So just how long does it take for a guinea pig to get used to its owner? As you probably expected there is no definitive answer to this question. Sometimes it can take months and even years for a guinea pig to be comfortable with their human owners. Every cavy has a different personality. Some are shy and some are naturally friendly.
You need to be very patient with a new guinea pig. They are skittish creatures by nature and it doesn’t take much for them to want to run away and hide. It is essential that you don’t take this personally. In the wild predators always hunt guinea pigs, so it is in their nature to see danger around every corner.
So you need to do everything that you can to develop trust with your new guinea pig. This means that you need to go through a process of important steps to make your guinea pig feel more comfortable with you and other members of the family.
How to get your Guinea Pig to Trust you
It is very important that you put in the effort to develop a good relationship with your guinea pig. The steps that follow apply to a brand new guinea pig or one that you already own and have not gained their trust yet.
Establishing trust with your guinea pig is essential for your cavy and will provide you with a great bond that will last their lifetime. Fortunately there are many techniques that you can use to gain this trust.
Form a Bond with your Guinea Pig
One of the easiest ways to build trust with your guinea pig is to give food that they like which is healthy for them. Guinea pigs need a diet of pellets and hay and they like to eat other things too such as fruit and vegetables.
You can give your guinea pig fruit and veggies by hand. When you do this choose a specific time each day so that your cavy associates the time of day and you with something nice to eat. You can hand feed a guinea pig a number of times each day. Just be consistent.
Offer your guinea pig snacks such as fruit and vegetables with a sweeter taste. So for example you can hand feed them a slice of apple or banana once a day or even a bell pepper chunk.
Vary what you give your guinea pig to see which items they like the best. Always feed them by hand and give them this food at regular intervals. As we said before you want your guinea pig to get used to the timing and the fact that you are providing the food.
Learn to Hold your Guinea Pig correctly
Another way to build trust with your guinea pig is to give them a lot of affection. This means that you will need to pick them up and hold them so that they are comfortable. Always be gentle with your cavy and use a supporting hand.
The best way to pick up your guinea pig is to place one hand underneath their belly and use the other hand to support their bottom. Make sure that you hold your cavy close to your chest. This is essential if you move around holding your pet.
Your guinea pig must feel secure when you are holding them. If they are afraid that they will fall from your hand then they will lose any trust that you have developed. Don’t hold your cavy too tight and always support their bottom so they will never feel like they are about to fall.
Take Time out with your Guinea Pig
Sitting next to their cage is not enough here. It is far better if you can take them out of the cage. Prepare an area of the room where they cannot escape and make provisions for bathroom activities. They will enjoy the freedom of being able to move around more and the special attention you are paying them.
Before you remove your guinea pig from their cage give them a small treat first. They will then make a positive association to spending time with you. When you take your guinea pig out of the cage watch them all the time. Never leave them in the room alone. Guinea pigs are curious animals and if they see a chance to escape and hide from you they will probably take it.
Play hide and seek with your cavy. In the cordoned off area of the room place some paper bags where they can hide. Add some treats to some of these bags and you will have great fun watching your cavy exploring for the treats.
Talk to your Guinea Pig
Your guinea pig will love the attention when you talk to them. You can talk to your cavy while they are in their cage. They will respond to this after a while as they are good listeners. Make a point of having a conversation throughout the day. You may find this strange to begin with but persevere with it.
You will probably give your guinea pig a name so use it often. In time your cavy will understand this and will know that you are having a conversation with them. They will certainly look forward to listening to your voice. Talk in a low voice and never shout.
Get to know your Guinea Pigs behavior
The more you know about your guinea pig the better. Study them to identify their habits. By doing this you can quickly learn what your cavy likes and dislikes. As an example it should be simple to find out where they like you to stroke them.
Always bear in mind that it is going to take time for your guinea pig to trust you and be totally comfortable. So if they do not respond to your bonding efforts straight away don’t be disheartened.
Guinea pigs are social animals so they will appreciate you spending time with them even if they don’t show it at first. If you only have one cavy then consider getting another to keep them company.
Do Guinea Pigs Bond with their Owners?
Guinea pigs can certainly bond with their owners and if you follow the steps outlined above then you will develop a good bond with your cavy. The amount of interaction that you will have with your guinea pig will depend on a number of things. These include how old they were when you got them and their individual personality.
It is easier to form a bond with a younger guinea pig than it is an older one. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to bond with an older cavy. You may find that if your guinea pig is older that it just takes more time for the bond to fully develop.
Always bear in mind that when a guinea pig comes to a new home they will be apprehensive about this. The environment will be unfamiliar to them and they will probably spend a lot of time initially watch every move that you make and other family members make.
Your guinea pig will be scared of sudden movements so never reach into their cage quickly to grab a hold of them. Treat them with the utmost care to help the bonding develop more quickly.
A guinea pig is instinctively afraid of humans. They consider us to be predators who want to harm them. You need to help them to slowly overcome these instincts so that you can create a good bond. Give them time to settle in when you first bring them home.
Signs your Guinea Pig Loves you
Did you know that there are specific signs you can look out for to see if your guinea pig loves you? Well there are and we will take a look at the most common ones here. A guinea pig is not a dog and it will take some time for these signs to develop.
Your Guinea Pig is comfortable with you holding them
You know by now that guinea pigs are skittish animals and naturally nervous. If you have been holding your guinea pig for a while and giving them attention then they should become more and more comfortable with this.
When your cavy is happy for you to hold them it is a sign that they love you. Never try and rush this. If there is some resistance to you holding them then be very patient and gentle with them. You cannot force them into enjoying you holding them.
Your Guinea Pig readily eats from your hand
Remember that we told you to provide snacks to your guinea pig by hand on a regular basis? Well after a while your cavy should become more used to your hand and will start to feed directly from it. When this happens you know that they truly love you.
Your Guinea Pig Nibbles you
We mean nibbling here and not biting. When you are holding your guinea pig in your hand they may start to gently nibble on your finger or other part of your hand. If you allow them to roam around in a larger area then they may start to nibble gently on your shoes while you are standing there.
When your guinea pig starts this gentle nibbling it is a sign of their love for you. It means that they are very happy and comfortable to be around you. Sometimes they may emit a squeaking sound as they are nibbling.
Your Guinea Pig looks for you and follows you around
If you have been talking to your guinea pig in their cage for a while they may start looking for you during the day. If you move slowly towards their cage and they come to you then this is definitely a sign that they enjoy your company.
When you let your guinea pig out of the cage to roam around an area that you have cordoned off, walk around in the same space and see if they follow you. If they do follow you around and then stay by your side you have cracked it. This means that they love you for sure.