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Thread: New Guinea Pig - Skittish / Snapping / Dominance Behavior

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    Cavy Slave
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    New Guinea Pig - Skittish / Snapping / Dominance Behavior

    Hi,


    I recently got a new companion (Snowball) to my existing guinea pig (Weebl) (I had one pass away recently hence another Guinea Pig). It's been a month since I got him from his previous owner. He is very skittish - will not interact with me. Every time I approach his cage, he sprints back into his hidey and stays there. He freezes if I try to touch him. Towards the other guinea pig, he snaps. Not enough to draw blood, but definitely a violent gesture. He does not come out to eat his vegetables when I'm around the cage, and initially he won't even come out to eat his hay. Now he's a bit more outgoing and will spend time near the hay rack, but when I get close - he sprints back into his hidey. Very sad.


    I'm giving him some space and basically "avoiding" him for the time being, maybe he needs time to adjust. What else would you recommend me trying with Snowball?


    Thanks,
    Dexter

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    Cavy Slave Spotakiss's Avatar
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    Re: New Guinea Pig - Skittish / Snapping / Dominance Behavior

    Quote Originally Posted by dxman View Post
    Hi,


    I recently got a new companion (Snowball) to my existing guinea pig (Weebl) (I had one pass away recently hence another Guinea Pig). It's been a month since I got him from his previous owner. He is very skittish - will not interact with me. Every time I approach his cage, he sprints back into his hidey and stays there. He freezes if I try to touch him. Towards the other guinea pig, he snaps. Not enough to draw blood, but definitely a violent gesture. He does not come out to eat his vegetables when I'm around the cage, and initially he won't even come out to eat his hay. Now he's a bit more outgoing and will spend time near the hay rack, but when I get close - he sprints back into his hidey. Very sad.


    I'm giving him some space and basically "avoiding" him for the time being, maybe he needs time to adjust. What else would you recommend me trying with Snowball?


    Thanks,
    Dexter
    In my opinion you shouldnt avoid him. You should put your hand near him and let him get your scent but i wouldnt try touching when you do that. Just let him smell you and talk in a relaxing tone to him. That should at least get the bonding started i think. His previous owner might not have treated him correctly so itll take alot of time and patience but im sure over time he will understand he is safe with you


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Cavy Slave LittleSqueakers's Avatar
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    Re: New Guinea Pig - Skittish / Snapping / Dominance Behavior

    Have you also tried sitting in the room with the pig cage for a long time and just staying still and quiet until he comes out? I would park myself next to the pigpen and just watch a movie at low volume or read a book and try to get up as little as possible. Sometimes I would speak softly to the pigs. I would hang around until their adrenaline at having me there would come down and eventually they would come out. I feel like sometimes the first step towards getting an animal not to be so afraid in your presence is just by showing them that you don't always want something from them when you show up. Sometimes you're just minding your own business and once they learn that, you coming into the room isn't so ominous anymore.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: New Guinea Pig - Skittish / Snapping / Dominance Behavior

    My boys didn't come from a background where they had minimal interaction with their previous owner. To get them used to me, I'd sit by the cage and quietly talk to them. Once they were comfortable with me being by the cage, I started putting my hand in the cage and let them sniff it. I'm slowly getting them used to the sensation of petting their heads, but it's taken me several months to get to this point (and half the time they don't like it and run away). I'd also recommend using food and offering them veggies or treats by hand. I think it really helped my boys, as they came to associate me with food, and it's very true that a way into a guinea pig's heart is through his stomach. It takes time and patience, but I'd take it slow and let the pig come to you. Over time, he'll realize you're not a threat, and he'll warm up to you.

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: New Guinea Pig - Skittish / Snapping / Dominance Behavior

    Quote Originally Posted by dxman View Post
    I'm giving him some space and basically "avoiding" him for the time being, maybe he needs time to adjust.
    Dexter.......what you are observing/experiencing with Snowball is not uncommon. Cavies are prey animals and almost always run when you loom over their cage and try to capture them. You are seen as a "house eagle" who is surely going to snatch them up and devour them. If you currently have your cage on the floor, make a stand or put the cage on a table so that they are closer to eye level and not so threatened.

    Call me hypocritical, but I simply avoid adopting older piggies who may have been scarred or traumatized by previous owners. I prefer to start with babies that I can raise in the way that has always been successful for me. But, this doesn't help your situation, does it?

    Did you do proper intros with the other cavy? If not, that may be one reason for his aggression. I don't have the link to proper introductions right at hand, but our esteemed moderator @bpatters will surely come along and help out.

    I don't believe in waiting for a cavy to come to you.......I handle mine a lot. Things become easier once they know your voice, your smell, and your touch. Always speak to them before attempting to pick them up, especially if they are sleeping. Think of how you would react to someone putting his hands on you without warning when you are sound asleep. And, keep in mind that cavies have little dexterity with their paws........everything is explored with the mouth. You simply can't deal with a cavy like you would with a cat or dog who could use a paw to bat your hand away....a piggy's instinct is to bite or nip when threatened.

    The key to raising a happy, secure piggy is to be very consistent in your actions. Always be gentle and soft spoken and hold them close if they are frightened. Mine have learned that their "safe place" is on my chest and preferably over my heart. The only time I raise my voice is when they are doing something detrimental to themselves or to me. In fact, I so seldom raise my voice that they will literally stop what they are doing if I scold them.

    Give your boy some time--and love-- and he will come around.
    Last edited by spy9doc; 10-05-19 at 03:24 pm.

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: New Guinea Pig - Skittish / Snapping / Dominance Behavior

    Here is the link on guinea pig introductions: http://guinea-pigs.livejournal.com/3002707.html

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