Guinea Pigs Seem Skittish

I've had my 2 Guinea Pigs for 2 months now and they still seem new to me. I've read up on them, I get them out almost every night after school. I try to handle them and I love them lots, but they just don't love me back.

Every time I pick them up now they jump off my hand, every time I go to stroke them they run off, even when I'm just walking up to the cage. Also one of them bites. I don't know whether to take one or both back and to get a new pet altogether, maybe a rabbit. What should I do?

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Livi from England

Answers:

Guinea Pigs Seem Skittish

Do not worry. Some Guinea Pigs are just not as "expressive" as other type of pets. They surely like you and love you, they just do not show it that much, as a dog or some cats would. If you are looking for a more loving pet, a dog or a kitten would be a better choice. With cats it usually works from the beginning, I mean: If a cat or kitten likes you since the first time you see each other, it will be like that from that moment and forever. (10/15/2008)

By Paula

Guinea Pigs Seem Skittish

The guineas may be frightened of some scent you have on you. Especially if you've pet other animals earlier on. Wash you hands before going to play with them. If you think a scent is on your clothes, change your shirt as well.

Getting rid of one pet won't train the other to welcome you. It would also leave the remaining guinea very lonely and bored for all the time you're in school, out playing, etc.

Instead of you trying to pet them at first sight; try coaxing them to come to you with a treat they love like celery or carrots. Hold the treats just close enough to them so the guinea has to stretch to take the treat. Allow them to retreat when they feel the need and gradually try extending the distance they have to move each time. Don't play games with the treats by holding them out and moving them once the guinea approaches. That will only teach them to distrust you.

Make them work for their food instead of leaving plenty of food for them to eat, after they've trained you to leave them alone. Of course make sure they have plenty of water and a super clean cage. You can leave them some food, but after they take some treats from you. A hungry rodent is much easier to train than one who eats their fill before you get home from school.

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Keep your voice very soft and calm; praising them gently for every positive thing they do and rewarding with a treat at the same time. You also have to be completely calm and relaxed when dealing with them. They can sense anxiety a mile away and it frightens them. No jerky movements of any kind. Move calmly, but quickly if they move to bite, but no shouting, shoving or dropping them.

Everyone else at home needs to avoid doing anything that may make them nervous. You may be calm and quiet, but if Dad is shouting at the football game; they will still be very stressed and more difficult to train. If some family isn't willing to be helpful with this; think of moving the guineas to a place where they have more calm and quiet. Building a relationship takes work and patience no matter what kind of relationship it is. Training is a slow process to start as you both get to trust one another.

Younger guineas are usually a little easier to get used to human contact, but the training is the same. Rabbits are very similar in terms of feeding and training/behaviours so working with what you already have is a good place to start. When they get more social and learn to accept treats from you; you can really have fun with continued training by setting up little obstacle courses for them and things like that.

Training a pet is always harder than it seems before you have the pet in your home. That's part of the learning responsibility aspect of having pets. Be patient and persistent. We'd all like our pets to shower us with affection on demand, but it takes time and effort to reach anything close to that. One may always be more independent than the other. Accepting some basic things about your pets is part of being a good pet owner.

Make sure you're handling them properly, also. You should place one hand firmly (but gently as possible) on their shoulders to prevent them from leaping forward and scoop their rump up with the other hand. Guineas don't usually bite so they may be frightened of something you're doing that you don't realize is scary to them. Hold for a few seconds to start then put them down gently and praise them along with offering treats.

As a kid, we had very little money, but I worked at the local produce shop sweeping up to get the veggies my guineas liked. It might be an idea for you if you don't otherwise have many treats for them.

Good luck and be persistent. (10/16/2008)

By Shelter Worker

Guinea Pigs Seem Skittish

What I have started doing with our "new" Guinea pig: I approach his cage slowly, reach in slowly, and when he runs, I slowly follow him with my hand, pet him and talk to him calmly and gently, then slowly pick him up. I have a carrot ready for him to eat when I get him out of the cage, (carrots are his fave), and he is usually calm and relaxed while he eats his carrot from my (or my DD's) hand.

We can pet him more now. He doesn't run as much, knowing he will get that carrot when we get him out. He is only 6 months old and we have only had him for 1 week, so when he bites, I tap his nose and firmly tell him "no". He was biting my buttons last night, and I did this 3 times, and then just saying "no" (without tapping the nose), he would look at me and stop.

I talk and pet him the whole time I am holding him. I talk to him without approaching the cage just to get him used to my voice. Seems to be working. Just need to be patient. We keep his cage in the living room so he gets used to our voices, and sees us daily, as we go about our day. We got ours from a pet shop, and he needs to get used to being handled and being around people. Good luck with your loved little pet. Just remember to be patient, firm, and calm with your voice. We tell him we love him and won't hurt him. Sorry this is so long, but these are some tips that helped us with our new pet. (10/17/2008)

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By jmz2005

Guinea Pigs Seem Skittish

The way to a Guinea pig's heart is its stomach. As for the biter, distract his teeth with food. Remember not everybody has love at first site. Keep trying and always use a flat hand or the biter will think your hand is a carrot stick. They have poor eyesight, but excellent smell. By the way, shelter workers tips are good. (10/20/2008)

By RodentandFelinexpertgirl

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