Guinea pigs are by nature very nervous pets but you can tame even a skittish and nervous guinea pig and get them to come to you using this taming guide. You can use these tips for baby guinea pigs as well as older pets that you have adopted.
Some important points before taming
We recommend a pair of guinea pigs: It’s worth mentioning that guinea pigs that are in pairs are generally happier than single guinea pigs so we always recommend having two and this may help them feel a little calmer therefore aiding the taming process. Don’t chase them when picking up: If you are always having to chase them round the cage to pick them up, this can make them more nervous. So when you need to take them out of their cage, try sectioning off a small part to make it easier.
How to begin the taming process
First you should approach the cage quietly. Guinea pigs don’t like loud or sudden noises or sudden movements. So you need to make sure you are in a peaceful environment and that you remain quiet only speaking softly and gently to them. This way they’ll get used to your voice. However, it’s unlikely that either a baby guinea pig or an older newly adopted guinea pig will come to your hand and let you stroke them even if you approach them quietly and gently. You need to get them to trust you first.
How to get a guinea pig to trust you
Gaining a guinea pig’s trust is something that happens over time. They need to know that you’re not some kind of predator and that nothing bad is going to happen when you approach. In fact, so much the better if positive things happen when you are with them. The first thing on your guinea pig’s list of “positive things” is undoubtedly food! Taming guinea pigs with food Food is the key to successfully taming your guinea pigs.
Hand feeding your guinea pigs
Eating food is a guinea pig’s favourite pastime! So if you have the right food on offer they will want to come to you and in time will let you stroke them too. The taming process is gradual so don’t expect immediate results. Patience is essential and it will definitely pay off. The best way to start is with food such as large lettuce leaves. Most guinea pigs love lettuce! Romaine lettuce is best for this as the leaves are large and it is generally one of their favourites. Iceberg lettuce is not recommended for guinea pigs.
Step 1: How to get your guinea pig to come to you
Start by holding a lettuce leaf over the side of their cage or in front of you. Alternatively, if you have an indoor pen, you can sit on the floor and have part of the pen open so they can come closer which is even better. Hand feeding guinea pigs with a lettuce leaf Don’t move your hand, just keep still and wait for your guinea pig to approach. When he does come for a nibble, he will try and take the whole leaf away with him so make sure you keep hold of it! If you move your hand a bit quickly, your guinea pig might run away so take it slowly. Gradually over a few days he will feel more confident to come closer to your hand.
Step 2: Encourage your guinea pig to come closer
After a few days, or when he looks comfortable with being hand fed, try him with something small such as a pea flake or a blueberry so he has to come right up to your hand. Hand feeding pea flake to Abyssinian guinea pig Make sure you are holding the treat just in the tips of your fingers as you don’t want him to bite your finger by accident. They don’t usually bite intentionally but if your finger is in the way when they are chomping down on their food it can happen accidentally.
Step 3: Get your guinea pig to climb on to your lap
If you are sitting on the floor with them, you can begin to encourage your guinea pig to come closer by bringing the food closer to you. Taming a guinea pig with pea flakes Gradually you may be able to get them to climb on to your lap for the food. This won’t happen straight away but as your guinea pig gets to trust you more, he will become braver.
Summary of how to tame guinea pigs
- Make sure the environment is quiet and calm
- Talk gently and quietly to them
- Begin by offering a large lettuce leaf and let them come to nibble at it
- Progress to smaller pieces of veg or pea flakes so they have to come closer to your hand
- Sit on the floor with them and offer food, getting them to come closer each time
- Encourage them to put their front feet on your lap.
Can I start taming my guinea pigs on the day I get them?
When you get new guinea pigs it is wise to let them settle into their new home first. Everything will be a little strange for them and you are also a new person in their lives who they will need to get used to. Give them a few days to settle in and then gradually and gently start interacting with them a little more each day.
How long does it take to tame a guinea pig?
Your guinea pig may become pretty tame in a couple of weeks but it may take many more weeks with a skittish, nervous pet. All guinea pigs are different and you need to allow them the time they require to get used to you.
My guinea pig is scared of me. Can I tame him?
Guinea pigs that are very nervous and skittish may take a longer time to tame but you need to be persistent. Just because he are scared of you at the moment doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you so there is no reason to feel that you are doing anything wrong. This is his nature and he needs to learn you are not a danger to him. Spend time each day following our steps as well as giving him lap time and you should notice him getting more brave as time goes on.
