Do you have a guinea pig? If so, you know that they are adorable little creatures that love to have fun.
Did you also know that guinea pigs are smart creatures that can learn a variety of tricks. With a little patience and some tasty treats, you can teach your guinea pig to perform all sorts of fun tricks. With a little time and effort, you can turn your Guinea Pig into a veritable circus performer!
Before you get into teaching your guinea pig some tricks, you need to make sure they feel safe. If your guinea pig is a new pet, they might not know you very well and be a little scared.
If this is the case, you might want to wait and start teaching them tricks in a couple of months. First of all, you need to get your guinea pig comfortable with you. So in this time, hold and talk to them daily. They will soon feel secure and safe.
Once they do, you can get onto teaching them some tricks.
Clicker Training and/or Verbal Cue
When you teach your guinea pig tricks, you want to either use a clicker or a verbal cue. You will only do one or the other as doing both will confuse your guinea pig. This would then be followed with a treat as a reward.
A clicker is basically something you can click to make a noise. Now you can buy a proper clicker or you can just use a colicky pen.
When we clicker train your guinea pig, its a case of clicking the clicker when they’ve done a part of the trick or all of the trick. This is then followed with a treat.
The aim of this is that when they hear the clicker, they know they’ll get a treat.
A verbal cue is a word that is used to instruct them to do a specific trick. For example if your teaching them the stand up trick, you might use “stand” as the verbal cue.
What you’ll need to teach a trick
There are a few things you’ll need when teaching your guinea pig some tricks.
A Variety of Treats
In order to encourage your guinea pigs to do tricks, we’ll start off by giving them some treats. You therefore need some tasty treats that they like. Things like;
You can also give them their favourite fruit, but do give this in moderation.
You want to be able to comfortable sit and spend time practicing the tricks. Their cage might be a little small. If you have the space, I would recommend setting up a run that your able to sit in with them and practice the tricks. Knowing that they are also safe and secure.
Remember like with anything it takes time for your Guinea Pigs to learn a new trick. Dont get frustrated and have as much patience as possible. Some tricks they might pick up quicker than others. Some they might never be able to do.
Remember, Guinea Pigs also like routine. Its a good idea to have these training sessions the same time each day.
What tricks can guinea pigs do ?
Below are 7 guinea pig tricks, that will entertain your piggies as well as impress your friends and family.
Come When Called
We all know dogs come when you call their name, did you know guinea pigs can as well?
It’s actually one of the easiest tricks for them to learn. You’re going to be calling their name and giving them a treat each time. Its important to remember to keep your tone of voice happy.
- Give your guinea pig a treat and as you do say their name
- Do this a few times every day for a few days. It might take 1-2 weeks.
Your guinea pig will start to associate getting a treat when you say their name.
Once they have this done, we want to train them to come to you.
- Say your guinea pigs name, when there around 4-5 inches away from you.
- Keep the treat held out in front of you.
- As soon as they reach you, give them the treat.
- Continue to practice until they come every time.
- When they do, you want to increase the gap between you and your guinea pig and repeat.
For this trick, we want our guinea pig to step onto our hand so we can pick them up. This is a great trick as it makes it less stressful for your piggies when you want to pick them up.
This trick can also be used to train them to jump onto platforms.
- Place one hand on the floor
- With your other hand you want to hold out the treat in front of your guinea pig
- Lead them to your flat hand and hold the treat above your wrist so they can still see it
- Encourage them onto your hand, as they step up say a command such as “step” or “up”
- Continue to repeat until they do it every time.
- Once they’ve mastered it, remove the treat and just use the commands.
For this trick, we’re going to make your guinea pig stand. They’re very cute when on their back legs.
It’s really important that they do have their favourite treat to encourage them to do this one.
- Make sure your guinea pig knows you have the treat
- Hold it above their head and say “stand” or “stand up”
- You can hold it by their nose so they can smell it and repeat the command and move your hand slowly above their head.
- Once they stand and are on their back legs, give them the treat.
- Continue to do this every day for a few weeks
- After a couple of weeks your guinea pig should be able to repeat the trick without any treats.
Turn In Circles
This is one of my favourite tricks, trying to make your guinea pig turn in circles.
It will often need to be done in stages, as a full circle might take them time to pick up and master.
- Get your guinea pigs favourite treat
- Lure them around a quarter of a circle by placing the treat in front of them.
- Give them a little bite of the treat
- Lure your guinea pig to the halfway point and give them a bit more of the treat
- Finally try and lure them the rest of the circle. if they manage it give them more of the treat
- At each point, make sure to use the command “circle” or “round”
- Repeat this a few times on a daily basis.
Once your guinea pig picks that up okay, try and repeat with them going half way round the circle first and then the final half.
Continue to repeat until they manage this easily.
When they do, practice doing it one complete circle. Continue practicing this until they manage it with ease.
The next stage, you need to start removing the treat. Use a treat for the first 3/4 of the circle and for the last quarter remove the treat.
Next try and remove the treat half way around the circle and see if you can get them to continue without the treat.
Once this is done, remove the treat completely and just use your hand as an action and the command.
Jump Through Hoops
We’re now coming onto more advanced tricks, although at the same time your furry friend will love it and so will you.
No doubt, if theres one trick you want your guinea pig to learn, its jumping through a hoop. Am I right?
I sure did, it’s such a fun trick. Plus its one that really impresses people.
It’s actually a really good guinea pig trick for beginners, as its one of the easiest to teach.
Now obviously your going to need a hoop. It’s important that the hoop is big enough for your guinea pigs to comfortably get through.
