10 Easy Tricks to Teach Your Guinea Pig First
The following is a list of 10 easy beginner-friendly tricks that are best to train your guinea pig first. These tricks help build confidence in your guinea pig and set them up for success. Many of these tricks also help set a solid foundation for teaching more advanced tricks in the future.
If your guinea pig is entirely new to training, check out our page on how to train your guinea pig. On that page, you can find pre-training tips such as which treats to use, teaching your guinea pig to follow a lure, training methods, FAQs for common guinea pig training questions, and so much more.
1. Train Your Guinea Pig to Come When Called and Respond to Their Name
One of the easiest tricks to teach your guinea pig is to come when called. A similar trick you can teach your guinea pig is responding to their name. To teach your guinea pig to come to their name, say their name in a happy tone of voice, and feed them a treat. Repeat this several times over a few days, and your guinea pig will quickly begin to associate their name with food.
Once you have that first step down, call your guinea pig’s name when they are a short distance away (maybe 6 inches away from you.)
Hold the treat out in front of them and encourage them to come towards you. Give your guinea pig the treat as soon as they reach you. Practice this many times before gradually increasing the distance they come to you.
2. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Follow a Target
Following a target is another really easy trick to train your guinea pig.
To begin target training, start by holding the target stick right in front of the guinea pig’s nose. They should automatically reach out to sniff the new object. Right after they do this, praise and give them a treat.
Do this a couple more times, so the guinea pig makes the association between touching the target stick and getting the treat.
After that, you can hold the target stick slightly further away, so the guinea pig has to take one step to go over and touch it.
Practice this a few times, then gradually move the target stick further away so the guinea pig has to walk more to follow it. Once your guinea pig has mastered this, start guiding them around in different directions and around in a circle. Reward frequently at first, then more sporadically once the guinea pig has a solid understanding of how to follow the target stick.
You can also teach your guinea pig to paw target an object. Training this type of targeting is useful for teaching tricks such as wave, give a paw, and other paw-related guinea pig tricks.
Teaching a paw target is slightly different than training your guinea pig to follow the target stick. For the paw target, you’ll want to start by finding another type of target object.
Lure your guinea pig up and towards the target, so their front paw lands on or touches the object. Reward every time their foot touches the mark.
After some repetition, see if the guinea pig will offer to touch the target with their paw without prompting. If not, go back and keep practicing until they start to form a connection between touching their foot to the target and getting the treat.
3. Train Your Guinea Pig to Put Their Paws Up on Your Hand or Object
Paws up is one of my favorite beginner tricks to teach a guinea pig. Not only is it easy to teach, but it also helps form a bond with your guinea pig. Teaching your guinea pig to put their paws on your hand creates a positive association with touching your hand and being close to you.
To teach paws up, start by placing your hand flat on the ground in front of your guinea pig. Lure them onto your hand with a treat. Offer your guinea pig a couple of treats while their paws are still on your hand so they don’t learn to grab the treat and jump away from your hand right away.
Practice this a few times until your guinea pig seems comfortable with their paws on your hand. You can then start to fade out the lure. See if your guinea pig will offer to stand on your hand without too much prompting and only use the lure as needed to get your guinea pig on track. Once they can do this, start gradually raising your hand a little higher off the ground and ask them to put their paws up.
You can also teach your guinea pig to put their paws up on a sturdy object. Start with something relatively low to the ground and easy for the guinea pig to stand on. Teach them the same way you would for putting their paws up on your hand. Once your guinea pig has mastered a low object, you can move to higher or smaller objects for more variety.
4. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Follow You
Teaching your guinea pig to follow you is one of the absolute cutest tricks you can train a guinea pig. This trick is relatively easy, but it’s a good idea to make sure your guinea pig is tame before teaching them to follow you. Teaching them to come when called first is also a good idea.
To teach this trick, first, familiarize your guinea pig with you standing and walking near them. Start by standing up and feeding your guinea pig a few treats beside you.
If they’re comfortable with this, take a small step away and offer them more treats. Some guinea pigs are easily spooked by people looming above them and walking around them, so take as much time on this step as your guinea pig needs.
The next step is encouraging your guinea pig to follow you. Take a small step away and hold out a treat to your guinea pig. Give them the treat once they approach you.
Continue taking baby steps and rewarding each time the guinea pig comes with you. Once they follow you eagerly at this short distance, start taking a more significant step away from them.
From there, you can start increasing this to a few small steps and then more. Once your guinea pig is happily following you, start walking around the room and practice switching directions. Stop and give your guinea pig a treat frequently for following you.
5. Train Your Guinea Pig to Spin Circles
Circle is one of the cutest and most popular tricks you can teach a guinea pig. To teach your guinea pig how to circle, start by taking their favorite treat and luring them around in a circle. If your guinea pig won’t follow the treat all the way around the circle, that’s totally normal!
