If you want to be best friends with your piggy, follow our handy tips for adults and kids.
When you first get your guinea pig, you may find that they seem absolutely terrified and dash for the nearest hidey whenever you approach their cage.
If you’d imagined your new friends rushing towards you for cuddles from day one, you may be upset and surprised to see them rushing in the opposite direction instead!
At the start, it can be a bit unnerving to see just how anxious your piggy is in your presence but try not to lose heart. With tender loving care and patience, you CAN build a wonderful bond with your guinea pig, we promise.
Bonding Technique #1: Be gentle with your guinea pigs
Guinea pigs are nervous little creatures at heart and it’s hardly surprising, really, given that they’re vulnerable prey animals. Why should they trust you - a much larger, louder animal to have their best interest at heart? But if you aim to be consistently calm and gentle around your fur babies and there’s less chance of them running for cover when they see you approaching.
Bonding Technique #2: Be patient with your guinea pigs
If your guinea pigs are a fairly new addition to your home, it will take them a while to settle in. Give them time and don’t expect miracles from day one. The simple truth is that they will not be your best friend right at the start and you need to accept that and never try to force a bond because first of all, you need to earn their trust.
Bonding Technique #3: Keep your guinea pigs indoors
Whilst some owners choose to keep their piggies in a traditional wooden hutch outside or in a shed or outbuilding, the truth is that by having them closer to you, you have more opportunity for interaction and bonding. If you want to be able to hear all your fur babies’ adorable wheeks and squeaks, setting up a spacious, indoor C&C cage in your home is ideal. Whether you opt for a classic black C&C cage or cool new white C&C grids, they’re easy to assemble and you can choose the cage format that works best in your home too.
Bonding Technique #4: Get a stand for your guinea pig cage
You may assume that guinea pigs would prefer to live on the ground but actually they feel safer being higher up. For that reason, a C&C cage with stand is a wise choice. Simply put, a more secure pig is a happy pig which should make for a happier relationship with you too.
Check this video for several reasons to add a stand to your C&C Cage:
Bonding Technique #5: Chat with your guinea pigs
Talk to your guinea pigs whether they’re in their cage or in your arms. Although they might be too nervous to make much of a sound when you first get them, they will start to recognise and love your voice. As guinea pigs are talkative little souls, they will start ‘chat’ back to you with cute little squeaks once they feel more secure and confident around you. You will both grow to love your conversation time, we guarantee.
Bonding Technique #6: Don’t talk loudly around your guinea pigs!
Guinea pigs have incredibly sensitive hearing. If you think about it, it’s essential for piggies to have good hearing in the wild when they’re on high alert for predators at all times. But this means that loud noises, shrieks and shouts are amplified to their delicate ears and seem all the more terrifying. Always speak quietly and calmly to your pigs to avoid scaring them.
Bonding Technique #7: Encourage your child to be quiet around guinea pigs too
As tricky as it may be (we all know how loud and excitable kids can be - especially around cute animals), teach your child to be calm and quiet around your guinea pig to avoid startling them. Lead by example by using your quiet, reassuring voice at all times too.
Bonding Technique #8: Handle your guinea pigs regularly
If you never hold your guinea pig, how can you expect them to get used to it? Many guinea pigs genuinely love one on one time with you and if you hold them every day for short periods - a few minutes at a time - they will grow accustomed to cuddles.
Bonding Technique #9: Know when NOT to hold your guinea pigs
There are some times when your guinea pigs shouldn’t be picked up, such as when they’re ill or have just been to the vets. Don’t hold a guinea pig if they’ve just given birth or if they’re newborn either. Check with your vet when it’s okay to start handling them again.
Bonding Technique #10: Don’t just grab your guinea pigs
Guinea pigs are hardwired to fear being picked up. After all, in the wild, the only reason they’d realistically be picked up is to be eaten by a larger animal! They will run away in fear if you suddenly lunge in and try to pluck them out of their cage. Try coaxing them into a sleep sack or cuddle cup for a cosy snuggle on your lap to start with.
Bonding Technique #11: Know how to pick up your guinea pigs correctly
The PDSA recommends that you pick up your guinea pig by placing one hand under or around their chest area, supporting their hind legs with your other hand and holding them close to your body so that they feel safe and secure.
Bonding Technique #12: Don’t let your child grab at guinea pigs
To avoid nasty mishaps, teach your young child that it’s your job to do the careful picking up so that they can then enjoy stroking and petting them whilst piggy is safely in your arms. The simple fact is that there’s no point in you being calm and gentle if you allow your child to stick their hands into the cage and freak out your guinea pig by trying to grab them.
Bonding Technique #13: Feed your guinea pigs
Let’s face it, the way to a guinea pig’s heart is well and truly through their belly! By hand feeding your piggy - holding out fresh lettuce leaves or sticks of fresh pepper - they’ll soon learn that you’re the bearer of tasty treats and are therefore on their side. Try to maintain a regular food schedule too - whether you feed them fresh veg once or twice a day - so that they learn to trust you WILL turn up with food.
Bonding Technique #14: Reward your guinea pigs
Yes, we’re talking about food again. Feeding your piggy healthy, nutritious treats during cuddles is a great way for you to bond and, again, they’ll associate you with their favourite activity (eating) which can only be a good thing. Follow our recipe for simple home made piggy snacks.
Bonding Technique #15: Let your child feed the guinea pigs
If your child is too young to hold your guinea pig by themselves, make sure you involve them at feeding time. Kids will love holding out delicious snacks such as sticks of carrot and watching piggy enthusiastically munching away. Just make sure they don’t stick their fingers too close to avoid accidental nibbles.
Bonding Technique #16: Provide your guinea pigs with plenty of floor time
Piggies need regular time out of their cage to beat boredom and stretch their legs. Create a cosy play area by laying a clean fleece liner on the floor and then lie down with them and watch them at play. It can be a good idea to put some extra fleece pee pads down too.
Bonding Technique #17: Have fun with your guinea pig
Treat your piggy to some exciting toys to play with during floor time - a tunnel for them to dart through or something more flashy such as our cardboard tanks. Enjoying playtime together will help strengthen your bond.
Bonding Technique #18: Groom your guinea pig
If you have a long haired piggy, you should comb their hair every week. This can be a lovely bonding experience for both of you. Pop piggy on your lap and gently comb their hair. You should also cut your guinea pig’s nails every two to four weeks, using nail scissors or clippers. For more guidance on piggy care, have a look at our free downloadable care sheets and you can also follow our handy instruction video for cutting your piggy’s nails.
Bonding Technique #19: Allow your guinea pig to enjoy outdoor time
When the weather is fine, set up a secure outdoor run or playpen for your piggies and sit beside it, watching them scamper around in your garden, nibbling grass and dandelion leaves. Never to leave your guinea pigs alone outdoors as it’s your job to protect them from predators including cats, foxes and birds of prey. For more advice, read our ‘ultimate guide to taking your piggy outside’.
Bonding Technique #20: Keep your guinea pig's cage clean
It sounds simple but by keeping your guinea pig’s cage clean, you’ll provide a healthy, relaxing living environment for them, meaning that it’s easier for you to form a special bond. C&C grid cages and fleece liners are really easy to keep clean as we explain in our blog post here or in the video below. Simply change and wash the liners every few days and wipe out the coroplast base. Don’t forget to spot clean a few times a day, removing your piggy’s poos. They will LOVE you for it, we guarantee!