Advice on Rebuilding Trust After Illness
My 9 week old Panda has just yesterday been pronounced completely well after having pneumonia. I had only had him for 3 weeks when he got sick. Before his illness, I know he was getting to where he trusted me and enjoyed being out of his cage to be petted and played with and I even noticed that he seemed to enjoy watching TV. The signs of this were chutting, purring, stretching all the way out with his feet kicked out behind him, washing his face, yawning and even sleeping with his eyes closed as I petted him, brushed him and talked and sang to him. He was also learning to come when called and would walk right out of his cage to me.
Understandably though, after his first vet visit and a few doses of antibiotics he began to see being out of his cage as a scary thing. He never fought or bit or showed any aggression but I could tell he was very scared and he would run back into his cage as soon as I took the med syringe from his mouth. The whole week he was on meds, I always let him run into his cage as soon as he had finished his dose rather than holding him just because I felt like petting and loving on him. He completely stopped coming out of his cage on his own initiative of course, and other than to give meds, I rarely lifted him out of the cage because I felt like I was forcing him to be out when he didn't want to be.
Now that meds are done, how can I make him more comfortable with coming out of his cage again? He will popcorn happily when he first sees me each morning and come to his cage door for a carrot, but it is clear he has no intention of coming out. He doesn't have specific feeding times yet b/c since he's a baby he has a full bowl of pellets at all times, and of course I know that hay should always be in unlimited supply, so unless I have a carrot or other veggie or a tiny piece of apple, he has no reason to come to the door.
Have I permanently damaged the bond we were developing by always letting him run back in right after meds and not taking him out of the cage very much otherwise while he was on meds?
Any advice on what to do to help him like being out again and understand that being out of cage doesn't automatically mean medicine or a vet visit? Should he be taken out and held for petting a certain amount of times a day or something, though if released he would run back in?
I don't know if this info would help, but Panda is literally almost never left alone. I have Cerebral Palsy (use a wheelchair) and I do freelance writing work from home so if I'm awake he's got company. If I am on a deadline I often work all night and even when I do sleep, Panda's not alone all night because my boyfriend usually ends up in the recliner near his cage at some point each night to eat a snack or whatever and we both always talk to him. His cage is covered each night to keep the draft from the A/C and fans off him (we sleep with fans on) and to make sure he has quiet and darkness so he can sleep.
Anyway, I need him to come out because he wants to because when he doesn't come out on his own, and I have to give meds or I want to pet him, love him or let him run around and play he has to be handed to me because my reflexes are not fast enough to corner him/catch him in the cage. Remember, before illness and meds he was coming out whenever he wanted to (he would come to the door and wait until I opened it) and he was starting to come when I called him. So, any advice on building trust like that again?