- Almost Inbred
I´ve noticed 2 schools of thought when it comes to animals. One says be patient and take things slowly, while the other is what I call the ´You will love me´ method. I´m just wondering who here subscribes to which and what the benefits/drawbacks are to each.
With both animals and small children, I tend to go the ´YWLM´ route. It´s not being forceful, like it sounds. I don´t swoop in quickly, grab the critter, and get in its face. I take care not to look like this huge, scary monster that´s going in for the kill. But I don´t take things as slowly as some of y´all do. I just kind of lay it out there that this is how it is, and I know the critter is strong enough to deal with it, so let´s get on with it already. It´s having a very matter-of-fact attitude.
All of my pigs got a day by themselves for orientation and readjustment, but after that, they were fair game and were treated as though they´d always been here. ´YWLM´ just means that if the pig (or kid) is healthy (injured or sick ones get special dispensation. They don´t need the added stress), and since it´s a foregone conclusion that they´re going to love me, there´s no point in mucking around with the formalities.
I think it works quite well. My pigs were well-socialized quickly, and other animals and kids learn to adore me quickly. I´m a hit with them. Unfortunately, even with the ones I don´t like very much.
But there must be an added benefit to slowly earning trust, or I doubt so many people here would recommend it. What do y´all think?
I operate differently with somewhat of a YWLM method. I´ll will simply pet each pig while they are in their cage several times a day so they know they aren´t going to be scooped up by the big scary hand every time I come near. But the day I get my pigs, I´ll hold them for a little while (5-10 minutes maybe?); and I work up gradually depending on their comfort zone. Fido is now 1-year old and I hold him for about 20 minutes each night -- Any longer and he gets fidgety and I get peed on. The babes are still at about 10 minutes each (but it´s only been 3 weeks).
I remember trying the YWLM method on Kitten. I NEVER got through to her. Those first few days she would poop up a storm and absolutely did not relax at any time. She´s still the most laid back pig and the one I pick up if I need a hit of fur but you don´t get the feeling she enjoys it. And no pig has ever truly relaxed on me and come anywhere near taking a nap.
This is why I think it´s important to understand that guinea pigs are different kinds of animals -- you have to accept their little furry timid selves.
By now I know I have lost the game. I´m never going to win love. But I can dream.
I think I subscribe to that (I can´t remember really what I subscribe to -- I´m not sure I remember my own name at this hour . . . ). I do know that I didn´t get anywhere with Po, our skittery one, by leaving him alone. And I did leave him alone for a long time, because I thought that that was what he wanted. It wasn´t until I discovered cavy forums and began to read and learn that I realized that a)he had mites, and b)there really might be more to our relationship than his kicking me and running away every time I put my hand in the cage. So I really went all-out to woo him -- my husband referred to it as Po´s nightly love therapy. And it really was love therapy, as in medicine he had to take, like it or not. I remember those early nights -- I got him out at night when the kids were in bed, because I had observed that their noise and motion freaked him out, as did any kind of environmental disturbance, and even in a quiet house he would stand with his legs braced against my chest in this kind of living rigor mortis (oxymoron, I know), clearly wanting to have as little physical contact with me as possible.
I persisted despite this less-than-encouraging body language, and he gradually learned to relax and is now quite snuggly -- though lately, what with the baby and all, the love therapy has been kind of limited, so I´ll probably have to go through it all again with him once I get to the point of being able to put the baby down! But he -- Po, that is, not the baby -- has learned to stand still for petting in the cage, which I never would have believed possible, and I give him as much attention as possible that way, since I can do that with one hand.
So anyway, I think reading their signals and understanding their personalities is important -- knowing what stresses them and trying to minimize it -- but ultimately I think you kind of have to plow ahead, because some of them are never going to say, "Come to me and pick me up and worship me." That doesn´t mean that they won´t bond, don´t want affection, or can´t learn to respond -- it just means that for them it´s not a natural aptitude, and they need a little remediation!
(But I agree with Sunny -- I know the "take your time" advice usually is aimed at kids who have the attention span of your average flea, and who expect their new guinea pig to act like a puppy. For them, patience is perhaps not a natural aptitude, and they need a little remediation, hence the voices of wisdom and caution).
And Lynx... come on... I´m sure your pigs love you. They just have a different way of showing it (?).
I thought Fido would never calm down but now with the new babies, he´s the calm one of the bunch. He loves to climb my chest and lick my chin. He´ll relax on my chest now, where before he would always stay under the towel on my belly (as far away from me as possible). I wonder if losing his companion Spot changed him.
I´m writing this tongue-in-cheek, to some extent, but really, I think it means more when they come to you than when you scoop them up and constrain them. I have a free-range set up in a room, so I´m always pretty happy when one of them puts his or her little front feet on my hand or leg and accepts a couple of pats.
I do think Snowflake is a bit brave. And Nina is soooo sooo soft. I really do love to pet her. They do trust me and are comfortable with me. Perhaps it is my deep seated fear of rejection? My sensitive side?
I really do like my pigs. Snowflake snuggles closest when she eats her snack. But they don´t seek me out (unless it´s to examine my hand more closely for treats).