When finding that perfect fur animal, you might see yourself looking at guinea pigs, which make an excellent addition to your family. They are incredibly loving, outgoing, and timid. Not to mention that they will let you know if they are hungry or not! With that being said, you may notice that your guinea pig may be sensitive to your presence at first, but there is no reason to fear. There are many ways you can tame a guinea pig!
By providing a comforting environment and not forcing yourself on your fur baby, they will be susceptible to wanting to be around you. All it takes is patience, understanding, and handling your pet with tenderness on your end.
While you go through this process, it is imperative not to get upset if your guinea pig does not immediately want to go to you. You must remember that each one you get is very different and unique, especially if you have multiple rodents of this type.
Step 1: Provide Places to Hide
Guinea pigs are prey animals, so if they do not have enough spaces to hide, they will become terrified! Once you take them into your care, your furball will not see you as an ally but a predator. Ensuring they have a safe and comfortable enough environment allows your cavy to get used to their new home and you.
Step 2: Ensure A Quiet Place
Since guinea pigs have sensitive ears, it is best to keep them away from places that make much noise, such as the living room, kitchen, or room with a TV or radio. In doing so, they will get used to the new environment they came into. You do not want to overwhelm your cavy, for they could become very stressed. If you feel like your pig is worried, here are some signs to look out for:
- Nervousness or irritability.
- Sleeping too much.
- Not wanting to come out of their hiding spaces.
- Chattering, hissing, or baring their teeth.
- Little to no appetite.
- Not wanting to be handled, even if it is just for a bit.
- Hair loss
- Head tossing.
- Freezing into place.
Step 3: Avoid Chasing Them
Although guinea pigs are generally social animals and love to chase each other around — whether it be from playing or fighting, it does not mean that we should pursue them ourselves.
Think about it this way. If you were out hiking in the wilderness and you saw a large animal, such as a bear, running towards you, how would you feel? I am positively confident that it would be frightening, and your instinct would be just to run away! Although it is known that you need to stand your ground and make a lot of noise, guinea pigs do not know this and will run away from you because they think you are trying to prey on them.
Step 4: Make Your Guinea Pig Get Used To Your Voice
Talking to your fur baby with your voice will allow them to get used to you much better, which in return, they will know to trust you.
Tone matters in these instances as well. The majority of the time, you will be using a soft tone to ensure they understand you mean no harm. Still, when it is time to eat or if you have a treat, like a carrot or piece of celery, then it would be best to speak in an excited tone to ensure they know it is time to eat, and, in return, your fur baby will be more than thrilled with you.
On the contrary, when it is time to eat, you can always make a specific noise to let them know they will be eating and watch to see the excitement they will have afterward.
Step 5: Establish Familiarity With Rewards
One of the many qualities guinea pigs have is the fact that they LOVE food. No matter what time it is, they are always thinking, “food? I need food!” You will quickly realize this as you come home from a long day, and the hay and treats that were there in the morning are completely devoured. It seems as if every time you turn around, they have some sort of food in their mouths.
With that being said, hand feeding your guinea pig helps them realize that you will not harm them. Keeping this in mind, they love vegetables, so if you offer them any, your domestic cavy will get excited. You can also use the method of if they come to you, provide them with a reward to ensure better trust, and praise them for coming to you the more familiar they get with you.
One small tip I will tell you is that if you immediately hand-feed them, they might not grow accustomed to this as if you were to place the treat in front of their cave, then a few days later, gradually hand-feed them. Doing so will have them learn you are not a threat, and it will be much easier.
Step 6: Pet Your Fur Baby
Body language is quite essential when coming to your guinea pig. If they want to be picked up, they will surely let you know, but moving slowly and speaking more softly is the best option. Most of the time, when you reach into their cages, it may cause them to run and hide, which is a natural way for a prey animal to respond. Where some guinea pigs might like to be held, others may not want to be touched much. We have to understand that if this is the case, then let them be unless they want a quick touch or two.
If you wish to hold him or her, make sure you put them on a stable surface or handle your fur baby firmly to make them feel safe and secured to reduce any anxious behavior they might be feeling.
Step 7: Handle Your Guinea Pig With Care
Guinea pigs are not good for rough play, so it is vital to touch your pig with tenderness and love. As they get used to you from all of the previous steps, you can now start handling them, but make sure to do it slowly and carefully.
A quick tip is to imagine what it is like to lay on the floor, and large hands are grabbing at your face, then put yourself in your fur animal’s shoes. This is why it is essential to pick them up underneath.
Here are some tips on what I mean
- Prepare a towel to go underneath you: Guinea pigs may pee or poop on you, so better to be safe than sorry, especially if you love the clothes you are currently wearing!
- Have a calm mindset: If you are antsy, they will fear it and get anxious. If you had a stressful day, take a few minutes to breathe or get your mind right, then make sure the environment is calm with little to no noise.
- Gently get them out of the cage: By using the pen to your advantage, cut them off from the cell. If your cavy seems agitated and tries to bite you, then try another day again.
- Put one hand under your pig: By placing one hand underneath their bellies, start to lift them slowly, then put a finger around the front of their legs for better support.
- Use two hands: As they learn, you will not harm them; they will feel more secure by cuddling your pig with both hands. Use one hand to support their backs, so they do not feel like they are falling off.
- Be firm but gentle: If you do not have a solid grip, they may try to jump out of your hands, but make sure not to be harsh, as this may harm them.
Step 6: Ensure Trust
Since you are a new person to them, you can not ask your guinea pig to trust you overnight. To establish trust, it is essential to remain patient and understanding given any situation. Softly speaking to your cavy helps them better understand that you are not a threat, and you mean well. Ensure they feel safe and secure, and talk to your domestic guinea pig every chance you get.
How To Reduce Stress In Your Guinea Pig
We are all finished with the steps on how to tame your domestic cavy, but what other ways can we reduce stress in our guinea pig? It is crucial to transition from the pet store, or anywhere else you got him or her from to your home as stress-free as possible. Just make sure you understand their situation and take everything into account before worrying too much at first.
Here are some other ways to relieve tension for your pig:
- Keep all other animals out of the room until they are used to the environment, then if you feel so inclined, slowly, but indeed, introduce them with one animal at a time to see how it goes at first.
- Provide supervision with younger children, and continue to remind them to be gentle with the animals and know how to make them feel safe and secure. If you sense any overwhelmed emotions coming from your pig, make sure you give them enough alone time.
- Make sure they have a cage mate, for guinea pigs do not like being alone. It is best to pair them with the same-sex as each other, but you can do either. Just make sure the male is neutered. Most pigs do better at being with another one that they have known since birth.
- Do allow enough space for your guinea pig to roam around in. A 30″ x 50″ space is often the best option, but 30″ x 36″ is okay too. Another excellent option you can do is build a cage on your own, but make sure they do not have many levels or wheels available, as they are grazing animals.
Overall, keeping your guinea pig happy is the best way to establish trust. Just like if you were to move into a new home and get used to all of the new sounds, the same goes for any animal, so make sure you remain calm at every turn. You will soon realize that they are easy-going animals who love food and cuddles!