NAVIGATION SOCIAL CONTACT
[email protected] Guinea pigs are prey animals, which also indicates that taming your
guinea pig is going to require effort, patience and love. Guinea pigs
will not automatically come to you like a dog or cat. Dogs and Cats
are predators not prey animals. So let’s ask first what is a Prey
Animal and what does this mean in terms of guinea pig behaviour
What is a prey Animal?
Prey animals are essentially the food source of predators. They are
generally herbivorous meaning they eat plants. Prey animals have
developed a variety of techniques to evade predators to avoid being
attacked or consumed. Guinea pigs hide, run, scratch, bite or warn
others in the herd with shrieking.
You may notice guinea pigs will quickly scatter in quick succession if
a loud noise suddenly occurs or they are startled by your presence.
Overcoming this strong protective instinct may never be completely
overcome however you can gain the trust of your guinea pig
overtime with the below techniques. It is important to remember
that your guinea pig does not dislike you if it is hiding or running
away. In fact they are very smart at running because this technique
protects them and other cavies.
Guinea pigs need to be shown with repetition that there is no need
to fear and over time they can learn that a particular person is not a
The more handling the better
Guinea pigs need to become familiar with humans and especially
their human family. It is important that you correctly handle your
guinea pigs following our handling guide – click here for more
Some guinea pigs will run away when first attempting to pick them
up in their cage. To make it a positive experience try following the
Give your guinea pig a treat every time you pick them up and
again when you have them seated on your lap.
Leave you hands in the cage and do not move them. Allow your
guinea pig to sniff your hands and become used to their
presence before slowly moving them to pick them up
Let your guinea pig enter their hidey house. Move your hands
into the opening and pick them up whilst they are in the
Use a pouch. Piggy pouches are great. Simply show the guinea
pig the opening and allow them to enter in their own time.
Usher them slowly to one end of the cage with one arm. Gently
with the other hand place your hand on their back. Use both
hands to pick up the guinea pig in a gentle fluid motion.
Include them in the household
The more your guinea pigs are exposed to human noises such as
your voice, television, vacuum cleaner, microwaves, appliances and
general household noise the more they will see this background
noise as normal and unthreatening. Indoor housing provides your
guinea pig with the opportunity to be included in all household
activities. It will de-sensitise them to unfamiliar sounds. Soon they
will even know that the sound of the fridge door opening means
Indoor housing provides guinea pigs with the perfect opportunity to
become used to humans and their surroundings. They will become
more curious venturing into the open to see what you are doing.
When you pass by the cage they will come and say hello. It will allow
you to bond with your guinea pigs, you learning more about them
and they can learn more about you.
Spend quality time with your guinea pig
Lap time is a wonderful tool to get your guinea pig to become
familiar with you. Many guinea pigs like to be petted behind the ears
or gently stroked from the neck to the rear in the direction of the fur
(do not pet against the grain).
Place your guinea pig on your lap with a towel or lap pad. Provide
some food whilst having lap time to positively reinforce the
experience. Time with you = food. Allow at least 30 minutes of
petting time. Many guinea pigs will learn to relax often stretching,
yawning and some even falling asleep. Lap time should be a calming
experience. Enjoy your favourite TV show and some piggy time!
Provide healthy Treats
Guinea pigs love food and they soon realise that humans supply
their food. A great way to get your guinea pig to trust you is to hand
feed them in the safety of their cage. Guinea pigs will nibble from
your hands and soon learn that you do not pose them any harm.
If you are having trouble getting your guinea pig to eat from your
hands one of the easiest tricks is to hold the end of a carrot and let
them nibble the end. As the days progress slowly shorten the length
of the carrot until they are nibbling directly from your fingers.
Provide them with a large cage
A large cage ensures your guinea pigs feel more secure in their
environment. They have space to run and hide if feeling unsure or
frightened. Imagine a large hand coming towards you and you are in
a small area, blocked with nowhere to run and hide. It would not be
ideal would it? A larger space provides more options. When they do
come to you or you do pick them up, it is from a trust perspective.
Changes will not happen overnight. Taming your guinea pigs can take
weeks even months but the results are well worth it. Some guinea
pigs may never like to be picked up and may simply be content with
a petting in their cage. Every guinea pig is different so remember
that some guinea pigs will run and this is instinct not due to dislike.
If you are able to keep handling, feeding and socialising your guinea
pigs you will have a beautiful bond.
