Filed in Small Animals, Chinchilla
OK, so perhaps you can't train your chinchilla to sit, stay, roll over, or even fetch. But you can teach her to come when called and even enjoy being handled, although this may take some time, consistency and lots of patience.
Chinchillas are intelligent critters, but you need to go slowly when trying to train them. Don't expect them to do too many things at once. One task at a time is the key to training chins.
Using food as a reward system (like a dog trainer), try to gain your chinchilla's trust first. Start with a sweet treat such as raisins (remember, they're vegetarians), to coax them to come to you. Or reward them for letting you pet them. Repeat this process regularly and experiment with fun new treats. This process may take months, so be patient!
Patience will especially be required if your chinchilla has had a bad experience with humans before he came to you. But once you gain his trust, and get him to come to you, you can continue to try new things, like having him return to his cage when it's time to go to sleep or a number of other minor tricks.
Remember to reward the behaviors you want to reinforce and be consistent when doing so. Try to never frighten your chinchilla, although you may sometimes need to, to reprimand him for a bad or dangerous behavior, such as chewing on furniture (something they love to do). Using a spray bottle of water or lightly shaking a can of pennies may deter him temporarily.
After training with food rewards, you can reduces the frequency of rewards to cement the behaviors. Keeping your chin guessing will keep the behaviors coming! You can also train your chinchilla to use a litter box, but this will take some time too. They often urinate only in one spot in the cage and they defecate everywhere - even on your lap - so be prepared to vacuum up their droppings.
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