Chinchillas have long memories. If they get frighten by something or someone, they will remember it and reject whatever or whoever frightened it until their trust is regained. It is their memories that assist in their ability to be trained. By consistently offering a reward with the behavior that you want, you can train your chinchilla. It is important not to raise your voice if the chinchilla does something that you don’t want it to. This will frighten your chinchilla. This tactic might be useful if you are teaching it not to chew on electrical wires. But, do not practice this behavior if your chinchilla is shy or uneasy about you. You want to gain its trust. Rather, use an instrument that gives a load noise when your chinchilla approaches the wires. You can use a horn or a whistle to frighten your chinchilla out of this behavior.
Training your chinchilla starts simply with teaching your chinchilla how to eat out of your hand. Start by placing a treat in the middle of your upturned palm. Make sure that the chinchilla has to step on to your hand to get the food. This type of training requires patience. Make sure to stay still if he does not go for it the first time. Do not move your hand toward him in the cage. Chinchillas are a prey animal; they hate to be chased. You might frighten him by moving towards him and that will be the opposite of what you are trying to do. Once your chinchilla is willing to take a treat from your outstretched palm, try moving the treat up to your forearm. To get at the food, your chinchilla will need to climb up your arm.
Anther aspect of training is getting your chinchilla used to being handled. Don’t just move in to pick up a shy chinchilla, allow them to get used to it. It is best to allow your chinchilla to climb onto you before you start picking them up. You can start simply but just allowing them to crawl over your arms when you get to the point that they are crawling up your arm for the treat. You can also open you chinchilla’s cage in a small room and sit on the floor. Chinchillas love to climb so if you are there, they might take the opportunity to use you as their own little mountain. The point is to get them to trust that you are not a predator that is going to harm them. With this in mind, never chase your chinchilla or grab it by the tail.
No, chinchillas will not learn to sit on command like a dog does. But, they can learn tricks like running or jumping over the obstacles that you want him to. They can also learn to do simple actions like give you a kiss to get a treat. Chinchillas are funny, wonderful animals that are a ton of fun to watch and interact with. With patience and treats, you can enjoy a new aspect of playing with your chinchilla b teaching it simple tricks.