Creating a Bond With Your Small Pet
To form a bond with your small pet, be quiet, reliable, predictable, and observant
Start by knowing all about your pet...
When I was a teenager, I had a pet rat that would follow me like a dog. His name was Louis, and he lived in a big cage with a lovely chinchilla named Violet. She was also very tame. I had lots of small pets like this, and I can tell you that it is quite possible to form some kind of relationship with any small animal. The keys are to be quiet, reliable, predictable, and observant. Start by knowing all about your pet before you bring it home. Go to the library and find all of the information you can on the type of pet you want to have. Become an expert before you ever take on the responsibility of caring for another creature. Once you have done your homework, proceed with care, patience, and respect.
Whenever you are taking care of your small pet, move quietly and carefully. Don’t shout or laugh or move around in a way that your pet could perceive as frightening or startling. Talk with your pet constantly in a low tone of voice, and always use the same words for the same things. Your pet may not learn to actually recognize words, but it will recognize the familiar sound coming from that giant being who does the same non-threatening things in the same way every day and always brings the food! Feed your pet and take care of maintenance of it’s habitat at the same time, in the same way every day. Be sure your pet always has plenty of food and water and fresh, clean bedding.
Many small pets are fearful and don’t want to be handled at first. If your pet is not very socialized, don’t push it. Be observant. See what your pet likes. Watch it’s daily routine. If your pet is very shy and hides a lot, but does seem to like a particular type of food, give that food as a special treat to help encourage your pet to come out of it’s hiding place and socialize a bit. When you clean your pet’s habitat and fill it’s food and water dishes, set a bit of the special food out (strawberries are very motivating for many kinds of small pets!) then sit quietly and watch. When your pet comes out to get the food, speak quietly, and be still. Eventually, your pet will anticipate your bringing a special treat and will come out of hiding when it sees you coming.
For animals like guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, and mice, and some of the larger, more gregarious type lizards, this will be the time to start petting and handling. Start slowly and gently in a very non-threatening manner. Just stroke your pet’s back or head at first. If it seems frightened, withdraw. Wait until next time, and try again. Eventually, your pet will become used to you and allow you to pet it, pick it up, and groom it if appropriate. For small pets like box turtles, handling is not usually welcome no matter how eager your pet is to see you and get it’s treat. In this case, be respectful of your pet’s nature and comfort and understand that it is better to enjoy watching your pet than picking it up and handling it.
Most small pets can live for several years when well cared for. Some can live for many, many years, so you have plenty of time to develop a real relationship with your pet. Patience, consistency, and respect for the animal’s nature will pay off well by bringing you a deeper understanding of your pet and a relationship that is truly enjoyable for you both.
Copyright:SuzanneBennett:October 16, 2009
For more about small pets, you may enjoy:
The Common Comet Goldfish As A Pet