Whenever you bring a pet into the home, one of the first things you dream of is training them. After all, a well-behaved pet is better than a misbehaved one. For dogs, you teach them the meaning of the words sit, stay, no etc. However, the bare minimum is having your pet learn their name. A cat named Joy knows to come when called. This begs the question; can a hamster learn its name? If it can learn its name, can it learn tricks? Believe it or not, if you put the work in your hamster can learn all sorts of neat things.
Preparing Your Hamster
When we think of our own names, they become synonymous with our identity. Your hamster will not value its name on that level. But it can learn to recognize its name and respond to it when called. In order to achieve this, first you must already be closely bonded with your hamster. They should be in your home for at least a month, fully tame, and familiar with your voice. A hamster can only specifically recall 1 to 2 people maximum.
Teaching them Their Name
To teach your hamster their name, you need to have a closed off, secure open space for the two of you to interact in. I like to use an empty bathtub. You are going to hold a treat in your hand, say your hamster’s name and hope they approach. If they don’t come right away or fail to come when called, no worries. Give them a break and try again later. Once your hamster comes to take a treat when called, make sure to repeat daily for at least a week. Once you get them to regularly come into your hand for a treat while there name is being called, you can move on to the next step. Now you want to call their name with no treat and have them come to your hand anyway. You can reward them with a treat after if they succeed. Repeat this a few times and your hamster should be familiar with their name. Make sure to use it frequently when interacting with them so they don’t forget.
Teaching Your Hamster Tricks
Now that your hamster knows their name, you can couple this with treats to teach them all sorts of tricks:
*Tricks will usually take a week or two to stick and must be repeated at least daily.
One of the simplest tricks is stand. Simply hold a treat above your hamster so they have to stand up to get it. Say “stand” while this is happening, and your hamster will eventually learn how to stand on command.
Jump (Through a Hoop)
Another fun trick you can teach your hamster is to jump through a hoop. Hold a small plastic hoop in front of them with one hand and a treat on the other side with another. Say, “jump” every time you get them to jump through the hoop and they will soon learn to do it on command.
Hold a treat above your hamster and make wide circles for them to follow. Say “circle” while you do this and you can teach your hamster to run in circles when commanded.
With the repeated efforts of both you and your small pet, your hamster can learn their name and a variety of tricks. Any hamster species is capable: Syrian hamsters, Chinese Dwarf Hamsters, Campbell Dwarf Hamsters, Winter White Dwarf Hamsters, and Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters all have the capacity to learn. If you like, you can even take it a step further and train your pet to clear mazes and obstacle courses!