- Place the hoop low on the ground
- Lure your guinea pig through the hoop by holding a treat the other side
- Place the treat closer to them, if they need extra encouragement to come through the hoop
- As they get their head through the hoop, let them have a nibble of the treat
- Once they are through, give them praise and let them eat a good amount of the treat
- Continue practicing on a daily basis.
Once they’ve gotten confident, start to increase the height of the hoop and repeat. This will encourage them to jump through the hoop.
It is possible that your piggies do run through the hoop for fun, completely unaware that your trying to teach them a trick. I would praise them anyway and give them a treat.
Now this is one of the advanced tricks. It’s a follow on to the come when called trick.
There are some guinea pigs tricks that should only be done when they are tame, this is one of them. The reason why is if they suddenly get scared, they could run away and be very hard to find.
It is a very cute trick, so worth doing it properly. The aim is to train your guinea pig to not only come to you but to also follow you.
- First they need to get used to you standing close to them
- Stand next to them and give them a couple of treats.
- Once they’re comfortable with you stood there, move back slightly
- Offer more treats to lure your guinea pig to you.
- Continue to take a step back and then give them a treat once they follow you.
- Repeat until they start to follow you around
You can make this even more advanced by changing directions.
Just remember every time you take a step, stop and lure your guinea pig to you.
It’s also worth remembering that not all guinea pigs like people above them. Millie and Molly would often run away if we were stood right above them.
Just take it slow and continue to repeat any of the above steps, until your piggies are relaxed and comfortable with you stood there.
If your looking for guinea pigs tricks that are fairly easy and beginner friendly, this is a good choice.
In fact if they can learn simple tricks like this one, it allows you to expand on the tricks you can teach. For example you’ll be able to get them to go onto one platform, jump through a hoop onto another platform. Or get them onto a platform and get into a standing position.
The first thing your going to need is a good sized platform. You want one that is big enough for your little buddy to be able to comfortably move around on.
It’s also recommended to start training on a lower down platform and gradually move up in height.
Training your guinea pig up onto the platform might take a few weeks.
- First encourage your guinea pig to get into the platform by holding a treat in front of them
- Move your hand onto the platform to encourage them onto it.
- If they are a bit scared, give them a bit of the treat if they put their paws onto the platform. Don’t forget to give them praise.
- I like to place a extra treats on the platform to encourage them up.
- Once on the platform, give them a few treats and plenty of praise.
- We not need to lure them off the platform.
- Once they come off, again give them a treat and praise them.
Next you want to continue repeating this process. Getting them to go onto the platform and then off it again.
Once they’ve done that, try and move them further away from the platform and continue to repeat. After they’ve managed that, you could then start introducing a platform thats a little more off the ground.
Push A Ball / Play Soccer (Bonus Trick)
One trick you can teach your guinea pig is how to play soccer. Its great fun to watch and its entertaining for them as well.
- Place a lightweight ball with some treats under it
- You might need to initial place this close to the guinea pig’s nose
- At first they’ll smell around the guinea pig pushes the ball to get the treat
- Continue to do this, until they automatically go to the ball and push it out of the way
- Now place the ball down again but don’t put any treats under it
- They should go back and nudge the ball to look for a treat. When they do praise them and give them a treat
- Give them a treat every time they nudge the ball.
- As they get the hang of it, don’t give them a treat until they start to push the ball harder
When it comes to training your guinea pig, there are different methods that you follow. Its worth testing different ones in your training sessions, as you might find one method easier than another.
Or your guinea pig might have a preferred way.
The 3 training methods are;
To teach your guinea pig as quickly as possible, you do need to find the right one.
Let’s look into each method in a little more detail below.
This is one of the most common methods to teach your guinea pig tricks. It involves using a treat to lure your guinea pig into the position you want them.
Its good short term, but long term you want them to eventually do the trick without needing to be lured with a treat.
As they get used to a trick with the lure. The first thing you need to do once they can do the trick is to use the lure much quicker. So move the treat from their nose to the position you want them quicker.
Eventually you’ll be able to remove the treat all together.
It’s not going to be possible for your guinea pig to do a trick right away, even the simple tricks. This is where shaping comes in.
Shaping is when you break down a trick into simple steps. I often like to try and combine shaping with luring or you can do it without a lure.
A good example of shaping is the platform trick. Instead of expecting them to get straight onto the platform, you’ll just get your guinea pig to place a its front paws onto the platform first. Then you’ll get them onto the platform.
Getting your guinea pig to those steps by showing it a treat and luring them on is one way of combing shaping with another training method.
As mentioned you can do this free shaping, which instead of using their favorite treat as a way to lure them you give them a treat only once they complete a step.
In this article, we’ve looked at 7 different tricks that you can teach your guinea pig.
From getting them to play soccer, to getting them onto a platform.
All of which can be taught relatively easily with the right training methods and patience.
It’s important to find the right method for training your guinea pig, as some methods might work better than others.
For example, luring is a good short term method for teaching tricks but eventually you want to move away from using treats altogether.
Shaping is a great way of breaking down complex tricks into simple steps that your guinea Pig can understand.
As they master each step, give them a treat and gradually increase the difficulty by making the steps harder. This will eventually lead to them being able to do the trick without any treats at all.
And finally, capturing is a great way of getting your guinea pig to do tricks spontaneously.
For example, if you want them to jump through a hoop, wait until they jump and then give them a treat afterwards.
With time and patience, they’ll start to associate the act of jumping with getting a treat and will eventually do it on command.
Whichever method you choose, be patient and keep practicing regularly for the best results!
Hope you enjoyed this article on guinea pig tricks. Let me know in the comments below what tricks your guinea pigs know or which ones your looking to teach them.