Do they trust me?

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New member
May 6, 2021
Hi everyone, new member here!

As some kind of introduction, I've adopted two rescue chins in mid-January. I'm quite experienced with pets, and quickly fell in love with these two. They are mother and daughter, respectively a 3-year-old standard grey and a 1-year-old beige. They get along quite well, but their history before their rescue involves a bit of trauma (which is also why I fell for them so easily).
Here's the thing : they have gotten accustomed to their new place for a few months now, but are giving me mixed signals about their trust. I come see them every morning so they know they are cared for, but they tend to get away from me when I try to interact with them. So I give them a treat, stay several feet away and tend to my stuff. I also often play the guitar and sing for them, which I'm not sure they enjoy or give a damn about 😆
You might think they don't trust me at all yet, right? But that's the thing: at playtime, I'd lay down on the floor with them, and they'll spend most of their time gravitating around me, jumping on me, sniffing my clothes and staying there for a while, before roaming around and doing it all over again. More, I cannot for the life of me so much as touch them (they'd push my finger away), but they have no issue hopping in my hands to leave the cage for playtime. Granted, they don't stay there for more than a few seconds, even though my hands stay flat (I'm not even thinking about holding them), but still.
Their cage is big enough (160x90x60 cm) with plenty of toys to play with. They are located in a quiet room with stable temperature. No sign of injury, stress or illness, they eat properly, are active and gladly leave their cage for playtime every day or so.

With all of this context out of the way, I need your advice on something: I keep hearing that the best way to bond with your chins is to let them out in a small room, like a bathroom or something. But how am I supposed to do that if I can't hold them for more than 3 seconds? I don't really want to go against their will, as that would risk deteriorating the small bond I have with them...

What do you think? Do they trust me? Will they ever? What can I do?

Thanks a lot, and sorry for this long post.


Staff member
May 7, 2012
First of all most chins never really like to be held, though they can, with time (sometimes years) get to the point of tolerating it, but only if they normally get something out of it, like being taken out to play. Different chins have different personalities too, some are more shy, others more brave, some hate being held, others are cuddly, and everything in between. YouTube and social media seem to give a skewed view of what chins are like, people tend to mostly only post the friendly/outgoing/cuddly ones, but in reality their personalities can vary as much as humans.

Personally I think the best way to bond is actually just spending time with them, inside the cage at first. Out of cage time is great, once you gain some trust, but if you end up having to chase them around to get them to go back into the cage you are undoing any trust building you just did during the playtime. If you aren't having to chase them or anything to get them to go back to the cage you may just need more time for them to see nothing bad happens. Otherwise stick with just playing with them in the cage, letting them climb on your arms, get them use to letting you pet them, hand them treats, food, chew sticks and toys. You can even just give them food throughout the day, so every time you come in the room give them a bit of food (rather then just filling the pellet bowl), so they start associating you coming in with good things. Chins do seem to like music, but also just like humans they have preferences, but singing, talking, and reading aloud to them all helps get them use to your voice.

Another thing that I've noticed is if chins are mistreated or neglected, it can take as long as the they were in that bad situation to start really trusting again. So say the chins were mistreated for a year, it's reasonable to expect it to take a year of being treated well before they are willing to really start to trust a human again. For chins trust has to be earned, they seem to have the mentality of why should I trust you? Rather then most other pet animals that see that you give them food and tend to assume you are ok until proven wrong. Think of it more like building a friendship, it's not something that often happens quickly, especially if trying to befriend someone that has been hurt before.