Training For Agility
There are as many ways to train as there are trainers. What works for one person may or may not work for another. The most important thing to remember is be fair and just to your animals. Think of what it would be like to try to learn from someone that you could not understand a word they were saying. Give your gerbil the same consideration as you would expect.
I would say the easiest way to train a gerbil to run an agility course is to set up a wall...or along a wall so that they can only go forward as they go over the equipment. In other words, have the equipment set up along a hall wall with a fencing of some sort on the other side of the equipment so that the gerbil can not get distracted and move off the course.
Before you can start training your gerbil it needs to be healthy, happy and bonded to you.
Buy gerbils that are active, clean and have bright eyes. Make sure that the environment the gerbil you are buying is in is clean. Stand and watch the gerbils you are looking at, are they itchy? Are they Lethargic? Are they dirty? Or are they clean and curious, friendly, bright eyed?
If you want a gerbil to train, buy a young healthy baby, just past weaning would be best. An older gerbil will be "set in it's way" and take much more "foundation work" then a baby will.
Gerbils are relatively inexpensive animals to buy and to keep...but that does not mean that they should not have the proper care they deserve. Most gerbils are very healthy throughout their lives and are very easy to keep.
They are quiet (unless you buy a noisy exercise wheel) and clean. It is easy to purchase food for a gerbil in about any city you might live in. In todays world water bottles are easy to find in both dept. stores and pet stores and usually do not cost too much, you will not need a very large water bottle or a very large feed bowl. A gerbils or even several gerbils needs are pretty easy to meet.
There are many types of gerbil cages you can purchase. Many are very cute but hard to clean. Some, although marketed for hamsters/gerbils, are very small. Others have bars that are too far apart or not ridged enough to hold a hamster in it. So make sure you buy a cage that is roomy and safe for the gerbils.
Gerbils do like to have at least one other gerbil living with them. Same sex and in fact, brothers or sisters that spend their lives together are very happy animals. You can house a male and a female together just be warned, you will have litter after litter after litter. Many litters, one after another, is also not healthy for the female...and what will you do with all those sweet babies?
So? How do you train a gerbil to run an Agility Course?
With some gerbils it is as easy as setting up some small jumps against a wall with a barrier on the other side and setting the gerbil in front of the first jump with an encouraging nudge to start....
For a barrier on the far side of the wall you could use anything like a small animal play pen opened up, a row of cardboard boxes, shoe boxes, anything that will block the gerbil. If you are training your gerbil to agility like this add jumps slowly....start with two or three jumps. When the gerbil is doing well with these, or after five or six times jumping these, add a couple of more.
Most gerbils are outgoing and curios creatures and not afraid to try any of the equipment, but a more timid gerbil will need to be introduced to each piece slowly. It may take several training sections before your gerbil is comfortable running a full course.
In early training don't add another piece of equipment to the course until the gerbil is doing well with the pieces you have already set up. It may be a slow or fast process for some pets, but let the individual gerbil make the decisions on how fast you set up a large course, meaning, take you lead form how fast the gerbil is learning and enjoying the course you have set up.
If you set up a tunnel in your course you may want to start with a short tunnel before adding a long tunnel or a sea saw tunnel. Many rodents love the tunnels, not to run through them, but to hide in them, to sleep in them, to chew on them. So, by starting with a short tunnel you can encourage the pet to go through rather then any of the above ways to play in it.
If you are using tunnels in your agility course, you may not want to put tunnels in your rodents cage to play with or one or in...it will teach them not to go through the ones on the course.
One thing is for certain, the more time you spend with your pet, the more time you will want to spend with your pet and it will want to be with you. The more time together, the tighter the bond.....and then, the easier the training will go.
You will be building not only a bond but also trust. An animal that trusts you is not afraid to do what you are asking it to do.
Do not train more then one gerbil on an agility course at one time. The gerbil will be more interested in fighting or breeding with one another then learning to play with you.
Let me clarify, it is fine to use the same equipment, in fact the same course for more then one gerbil or even a hamster and a gerbil, but not at the same time. Put the first animal away before beginning the next on the same course or same equipment.
You alone are responsible for training your animals. Any training you do with your animals is your responsibility. We only tell of what has worked for us with our animals. We can not and will not except responsibility for something so far out of our control, people we do not know, training, who knows how, with animals we have never seen.
The contents of this page for Training For Agility is still under construction. Please check back soon!
We do host a few fun elists at the Yahoo Groups website, we would love for us to join us and "chat" about animals training, cute things they do and all about them.