Socializing animals

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Almost Inbred

Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 12:19 pm

I´m starting a new thread for this because it´s veers slightly from the other threads about it.

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?
Last edited by Ciaytee on Fri Aug 30, 2002 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 3:15 pm

Ciaytee - I get the impression from some of the new pig owners posting here, that they are young and immediately want interraction with their new, scared little pets. I advise taking it slowly, knowing that that means something different to a 12 year old than what it means to you and me. Thirty seconds is taking it slowly for a 12 year old. I think the slower the younger people go, the better.

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).

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Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 3:43 pm

I am an easily controlled and intimidated owner. My pigs push me around alot and don´t love me. They will tolerate being held (which they get every night) while they eat a treat (green pepper) but once it´s done, Nina practically rips my shirt off telling me she is finished, finished, finished with me! Snowflake waits a diplomatic moment then gently tugs her desire to be put down; and Kitten turns her back on me, looks confused and will eventually give me a few "Oh,Woe Is Me" noises.

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.

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Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 5:48 pm

Ok, what is the YWLM method? I must be from another planet.


Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 6:50 pm

You Will Love Me.

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).


Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 6:55 pm

PS -- I´m not sure YWLM would work as well on my kids as on my guinea pigs. We have an elderly relative of the heavy-perfume-wearing, swooping, "Give me some SUGAR, honey" school of approaching children -- when she was younger, my daughter would very visibly recoil in horror. It was a definite I Will Not Love You reaction. She does love this relative now, but it´s taken about seven years.

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Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 7:05 pm

Funny story Pozone.

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.

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Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 7:20 pm

Yes, Lynx, you just have to flexible interpretations of what love is. My pigs are also not holding friendly - none of them ever have been (except one, which I raised from a baby and used to carry around inside my shirt). So with these kinds of piggies, you can interpret the cry for food as "love", especially when they are wheeking their hearts away with a cage full of fresh greens. I think anytime they let me pet them it takes an enormous amount of trust on their parts, and that is love. Especially if they are rescued pigs. And even the way they will squeek and kvetch before they pee on me on the rare occasions I do hold them is love.

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.

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Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 7:53 pm

Kitten will let me pet her in the middle of the room. Nina and Snowflake must rush to the comfort of the food corner and be eating to let me pet them -- I think to meditate and reach that alpine state of bliss where my hand stroking them is no longer noticed.

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).
Last edited by Lynx on Fri Aug 30, 2002 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post   » Fri Aug 30, 2002 8:02 pm

Well, duh! None of us would be "sought after" if we didn´t have treats!

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