Am I making progress with trust training? - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Am I making progress with trust training?

I am a new rat owner and I have had my two female hairless rats, Ronni and Reggi, for about three months now. From day one, Reggi has been engaging and friendly. The first day I brought her home, she begged for attention. Ronni, on the other hand, has remained almost as afraid of me since I first got her. Initially, she wouldn't even come out from her hidey-hole if she saw any humans. Over a period of time, I got her used to seeing me and my husband. She doesn't run away from us if she sees us. She also will now take treats from me if I give them to her.

Recently I have been trying to engage her even more trust training. At least once a day for the past week, I've sat outside her cage and tried to tempt her towards me with some baby food or yogurt on a spoon. I have succeeded in getting her out of the cage and even onto my lap once, but as soon as I touch her, she bolts back into the cage.

During our trust training session today, she climbed out of the cage, and without being prompted with food, climbed onto my leg. I usually let Reggi run free and explore during our sessions, and so Ronni explored with her sister a little bit, which is a huge deal since Ronni usually opts to hide in a box when I put the girls in their playpen for playtime. As soon as I touched Ronni though, she ran back into the cage.

It seems that Ronni is getting more adventurous since she is exploring more of both her cage and our living room. However, it worries me that she still flinches whenever I touch her. Is there something more I should be doing during our trust training sessions? I would feel uncomfortable forcibly holding her because she hyperventilates when I pick her up or hold her.

Sorry for such a long post!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 03:36 AM
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The baby food treats and being patient and gentle with her are always good ways to go of course, and some rats just need more time. Is it possible she was specifically mistreated in the past or have you had her and her sister since they were babies? Some rats just take a lot of time to learn to trust and they may be more timid. I would enjoy the little victories you are having with her, like the fact that she takes treats from you and comes out onto your lap..that is great! But if it freaks her out and she hyperventilates when you try to hold her, then just let her be. The more she learns you are not a threat, she will love you more and more each day.

I am sure you will get more opinions on this soon! I would love to see some pics of your girls!

Vlad

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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I don't think she was mistreated. I got Reggi and Ronni as a pair when they were adolescents. I figure if Ronni was mistreated, Reggi would have been too. I will try to remain patient, but I am so looking forward to getting to the cuddly stage with her! I'm at that stage with Reggi and it's great.

I will try to post pictures soon. I attempted to take pictures of Reggi while I was sitting with her on the couch, but she reacted by either bounding around wildly or trying to grab the camera strap.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 06:51 AM
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Some rats just have temperaments like that. My Windham was not a people rat at all. He was very shy and fearful. He and his two brothers Tucker and Jeffrey came from the same rattery, with the same loving hand raising. Jeffrey is a troublemaking explorer, and Tucker is my lap hound. It wasn't until they were 7 months old that I made any real progress with Windham, and he was a little shy until he died at 9 months from an accident. Interestingly enough, Jeffrey and Tucker became extra friendly with me after that, so it was obvious they were affected by Windham's shyness in their group dynamic.

All that to say, you're doing fine, and rats are socially more complex than we give them credit for. On the up side, you are making great progress and your breakthrough day is coming. He may never be as cuddly as the other, but that's okay, he'll do well.

Side note: Your avi cracks me up.


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Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 11:26 AM
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Yes! I was going to mention your awesome avatar too...we are Star Trek geeks (yes, we went to our first Star Trek convention last year, ha ha) and I love your Lieutenant Uhura cuddling her Tribble baby. Cool!

I agree with Story...you are doing just great with your boys. Rats are so complex with their personalities, so no worries. They will both adore you and give you love in their own ways.

By the way, if it makes you feel better, get this: My two boys, Klausse and Wolfgang, were adopted as babies from a very good breeder (I adopted them at around 6 weeks I think) and they never knew anything but extreme kindness, low stress and lots of love from my husband and I every day, and YET, for some reason, Wolfgang, our agouti, and the smaller of the two ratties, always seemed nervous when he was getting ready to come out of his house to play every day. You could tell he was excited and really wanted to come out, but then he would back away at the last second as if he had a case of the jitters about going through with it. ??? Can you believe it? It was just how he was! Of course, when he finally came out to play, he loved it.

Vlad

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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone--I guess I just need to be patient! I've had similar guinea pigs before like Ronni. I would hold them daily, but they would still be scared when I touched them. I just need to get used to the idea of having a scaredy rat!

During my trust training with Ronni today, though, she came out onto my lap again and I tried to pet her after a few minutes. She stretched out for a few seconds before deciding to leap back into her cage, so I think that's a good sign!

I thought this avi would be appropriate for a pet forum! I often fall prey to the wily cuteness of small animals, much like how Lt. Uhura fell prey to the tribbles. :p
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 09:13 PM
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Yes, that sounds like a great step forward! I am sure all will be well with your babies. Some are just a little shyer than others.
I fall prey to small animal cuteness just like you and Lt. Uhura too.

Vlad

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