Guinea pigs are wonderful little pets — adding one (or more) to your family was a great choice! And learning to tame your guinea pig is an important first step in guinea pig parenting.
Guinea pigs, as prey animals, are hardcoded to be wary of people, strangers, and new situations. Who knows who could be a predator in this big, scary world?
This means it’ll take time, hard work, and a proven method to create a trusting bond with your new pet.
The first two points are on you, but we’ll take care of the all-important third:
This post provides you with a detailed step-by-step guinea pig taming guide.
Our tips are based on our many years of experience, so trust us; this will work. Just follow each step closely and bring a lot of persistence and patience to the table! It’ll be a challenge, but one well worth it!
As you follow our advice, remember to adapt it to your guinea pig’s specific personality, as you know your piggy best!
Now let’s jump into our six-step process:
Step 1: Build Them a Cozy Home
Put yourself in your pet’s shoes:
You’re a small, helpless guinea pig that’s just arrived in a foreign environment inhabited by strange giant humans…
No wonder you’re terrified!
You need to help your guinea pigs get used to their new home by making it as cozy as possible.
- Fill the hutch (or cage) with lots of soft bedding and yummy hay.
- Add a warm fleece for your guinea pig to cuddle up in.
- Provide them with a hiding place.
Hiding places are particularly important because guinea pigs instinctively want to hide whenever they feel threatened (remember most predators in nature come from above).
The best option on Amazon is the Niteangel Wood House, but feel free to DIY it!
Two more tricks to remember:
- Make sure all your guinea pigs have their own hideout.
- Never stick your hand in this private hideout.
The guinea pig home is set; what next?
Step 2: Leave Your Guinea Pig Alone
Guinea pigs are frickin’ cute, we know — we love them too!
But you must resist the temptation to immediately snatch them up and cuddle them because they’re soooo soft!
Give them some space for at least a couple of days when you first bring them home. They’ll slowly adjust to their new surroundings. They just need time.
If you rush it, you’ll get your pets worked up, and you’ll make taming your guinea piggies a much slower process.
Once you notice that your new guinea pig looks more comfortable, you’re ready for:
Step 3: Talk To Your Guinea Pig
You need to get your guinea pig accustomed to your presence and the sound of your voice. This way, they won’t associate it with danger.
This is the best approach:
- Slowly walk towards their cage.
- Quietly sit down next to your piggy.
- Softly speak to your guinea pig in the ‘OMG, you’re so cute’ voice. 😀
- Gently get up and leave after about 10 minutes.
- Repeat this lots of times every day.
Don’t try to handle your guinea pig, and don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises! This is a quiet ‘distance bonding’ stage.
Over a little bit of time, your piggy will feel comfortable that you’re in the room sitting next to them, and they’ll acknowledge your presence without showing fear.
Once this happens, it’s time to bring out the ‘big guns’:
Step 4: Use the Irresistible Power of Treats
Guinea pigs are simple creatures:
They love nothing more than delicious food…
So use this piece of information to build a lasting bond with your guinea pig!
Follow the same process as before, but add an extra step after you’ve finished speaking to them:
- Hand-feed your pet guinea pig a delicious treat (try using veggies like bell peppers or romaine lettuce).
You’ll notice their reaction instantly!
If they run straight back into their hideout, then they need more time. Get up, leave the room, and try again tomorrow. Just don’t forget the treat in their cage! Your guinea pig will quickly learn that they’ll get rewarded if they wait for you to leave.
If they start to nudge closer to you, then you’re on the right path. Keep calmly speaking to your guinea pig and encourage them to eat from your hand — patience is a virtue, so be prepared for this to last quite a while.
Once your guinea pig takes a nibble, they’ll start to associate your hands with food.
Repeat this enough times, and your guinea pig will come close to your hand to signal that they’re hungry.
Now that was a massive step in your ‘how to tame a guinea pig’ journey — congratulations and well-done! 🎉
But you’re not done yet:
Step 5: Softly Pet Your Guinea Pig
You now have the opportunity (and trust) to caress your guinea pig as they’re happily munching away on the treat you gave them.
Take it slow and place a finger on their side, then softly pet them back and forth.
Never place your hand on top of guinea pigs as they might get confused and think you’re a predator.
You definitely don’t want this to happen after all the time-consuming things you’ve just done!
If your guinea pig enjoys it, pet them for about 10 minutes; if they don’t, just let them be and try again the following time you feed them a treat. Whatever you do, never chase after your guinea pig!
Try the same type of petting without any food involved.
When this goes smoothly, you’re reading for the last step in your journey towards a tame guinea pig!
Step 6: Pick up and Cuddle Your Guinea Piggy
This is the most challenging step as it’ll involve you removing your pet from their cage, picking them up, and placing them in your lap.
But it’s also the most rewarding part of guinea pig taming.
Here’s how to do it:
- Place a hand down in front of your guinea pig.
- Gently move that hand underneath your guinea pig while you use your other hand to grab and support their bottom.
- Lift your guinea pig slowly but firmly, keeping them horizontal and avoiding dangling legs.
- Nestle them close to your chest.
- Pet your guinea pig and speak to them softly.
- Sit down and place them on your lap.
- Give them a treat.
- When you want to put your guinea pig down, place them down bottom first and never throw them or let them jump!
- Repeat this several times a day.
Note that if your guinea pig starts to wriggle, it’s a clear sign to put them down. They might need to go to the bathroom, or they might be feeling scared or annoyed!
And… drum roll…
You’ve done it! 🐹🥳
You’ve just built a strong bond with your tame guinea pig, and you’ve become their favorite person!
If you’re still struggling, then make sure to check the next section for a couple more guinea pig tips:
How To Tame a Guinea Pig — FAQs
Is it okay if I start to tame my guinea pigs from the first day I have them?
No way — leave them alone for something like a couple of days!
This will give your guinea pig more time to settle into their new cage and get used to all the people that live in your house. Once you see them act naturally in this new environment, you’ll know it’s time to tame them!
How long will it take to tame my guinea pig?
Guinea pig taming is no cakewalk!
It’ll take a minimum of a couple of weeks, but it could take much longer. It depends on the personality of your guinea pig. We’ve met a couple of tough nuts that took a good few months to win over…
The important thing is you don’t get frustrated, and you don’t give up — you’ll tame them in the end and maybe even teach them a couple of guinea pig tricks!
What should I do if my pet is terrified of me?
Don’t panic or lose faith!
Your guinea pig probably had a negative experience before you took them in, so don’t think they don’t like you personally. Just calmly follow the tips in this guide, and your guinea pig will slowly get braver, friendlier, and tamer.
Well, that’s everything!
Follow these six proven steps, and you’ll have a tame guinea pig before you know it:
- Build your guinea pig a cozy home.
- Leave them alone in their cage for a couple of days.
- Talk to your guinea pig.
- Use the irresistible power of food.
- Softly pet your guinea pig.
- Pick them and cuddle them.
Always remember to be patient, persistent, calm, and loving — these four traits are almost as important as having a nearly endless supply of delicious guinea pig food! 🥬
Good luck with taming your guinea pigs, and see you on our next post!