As we all know, guinea pigs are very socialized animals. They are great with people and even with other animals. But, when a new animal enters your home, it tends to be less social and in some cases, you’ll need to tame it in order to make it feel safe and secure within your space. It can happen with every animal, whether it’s a cat or a very dominant dog, every animal will struggle a little bit when changing its environment.
For guinea pigs, this process can last a bit longer or in some cases very short, depending on your behavior. Since you’re reading this article, we assume that you need some help in taming your guinea pig and that’s what we’re going to talk about.
You’ll learn how to successfully tame your new furry friend and make his short life worth living. Without further ado, let’s jump straight to the topic!
How to Tame a Guinea Pig – 7 Simple Things You Need to Do
1. Provide It with a Lot of Space
When a guinea pig enters your home, you shouldn’t just let it roam around the house and there are several reasons for that. The first one is that it could accidentally get out of the house and may get lost. If you have more animals such as cats or dogs, they can mortally injure a guinea pig and that’s why a guinea pig should always have its own space, a CONFINED space. A confined space such as the cage or a hutch will make a guinea pig feel calm and secure and if you want to tame it successfully, this is a must, hence it’s a second reason for providing confined space.
Now, it’s true that guinea pigs are social animals and they simply love companionship but this is when they grow up a bit and get a better understanding of you. Since we mentioned a lot of space, it’s obvious that guinea pigs need a bigger cage or a hutch. We recommend going with a minimum of 8 square feet in space. Getting a cage with wooden construction and separated sleeping and running areas is your best bet. This way, a guinea pig can enjoy its new welcome to your home and by doing that, it will slowly gain trust.
2. Establish a Feeding Schedule and Make Sure It’s Eating
After completing the first step, make sure that you feed your guinea pig regularly – if possible, twice a day and always at the same time. A regular supply of food will keep the guinea pig happy and when it’s happy, it’s more likely to enjoy your companionship. Guinea pigs are gluttonous eaters and will eat everything you give them. But, since we have some toxic foods for guinea pigs, you should focus on hay, and some fruits and vegetables, preferably foods with higher amounts of vitamin C (spinach, melons, cabbage, oranges, and broccoli).
One important thing to mention is that you should check if your guinea pig has eaten. Guinea pigs are sometimes shy and will refuse to eat if you just stand there looking at them like you’ve never seen a guinea pig eating. Instead of doing that, go do your stuff and return after 10 minutes. If the food is gone, be sure to clean the cage and pour some drinking water. Beware that for the first one or two days, some guinea pigs simply refuse to eat. If this condition persists for more than a few days, contact your vet.
3. Talk to Your Guinea Pig
If someone tells you that animals don’t understand when you talk, he’s definitely not a wise person. Of course, animals don’t understand exactly what you’re saying but they are masters at reading your tone of voice. If you speak loudly and fast, the animal will know that you’re angry and nervous, which will then make it uneasy and scared of you. But, if you talk gently, slowly, and in a lovely tone, the animal will slowly gain trust and will not be scared of you. With guinea pigs, be sure to talk quieter, slowly, and keep your distance at first.
The reason for this is that the guinea pig needs to get used to the tone of your voice and your presence in general. You can also talk to your guinea pig while you feed it. This will help the guinea pig will associate your presence and voice with food, which is a winning combination.
4. Touch Your Guinea Pig
Do NOT touch your guinea pig before completing the previous step. If the guinea pig is eager to spend time with you and looks happy and playful, it’s time to try touching it. The first thing you want to do is to let it sniff your hand. Do this for about two or three days and then proceed to stick your hand in the cage but do it slowly. A tamed guinea pig will now sniff your hand or in some cases, lick it. Be sure not to move your hand vigorously but keep it still. Once again, you might need to repeat the process every time you feed it for two or three days.
Beware that it can take some time to build trust, so patience is the key here. When a guinea pig is completely comfortable, you can then move on to the next step.
5. Pick up Your Guinea Pig
Picking up is one of the final steps in taming this beautiful animal. But, this step should be performed when the guinea pig is completely comfortable in your presence. Remember this – if your guinea pig gets scared during this step, it’s much harder to tame it again, as you’ll need to return to the start again.
So, how do you pick up a guinea pig? Place one hand under the pig’s belly and the other hand under its rear. Now pick it up very gently. Another way you can do this is by wrap one hand around the shoulders and the other hand under its rear end. When picking up a guinea pig, be sure to hold it near your chest and talk softly, to make it more comfortable.
A guinea pig might not seem calm at first and that’s okay. In that case, gently return it to the cage and don’t touch it until tomorrow. If it’s comfortable, you can sit back, relax, and pet it freely. If you’re scared that you might accidentally drop it, you can get a towel and place it underneath the pig when you pick it up. For the first few weeks, pick up your guinea pig at least once a day. During this period, a guinea pig will gain trust and you will become much better friends, even though it might seem terrified at first. Sometimes, a guinea pig will start purring, similarly to a cat, which can mean that it’s nervous. If a guinea pig is nervous, it might sometimes scratch or bite you. (Click to read find out 9 reasons why guinea pigs bite their owners)
In this case, it’s a definite NO and you should immediately put it back into the cage.
6. Reward the Good Behavior
Now that you two became friends, you can regularly reward good behavior. Whether it’s something in training or simply being a good guinea pig, you can throw in some vegetables and let it enjoy its happy meal. Because you’ve now successfully tamed a guinea pig, you can sit back and relax. A guinea pig will love you its whole life and you should reward that love. Spend a lot of time, feed it properly, and watch it grow. This brings us to the final tip.
7. Include Some Bonding Activities and Play a Lot
This is perhaps the most important tip on the list. Please include some bonding activities every day. Picking up a guinea pig, petting it or simply enjoying its company in your free time, all of that will strengthen your friendly relationship. Finally, you should play a lot with your guinea pig. An inactive guinea pig is less healthy than the one that regularly plays and runs. For that purpose, be sure to buy some guinea pig toys or simply let it out of the cage to run around and enjoy. A tired guinea pig will eat better and will be in shape, which is ideal for an animal like them.
Don’t be afraid of buying a guinea pig. Taming such an animal is a piece of cake and it won’t take too much effort, despite sounding otherwise. Every small animal, especially rodent, will need to go through this process, as rodents are some of the timidest animals out there. When tamed, guinea pigs are lovely, cute, and very friendly. Be sure not to scare your pig at first and keep your relationship steady in the beginning.
Remember that guinea pigs live relatively short so you want to make their life as awesome as possible. By doing that, you also make your own life more awesome, which is the beauty of having a guinea pig in your home!