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Thread: Breakthrough! Getting Along with Your Guinea Pig

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    Cavy Slave kathlaaron's Avatar
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    Breakthrough! Getting Along with Your Guinea Pig

    Hello and Good Afternoon everyone !!

    Guess what ?! As many of you wonderful people know, I have 2 lovely girls named Cuddles and Buttercup. They have owned my heart for 8 months now. Since the 5th month I have been enjoying a wonderful, trusting close bond with Buttercup. I really loved Cuddles just as much, but after so many months of trying to win her approval, and her trust, I had finally come to accept that may never happen. About 2 weeks ago, I just decided that I would just appreciate Cuddles for who she was, and not what I really, wished she could be.

    Today I had a big BIG breakthrough ! 8 months and a week to the day, I have finally-- won Cuddles trust. It is not anything "big" in particular, that I can pinpoint how this happened. I believe it was more subtle, over time, like...for instance: She has been increasingly showing signs of "wanting my company" or "not asking to be put right back in her cage", after "her" typical 10-20 minutes of lap time. However, because it was inconsistent and sporadic.. I just waved it off, as her just being her usual moody, "temperamental" ( though she is, temperamental, and very emotionally high-strung) self.

    I think it was the little things...the small and seemingly "insignificant" changes at the time, that were most likely, what made the difference. Or, just good old patience and time is what she needed, like I encourage others all the time to try to have, with their piggies. Patience, and time...lots of time. And most importantly I think, taking notice of "who she really is" and respecting her wishes. Due to her very sensitive nature, I have always tried to be much more gentle, and quiet with Cuddles. It has been a challenge trying to learn and understand her personality, and then, to accept her completely.

    So I am not really sure how it happened but boy, HOORAY, I am just so happy and excited that it has happened ! Isn't that wonderful ?!? Yipppeeeee !!

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    Cavy Champion, Previous Forum Moderator Duffinvt's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    I am happy for you ! It is amazing how different each guinea pig is, personality-wise, isn't it?

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner pinky's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    It's funny that you said it took a little over 8 months. It's always taken me about 9 months to get a nervous guinea pig to start trusting me. I've tracked it with a few of mine and that's been the magic number.... That's great news!!

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    Cavy Slave LilPig's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    I am so happy for you!! There's absolutely nothing like a trusting guinea pig.
    I adopted a female from a shelter about 2 months ago and she came to me with a trusting predisposition. Lucky for me, she's teaching my other piggy to trust me too! In 2 months I have gone to having 1 brave pig and one scaredy pig to two big brave piggies! They're always asking for attention now.

    I love it!

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    Cavy Slave Henrysmommy's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    Yay! Congratulations, this is such great news. Do you have any tips other than being gentle and quiet?

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    Cavy Slave Judypie's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    I so agree with everybody..so cute cuddles is showing signs of affection in a piggy way.. I love all of mine and have yet to win over 2 of them. so 3 love me and 2 could really do with out me ha ha... still I will keep giving the same respect and love to each of them

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    Cavy Slave kathlaaron's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    Duffinvt--Yes !! It is, absolutely amazing, how different and unique each guinea pig is.


    Quote Originally Posted by Henrysmommy View Post
    Yay! Congratulations, this is such great news. Do you have any tips other than being gentle and quiet?
    I don't really have too many "tips" to offer, since these two piggies, are not only-- my only two...but my first two. I really did work hard with Cuddles though, and it was a long journey. I did, and still do-- a fair amount of observation of my girls behaviour. Cuddles was HARD to figure out, because of her temperamental disposition. She was in short, more complicated than Buttercup. However, over time, the puzzling pieces started coming together. Like for instance:

    1. She would "rumble" at loud noises, seemed especially irritated if the t.v. was too loud
    A. So, I started turning the t.v. down much lower during her lap times

    2. She really needs to be covered in something, to feel safe
    B. So I made sure that I consistently- had a soft blanket/towel, to make an "embankment or tunnel shape" on my arms for lap time, so she could feel more at ease

    3. I don't know if this is because she is an abby or not, ( tend to not think so, since I have read others say their abby's are cuddly) but she DEFINITELY has places she likes to be touched and not touched.
    C. Learned these places, and try to remember and respect not to pet there, or in that way...

    4. Cuddles is very vocal, at least much more than Buttercup is !
    D. I sing softly and talk quietly to her ears...whispering how good she is and how much mommy loves her. I talk much more with Cuddles than I do with Buttercup. Buttercup is more "physical".

    5. She REALLY startles much more easily than Buttercup
    E. I always approached their cage fairly quietly, but I do so, even more quietly than before, as I became much more aware, of just how upsetting this was to her. I also try to come in to the den/computer room very quietly, and saying hello to them more quietly than before. I also try to approach "her" in the cage, much slower and more deliberate ( showing her both my hands) than I did in the past.

    6. Touch. I handle her even more gently than I did before, to assure her, that I mean her no harm. Not "tentatively" mind you, for we want to be sure we ourselves convey confidence and calm as they can easily "sense" our emotions. They cannot possibly predict our "intent" so they are already feeling insecure and fearful as it is, without our own fears and insecurities adding to it. So I try to be very gentle, but confident.

