen under a box. We spoke some more and were very quiet. I then got the children to take turns popping in some vegetables. All of them were extremely careful and surprosingly calm and quiet. Then I held one of them and they had a go giving him a stroke. Then they went back in the box and we ent off. About 4 children have since asked me about them every day and one of them actually really wanted to hold him and give him a nice cuddle. Instead she gave him a very gently kiss.. You can tell which children have empathy for animals from a very young age. There are other children who I know would probably try throwing them.. It does really depend on the child!
 
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