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What are we doing wrong?

Davide

Junior Guinea Pig
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Aug 19, 2018
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#1
Evening everyone,
Thought I'd ask for help here on this one, because honestly it's becoming a bit frustrating.
Me and my wife are having a few problems with Chicco and Lenticchia, our 2 piggies. Basically, we can't find a way to interact with them in a rewarding way. They seem to care very little about our company, our attentions, our presence and cuddling with us. Now, I understand this might just be their attitude, but I wonder if we skipped some important steps to help them getting used to us. With the first piggie we had we had to do nothing and the bond was extraordinary, so I feel like we might be a bit unprepared. We tried having lap time every day for the past few weeks, and it seemed to go very well at first. Chicco even seemed very close to fall asleep during those first times. Then it got worse and worse, now they won't stay even for a few minutes, they just want to get away from us as quickly as possible. We've been petting them and talking to them during lap time. Should we not have pet them, until they were comfortable enough to just stay on our laps without trying to escape? We also sit on the floor next to the cage most of the time, talking to them and between us, and they have extensive floor time (3hrs a day minimum) in a living room full of toys, beds and hides, but they spend most of it sleeping under the couch, where we can't see them. Can we get some advice from you on what to try next? Please note that Chicco has been with us for just 5 weeks (he's a 3 years old adoption), but Lenticchia is 3.5 years old and she's been with us since she was a baby.
I can describe our routine and room setup a bit better, if you think it might help!
Thanks, any advice will be welcome!
 

Reenie

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#2
Hi! I've got a Chicco too! He's the middle one in my avatar.
You've not done anything wrong, and some piggies just don't particularly like cuddles. To begin with, they're terrified, and just stay still, so it's actually progress that they're now comfortable enough with you to make their true feelings known, and trying to get away.
Best advice is, as it always is with piggies, treats. If you try hand feeding them (I don't give them nuggets in a bowl, but use them for hand feeding only, that way it's not adding calories).
Some of mine don't particularly like being picked up, but they'll jump on my lap for nuggets....until I stroke them, then they either run off, or make annoyed squeaky noises. Keep persevering. You could also read the piggy whispering techniques here Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips good luck.
 

Seven7

Junior Guinea Pig
Joined
Apr 26, 2018
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#3
Both Finn and Lara run towards me whenever I get close to their cages, and yell out with excitement. They always greet me by making noise and pop-corn all around their cages with excitement.

I use FOOD to get them to come to me. At first, when they came to live with me, I hand fed them cilantro, parsley, basil, and other herbs. I sat next to their cages then fed them these herbs and watched them eat it. I still hand feed these as well as Oxbow pellets.

By the way they get excited to see me, and greet me, I know they know and love me. My family always tell me Finn doesn't allow anyone to pet him, but Finn lets me pet him endlessly. He would just sit there and let me talk to him and pet him as long as I want to.
 

Seven7

Junior Guinea Pig
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#4
They also get excited to hear the sound of hay bag, so whenever I load hay for them, they all get very exited and run around their cages. Lara makes a lot of noise when she is happy, and Finn runs around his cage pop-corning all over the place.

Just a simple gesture like sound of hay bag gets my piggies all excited and run around all over their cages. I feed them 3 meals of veggies a day along with endless hay and some pellets.
 

Davide

Junior Guinea Pig
Joined
Aug 19, 2018
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#5
Hi! I've got a Chicco too! He's the middle one in my avatar.
You've not done anything wrong, and some piggies just don't particularly like cuddles. To begin with, they're terrified, and just stay still, so it's actually progress that they're now comfortable enough with you to make their true feelings known, and trying to get away.
Best advice is, as it always is with piggies, treats. If you try hand feeding them (I don't give them nuggets in a bowl, but use them for hand feeding only, that way it's not adding calories).
Some of mine don't particularly like being picked up, but they'll jump on my lap for nuggets....until I stroke them, then they either run off, or make annoyed squeaky noises. Keep persevering. You could also read the piggy whispering techniques here Understanding Prey Animal Instincts, Guinea Pig Whispering And Cuddling Tips good luck.
Hi, thanks for your reply! Your Chicco is handsome :D So, we always give them treats when we have lap time (coriander, parsley, cucumber), but that can only last for a few minutes a day (then they try to run), so I don't think it can build any confidence. Perhaps hand feeding them more regularly could be a good idea, with them on the floor or in the cage? I feel like we're at square one with these guys, and that we need to be more patient and persevering.
 

Willow&Sky

Junior Guinea Pig
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#6
I have two youngsters, they'll only tolerate about 5mins of lap time at the moment then they make it clear they want to go! After that I put them down for floor time and sit with them. To start with I'd leave some treats on the floor near me so they'd come close. Now I hand feed them during floor time. You could try making their floor time area a bit smaller for a while and sit with them so they get used to you being closer?
 

Davide

Junior Guinea Pig
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#7
I have two youngsters, they'll only tolerate about 5mins of lap time at the moment then they make it clear they want to go! After that I put them down for floor time and sit with them. To start with I'd leave some treats on the floor near me so they'd come close. Now I hand feed them during floor time. You could try making their floor time area a bit smaller for a while and sit with them so they get used to you being closer?
Thanks! It's not about how long they stay on our lap, even our previous piggie Nocciola, who was brave and very affectionate with us, could not stand lap time. The thing is that they almost don't interact with us at all. Yeah, we also thought about closing access to under the couch, for now, to limit they free roaming area. After all they do have plenty of hides and boxes on the floor (plus more in their cage), if they need to feel protected and hidden they've got everything they need!
 

