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Hamsters make great pets for people of all ages, and it can be very rewarding to form a strong bond with one another. Training your hamster to do certain tricks is a great way to form a better friendship and level of trust. Be prepared however, it does take some patience and every hamster has its own personality. Some will respond and learn much quicker than others, but with a young hamster and some patience you will certainly get results.
It’s not as crazy as it sounds, there are a lot of positives to seeing a child become friends with their hamster. It helps them understand their pet more and care for them with more compassion, as well as providing them both with a friend to play with. If you care for your hamster well you will become friends overtime.
Try to find a hamster that is around 4-6 weeks old and looking for a good home. Taking in a young hamster is a lot easier to form a friendship with, older hamsters have already developed bad habits and are not easy to re-train.
Your hamster needs to become familiar with hearing your voice if you are building trust. Always use a calm tone with talking to your hamster, never shout and avoid loud noises of any kind. Once your hamster is familiar with your voice it will know when you are around, and be comfortable hearing you.
Hamsters favourite treats are sunflower seeds, so using these as rewards you can work on training your hamster. Make sure the seeds are safe for animals, I recommend buying them from pet food suppliers specially formulated for rodents. Buying sunflower seeds from the supermarket intended for humans often contain some chemicals not intended for small animals.
Also keep in mind that sunflower seeds are high in oils and can send your hamster on a path to becoming overweight if given too many. The health of your hamster should be your first and foremost consideration, so use treats in moderation.
The purpose of treating your hamster is so that you are associated with treats, and after the hamster does certain actions it will come to expect rewards.
When you pick up your hamster you need to do it swiftly, with confidence, and without causing any discomfort. If your hamster is running around the cage do not chase down, corner it, or frighten it in any way.
It can take a while for a hamster to become comfortable with being handled, so be patient and handle it gently and as often as you have time to. You will see your hamster starting to trust you over time, leading on to making it easier to handle and train it.
Like with any training, you need to start off with something simple. The easiest trick to teach a hamster is training them to stand on command. To train this you need to hold a sunflower seed above the hamsters head and with a calm, but firm voice, say ‘’stand’’. Be prepared to repeat this over and over, you will see that it does work.
Never give the hamster the sunflower seed unless it stands up as commanded. In time the hamster will see this as a game and realise that it receives treats for standing when asked. If your hamster is being stubborn and you are starting to doubt this is possible, there are plenty of videos online showing hamster tricks.
If you want to teach your hamster to roll over you’ll need to place the sunflower seed on its back side. It doesn’t get much more complicated than that, just keep trying this and rewarding it with a seed if it completes a roll over.
Hamsters are able to learn a few different words through repetition. Always try to use the same tone and words when speaking to your hamster and it will react accordingly. Use a firm ‘’no’’ if the hamster is doing something you do not want, but use this sparingly. Likewise, using encouraging words in a soft and happy tone will help encourage the hamster.
This is another easy trick, just hold the treat just out of reach of your hamster where it would need to jump a little to be able to reach it. Hamsters don’t jump far at the best of times, so be reasonable with the distance.
It is not advisable to just drill the same trick for days on end. Think about how you would feel if you were doing the same thing every day. Even if you think your hamster has not mastered a certain trick yet, change up their routine and try a different trick sometimes. You will find that you make overall gains faster by keeping things interesting.
Don’t neglect exercise either, spending time performing tricks is not a substitute for exercise. Putting your hamster in an exercise ball for 30 minutes or so and letting it run around and explore is great fun for them after spending some time on tricks.
It can get a little boring and even de-motivating if you only give your hamster sunflower seeds as treats. Try using small slices of strawberries too, hamsters love these and will perform tricks to get their hands on some. There are a few different cereals that work well too, Cheerios are the most popular as they are tasty and low in sugar. Too much sugar is extremely bad for hamsters, they are prone to developing diabetes and heart conditions if given a poor diet.
If your hamster is not interested or has stopped taking part in what you are trying to teach it, stop and come back the next day. You cannot overwork you hamster, remember that it is a pet not a circus animal. You are doing this training as a way to bond and have fun, not to just make it perform on demand.
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