Behavior

Making Room for the Little Guys

By Emily Cassell

© Emily Cassell

Fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rabbits, and the like are not known for their high intelligence, and bear the undeserved reputation of “untrainable.” It is ironic that in a world of coercive training, the tiniest, fluffiest, and most relatively defenseless animals we work with are the most resistant to aversive training techniques…Prey animals view the world in a completely different way than dogs and cats do. Small prey animals are not as inclined to explore or be open to new things. The simple reason is that, in the wild, venturing from what you know (i.e. following the group and eating seeds and grass) may very well earn you an unpopular spot in a predator’s mouth. A perfect in-home example of this might be a reaction to a new toy. Dogs and cats will usually happily greet and play with (or sniff and ignore) a new object in the home. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, may avoid the object entirely. Read more.


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