Taming your Guinea Pig
12 Best Ways to Bond With Your Guinea Pig
1. Find Your Guinea Pig’s Favorite Treats
The best way to a guinea pig’s heart is usually with food! Therefore, an excellent first step to taming a skittish guinea pig would be to find treats that your piggy loves. Vegetables are the best treats for taming your guinea pig because they are healthy and can be fed in higher quantities than store-bought treats. You can find a list of good veggies to use for training or taming on our Guinea Pig Training Treats page. When introducing new foods to your guinea pig, they may not eat them initially. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like the treats. Often when guinea pigs are unfamiliar with new food, they don’t really recognize it as food right away and will hesitate to eat it for a while. Keep offering it in their food bowl every day. Eventually, they will decide to try it out. Put a few different veggies in their bowl and take note of which ones disappear or get nibbled on most often.
2. Hand Feed Your Guinea Pig Their Favorite Treats
Once you have some veggies that your guinea pig likes, try offering some food from your hand. I like to start with bigger pieces (like a leaf of lettuce or a full-size carrot), so they can nibble on the food without needing to come too close to your hand at first. Hold the piece of food still and let your guinea pig nibble on it while you hold the other end. As your guinea pig becomes more comfortable eating from your hand, use gradually smaller pieces of veggies. This encourages them to come a little bit closer to you each time. Eventually, your guinea pig will be able to confidently walk right up to your hand to take a smaller treat from you. If your guinea pig is “turtling” inside their hideout, be patient and reward baby steps.If your guinea pig is skittish, you’ll probably want to hold the food close to the entrance of their bed or hideout at first so they’ll feel comfortable enough to eat in front of you. Try to break up your hand-feeding sessions into short 5 minute periods once or twice a day. Once your guinea pig is comfortable eating the food from inside the hideout, start holding the food just an inch or so outside of their house, so they need to poke their nose out a little bit to eat the food. Don’t try to lure them out at this point; just hold the food and wait for them to poke their head out and eat it. The more time you spend hand feeding, the more your guinea pig will start to relax in your presence and begin to form positive associations with you approaching their cage.
3. Floor Time With Your Guinea Pig
Floortime is a great time to bond with your guinea pig. Floortime is basically where you set up a guinea pig safe area (a foldable exercise pen is great for this purpose!) and give the guinea pig time to free roam outside of their cage. This is also a great opportunity to sit with your guinea pig at their level and bond with them. At first, your guinea pig may not want to move around or leave the security of their hidey house. This is totally normal! Guinea pigs usually take a bit of time to adapt to a new environment or routine. Stick with it, and eventually, your guinea pig will feel comfortable enough to start exploring. Scattering some veggie treats around on the floor sometimes helps encourage the guinea pig to venture out of their hiding place. Sitting quietly with your guinea pig on the floor is a good way for them to learn that you’re not a threat. You can get the guinea pig used to your presence simply by sitting near them and reading a book or scrolling social media. Spreading veggies around can help encourage your guinea pig to explore.Have some veggie treats ready to offer the guinea pig for when they start to venture out and approach you. You can also try lying down on the floor perfectly still. Guinea pigs are curious creatures and will often come out to sniff you and investigate.
4. Put Treats in Your Guinea Pig’s Cage Throughout the Day
Many skittish guinea pigs will run into their hidey house as soon as you open the door or approach their cage. You can change this reaction by changing your guinea pig’s mindset about what happens when you approach their cage. A simple way to do this is by putting a piece of your guinea pig’s favorite veggie treat in their cage and walking away. Do this a couple of times throughout the day without interacting with or handling your guinea pig. Over time, they will come to associate you approaching the cage with bringing them a treat and will be less likely to spook and run away every time.
5. Avoid Acting Like a Predator
As prey animals, guinea pigs are naturally cautious of any strange or loud noises, sudden movements, shadows, and anything coming at them from above. The more nervous your guinea pig is, the more sensitive they will be to these things. Guinea pigs also have poor eyesight and tend to spook easily. Whenever possible, try to move around quietly and slowly. Avoid looming over your guinea pig and stay as still as you can whenever your guinea pig is approaching you or eating food from your hand. Talk to them in a quiet, calm tone, so they get used to hearing your voice.