    I know I haven't added a whole lot to be more helpful, but hopefully I helped a little bit ? I think the key was "understanding her personality better" and making adjustments as needed. I also think it's just "Time and lots of Patience" too. In time, Cuddles may not need things to be as quiet, and for me to be "as gentle" but for now...this seems to be what she needs from me, in order for her to learn to trust me. She is young still and may change and mellow out as she gets older, too.


    Our new found "bond" is still fragile, and is still not all the way there...meaning I really believe she trusts me now...but not as completely as I KNOW Buttercup does. Though I am prepared that it may just be a "different" kind of bond, since she is a "different kind of piggie". Just like human relationships. In a relatively healthy family dynamic, a parent's love for a child is not the same kind of love one has with a spouse, but the love is not more or less, just "different".

    It means so much to me that you all joined me in celebration, over this new milestone with my piggie Cuddles. Thank you all so very much !

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    Cavy Slave KiwiCavyAdorer's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    Hi Kathlaaron

    Congratulations Dear! you must feel so good! It's lovely to read how consciously aware you were/are towards what you felt your Cuddles preferred from you! I just love it

    I tried something I've never thought of doing before today...
    My wee foster pig Maximus von Lichtenwalder has moved from one way of living to another one and in the transition altered his behaviour ever so slightly. Some for the better and one not.

    So I too have been very conscious about the transition from one who has grown up with cavies to a total and adoring first time handler... Your comment on confidence in the approach and handling was so true.

    I always speak his name when I am addressing him or about to address him and before my approach; well actually I kind of sing it...

    When I approach him in his cage I call him to come, and rest both my open hands so he can hop in if he chooses to. If he doesn't choose to then I turn away and go find something else to do.

    Now that he has realised what my sequence of events is likely to be he can tell me if he wants outside time, or lap time, etc.

    Today though it was lovely in the dappled shade and he'd watched me assemble his pignic yard. But when I put my hands in he absolutely dashed off, odd when he was wheeking for a ride out there seconds before... Mmm I thought so what I did was put my one hand into chin rubs position, and the other into hop on position and I IMAGINED and really felt as if I was infact chin rubbing with the one hand and holding him in the other hand. I didn't stare at where he was but closed my eyes so I could imagine him there more fully. When I slowly opened my eyes he was almost right there, but he dashed off. So I straightened up (only so long I can bend into odd positions for) and I turned to go. He leapt straight on to the grass hut I had had my hands on and I put them back in.

    Not on him just near him and he moved first for the chin rub hand, and then lifted his other side legs for my hand to slide under!

    It was So Beautiful! and I was quite amazed that it worked like a magnet pulling an iron filing.
    I also had a breakthrough yesterday, One way his behaviour has altered for the better in the last month that he's been with us is that he will fall fast asleep on me and completely close his eyes. He dreamed on me yesterday complete with little jerks wiggles and piggie noises...

    I am so happy to read about Cuddles getting comfy with you - you have sucha good heart!

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    Cavy Slave Alwayzbuzy's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    Awww. That's great. I have two I'm trying to win over. My other two are very trusting. I never knew guinea pigs would have their own personality. I love the how mine do.

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    Cavy Slave longlostcurls's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    Thats great to hear. I am still trying to get my girls to trust me. My oldest does but the other I have only had for about 2 months. I notice they get along great now (no nips), but she still runs away from me. If we spoil them with treats like lettuce will it help them to like you more? (Just a note: Lettuce is given regularly but they go so crazy over it I see it as a treat)

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    Cavy Slave Shinypig7's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    That's wonderful!!!! I'm so happy for you and Cuddles! I'm still trying to get a better bond with my pigs too. But like you were saying, you just took in everything she was saying and adjusted to her needs and not your wants. I have take certain things into account as well when I'm handling my piggies. One pig hates being on my lap so I made a pillow he can tunnel inside and be right next to me and then I can pet him wherever once he's comfortable. The other pig doesn't mind being on my lap, but I can only pet his back or nose when he is not facing me. And what Guinness hates even more than being picked up is being put back in his cage! So when he tells me he's done with "pillow" time I gently place him on the floor and he walks to his cage and waits for me to take apart a piece from the C&C cage so that he can hop in. He used to bite me constantly while trying to place him back in his cage, but never when taking him out of the cage. This way works better for the both of us and he seems way happier!
    So glad to here about you and Cuddles!!

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    Cavy Slave kathlaaron's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    Quote Originally Posted by KiwiCavyAdorer View Post
    Hi Kathlaaron

    Congratulations Dear! you must feel so good! It's lovely to read how consciously aware you were/are towards what you felt your Cuddles preferred from you! I just love it
    Thank you so much ! I try to be a good Piggie Mom, and am always learning new things everyday, thanks to all of you !

    I also had a breakthrough yesterday, One way his behaviour has altered for the better in the last month that he's been with us is that he will fall fast asleep on me and completely close his eyes. He dreamed on me yesterday complete with little jerks wiggles and piggie noises...

