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Guinea pigs have become a popular choice for pets due to their cute appearance, fun, and social and expressive nature. They are also quite intelligent and can be trained to perform a variety of step routines, simple agility skills, and a variety of other simple skills. Training involves the use of positive reinforcement techniques.
How to Teach a Guinea Pig Tricks
Guinea pigs are more intelligent than most people think, and they have the ability and determination to learn new things. An owner can teach their pet guinea pigs a few tricks with enough patience. Here’s how to teach a guinea pig tricks:
Establish a Strong Bond
The guinea pig will be easier to train if you have a strong bond between the two of you. As they also have feelings, it is best to strengthen the relationship by treating your guinea pig kindly and spending time together daily. Ensure you give the guinea pig enough attention and love every day
Establishing trust can be considered the first step in training your guinea pig. It is best to ensure positive interactions until the guinea pig is comfortable with your presence. It will make the training process easier and more enjoyable for both of you.
Some of the ways you can use to establish a positive relationship with your guinea pig include:
- Avoid lifting the guinea pig in the beginning, make sure that you hold them properly. It can be a scary experience, especially when in new surroundings.
- Interact with the guinea pig without lifting them. Let them approach you and talk to them calmly to get used to your presence.
- Gradually reduce the distance when feeding them until they are comfortable eating from your hands.
Choose a Suitable Training Method
The most effective training methods for guinea pigs are using a verbal marker and clicker training. Both ways rely on positive reinforcement, which entails rewarding good behavior without punishing any negative behavior. Negative reinforcement can negatively affect the training as the guinea pig associates training with negativity.
You may have to reward the guinea pig with a treat such as their favorite fruits like raspberries after completing a task. However, guinea pigs are highly social creatures and respond to praise after establishing a solid bond.
It is essential to condition the guinea pig to associate the verbal marker or clicker with a treat, try giving them kiwi or papaya as these are known to be their favorite food. To do this, you can use the clicker or the verbal marker and give the guinea pig a treat a few seconds later. You may have to repeat the process a few times daily until the guinea pig understands the meaning.
Use Cues and Treats
After the guinea pig has grasped the meaning of the verbal marker or clicker, it is now time to start gradually with simple commands. You can use the verbal marker or clicker and offer the guinea pig a treat a short distance away and wait for the guinea pig to come to the offered treat.
You have to be patient as you may have to repeat the process a couple of times, moving the treat to a new place each time. It may take some time for the guinea pig to approach your hand. However, keep repeating the process until they do.
Break Down Large Tasks Into Smaller Tasks
It is constructive to break down large tasks into smaller tasks. It is essential to teach the guinea pig so that the tasks build upon each other. You will often have to start at the beginning of a trick whether you have been training the guinea pig for a short or long time.
For instance, you will need to train your guinea pig to pick up a ball before teaching them how to fetch. High expectations of instant results will be stressful for your guinea pig. You have to be patient and start with more straightforward tasks.
It is crucial to try and have at least one training session daily. Repetition and constant reinforcement will be essential in teaching your guinea pig to follow your commands. However, it is vital to keep the training sessions short, especially when first starting with training your guinea pig.
You can start with training sessions of about five to 10 minutes. Guinea pigs may not focus on a single task for an extended period. Gradually, you can increase the time you spend in training.
Daily sessions will provide enough time to teach your guinea pig plenty of tricks over time.
With enough patience and determination, you will be able to train your guinea pig to do various tricks. Remember, the first few times, you will not be able to get much done, or you will think you are not making progress. Do not stop; keep on going at it every day.
Guinea pigs are intelligent animals that can be trained to do various tricks. It is essential to be patient and start with simple tasks initially. A strong bond with your guinea pig will make the training more manageable and more enjoyable.