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Bonding Uneasiness About Our Bonding

Zuidy

Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Messages
1,232
I am really trying VERY HARD to bond with both of my Guinea Pigs, but I don't know exactly how it's going.......

OK, here's the scoop:

Both of my pigs are still somewhat timid of me, after almost exactly 1 month.

My Abby, Lil' Sis, nips at me ALL THE TIME whenever I try to pet her. My American Lil' Babe will let me pet her and brush her if she is in her hidey. She even tries to pull her food bowl out of my hand when I put it in her cage every morning filled with Veggies.

Lil' Babe doesn't run away from me when I am nearby all the time. About 25% of the time she will, but she is willing to sniff me and everything like that.

My Abby runs away from me regardless if I have my hand in the cage. I am almost afraid to pet her because of her biting problem now.

__

I am just kind of unsure about how my Guinea Pigs feel towards me...... I unconditionally love both of them so much.

I hear all of these stories about how people are able to hold their pets in their lap for lap time and they can give them floor time....... when I can't. I can't even really pick up either pig. Trying to clean their cage is one HECK of a time just to get them out of it. The shoe box method doesn't work. I take out everything from their cage that they might be able to hide in EXCEPT for the shoe box with holes in it, and they avoid the box all the time.

I have held both of my Piggies. The first time I held both of them, they calmed down very quickly and let me stroke them. No nipping or anything. The last time I tried to hold Lil' Babe, she got loose from my arms. I don't even attempt to hold Lil' Sis anymore because of her biting problem......

___

I know I am probably sounding negative here. I just don't really know when my pigs will come around fully.

___

I guess what I am asking here, is when will my pigs let me do the things to them that so many owners on this website can do with their piggies?

__

:confused:
 
Unfortunately some pigs will never enjoy being held or handled in anyway, it's just their nature. As far as bonding goes, I'm too new here to give advice. My baby has been cake to bond with and as far as the guy I adopted last night, I don't know yet as I haven't had time to do much with him yet. Hopefully someone else will come along soon that can give some advice.
 
Before you go to get your pigs, have a plate of some of their favorite veggies set aside wherever you plan to have lap time. Do this every time you have lap time. Eventually, they will figure out that lap time equals veggie time, and they should be more complacent during lap time.

I would say most pigs dislike being picked up. Go slow, and try to spend more time with your hands in their cage doing something other than rounding them up. If the only thing they associate your hands with is a scarey situation, they won't ever want to be around your hands. I have spent lots of time laying next to the cage offering veggies by hand and have noticed that once each pig became comfortable coming to me for food, they were less of a pain to pick up and were happier in my lap.
 
We have had our babies for a month. They are two months old, and they still run from us. I think it will take patience and quiet and their own timeline before they trust us. They have been thru a lot of changes in the last month and I don't think there is a guaranteed recipe for bonding. Once I actually catch one, she will sit in my lap and tolerate gentle petting on the top of her head and neck. But they are in no hurry to be handled.
 
How old are your guinea pigs? I have one that will bite if I get in her way and when she was little she tried to bite her way off my lap. I think they are similar to any young animal, puppies mouth and bite, kittens climb curtains, legs, etc. I have noticed a huge difference now they are 10 months old, more settled and mature. I too got frustrated because I wanted them to love to be picked up and spend hours on my lap. I am sorry to hear the shoe box didn't work. I use a cardboard box with a flap on it. I had to put their favourite food way in the back of it at first or they would grab it and run. We have now established a routine and they run right in knowing they get their nightly greens in the play area. I still think the way to a guinea pig's heart is through their stomach. I also found my girls didn't like to be grabbed from behind to be picked up. They would squeal as if I was killing them. What works for the girls is when they are facing me I pat them to get them to relax, tell them "up" and gently run my hand down the sides and scoop their bottom in both hands with their front feet on my forearms and then I gently bring them to my chest or lap. I have a fleece on my lap so I can wrap it around them. They seem to feel safer with the fleece around them. Good luck, hang in there, it will all come together.
 
How old are your guinea pigs? I have one that will bite if I get in her way and when she was little she tried to bite her way off my lap. I think they are similar to any young animal, puppies mouth and bite, kittens climb curtains, legs, etc. I have noticed a huge difference now they are 10 months old, more settled and mature. I too got frustrated because I wanted them to love to be picked up and spend hours on my lap. I am sorry to hear the shoe box didn't work. I use a cardboard box with a flap on it. I had to put their favourite food way in the back of it at first or they would grab it and run. We have now established a routine and they run right in knowing they get their nightly greens in the play area. I still think the way to a guinea pig's heart is through their stomach. I also found my girls didn't like to be grabbed from behind to be picked up. They would squeal as if I was killing them. What works for the girls is when they are facing me I pat them to get them to relax, tell them "up" and gently run my hand down the sides and scoop their bottom in both hands with their front feet on my forearms and then I gently bring them to my chest or lap. I have a fleece on my lap so I can wrap it around them. They seem to feel safer with the fleece around them. Good luck, hang in there, it will all come together.

Thanks so much for that!

Both pigs are around only about 4 months each right now. That would make sense.

....Also, by any chance, did you get the saying "The Way to Their Heart is Through Their Stomach" from a book called "My Guinea Pig" ?
 
It sounds as though you may have some misconceptions of guinea pigs behavior. It is a rare guinea pig that will tolerate being petted while in their cage. Most will run from you. They are in their own environment and you are a big scary predator.

