Guinea pigs make excellent starter pets for kids
Beauty & brains all rolled into one

Guinea pigs are, in my humble opinion, the best of all domesticated rodents. They’re cute and inquisitive and big enough to handle without worrying about them. Additionally, they are far more willing than other rodents to allow a certain amount of cuddling, but you can also play with them and, if they manage to scamper off, they’re easier to spot and it’s harder for them to get into walls and other tiny spaces from which you’ll never retrieve them. But it’s important to note that they are not just another pretty face. Besides being among the best small starter pets for kids, guinea pigs can be trained.

Here is a list of five things you can teach your guinea pig to do.

1.  Litter Box Training

If you’d like to potty train your guinea pig to use a litter box, it’s doable. They can be trained to comprehend and respond to simple commands through the use of food, preferably his or her favorite treat. Put a small litter box in the spot in their cage where they go to the bathroom the most frequently. Place a small handful of hay into the box and add a few of their fecal pellets. When you see your cavy using the litter box, give them a treat as praise. Each time they successfully use the box, reward them again. Eventually, they’ll catch on. This makes it easier to maintain their cage.

training guinea pigs
A red Abyssinian guinea pig

2.  Teaching a Guinea Pig to “Come” When Called

Training your guinea pig to come when called will go a lot quicker. If they make the connection that when their name is called they will be fed, they’ll come running — and squealing — as fast as they can. If you have more than one and they hear their cue, it can sound like an air raid siren. Again, choose a treat they are fond of and make sure they’re not suddenly startled when the reward takes place. You don’t want them becoming wary of being called. They’re a lot smarter than you think and will quickly associate things. Putting two and two together for them isn’t tough. Just call their name and when they approach reward them without any sudden moves.

3.  Teaching Standing Up & Begging

Yes, just like a dog, you can train your guinea pig to stand up and beg. Simply hold a treat above the head of your cavy until they rise up to strain for the treat by standing on their back legs to get it. Say the command “Stand up” as you’re doing so and then allow him or her to have the treat once they’re standing. Repeat this command at least once or twice a day on a consistent basis. As time goes on, your guinea pig will stand up when they hear the “Stand up” command, even when you’re not holding a treat. You can use this for teaching them to circle or spin and even jump (or scurry, as it were) through plastic hoops or rings.

training guinea pigs
Training your guinea pig

4.  Teaching Guinea Pigs Tricks

Some people have had luck teaching guinea pigs tricks such as rolling a ball. In order to do this, get a ball roughly the size of a tennis ball and either a carrot stick or cucumber skins (something long and flat). You want to then place the vegetable on the floor and put the ball on top of it toward the end between the veggie and the pig. Now, you want to encourage your pet to try pushing the ball forward to get at the stick or skins. Keep repeating the “Push the ball” command as you go along. If they just keep trying to nudge or push the ball aside, put it back in place and start again. Patience is key. Keep at it and they will catch on, some sooner than others.

training your guinea pig
Black Abyssinian guinea pig

5.  Teaching Simple Pet Commands

Some people claim to have successfully taught their guinea pigs things like “Turn,” Wait” and “No” through the use of a clicker. Clickers are often used for training animals, especially dogs. Nuns have even been known to use them back in the day for cuing their wards. But the clicking noise alone would be enough to get a cavy to hesitate, so the “Wait” command and even “No” seems pretty conceivable.

For “Turn,” say the word and wait. If your pig turns its head even slightly in one direction, click the clicker and immediately reward them with a tasty treat. After it’s gone, put them back in place and begin again. He or she will eventually make the connection between the words, the click and the treat. Make it harder for them to earn their reward by having to turn farther each time before receiving it.

Remember, patience, treats and a calm and soothing manner on your part will bring the quickest results in training your guinea pig.