    Isn't that a miraculous moment of awe, when your piggie, that you have come to love so much.... shows the ultimate in trust, when they close their eyes for the first time while in your lap/arms ?! Buttercup does that too, and it still fills me with humbleness and awe. I don't know if Cuddles would ever close her eyes...I think she is too nervous a piggie to do that. However, on occasion, Cuddles has closed her eyes to slits, when she has felt relaxed enough or is getting soft nose/cheek kisses from me.


    I am so happy to read about Cuddles getting comfy with you - you have sucha good heart!
    Thank you !

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    Cavy Slave kathlaaron's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    Quote Originally Posted by longlostcurls View Post
    Thats great to hear. I am still trying to get my girls to trust me. My oldest does but the other I have only had for about 2 months. I notice they get along great now (no nips), but she still runs away from me. If we spoil them with treats like lettuce will it help them to like you more? (Just a note: Lettuce is given regularly but they go so crazy over it I see it as a treat)
    I think anything positive that we do for them or with them, creates a stronger, closer bond ! Paying attention to their individual personalities, by taking the time needed to get to know them. Showing our respect for them, even though we are big and they are small, in how we talk and touch them. It's easier to have a healthy respect for a grizzly bear or a lion that can tear you apart if they so wish, then it is for a small, fairly helpless, prey animal that can not cause you much harm, you know ? It is a mindset that I am always trying to keep balance with.

    For example: For whatever reason, there has been times when my "cuddle bug" my "Lap Time Queen" Buttercup does not wish to cuddle for that long, and will ask to be put back after only being with me for like 15 minutes. It's not because of anything in particular, other than she is "just not in the mood tonight" kind of thing. Well, honestly, I have had that mindset, where I am like "hey, I want more cuddle time with you, I know we trust each other and you won't bite or nip me, so "I" want MORE TIME !" I don't though. It does cross my mind, she is just a guinea pig, after all...right ? Wrong ! Same way I am not "just a human" after all..for there is none out there exactly like me, I am unique just as Cuddles my piggie, is unique.

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    Cavy Slave kathlaaron's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    Quote Originally Posted by Shinypig7 View Post
    And what Guinness hates even more than being picked up is being put back in his cage! So when he tells me he's done with "pillow" time I gently place him on the floor and he walks to his cage and waits for me to take apart a piece from the C&C cage so that he can hop in. He used to bite me constantly while trying to place him back in his cage, but never when taking him out of the cage. This way works better for the both of us and he seems way happier!
    I can just picture that whole scenario in my mind ! How ADORABLE is that ??! I can just picture your piggie Guiness trotting back to his cage and "waiting" for you to open it so he can "hop right in" ! Oh my that is just too cute !!

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    Cavy Slave kathlaaron's Avatar
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    Re: Breakthrough !

    GUESS WHAT ?!

    Cuddles has really been changing...and she now "asks" for me to pet her "the same way" that Buttercup loves to be petted, with long semi-firm massaging rubs down her body !! Can you BELIEVE that ?? Last night during lap time, she really resisted going back to her cage, by putting out her feet ( like she did a long time ago when she and Buttercup were fiercely trying to pull the fleece down, hind legs up against the cage, pulling with all their might with their teeth) and folding in her arms when I would start to lift her off my blanket. I just could not believe it !

    GUINEA PIG SOUNDS

    You know, I realize that the guinea pig sounds found here and there on the Internet are just basically "guides" in helping us understand piggie language and expressions and what those sounds mean. However, in trying to understand Cuddles vocalizations all these long months, has not been easy, and if anything seem, contradictory.

    For instance: During lap time with Cuddles, she would make sounds nearly non-stop, and I thought that when they are "quiet"-- it meant that they felt comfortable and were content ( or petrified fear "deer in the headlights" fear)...unless they were "wheeking" type noises which could suggest excitement, and happiness. Cuddles "noises" have never been either during these times. Her "noises" are more of a cross between a cry, a moan, and a whine. So I figured these sounds..I thought these sounds were negative ones, and that she was "upset" and did not want my company or my lap.

    I tried so many different behavioural adjustments on my part, to please Cuddles and try to appease her ( what I thought to be) wishes. And honestly, to bond with her, to develop a close relationship with her.

    Something on a post that someone made recently, made me think. Cuddles is just...... a really really "talkative" piggie ! I may never understand "all" her noises( and obviously have misunderstood more than a few ) and what they "mean" but, that is one thing that I know is true.

    Like I thought might happen, but didn't really expect -- was that Cuddles definitely prefers long nice petting/rubbing and no longer -- seems to have "sensitive areas" of touch. For two days now, I have been petting her like I pet Buttercup and she is really loving it...so much so that my connection and bond with her seem "complete" and very close now. I am just as close to her now, as I am to my other lovey dovey Buttercup. I just can't believe this ! I really feel so blessed, and just wanted to share this update with all of you......

    I hope you all don't think I am a silly old woman...to be this caught up in my guinea pigs, do you ? I do feel a little embarrassed about my love affair with my girls, but with you guys I dare to be "open" but not sure if you guys think I really am- kind of silly about it or not. Anyway...just thought I would share this new "update" concerning my new bond with Cuddles.

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