The Guinea pig is one of the cutest animals on the planet, but can you make it learn something new? Oh yeah, Guinea pigs ARE trainable if you are willing to practice and be patient. Guinea pigs, despite being called ‘pigs’, aren’t pigs. In fact, their traits lead us to rodent family Caviidae and the genus Cavia.
Many animals that belong to this family are known to be friends with people and although many people hate rodents and mice, a Guinea pig is a perfect animal to have in your house.
But, how do YOU train your Guinea pig? Well, that’s an interesting question.
Before we make it to that point, let’s tell something about their interesting behavior.
Guinea Pig Behavior
Guinea pigs are very, very smart animals that can learn everything from simple to complex commands. They say that a domestic pig is the smartest domestic animal and a Guinea pig is…well, very smart, too! These creatures can easily learn various paths that lead to food and the best of all is that their memory is pretty strong.
Since their built doesn’t allow them to perform complex motions and traverse the world like cats, they aren’t the most agile animals. In fact, Guinea pigs aren’t that active either. Their main motion is either running when they sense a danger or standing in place. Almost similar to dogs, Guinea pigs love training and will gladly play with you on daily basis.
Once a Guinea pig starts gaining trust in you, its behavior may noticeably change. For example, they can ‘beg’ for food by standing on its hind legs, similar to a dog.
When happy, a Guinea pig will confidently jump around and run in circles, displaying excitement and good mood. Generally, these animals display a very pleasant behavior and aren’t prone to attack or bite someone, especially not the owner.
What Can You Teach a Guinea Pig?
As we mentioned that you can train a Guinea pig, we need to see what you can teach it. First and foremost, focus on basic commands like teaching it to come when they’re called by the name.
The Name Command
Like any animal, a Guinea pig can easily learn this trick throughout day or two. The easiest way to do this is by addressing its name whenever you interact with it. For example, if you want it to come to you, simply say the name you want. Alternatively, you can always call their name when giving them food or petting them.
If you notice that the command works, be eager to give it a reward. A favorite snack should do the trick!
Guinea pigs can stand on their back legs pretty confidently. And as we said, they do it when they want something from you, especially food. But, you can also make them learn this simple trick in no time.
The first thing you’ll need is a piece of snack (treat). Say ’stand up’ and raise the treat above the pig’s head. Be sure to raise it enough so it can catch it when standing on its back legs.
Be sure not to overdo it as it can sometimes be counterproductive. Once or twice in a day should be enough for it to learn this simple command.
To make your Guinea pig go in a circle, having a treat is a must! Again, you want to approach it and give it the chance to smell it. Once it has your attention, move your hand in a circle and say the command you wish. You don’t always have to say ‘circle’ – it can be your unique command.
Once it finishes the circle, be sure to reward it with that treat. Repeat this process two or three times a day until it can perform a circle without a treat.
Litter Box Training
Training your Guinea pig to pee and poop in a litter box is of high importance. You don’t want your pig running around the house and pooping everywhere it wants. Unfortunately, this kind of training requires A LOT of patience and time to be realized.
Having in mind that you keep your Guinea pig in the cage, where it should be, the first thing you want to do is to introduce a litter box inside. This box doesn’t have to take the majority of the space, but it should be comfortable for it to lay down and do what it needs to do.
However, this doesn’t mean that the training is over. Most of the time, the Guinea pig will slightly reject the litter box and instead pee on the floor. To decrease the chances of this, place this box at the place it likes to pee and poop. Make it comfortable with some hay and leave it at that place. Over time, the Guinea pig will start to go to the bathroom at that place, meaning that it’s time for a reward.
And what’s a better reward than a favorite snack? That’s right – you got it!
Why is Training Important
It’s one thing to train your animal to do some basic stuff and the other is training it to behave as it should. I mean, there isn’t any strict way in which Guinea pig should behave, but there should be basic rules.
First, you should look at Guinea pig like a dog. Since both of these animals are trainable, you should incorporate this type of training as soon as you can. The first and the most important thing for them to learn is their name.
Having a Guinea pig to come to you when you call it is very important. This way, it will know who is the owner thus creating a special relationship between the two.
When the animal knows who is its owner, it’s much easier for it to learn new commands and rules of behavior. At least, training this animal won’t take more than half an hour per day, which is really the minimal thing to do.
Another reason why training is important is socialization. If you live in a family, the Guinea pig will need to respect every member of the family equally.
Much like dogs, Guinea pigs used to live in packs, meaning that they quickly get used to hierarchy. Still, having a Guinea pig know its place in the family is of high importance.
Remember that most of the training should be in the first couple of months of Guinea pig’s life. Usually, the first two to six months are crucial. In this period, the animal will be energetic, it will most likely chew everything that’s close to him, and the energy level will be at its highest. Needless to say that chewing isn’t always malicious and is invoked by growing teeth.
If you manage to train your Guinea pig properly in this period of time, its behavior will get better with time and you won’t have any problems.
Establishing a Training Routine
Establishing a training routine is relevant if you want to see results fast. But establishing a training routine requires you to establish trust between you and a Guinea pig. And as it sounds strange, the best way to establish trust is through training.
If you constantly abandon the animal and never let it out of its cage, it will not develop any kind of relationship with you or the family. After all, Guinea pigs are social animals and they require frequent training and human interaction.
Be sure to train it near the time of feeding and not after you feed it. You can do some training routines 15-20 minutes before feeding and then rewarding it with a treat. Once again, food should be a reward for good behavior and it’s not hard making a Guinea pig behave well.
Can I Do It?
Hell yeah! Training a guinea pig is fun, entertaining, and can lead to some hilarious moments between you and the animal. These tiny fur balls are not only cute but also entertaining and can bring up a smile on your face in no time.
The important thing is to LOVE this animal as a creature and then learning new stuff about it. And to be honest, Guinea pigs aren’t that complex when it comes to behavior. Whenever they’re happy or stressed, you’ll be the first to know it.
On average, Guinea pig lives 4 to 8 years, which is really short. That being said, don’t just sit there and do nothing. You CAN train your Guinea pig and believe me, you don’t want to miss that!
Related: Are Guinea Pigs Smart?