6. Make a Blanket Fort For Your Guinea Pig
Blanket forts can help a skittish guinea pig to feel secure in your presence.You can also make your guinea pig feel more comfortable around you by giving them a place to hide when they’re hanging out with you. This is especially helpful to start bonding with guinea pigs that won’t eat veggies in your presence at all. Try draping a blanket over yourself and onto the floor so the guinea pig can hide underneath the blanket and feel secure. This gives the guinea pig a place to hide and feel comfortable while also getting used to being near you. It’s also a good idea to put some veggies under the blanket with them. When they start eating, you know they’re beginning to feel more comfortable around you. You can also put your guinea pig on your lap with a blanket or towel that they can bury themselves in to feel safe.
7. Avoid Chasing Your Guinea Pig
It can be challenging to get your guinea pigs out frequently for floor time when they’re panicking and running away as soon as you reach in to pick them up. Running away is normal for guinea pigs and doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Guinea pigs have poor eyesight, and when a large shadow reaches over them, it’s their instinct to run and hide from a potential predator. However, it can be quite stressful for piggies and people alike! TJ loves his carrier and runs straight in when I set it in the cage.My favorite way to move my guinea pigs to and from the cage is using the carrier method. All you do is take a small pet carrier (a little soft-sided carrier works perfectly) and place it in their cage. If you don’t have a carrier, you can also use a closed bed or cuddle cup and just pick them up in their bed (be sure to cover the entrance so they don’t try to jump out in midair!) To get your guinea pig to go in, show your piggy some of their favorite treats, and then put the food inside the carrier. If your guinea pig is too skittish to follow the food into the carrier, you can place the carrier in their cage and take all their hidey houses out of the cage. A nervous guinea pig will quickly gravitate to the carrier. Draping a blanket partway over the carrier door can also make it more inviting for a skittish guinea pig. All of my guinea pigs now run straight into their carrier as soon as I put it down in their cage or on the floor. Super easy and so much less stressful! The carrier also makes it really easy to get the guinea pigs back in their cage when floor time is over.
8. Use Routines and Consistency
Guinea pigs thrive on routines and consistency. They quickly begin to associate times of the day with activities. For example, my guinea pigs always start squealing half an hour before feeding time every night. They also wait at the front of their cage to come out for floor time in the evening. Creating a routine for floor time or hand-feeding can be helpful, especially when taming skittish guinea pigs. When they know what to expect, they’re more likely to relax faster and settle into the routine. Ceico was a timid boy who really thrived on a consistent routine.While it’s not necessary to pick the same time every day, it may take more time to tame a very skittish guinea pig if there’s not a set routine. I found routines especially beneficial when taming my most skittish piggy, Ceico. Once he knew what to expect, he started settling into the daily routine, and bonding became much easier. Before that, it would take several minutes just to get him to start eating food and truly relax outside of the cage. If you’re able to stick to a daily routine for the most part, it’s always a good idea to set one for your piggies.
9. Use an Older & Confident Guinea Pig to Set an Example
Guinea pigs will often follow the example of another.If you already have an older and more confident guinea pig (for example if you are bonding a new baby guinea pig with an older piggy) you can use the older guinea pig’s confidence to your advantage. Feed your older guinea pig some treats right in front of the hidey house where the young guinea pig is hiding. This will often pique the interest of the baby guinea pig and encourage them to venture out as well. Seeing another guinea pig eating and approaching you without fear sets a good example and shows the baby that there’s nothing to be scared of. Even if your guinea pigs aren’t bonded yet, you can still use this method with a fence or cage between them. Move the hidey house of the skittish guinea pig close to the fence, and feed the older guinea pig right beside the fence on the other side. If the skittish guinea pig pops their nose out, offer them a treat as well.
10. Reduce Stress and Limit Negative Experiences
Guinea pigs are timid animals that can learn to really open up once they trust their people.Whenever possible, try to keep the interactions with your guinea pig as stress-free as you can. Choose a quiet, familiar environment to get them out of their cage and bond with them. Don’t carry them around too much or show them off to your friends. Bond with them one on one and build up trust with your guinea pig. You want your guinea pig to feel as comfortable around you as possible. After all, if every interaction between you and your guinea pig is stressful and frightening for your pet, they will be unlikely to enjoy spending time with you.
11. Bond With Your Guinea Pig By Teaching Tricks
Trick training is a fun way to bond and build up your guinea pig’s confidence.Once your guinea pig is at the point where they can approach you and take treats from your hand, you can grow your bond with trick training! Teaching tricks is a fun way to spend time with your guinea pig and increase their confidence. Start with some easy, beginner-friendly tricks such as spinning in a circle or putting their front paws up on your hand. Also, check out our page on how to train your guinea pig for a video and more tips on how to start training your guinea pig.
