Guinea pigs are marvelously intelligent creatures. However, to train guinea pigs, you will need patience and persistence. They are not like dogs or even cats. Instead, you should focus first on the things that benefit your guinea pigs.
Before you begin this process, it’s important to set realistic expectations. You can train your guinea pigs. However, there will be varying degrees between the guinea pigs in your success. You’re not going to get perfect compliance every time, and it will take weeks to months to train your guinea pigs.
Before You Start Training Your Guinea Pigs
Before you begin to train your guinea pigs, ask yourself what you want your guinea pigs to learn. If you want practical tricks like responding to their names, it’s relatively straightforward and may benefit your guinea pig. If it’s hoop-jumping and obstacle courses you want, that will take more time.
Your guinea pigs must be comfortable with you before you begin to train them. Otherwise, you will set that relationship back and not achieve the results you’re looking for.
Picking a Guinea Pig Training Treat
It’s crucial to pick the right training treats. You want something your guinea pigs can eat quickly, but that isn’t calorically dense. You also don’t want to carry around items that get slippery or slimy in your hands.
Generally, vegetables make the best treats. You can cut up some dark green leaves into strips, cut bell pepper strips into pieces, or makes some small squash bits. Generally, if you can keep each treat to less than the size of your pinky nail, it will work. Using vegetables also helps keep your guinea pig healthy.
Movement vs. Noise for Guinea Pigs
So you understand, initially you will be luring your guinea pig into the training with food. The guinea pig will follow your hand because you have tasty snacks. This is how you start training them, and the words come later.
Since guinea pigs are herbivores at the bottom of the food chain, their hearing is solid. However, you cannot start training guinea pigs by noise alone, and they are not suitable for clicker training. Once they are reliably following your hand for food, you can begin to associate words with the actions.
What to Train
Generally, it’s best to start training guinea pigs on simple tasks first. Items like responding to their name or walking to a specific part of their home are useful beginning tasks. With these, you can gauge how well your guinea pigs may take to training. It also helps your guinea pigs understand what you want from them in exchange for those delicious treats.
Then you can move on to more complex tasks. Things like running in a circle, standing up, or hopping into an upside-down container are all suitable tasks for this step. These help your guinea pig gain confidence.
At this point, you’ve made it to show tricks. If your guinea pig is still intrigued by the training at this point, they can achieve some amazing feats. Tasks like jumping through (low) hoops, through obstacle courses, and other fun things you see in guinea pig trick videos fit here. Just make sure your guinea pig is safe while you’re doing this.