It also sounds like you are being a bit timid with them. Guinea pigs don't want to be picked up, so you just have to be brave and reach in and get them.

As for the nipping, since it's your abby that's nipping you, it could be the way you are petting her. Lots of pigs don't like to have their hair brushed/petted against the way it grows naturally. This can make petting an abby somewhat of a challenge.

It's also possible she has mites. Being petted is extremely uncomfortable when a pig has mites.

Or, she could be sensing your timidness and is being dominant.
 
We use his tunnel instead of a box. His tunnel is a stripped down ice tea container (both the outside wrapper and the inner foil were removed leaving only cardboard) lined with fabric along the inside.

He doesn't like being picked up either but as time goes by he is getting better about it. Having your hands in the cage doing something other than chasing him has been a big help for us. Sometimes we'll just dangle it and wait. He comes to check it out on his terms. We move slowly and calmly, henow allows us to pet him while he's in his cage. Calm patience and confidence... It will all come together for you.
 
It sounds as though you may have some misconceptions of guinea pigs behavior. It is a rare guinea pig that will tolerate being petted while in their cage. Most will run from you. They are in their own environment and you are a big scary predator.

It also sounds like you are being a bit timid with them. Guinea pigs don't want to be picked up, so you just have to be brave and reach in and get them.

As for the nipping, since it's your abby that's nipping you, it could be the way you are petting her. Lots of pigs don't like to have their hair brushed/petted against the way it grows naturally. This can make petting an abby somewhat of a challenge.

It's also possible she has mites. Being petted is extremely uncomfortable when a pig has mites.

Or, she could be sensing your timidness and is being dominant.

I have never been able to pet my Abby because she bites me whenever I try to just touch her at all...... so it's not because she has mites or is not liking the way I "pet" her, because I can't pet her at all.
 
(broken link removed)

This link came from a thread on biting.
 
How do you know she doesn't have mites?

I suggest using a pair of gloves when picking her up, then.
 
I got it from an old saying, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" and I just substituted guinea pig. After being married for 38 years I am not sure that is really true anyways!!!
 
How do you know she doesn't have mites?

I suggest using a pair of gloves when picking her up, then.

I don't know..... You just don't assume that out of the blue your Guinea Pigs have mites. Now, you tell me: What signs is my pig showing of having mites? You wouldn't have said that to anyone else out of the blue. Just food for thought.

Also, @Delaine, that's pretty funny! Haha.
 
@Zuidy : you stated "she bites me whenever I try to just touch her at all...... so it's not because she has mites or is not liking the way I "pet" her, because I can't pet her at all."

Biting whenever you try to touch her is a sign of mites or of extreme fear of you. It is almost surely a sign of something being wrong with your pig. That is likely why you received the response you did from foggycreekcavy. It wasn't said out of the blue, it was said in response to what you said.
 
@Zuidy : you stated "she bites me whenever I try to just touch her at all...... so it's not because she has mites or is not liking the way I "pet" her, because I can't pet her at all."

Biting whenever you try to touch her is a sign of mites or of extreme fear of you. It is almost surely a sign of something being wrong with your pig. That is likely why you received the response you did from foggycreekcavy. It wasn't said out of the blue, it was said in response to what you said.

OK. How could I check for "Mites" then?
 
Unfortunately, mites are really tough to check for (they are microscopic, and even the skin scrapings vets do to check for them routinely give false results). It usually ends up being a situation where, if you see signs, you treat. I'm not saying she does have mites, as it could be a fear issue, and I don't know the history of this pig. However, if you notice any scratching, signs of hair loss, or dry skin that looks like dandruff, in addition to this extreme fear of being touched, I would treat for mites.
 
Unfortunately, mites are really tough to check for (they are microscopic, and even the skin scrapings vets do to check for them routinely give false results). It usually ends up being a situation where, if you see signs, you treat. I'm not saying she does have mites, as it could be a fear issue, and I don't know the history of this pig. However, if you notice any scratching, signs of hair loss, or dry skin that looks like dandruff, in addition to this extreme fear of being touched, I would treat for mites.

Alright. Also, not very often, but sometimes she will scratch herself like a dog does. Is this normal?

Also, how should I treat for mites in case the matter does arise?

And, how should I handle the fear (I know she is a scared baby)
 
My pigs scratch just like that, too, just not very often. If she acts like she is constantly itchy then it is too much.

If mites do arise, I recommend treating topically with Ivermectin. My favorite kind is the injectable kind administered to the skin behind each ear. More info on that is here: https://www.guinealynx.info/ivermectin_topical.html

For the fear, I would just spend a lot of time near the cage. When I got my first pig, I recall laying next to the cage dangling a piece of carrot in front of the pigloo opening. I would lay there for 10 minutes until my pig decided to pop her head out for a bite. It took a lot of time like this, just having my hands in the cage with treats and not reaching for a pig, to gain her trust. Eventually she became the easiest pig in the world to handle, it just took a lot of work.

Just realize that, especially to young pigs, your hands look huge and scary. The more time they spend around your hands getting rewarded, the more they begin to associate your hands with the reward instead of with fear.
 
I recently started using a sprig of cilantro as a treat for each piggy when I get home from work. Wherever they end up in the cage, after tearing around (OMG! The human is back and IN the room!), I just gently place the cilantro in front of the pig and move away. One of them already will stay out-of-hiding and visible when she sees it coming, and the other one is still nervous but will allow me to put it near her and then eat it when I move away. Baby steps, baby steps.
 
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