by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
You glance at your hamsters and they are standing upright making moves as if they are in a boxing ring. Do hamsters box? As an experienced hamster parent and rescuer, I've seen this behavior in several hamsters. I know what you're thinking: "Are my hamsters really boxing?"
Are my hamsters boxing? Yes and no. Hamsters often stand on their hind legs. If they feel threatened or frightened at the same time, they may also kick with their front legs and hiss or squeak. This results in what appears to be boxing. If two hamsters are doing this to each other, it may appear as if they are in a boxing match. If they do this to a person or to their cage bars, it may look like they are practicing for a match.
Why do hamsters box each other? This is a natural defense reflex that some hamsters have. I have noticed as a hamster rescuer that Russian dwarf hamsters seem to do this more than Roborovskis. When Robos are frightened, they usually hiss loudly, squeak repeatedly, and retreat. Although, I have also witnessed Roborovski hamsters boxing as well. When hamsters do this, it means that something has frightened them or seems like a threat. Many hamsterscannot be housed together in the same cage because of the possible boxing or fighting. While generally friendly with humans, hamsters can be vicious with their own kind. All of our rescue hamsters always have their own cages to prevent this type of issue. Sometimes they will see or smell each other through the bars and box the cage walls briefly.
Why do hamsters box with people? Whenever there are quick movements from large objects (like a human's hand) near our rescue hamsters, they immediately begin to box. They will do the same if someone touches their food dishes or taps their cages. If your hamster is trying to box with you, this is an indication you have done something to frighten or harm your hamster. Give your hamster time to calm down and be sure you don't repeat the action that prompted the boxing. If your hamster boxes you all the time, slowly gain trust. Occasional treats and lots of talking with a soothing voice can help. Your hamster also may be simply frightened of your hand invading the cage. One of our hamsters is this way. If we want to take him out, he is much calmer if we simply open the door and let him climb out into a hamster bed. From there, he will climb into someone's hand.
Should I encourage my hamster to box? Absolutely not. This can cause your hamster to think of you as an enemy. Your goal is to discourage the boxing when it comes to the way your hamster interacts with you. Because this is a natural defense mechanism, the goal is not to discourage the act completely. Your hamster should only box you if you're doing something to make him feel threatened or unsafe.
How can I stop my hamster's boxing habit? Talk to your hamster in a calm and soothing voice often. Do not ever act scared or angry toward your hamster. If you are calm, the hamster is more likely to be calm. Slowly regain trust by using treats and a gloved hand. The reason your hand should be gloved is that your hamster may bite while boxing. While hamster bites do not always hurt, they may cause an automatic jerking reaction from your hand, which can injure or stress out the hamster. Make it a habit to soothingly call your hamster's name, provide a treat, then leave your gloved hand there afterward to invite the hamster to come to you. After repeating this for as many days as it takes, your hamster is likely to begin coming to you without boxing. If not, a vet may offer other suggestions or tell you to leave your hamster be unless it is time for the exercise ball or to change the cage.
*Always contact a licensed veterinarian for the health of your animals. The information above is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified professional and is derived solely from the author's own personal experiences.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
I can’t even remember exactly which of us started it. But my kids and I have taught the dogs their commands in multiple languages. We like to learn and use multiple languages in our household. Since we do it, the pets should be no different. They’re a part of the family, too.
The first one we tried was the sit command in French. The dogs had that one down in less than a day. The Shih Tzu seems to prefer the French commands most now, actually. Since one of our dogs may have some black German Shepherd in her and my oldest teen had started learning German at the time, we thought it would be fun to try some German, too. So that was the second language we tried.
Surprisingly (well not so surprising to us anymore – animals are smarter than some think), they catch on to each new word from each new language quite quickly. So far, the dogs know commands in English, French, and German. Since they are doing such a great job, we may add more at a later date.
UPDATE: We’ve since added Spanish and they took to it quickly.
Since we rescued our fur babies from shelters, it is unknown whether they were taught other languages prior to being with us. However, they sure did pick them up quickly, regardless.
A few hints if you wish to try this with your dogs:
1.Only use languages in which you know how to correctly pronounce the words. There is no point in teaching it incorrectly and it will defeat the purpose if your dog ever has the opportunity to interact with someone else who speaks that language.
2.Use a reward system. Food usually works best, such as a favorite treat. However, some dogs would rather perform for a special toy, praise, or even for both food and praise. You know your furry friend best. Choose accordingly.
3.Use proper hand signals or dog sign language when giving each command in any language. This helps the dog learn faster and also adds another language at the same time (sign language).
4.Don’t force it. Not every trick or command is right for every dog. Give your dog breaks while learning and if the learning is not working or your dog is upset, don’t continue. Stressing out your dog will not help the learning process. However, it may hinder it and make it harder to teach or even be considered abusive. If your dog is not happy at any point, stop.
*Image Credit/Copyright: Lyn Lomasi (Bo-Bo the Shih Tzu performing tricks for treats)
**I originally published this on Bubblews.com (no longer published there).
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