Can you train a guinea pig?

Yes, guinea pigs can be trained. Despite their seemingly simple nature, these creatures can show off a very impressive level of intelligence with some encouragement. They can be taught a variety of simple tricks and tasks that will not only improve their brain function but also improve their cuteness. As with any training program, it is important to stay patient, be creative, and have fun with it, so the experience is enjoyable for both you and your furry little friend.

What are the best ways to train guinea pigs?

Guinea pig grabbing a person's finger
Olena Kurashova/

Like most other pets such as cats or dogs, guinea pigs tend to be very food-motivated. Just one sniff of a delicious treat will encourage them to do just about anything. When it comes to using food as a motivating factor, however, there are some things to consider:

  • Repetition is key. By repeating a command, the trick, then the reward, you are ingraining the trick into your guinea pig’s mind. It will help them become more and more aware of what a successful trick is and ultimately, what will get them a tasty treat. Although guinea pigs are intelligent little creatures, it is important to keep training to a reasonable amount each day. About 30 minutes each day should be more than enough to get them on track and learning.
  • A balanced diet is important. It can be easy to lose track of how much you’re feeding your guinea pig during training sessions. Every time they perform satisfactorily, it can be easy to give them all the treats. Because of this, it is important to track how much food you’re giving them during training sessions and how much should be subtracted from their daily meals. An easy way to keep track is by putting aside a designated amount for training, and once that amount is gone, that’s all the training that will be done for the day.
  • Only reward after a successful trick. To properly use positive reinforcement, the treat should only be given after a trick or command is successfully completed. This way, the guinea pig knows what the correct way is to complete a command.

Tricks you can teach a guinea pig

The super-fun part about training a guinea pig, or any animal for that matter, is all of the cute tricks to teach. Thanks to the intelligence of a guinea pig, there can be a wide variety of commands and tricks that will have them being the most impressive guinea pig on the block. Some of the most fun tricks and commands to teach include:

  • Responding to their name
  • Sitting on their hind legs, aka “sit pretty”
  • Litter box training
  • Pushing a ball
  • Jumping through a hoop
  • Following their owner
  • Turning in circles
  • Telling them to go home

Extra tips for training

Guinea pig eating a carrot held by a person
Grigorita Ko/

As with any type of new experience, practice and confidence will help ensure a more successful outcome. Training a guinea pig can be easier than you might think, but having some extra tips and tricks up your sleeve can’t hurt:

  • Be confident. Confidence is key in any situation. When you feel and act confident, your guinea pig will respond more confidently, as well.
  • Use the guinea pig’s favorite food or treat. Nothing is more motivating to a guinea pig than their favorite food, making it the perfect motivator for training.
  • Use the same words for each command. Consistency is important, so never confuse your guinea pig. It is important to use the same words over and over again for each command. It can be helpful to write down your command words, so you’ll never forget.
  • Use positive reinforcement only. Positive reinforcement is all you need to have a perfectly trained guinea pig. When an unsatisfactory response occurs, don’t just give your guinea pig a treat.
  • Patience always wins. Training takes time, so being patient over weeks and even months is important for an enjoyable training experience.
  • Stock up on healthy treats. Guinea pigs are big veggie lovers, making it easy to stock up on a wide variety of healthy treats they will love. Some common favorites include carrots, celery, kale, and broccoli.

When it comes to training any kind of pet, patience reigns supreme. Repetitive commands and daily training is the best way to get your guinea pig on track. Although guinea pigs don’t appear to be the sharpest tools in the shed, they can actually hold their own in the training arena.

Guinea pigs can be very attentive and willing to follow your training commands. Regardless of which tricks you want to teach your little pet, consistent encouragement and plenty of patience will turn your guinea pig into quite a lovable and obedient pet.

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