Thinking that it’s impossible to train any other animal besides a dog is wrong. Almost every animal is trainable. For example, you can train a cat but it will learn tricks slower, yet it’s still trainable. Dogs are truly one of the smartest domestic animals but so are guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs can very easily learn new tricks, even the most complex ones. You can teach your guinea pig its name, make them stand, and going in circle. There’s nothing better than a guinea pig that knows some cute tricks and is willing to show them.
Basic Guinea Pig Tricks
1. Teaching the Guinea Pig Its Name
When it comes to the simplest tricks, this is one of the first tricks you can teach your guinea pig. Many owners will unconsciously teach their pigs to react to their names without even knowing it. But, if you’re struggling to make this work, here’s how you do it.
First, be sure to often repeat the desired name when you want the guinea pig to come to you. This name should be repeated every time you give it some treats or when you want to play with your pig. Remember that this exercise should be performed outside of the cage.
Next time you take your pig out of the cage, place it a few feet away from you. Then, hold its favorite treat in your hand and say the name. This way, a guinea pig will associate this with food, which is a great way to make it learn the trick. Food will also motivate the guinea pig to run to you and when you repeat the trick numerous times, it’ll instinctively run to you whenever you call it.
2. Stand-up Trick
The stand-up trick is easier than the aforementioned one. On top of that, guinea pigs look cute when they stand up like humans. It’s dead simple and all you need is a tiny piece of treat.
To make a guinea pig stand, hold the treat above its head, high enough that it needs to stand on its back legs to get it. If you lift it too high, a guinea pig might see that it’s not tangible and will refuse to stand up. This move should be accompanied by you saying “Stand up!” Give it a treat once it’s on its back legs and not when it returns to its normal position.
The main thing about this command is that it needs to be repeated often, at least once a day. But, this shouldn’t be a problem since you can practice it whenever you feed your guinea pig. Over time, it will stand on its back legs even if you don’t have any treats.
3. Going in Circle Trick
A very popular trick that involves a guinea pig walking in circles. Once again, you’re going to be using some treats. Grab a treat and call your guinea pig by its name.
When it approaches you, move your hand to make a circle and at the same time, say the word “Circle.” A guinea pig should now follow your hand and make a circular motion. Once the circle is completed, give it a treat. Repeat this exercise at least once a day with a treat, unless you see that it’s able to complete the trick without any treats.
Advanced Guinea Pig Tricks
1. Jumping Through the Hoop
This trick is very satisfying to watch and it’s also a bit acrobatic since your guinea pig will need to engage in a jump. To start, get a hoop that’s about 6 to 10 inches in diameter.
Before you start training, make sure that the hoop doesn’t have any sharp edges to avoid injury. If that’s all set, you’re ready to begin the training. Begin by holding the hoop so it touches the ground or the bottom of the cage, depending on the location.
Grab a treat and hold it on the opposite side of the hoop. When a guinea pig spots the treat, it should instinctively go through the hoop and get it. Notice that we said to hold the hoop on the ground and not slightly in the air. This is because it’s much easier to just pass through the hoop than to jump through it.
When a guinea pig passes the hoop, lift it a centimeter or two in the air. Repeat the process by saying the desired command when you want it to pass the hoop.
A guinea pig might not jump immediately, especially if this is the first time you want it to jump. In this case, it’ll need a gentle push to convince it to jump. When it jumps successfully, be sure to reward the behavior with a treat. Repeat the process until it jumps through the hoop without any treats.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Jump? | If They Can, How High?
2. Pushing a Ball
A guinea pig can’t push a heavy ball. A tennis ball or a golf ball is great for this purpose and it can also be maneuvered easily.
A ball should then be placed on some sort of long and flat treat. This can be a carrot stick, which you can cut in a way that both sides are flat. Place the carrot stick on the ground and then place the ball above it. Encourage your guinea pig to push the ball off the stick so it can access it. Remember to verbally command this, so say, “Push the ball” when you want it to learn the trick.
Just like in the previous trick, a guinea pig might need some motivation, and a gentle push to do the trick. Repeat this trick until it learns to push the ball without any treats. You can practice this trick a few times a day.
Related: Best Guinea Pig Toys: A Helpful Guide
3. Putting the Paws on Your Hand
A guinea pig will be glad to put its front paws on your hand but only if there is a treat up there. When you place your hand in front of a guinea pig, don’t place it too high. Approximately 4 to 5 centimeters is enough. If it is your right hand, use the left hand to position the treat on the opposite side of the guinea pig. Move your treat a little bit to make it noticeable and say the desired command to make the guinea pig put the paws on your hand.
A treat should be positioned in a way that it’s tangible when a guinea pig places its paws on your hand. When the trick is completed, reward the guinea pig with the exact same treat and repeat the process a few times.
The trick isn’t hard to learn and it can be repeated several times during the day. This trick is very similar to the first one so it shouldn’t be a problem to make it work.
4. Going Through the (Curved) Tunnel
Going through the tunnel is very easy to teach. All you need is a tunnel, which can be made however you want, and with some treats.
Place the tunnel in front of your guinea pig and hold the treat on the other side. Say the desired command when you want it to pass through and repeat the process several times. This is for a straight tunnel. If you want it to pass through a long tunnel with curves, the same principle is applied, with the difference that a pig can’t see the treat on the other side.
This is why it’s important to master the trick with the straight tunnel and then move on to the curved one. This way, a guinea pig will instinctively go through the tunnel, regardless of its shape and size.
Despite being friendly and easy to train, guinea pigs can sometimes react better or worse to this kind of training. It’s very important that you are patient and that you do not punch, kick or abuse your guinea pig if it isn’t learning tricks well. Remember that repetition is the mother of skill.
List of Sources
A Water-Maze Test of Learning Ability for Guinea-Pigs
Caring for Your Pet Guinea Pig