Tricks You Can Teach Your Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are the sweetest little rodents. They’re great pets because they don’t take up much space. They’re affectionate and demand attention, but they don’t need any special care, which means you don’t have spend too much time on them. Instead, you can to spend most of your time teaching them tricks.
Guinea pigs make great pets because they’re sweet, expressive, and grateful. People usually overlook their intelligence and ability to learn, but they love to pick up new things and can understand much more than you might think.
With some patience and a clear idea of what you want to teach them, your guinea pig can learn some amazing tricks. However, first, it’s important to know how to reward them. They’re vegetarian and even though they love lettuce and basil, those can both cause digestion problems, or even be toxic.
Before you start training your guinea pig, figure out what treat it likes. Find a food it can eat without feeling bad, that you can break up into small bits. Every guinea pig has different tastes, so the first step is to figure out what it likes as a treat.
How to teach your guinea pig new tricks
Before you do anything you have to decide what tricks you want to teach it. Organize these tricks from easiest to hardest. Always start with the easy things and then move onto the harder ones. Once you’ve made a decision, break up the trick into parts. It’s much more effective to gradually teach a guinea pig than it is all at once.
Reward your guinea pig every time it does the trick properly, and do it right while it takes place. If you do it too long, it won’t understand why you’re rewarding it and won’t learn to repeat the behavior.
Give a name to every trick. One word is enough, and never more than two or three syllables. Don’t try to teach it two different tricks with the same name.
First, say the word and guide your guinea pig through the trick. After a few tries it will understand that this word means you want it to do certain things.
Don’t punish it when it makes an mistake, because making a mistake is part of the learning process. It’s bet if you just start all over again. Don’t yell at it and don’t wear yourself out: doing tricks is supposed to be fun, not a chore. If your pet doesn’t want to learn, or isn’t interested, it’s not worth forcing it.
There are tons of things you can teach a guinea pig. One of the simplest is standing up. Start out with a treat in your hand. Bring it towards their mouth and raise it slowly, so the guinea pig starts to stand on its back feet to reach it.
Reward it the moment it starts to use its hind legs the first few times. Then wait until it stands up a little higher, and by the end wait for it to be standing entirely on its hind legs before you reward it.
Don’t forget to say the word “stand” (or “up,” for example, but really it can be any word) before you get it to stand up. Remember that it only has learned the trick when you say the word and it stands without waiting for you to reward it.
Doing a 360° turn
Doing a 360° turn is another easy trick. This is another one where you start with a treat in your hand. Put it close to its nose or bring it towards the ground, and move it around in a circle to have the guinea pig spin around to follow it.
Start by saying the word you chose, then guide your pet through the motions, but give it a treat before it finishes. Make sure it goes further on every time reward it, and once you’ve done a few full turns, use your hand to guide it in a circle without giving a treat.
After a few tries your guinea pig should have learned to spin around just by saying the word. However, every animal learns at its own pace, so it might take more tries to get it to understand.
Do a zig zag
You’ll have to do some crafting before you start with this trick. Make a platform that can stand up straight by using four or five sticks. Leave about 5 inches between each stick to give your guinea pig room to maneuver.
The method here is similar to the other tricks: say your word and guide the guinea pig through the sticks. Don’t go all the way at first, start off bit by bit.
With this one you have to remember to start on the same side every time. It makes a big difference whether they start with sticks on the left or right.
There are tons of things you can teach a guinea pig with enough imagination just by remembering these tips. Some can shoot a ball into a hoop, others can jump over things, and others can push guinea-pig-sized shopping carts…Some can even high five.
It all depends on how patient you are with their learning pace, and finding a treat that motivates them. Don’t be afraid to try any tricks that come into your head, as long as they’re fun for you both.