12. Keep Your Guinea Pig in a Playpen
Something I like to do with many of my new guinea pigs is keep them in a playpen or exercise pen full time. I usually do this for a few weeks or a month until I feel like they’re pretty comfortable around me and less skittish. A playpen can make a nice temporary cage during quarantine periods for new piggies and early bonding days.This is not a necessary thing, it’s just something I like to do, as new arrivals typically should be quarantined for the first couple of weeks anyway. I set up their playpen like I would a cage, with a couple of hideouts, a food bowl, a water bottle, a waterproof mat to protect the floor, and some fleece blankets. I find this to be the easiest way to bond with my guinea pigs. It’s easy to spend time with them throughout the day without the hassle of setting up a free-roam space and getting them out of the cage every time. They also get used to me walking in and out of the room, around their pen, etc.
Patience Pays Off!
Some guinea pigs come out of their shell quite quickly, whereas others may take several weeks or longer. I’ve been there with one of my guinea pigs, and I know it can be frustrating sometimes. He would bolt as soon as I entered the room, hide at even the slightest noise, freeze every time I moved even 2 inches… . However, he ended up turning into one of my sweetest and most loving piggies, making all the time and hard work worth it. Have faith, get them out of the cage, and hand-feed veggie treats as much as you can. You will get there!
Common Questions and Answers
Are Baby Guinea Pigs More Skittish Than Adults?
Age often plays a factor with skittish guinea pigs. Baby guinea pigs seem to be especially jumpy and kind of wild sometimes. This is pretty normal in my experience, and they usually chill out quite a bit by the time they’re around a year old. Baby guinea pigs are cute, but they are ticklish and full of beans.As a baby, one of my guinea pigs would bolt into her house as soon I walked in the room, took no interest in taking treats from my hand, just wanted to run and popcorn all over the place like a little wild child. However, by the time she was a year old, she was so much calmer, loved being petted, and became the biggest foodie ever! As a baby, I couldn’t picture her being any of those things. So if your guinea pig is still young, there’s a good chance they’ll calm down some more with age and maturity.
How Long Does it Take to Tame a Guinea Pig?
The amount of time it takes to tame your guinea pig varies a lot from one guinea pig to another. Generally, it takes a couple of weeks to bond with a more confident guinea pig. A young or timid guinea pig may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or more to decide they can trust you. Your guinea pig’s personality makes a big difference in how long it takes to tame them. A naturally outgoing and curious guinea pig is going to become tame much faster than a piggy that is very quiet and cautious by nature. Guinea pigs are usually not too hard to tame, but personality plays a significant factor. Age can also play a factor. Baby guinea pigs are often full of energy and don’t sit still longer than a third of a second. This can sometimes prove challenging when trying to bond with them. However, babies are usually quite inquisitive about the world, so this curiosity can be used to your advantage. Older guinea pigs are usually more laidback and food-oriented. This often makes taming go faster because they are generally happy to sit near you and take treats from your hand. Young guinea pigs can be a little jumpier than adults, but they are very curious!
What is the Fastest Way to Tame a Guinea Pig?
The fastest way to tame a guinea pig is to show them they can trust you. The easiest way to do this is by finding your guinea pig’s favorite veggies and hand feeding your piggy every day. To achieve your goal even faster, do this 3 or more times a day. Keep your hand-feeding sessions short, and stop before your guinea pig loses interest in the food. This leaves them always wanting more and looking forward to the next session. Use your guinea pig’s absolute favorite treats only for hand feeding, so they start to really enjoy and look forward to their bonding time with you. Build trust by being calm and hand-feeding your guinea pig daily.You can also speed up the taming process by using the example of an older, more confident guinea pig. Watching a tame guinea pig interact with people usually has a positive effect on a skittish guinea pig and shows them that humans are not that scary after all. Keep in mind that there is no true fast track to earning your guinea pig’s trust. Forcing your guinea pig to interact with you may result in a guinea pig with “learned helplessness” that sits still when you hold them but doesn’t actually trust you. Choosing to put your guinea pig’s needs first will result in a guinea pig that chooses to interact with you and follow you around because they actually trust you, and not just be compliant because they’re afraid of you.