Reenie

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#8
Hi, thanks for your reply! Your Chicco is handsome :D So, we always give them treats when we have lap time (coriander, parsley, cucumber), but that can only last for a few minutes a day (then they try to run), so I don't think it can build any confidence. Perhaps hand feeding them more regularly could be a good idea, with them on the floor or in the cage? I feel like we're at square one with these guys, and that we need to be more patient and persevering.
Chicco says thanks, he knows, which is why he rumbles at the other two all the time.
 

Davide

Junior Guinea Pig
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#9
Hi everyone, a quick update.
We spent the evening with the piggies as usual yesterday, and realized that both Chicco and Lenticchia are still not entirely confident with coming to us and being hand fed (which we understand from reading around is one of the basics of bonding), so we think we'll be hand feeding them dinner, for some time. And possibly we'll close the access to under the couch, but providing them more hideaways in the rest of the room. Do you guys think that's a good idea? :) They're not completely skittish, but we can tell they're not confident either. Hand feeding them is a lot of fun and is a very simple way to interact with them, it looks like they're having fun as well. Thank you all for your replies!
 

PiggyPoo

Junior Guinea Pig
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Jun 2, 2018
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#11
It can take along time, I’ve had mine for 4 months now and they’re much better. It does feel like one step forward then two steps back! They seem happiest when they’re eating veggies on our lap but it has been a very slow process. We’ve had them since they were 3 months old xx
 

Wiebke

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#12
Not all piggies are as interactive and human orientated. If your dominant piggy is not into it, it can take longer and be frustrating. it can often feel like one step forward and two steps back. 5 weeks is not a very long time for your boy whereas Lenticchia has enjoyed being in her companion's shadow.

Try using our piggy whispering tips and making your piggies come or treats. Give them stuff to explore during roaming time with you there or even in with them in the run. Guinea pig company is more casual with each other when you actually observe them once they are no longer babies and hormonal teenagers. They are like that with you, too.

There are lots of often very simple ways you can enrich guinea pig lives; don't forget that guinea pigs have a much stronger sense of smell than we humans, so anything scent based (dirtly piggy laundry to burrow in, licking a bit of fruit juice, sprinkling forage around; apple/pear tree branches to gnaw on, hiding single pellets around etc. or hanging veg or toilet roll tubes filled with hay from a string) give fun and challenges. They also like to work their way into things that contain edibles, whether that brown paper bags with soft hay or freshly ripped grass, veg wrapped in brown parcel paper or a cardboard box they have to gnaw their way in. Make them come to you and eventually climb into your lap for a treat. Even letting your piggies play hide and seek around your body and between your legs is interaction.

I have written an article with lots of ideas and pictures for Guinea Pig Magazine issue #34.
Guinea Pig Mag
 

Davide

Junior Guinea Pig
Joined
Aug 19, 2018
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#13
Not all piggies are as interactive and human orientated. If your dominant piggy is not into it, it can take longer and be frustrating. it can often feel like one step forward and two steps back. 5 weeks is not a very long time for your boy whereas Lenticchia has enjoyed being in her companion's shadow.

Try using our piggy whispering tips and making your piggies come or treats. Give them stuff to explore during roaming time with you there or even in with them in the run. Guinea pig company is more casual with each other when you actually observe them once they are no longer babies and hormonal teenagers. They are like that with you, too.

There are lots of often very simple ways you can enrich guinea pig lives; don't forget that guinea pigs have a much stronger sense of smell than we humans, so anything scent based (dirtly piggy laundry to burrow in, licking a bit of fruit juice, sprinkling forage around; apple/pear tree branches to gnaw on, hiding single pellets around etc. or hanging veg or toilet roll tubes filled with hay from a string) give fun and challenges. They also like to work their way into things that contain edibles, whether that brown paper bags with soft hay or freshly ripped grass, veg wrapped in brown parcel paper or a cardboard box they have to gnaw their way in. Make them come to you and eventually climb into your lap for a treat. Even letting your piggies play hide and seek around your body and between your legs is interaction.

I have written an article with lots of ideas and pictures for Guinea Pig Magazine issue #34.
Guinea Pig Mag
Thanks Wiebke, very informative as always! We can't actually tell if Chicco and Lenticchia have decided who is the dominant one yet...any advice on how to tell? :) Is definitely true that Lenticchia lived in the shadow of Nocciola, she's always been so shy but also very sweet. Chicco is making great progress to be fair, he climbs on our hands or lap if we have a treat, and comes very close to us when called, which is great after only 5 weeks. Your suggestions will be very useful, especially the smell aspect. In general I believe that it's not that they are not interactive, it's more that we don't remember how to interact with them when they're shy and not confident (we never really had to learn, Nocciola took complete control of the house and her slaves after a few weeks, and we just assumed Lenticchia was a different character).
 

Davide

Junior Guinea Pig
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#14
It can take along time, I’ve had mine for 4 months now and they’re much better. It does feel like one step forward then two steps back! They seem happiest when they’re eating veggies on our lap but it has been a very slow process. We’ve had them since they were 3 months old xx
This is great to read. Are they the ones in your avatar? They're gorgeous :)
 

Piggies&buns

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#15
I have had my boys for four months and it has only been in the last six weeks or so that things have improved for us. The dominant piggy (the long haired one) has been much easier to get to come round, he is by no means a snuggly piggy but he will let me stroke him and I can now pick him up and he doesn’t fight me. He is interested when i go to them and will happily run around me when I’m in their pen. The other one (the Black and Tan) is nowhere near as confident. I have been able to pick him up in the last two weeks but he doesn’t like it, he will mostly run off when he sees me coming. He just isn’t very peopley(!) and I’m now fairly sure that nothing I do is going to change that.
 
Joined
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#17
Sounds like my Cocoa! She really only loves me when food is coming. I have lap time with her and I talk to her constantly, but still nothing. I'm hoping with more time and patience, she will come around to liking me. I think your piggies will do the same if you give them more time to get used to you :)
 
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