Posted: August 9, 2013, 7:05 p.m. EDT
Guinea pigs develop trust in you at their own pace; some take three days, others may take three months.
Q: I really need advice. I have so many questions. 1. I watched a video on taming a guinea pig. I have one guinea pig that’s not very fond of me. He is about 2 months old. In the video it said that to get their trust you want them to associate you with treats but to not feed it if the animal won't come to you. Every time I even approach the cage, he goes and hides. I'm afraid that because he won't come up to me he won't get the nutrition he needs. I brought him home two days ago. What should I do? 2. How often should you bathe a guinea pig? Should you bathe them if they don't trust you yet? 3. How long will it take for him to trust me? What should I do to help that?
A: The trick with guinea pigs is to invest as much time as you can with them. Just like any other animal the more time you invest in them the more you get back from them. It can take from three days to three months before a guinea pig will trust you, depending on his background before he came to your home. Build on his trust, learn his language by warbling back at him, making the burring sound guinea pigs make when greeting others. Rubbing under the chin is "hello” in guinea pig language, if he lets you scratch under his chin, then you have opened the door, if not, keep trying.
Your voice is going to get him to the cage door, his curiosity is insatiable so let that lead him to you. Gently rubbing his ear when he is on your lap is a thing mama guinea pigs do to their babies as a comfort. Placing a finger between their ear and eye is another mama pig comforting motion. Coming to the cage with a bit of food as a reward is great, but don’t feed through the bars. Guinea pigs do not see in front of their noses, so a finger can be mistaken for a bit of food. Guinea pigs overcome their fear eventually, so give it a little time and you will be rewarded. Patience and consistency will pay off.
Bathing does require trust, and you have yet to develop that bond with your guinea pig. It will come with time. Bathing can wait until you have established this bond. If he is in need of an emergency bath, try using a product available for small animals that does not require water. These are spray on or rub in. Avoid getting the product in your guinea pig’s eyes, nose or mouth. When you have gained your guinea pig’s trust and feel comfortable trying, bathe him approximately every three months or more often if he is a long-haired.
Your guinea pig’s trust will increase with each moment he interacts with you. Learning to trust is a huge component in any animal’s developmental behavior. Talk to him, let him hear your soothing voice to elicit a type of trust. Trust is learning respect and boundaries.
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