Guinea pigs are incredibly gentle animals and can be a great animal companion for families! But it is important to socialize and bond with your guinea pig to ensure they don’t become shy and skittish.
Here are four important components to help with socializing your new furry friend:
Easily accessible hiding spots
In the guinea pig’s home, make sure there are lots of hiding spaces where they can feel safe, along with comfy bedding to keep their stress levels low. When you handle your guinea pig, holding them in a small blanket or towel can also keep them feeling safe and hidden while getting used to you.
Guinea pigs can be social animals when they are comfortable, and they do well with routine. Try to set multiple socializing times throughout the day so they start to know the routine of when you will be interacting with them. Consistency is important, but you should also allow them to choose when they want to interact. Make sure you allow them the choice to come see you, and a way to get away if they want to. You never want to force a guinea pig to interact; you want to make all your interactions positive ones.
Positive association with treats
It’s important to always speak to your guinea pig in a friendly, calm voice. When you’re handling your guinea pig, or when they choose to come near you, make sure to reward them with treats, such as veggies or hay. Feeding them out of your hand can increase positive association with you, so start by slowly offering hay or a vegetable from your hand. If they continue to be shy, you can gently toss a little treat their way. Rewarding interactions and being patient will help you gain their trust.
Providing daily enrichment such as hay in an empty toilet paper roll, chewing blocks and hiding treats around their home will be key to keeping them happy and entertained in their environment. When letting your guinea pig have playtime outside their individual home, make sure to create a safe play area on the floor. A big exercise pen with hiding spots can keep them safe and give you room to lay down or sit with your guinea pig. This keeps them engaged and is also a great way for them to get comfortable with you.
When correctly socialized, guinea pigs can be a cuddly, loving addition to your family. For more tips on guinea pig care, visit our blog.