If you’ve just bought a new chinchilla into your home, then one of the most important things you’ll have to do is train it. These little critters can be stubborn and are prone to biting, so training them from an early age is essential.
But before we delve into a specific type of training, here’s are the general principles to follow before training a chinchilla:
General guidelines before training a chinchilla
- Taming is a big part of training your chinchilla. A tame chinchilla makes the training process so much easier and more fun. Having a tamed chin means you are more likely to handle it by having no problems with biting or scratching.
- Always speak in a low, calm voice. Chinchillas are very sensitive animals and they will get nervous if you are shouting at them. If you do this, the chinchilla will pick up on this nervousness and it will make it harder for it to learn anything.
- I think the most important thing for training your chinchilla is consistency. Be consistent in everything! If you want them to learn something, do it every day for as long as you need to make sure that they will learn it.
- Another important aspect of training your chinchilla is patience! I know that can be hard when you have waited so long for your chin, but you have to have patience if you want them to learn how you want them to.
- Give plenty of praise and rewards. If your chinchilla enjoys being petted, give them some strokes after doing as you ask, or perhaps give them a little extra care.
Teach your chinchilla to come when recalled
Here’s how to get your chinchilla returned to come when called:
You could sit in front of your chinchilla’s cage, where it is easier to confine him to a smaller space. With a small bite of treat in your hand, try to lure him towards you.
Once he’s on you, say his name or make a very distinct noise. Ensure you are not shouting, else you will scare him away!
You can also gently tap your thigh to associate a gesture with the request. Then give a bite of treat as a reward.
If he comes to you, pet him and praise him by saying “Good boy!” in an excited tone.
While holding a treat in your hand, lure your chinchilla away. When he makes the move to go for it, call his name or use whatever command you want him to associate with this action.
Be patient with him if he doesn’t fully grasp what you want him to do. It may take some time for him to understand that you are asking him for a specific action and to come back once he’s done it.
Wait several seconds for him to respond. If he does not understand the command, repeat step 1.
Your chinchilla needs to focus on what you’re saying. But if he’s totally focused on one thing (e.g., playing with a toy) and you want to know if he understands what you’ve said, distract him by doing something else (e.g., adding a new toy).
Then repeat the command. If he comes back to you, then he’s grasped it. If not, then try again later.
Once he has grasped the idea, gradually broadens his scope. You can also do this by voluntarily creating distractions. If you distract him by throwing a ball, for example, he should be able to come back to you even if there is something more interesting to explore.
Teach your chinchilla return to cage
Here’s how to get your chinchilla returned to the cage:
Standing in front of the cage, hold the door open as wide as it will go. Let your chinchilla scurry around and explore, but keep him from running out all the way.
After a minute or two, close the door while he’s still inside. The next time you let him out, leave a little less space for him to roam. Go slowly, and each time he leaves the cage, guide him back in without touching him.
When he’s ready to come back inside, tap on the edge of the gate with your finger and say “house” clearly and brightly. Once he understands that house = treats, then you can begin rewarding him with a treat after he goes through the gate and into his house.
You’re doing well! But you still need to get your kitty back in the carrier without guiding him too much.
Let’s try again. 0pen the carrier door and stand next to it. Say “home” and tap on the mesh of the carrier gently with your fingers. Be sure not to raise your voice too high, or else you’ll startle your kitty!
Once he run towards the carrier, say “Yes! That’s it!”, so he knows that he’s doing what you want him to do. Once he’s inside, praise him and pet him for a few minutes before asking him out again.
If he doesn’t understand after a few tries, that’s okay! Wait about 15 to 20 seconds before asking him again if he does not run. He must take the time to associate the action with the gesture and the voice.
Just open and shut the door of the carrier a few times for five seconds each time while you’re saying “home”, and then repeat step-1.
Okay, so you’ve taught your chinchilla the command “house” and are ready to step it up—to the next level of training. Now you want your little friend to head straight back home when you say that word.
First things first: don’t take this step lightly. You’ll want to trust your chinchilla’s response when you give him his freedom in a few weeks.
When you’re ready, start by tapping on the grip and saying “home,” then open the door, but don’t give him permission to exit. Wait for him to walk through it himself—if he does, close the door again and then let him out.
If he doesn’t, repeat this process until he does. Over time, expand his field of action a little each day until you can trust that he’ll make it back home on his own when given access to a secure room.