Are Baby Guinea Pigs Easier to Tame Than Adults?
Baby guinea pigs are lots of fun, but adults are generally calmer and easier to handle.In my experience, adult guinea pigs are generally easier to tame and bond with. In total, I’ve had 7 baby guinea pigs, and adopted 5 guinea pigs as adults, from different environments and circumstances. Adults are typically much calmer and therefore are normally happier to sit with you and take treats from your hand. Baby guinea pigs sometimes take longer to tame because they have so much energy and a short attention span. However, they are usually more curious and receptive to the world, which makes them more likely to investigate and check people out, even if they are timid. If you have the patience to train and bond with baby guinea pigs, they can be a great choice too!
How Do You Tame a Guinea Pig That Bites?
There are many reasons a guinea pig may bite, but some guinea pigs are just prone to be biters. With that said, the vast majority of guinea pigs are quite passive and won’t fight you when you insist on holding them. But on occasion, you’ll find a guinea pig that tells you with their teeth what they do and don’t like. I had one guinea pig that some people may call “aggressive.” He would bite every time you picked him up or tried to hold him, even from the time he was a baby. Really, he was just communicating in his own way. He wasn’t deliberately being mean. He was simply saying, “I don’t feel comfortable being lifted off the ground” and “I don’t want to sit here; I want to run around and explore!” Rather than toweling him and forcing him to sit with me, I let him run around and sat down with him. Hand fed him veggies and let him come to me. He started following me around, running over to say hi, jumping onto my lap, learning tricks, and more. Once he was comfortable around me, I started teaching him to accept petting by pairing gentle petting with treats. We worked up to petting different areas of his body, letting me touch his belly as if I was going to pick him up, etc. He actually started to love petting, even without any food. He also came to accept being picked up (though he doesn’t love it as much as petting ;). He is the most fun and social guinea pig I’ve ever known, and he really thrives on mutual respect and positive reinforcement. The guinea pigs that are most prone to biting often have the biggest personalities and want to interact with you in their own way. Of course, there are many reasons that guinea pigs may bite, and solutions vary depending on the situation. For more information, check out the following article: How to Teach Guinea Pigs Not to Bite.
How Do You Tame a Very Skittish Guinea Pig?
What to do if your guinea pig wants nothing to do with you?Guinea pigs that are very skittish may be too nervous to take food from your hand or even eat in your presence at all. There are a few ways you can bond with these guinea pigs early on without relying on food right away. First of all, get your guinea pig out for floor time and sit with them on the floor. Gently usher them into a bed or carrier to get them out of their cage so you don’t have to chase them down every time. Sit on the floor and drape blankets or towels over your legs to create a hiding place for your nervous guinea pig. Encourage them to hide in there, so they can get used to your presence while still feeling safe. Remember to stay still and be quiet so you don’t spook them too much. Once you feel like your guinea pig is becoming more comfortable in their little blanket fort, you can start putting some of their favorite veggies under there with them. When your guinea pig starts eating the food, you’ll know they’re beginning to feel more comfortable around you. Eventually, you can try offering some food from your hand while they hang out under the blanket. Once you get your guinea pig doing this, you can start hand feeding more frequently and try out some of the other ideas on this page. Keeping a skittish guinea pig in a playpen or exercise pen instead of a cage while you bond with them can often help a lot too. You can easily sit in there with your piggy or hand feed them for a few minutes throughout the day without needing to set up a floortime space and get them out of their cage each time. This also helps your guinea pig get used to you walking around their cage. I usually have a playpen period with all of my new guinea pigs when I first bring them home, and I’ve always found that it really helps jump-start the bonding process.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Love Petting
Some guinea pigs seem to enjoy being petted, while others just naturally don’t like it very much. However, most guinea pigs can learn to love petting with a little bit of patience and positive reinforcement. I have an Abyssinian guinea pig who absolutely hated being touched when he was young, even though he was pretty tame and would follow me around. I started pairing treats with very soft, gentle petting, stroking very gently with just 1 finger at first. Since he was so focused on eating his veggies, he tolerated the gentle petting. Over time he became more and more comfortable with being pet. Now he genuinely enjoys being petted, even without any veggie treats! Also, take note of what your guinea pig likes and doesn’t like. If your guinea pig has a spot that they don’t like being touched (maybe bum, sides, etc.), try to avoid that area and pet them only where they seem comfortable being touched. Pet them gently, and be careful not to spook them by swooping your hand over them first. Bring your hand up to them from the side so they can see you coming.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Climb on Your Lap
Guinea pigs can learn quickly how to climb up on your leg and beg for treats.Teaching your guinea pig to climb up onto your lap voluntarily is a great way to bond with your guinea pig. The first step is to teach them to put their front paws up on your leg. Encourage them to do this by holding some food on your lap, just out of their reach. Offer your guinea pig a small treat every now and then to keep their interest. Eventually, they will get impatient and start trying to climb on your lap. Offer them treats every time they put their paws up on your leg, and they will start to do it more and more. To teach your guinea pig to climb all the way up on your lap, try luring your guinea pig up with a treat. Sit cross-legged and try to position your legs as low to the ground as you can to make it easier for your guinea pig to climb up. Putting a blanket or towel on your lap sometimes helps them get a better grip as well. Using your guinea pig’s favorite treats, lure them up onto your lap. This can be challenging for some guinea pigs, so give them a nibble of food for every little step or stretch they attempt to take to climb onto your lap. When they finally make it up, give them lots of treats and let them just hang out on your lap and eat for a while, so they learn that it’s a really great and rewarding place to be.
