To catch or not to catch

Scots_Owner

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Hi everyone, first time owner here. I have three little females (about four months old and we've had them two months). My question is about taming. We have been trying to go slow and be sensetive to how they get scared, so we haven't been handling them much. We have mostly been talking to them and trying to hand feed them. One of them will come to your hand and take food from you, but still panics when you try to pick her up (although it is doable). The other two don't really seem to be getting any more tame.

I've seen some people saying they just catch their pigs and cuddle them and that's how they tamed them, but I don't want to get into a habit of having to chase them down every time we want to cuddle them. The shy two also act very afraid when you're holding them.

What is best to do? Keep going the way we're going with hand feeding until they come to us or is it better to kind of go 'tough love' and keep picking them up and holding them until they realise it's safe? Even just writing that I feel the slow approach is better, but I just feel like we're making no progress with two out of the three.

Thank you.
 

Stripeyrache

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My girls are a similar age and although extremely comfortable taking food from my hand and letting me stroke their noses, they both run if we try to pick them up. I have success turning a box or hidey upside down and letting them jump in. Then lifting that out the cage. Seems much less stressful and then they’re super happy on our laps!
 

Winniepeg

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Welcome to the forum. You’re doing the right thing talking to them and feeding them by hand. Trust takes time and in my experience most piggies don’t like being handled . Obviously they need to get used to it because of health checks, nail clipping etc. When I pick my piggies up I get as close to their level as possible talk to them softly and gently lower my hand in front of their faces so they can see and smell me. As prey animals they shouldn’t be plucked up from behind as this will scare them. Be patient and be prepared that they may not like cuddles. They have so much to offer regardless. Good luck 😁 . Would love to see some pictures when they’re settled. I’ve had piggies for 6 years so more experienced owners may have better/extra tips
 

Wiebke

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Hi everyone, first time owner here. I have three little females (about four months old and we've had them two months). My question is about taming. We have been trying to go slow and be sensetive to how they get scared, so we haven't been handling them much. We have mostly been talking to them and trying to hand feed them. One of them will come to your hand and take food from you, but still panics when you try to pick her up (although it is doable). The other two don't really seem to be getting any more tame.

I've seen some people saying they just catch their pigs and cuddle them and that's how they tamed them, but I don't want to get into a habit of having to chase them down every time we want to cuddle them. The shy two also act very afraid when you're holding them.

What is best to do? Keep going the way we're going with hand feeding until they come to us or is it better to kind of go 'tough love' and keep picking them up and holding them until they realise it's safe? Even just writing that I feel the slow approach is better, but I just feel like we're making no progress with two out of the three.

Thank you.
Hi and welcome

You are on the right track.
Please take the time to read the information in the green link below; you will find them very helpful as you will understand better where your piggies are coming from, how guinea pig prey animal instincts work, how you can work around them and how you can make friends by copying their own social interactive behaviours ('guinea pig whispering') instead of waiting until they have figured out humans. The link also covers how to train your piggies for a safe hands-off pick up and transport since this cuts closest to their prey animal instincts and also prevents injuries from freak blind jumps. You should find it both very interesting and helpful!
Here is the link: Settling In And Making Friends With Guinea Pigs - A Guide

The link covers just one chapter in our comprehensive New Owners information collection. Unlike with a book, the guinea format allows us to update and extend the information at need. The guides have been specifically written for new owners and are as practical and precise as possible; they address all the most often enountered issues that new owners ask questions or have concerns about. We have also added guides to help you learn what is normal and what not; how to monitor health life-long and when to see a vet.
You may want to bookmark the link, browse and read/re-read at need. You will find that you'll get different things out when re-read the guides at different levels of experience. It is one of the most comprehensive information resources around.
Getting Started - New Owners' Most Helpful Guides
 

Fantasimo

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I’m a catcher 🙋🏻‍♀️ But it really depends on what feels best for you and your pigs. One of my boys loves being held and will roll over for belly rubs, while his brother will stand and wait for me to pick him up, but would rather it be a speedy process!

At the end of the day it’s about getting them to the point where they trust whatever you’re going to do, and even then, some will always run as its their instinct. It’s taken me 12 months to get to the point where mine are now, so it’s a process no matter which approach you take.

(Top tip; wear a zip up hoodie and tuck them into it while you’re holding them, that way they feel more secure and hidden) ☺
 

Emibee

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I’m so glad you’ve asked this question as I’m at the same stage with my piggies! My two boys are 12 weeks old and I’ve had them for 6 weeks. They’ve happily taken food from my hand almost from day one, but really dislike being touched. I don’t like chasing them around their hutch as it just feels stressful for all of us so, when I need to get them out, I try to corner them in their fleece bed, which I then deposit elsewhere with them in it. I also find fleece cuddle sacks really useful: although my two have wised up to my trick and often won’t go in it, they’re lovely to cuddle them in when they do venture inside as they feel more secure. Oddly enough, both of mine seem to relax and enjoy a cuddle when I can actually get hold of them - but getting there in the first place is still an ordeal.
 

Siikibam

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Most will never like being picked up. And if they don’t like being touched then you just have to accept that. They’re generally not as cuddly as they’re made out to be!
 

PremierPig

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My poor girl is on twice daily medication so I have to get her out frequently. Sometimes she runs, sometimes she lets me get her. Depends on her mood! :D
 
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