Shoulder train your chinchilla
Here’s how to get your chinchilla on your shoulder:
In order to shoulder train your chinchilla, you must first establish a strong trust between the two of you. Chinchillas are prey animals, so they’re going to be nervous when they’re first in a new environment—especially one with a human being looming above them.
This means that when you first start shoulder training, your chinchilla will react defensively. You’ll get bitten, scratched, and pushed around. That’s okay! It takes time for this relationship to develop into something healthy and mutually beneficial.
In the beginning, try to make brief visits with your chinchilla. Leave him alone for long periods of time. Talk softly and calmly to him while he is in his carrier. Feed him treats when you arrive and make sure he feels comfortable with you petting him before you do so. Slowly work up from there by increasing the time you spend with him and decreasing the amount of stress he feels during those visits.
Keep in mind that shoulder training is a bit more advanced than the previous two training sessions. You should practice it after you have trained him to come when recalled and return to the cage.
The shoulder train method is based on the principle that chinchillas like to chase and bite things.
To perform this command, you will sit on the ground in the Indian style position. (cross-legged).
You will then have a chewable treat in your hand. You can practice with any kind of treat, but we recommend a dog biscuit or a piece of fruit. Even though chinchillas don’t normally eat those things, they still smell delicious to them.
Use the same gesture you’d use for “come here” and say “come here” in the same tone of voice you’d use for that command. She might not immediately hop up onto your shoulder, instead she might rest her front paws on it, but she’ll probably try nibbling on the treat in your hand.
Just attract him more by moving the treat away from him, then bring it back within his reach. He will have the reflex to want to follow it and stretch for it, which will propel his body onto your shoulder.
That’s fine for now; just keep letting her bite into it, but pull it away again. Eventually, she’ll get the idea that she needs to stretch longer to reach it.
This step may take several tries, but once he jumps onto your shoulder, give him lots of praise with “good boy” or “good girl” and give him the treat!
Your chinchilla will eventually jump on your shoulder after a few attempts. When he does, raise your torso to an upright position and allow him to have a bite . Repeat these steps as often as necessary until your chinchilla has gained confidence.
Sure, in the beginning, he will be very hesitant and it could take a long time before he jumps over. Don’t give up if you have to try 50 times! It will get easier with each attempt.
Your chinchilla needs time to build confidence, so don’t be disappointed if he doesn’t go right away. Keep practicing step 2 until it’s right. Eventually, he will jump on your shoulder faster every time you try.
Now that you know how to ask your chinchilla to climb onto your shoulder and how to transport it, you can vary the exercise environment.
For example, when you stand in front of his cage, instead of picking him up in your hands like before, ask him to climb onto your shoulder. This time, you’re standing and the ground is unstable. So he has to use his legs and arms to keep from falling while you’re holding him there.
When he’s fed up with this exercise, he’ll probably try to get off. Cross your arms and gently bring them up to your face so he can try to crawl back up again. You can then transport it as usual.
Don’t lift it with your hands, because he will panic and wiggle around too much for you to handle safely on your own. Most of the time, he’ll climb back up on his own.
Potty train your chinchilla
There are actually several ways to potty train a chinchilla. Chinchillas are very clean animals, so they prefer to relieve themselves in one particular spot. If you give them a litter box, they will most likely use it, but it will take some time and patience on your part.
Another way to potty train a chinchilla is to provide him with a corner of his cage in which he can do his business. Put down some bedding in the corner of the cage where he usually sleeps and put some treats in that area as well. Feeding him in this area will help him associate his bathroom with good things. As he goes in that spot, move the hay further away from the spot until he is relieving himself on the bedding.
You can also place his litter box directly over the spot where he does his business. Chinchillas are spotless animals and will not want to make a mess of their bathroom area. Placing the litter box over his bathroom will teach him that this is where he’s supposed to go potty. Just be sure that there are enough chew toys and treats available so that he can associate it as a pleasant behavior.
It’s up to you to train your chinchilla. If you take the time and patience and effort, you can do it. Make sure you’re calm, assertive, and relaxed. Most of all – Be patient.
Remember, training will be a long process. Also, keep in mind that if you become impatient or angry with him or her, that it may backfire on you in the long run.
Chinchillas are naturally curious little creatures that thrive on attention and affection, but you cannot rush them into training. Let them explore on their own timetable first – otherwise it is much harder to train them later on.