Socializing Your Guinea Pig With New People
Once your guinea pig is comfortable with you, another thing you can do is introduce them to different people. This is not a necessity, but it’s a good way to show them that all people are safe and friendly, not just the person they’re most familiar with. Guinea pigs are often shy around strangers and take some time to warm up. Give the new person some veggie treats to hand feed to your guinea pig. Some guinea pigs will come running out right away, whereas others may need more time and coaxing. Usually, if the same person comes back multiple times, the guinea pig will warm up to them quicker each time. The more people you introduce to your piggy, the more confident they will be when approaching new guests.
Exploring New Environments
Guinea pigs are often very skittish in new environments or anywhere outside the immediate space that they live in on a day-to-day basis. A new environment for a guinea pig could be the hallway right outside the room that they’re housed in. The living room, a new bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and hallways are all places you can get your guinea pig used to over time. You can also take them outside (supervised) when the weather is nice, in a safe enclosed space such as an exercise pen. I would caution against moving them around until the guinea pig is tame and comfortable in their own space first. If they are still quite skittish, they will be overwhelmed in a new, even scarier environment and will be unable to form any positive experiences in the new place. To expose them to new rooms and environments, set up a guinea-proofed area with some hiding places, plus food and water if they’re going to be in there for a while. Leave them to their own devices for a while to survey the new space and investigate when they’re ready. Scattering some of their favorite veggie treats on the floor often helps encourage them to explore. They will likely need several outings to that same room to become completely comfortable there. However, the more rooms you introduce them to, the quicker they will adjust to each new place. Start with the small, quieter rooms at first, such as a bathroom, hallway, or spare bedroom. Once they’re comfortable in these types of areas, you can then introduce them to bigger rooms with more activity and start bringing them outside.
In Summary: 10 Best Ways to Tame Your Guinea Pig
- Find their favorite veggie treats and hand-feed your guinea pig as much as possible.
- Avoid making sudden movements and loud noises that may startle your guinea pig.
- Get your guinea pig out for floor time and sit with them on their own level.
- Create a blanket fort, so your guinea pig feels more comfortable hanging out with you.
- Bond with your guinea pig by teaching tricks.
- Create positive associations and limit negative experiences for your guinea pig.
- Use an older, tame guinea pig to set an example for the skittish guinea pig.
- Keep your guinea pig in a playpen full time to make bonding easier and faster.
- Be consistent and stick to a routine if possible.
- Be patient!
It can take a lot of time and patience to teach your guinea pig to trust you, but it is totally worth the effort! Tame guinea pigs love to greet you with excited wheeks when you enter the room. They can also learn tricks, recognize their names, follow you around and learn to come when called. Guinea pigs can be such fun and enjoyable companions when they’re no longer skittish. I call my little piggies my puppy pigs because they’re always underfoot and following me around like little puppies. It truly is the most adorable thing, and I hope everyone gets a chance to experience that with their own guinea pigs! I hope you learned a thing or two from this page that helps you to develop that strong bond with your guinea pig. Once you’ve earned a guinea pig’s trust, they are one of the sweetest and most amazing animals! Also, don’t forget to check out the Training page for more positive husbandry training and some trick tutorials to develop the bond with your guinea pigs further.
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