Instead, begin by luring them a quarter of the way around the circle and give them a little nibble of the food. Then lure them to the halfway point of the circle and give them another bite.
Finally, lure them the rest of the way around and give them a bigger piece of food. Practice this several times. After some repetition, try luring them right to the halfway point of the circle to give them the first nibble, then guide them the rest of the way around. Remember to give a treat every time your guinea pig completes the circle. Once they are following the lure more fluidly, start luring them around the circle with just one treat at the end.
Once your guinea pig is fluidly following your hand around in a circle, start fading out your lure. You can do this by using your hand lure as little as possible. Try luring your guinea pig partway around the circle, and then take your hand away to see if they’ll complete the circle on their own. Use the lure only as needed to keep your guinea pig on track.
Eventually, the lure will be faded to the point where you only need to flick your hand to the side to get the guinea pig to circle. You can use this as your non-verbal cue or add in a verbal cue at this point. You can do this by saying “circle” every time the guinea pig turns in a circle. Eventually, they’ll associate the word with the action and respond with just the verbal cue.
6. Train Your Guinea Pig to Stand Up and Beg
Stand up and beg is just as popular and cute as the circle trick. Standing up like a meerkat is one of the most adorable guinea pig tricks, and it’s also relatively easy to teach.
Some guinea pigs will stand up with very little training, whereas others (usually the chunky monkeys out there!) may take more practice to find their balance.
Once guinea pigs learn this trick, it usually becomes their favorite go-to trick to be cute and beg for food.
To teach your guinea pig to stand up, start by luring them upwards with a treat above their head. Reward for any attempt at stretching upwards and lifting even just 1 foot off the ground. Keep the treat close to their nose and reward all efforts, no matter how small.
Practice this until the guinea pig can lift both front feet off the ground. Give your guinea pigs extra treats and praise the first few times they lift both feet up. Keep practicing until the guinea pig is confidently standing up for the food lure.
If your guinea pig finds it challenging to stand up, break up your training into several really short sessions rather than practicing for 5-10 minutes straight. Once your guinea pig is consistently following the lure into a standing position, you can begin to fade out the lure and replace it with a hand signal or verbal cue.
7. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Jump Through a Hoop
Jumping through a hoop is a fun and flashy trick that you can teach your guinea pig. It’s also super easy to teach, which makes it an excellent choice for beginners.
To teach your guinea pig to jump through a hoop, you’ll first need a hoop. Find one that has no sharp edges and is big enough for the guinea pig to go through easily. You can also make your own by cutting out a hoop shape from a piece of craft foam or cardboard.
To teach your guinea pig to jump through the hoop, hold the hoop low to the ground and lure the guinea pig through with a treat. If they are hesitant to go all the way through, lure just their nose through and give them a small nibble.
Then lure them partway through the hoop and give them another nibble. As soon as they pass all the way through the ring, give them a bigger treat and lots of praise. Repeat until the guinea pig is confidently passing through the hoop. Once they can do this, gradually start to hold the hoop higher, so the guinea pig has to begin jumping through it. Make sure to raise the height progressively and only as high as your guinea pig is comfortable jumping.
8. Platform Training for Guinea Pigs
This trick is a little less flashy than jumping through a hoop, but getting on a platform is an easy and beginner-friendly trick to teach to your guinea pig.
This trick also sets a foundation for teaching other tricks, such as jumping through a hoop between platforms. Pedestals also make it easier to teach tricks like waving a paw.
For this trick, you’ll need a platform that is a good size for the guinea pig to get on and turn around easily.
To teach your guinea pig to go to a platform, start by luring your guinea pig up on the platform. If they are hesitant to get up, reward them first for putting their front paws up on the platform. Also, lay some treats out on the platform to encourage the guinea pig to get up to eat them. It also helps to teach them to get on a lower type of platform first, such as a binder or something similar.
Once your guinea pig gets on the platform, feed them a few treats while they sit on the platform. After that, lure them back off the platform, but only give them a tiny treat for getting off. Lure them back up again and feed them a few more treats.
Practice this several times until the guinea pig is super eager to get back on the platform and a little hesitant to get off. At this point, you can start slowly increasing the distance that you send the guinea pig to the platform.
9. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Play Soccer (Push a Ball)
Push a ball (aka soccer) is another cute and easy trick you can teach your guinea pig.
To teach this trick, start by taking a small, lightweight ball and placing it in front of the guinea pig. Put a few small treats under and around the ball. Encourage the guinea pig to get the treats. Do this a few more times until the guinea pig starts automatically putting their nose down and nudging around the ball, looking for the treats.
At this point, you can stop putting treats under the ball and instead reward from your hand every time the guinea pig nudges the ball even a little bit.
Reward every tiny nudge until the guinea pig is consistently nudging at the ball to get the treat. You can then wait for them to push the ball a little harder and further before giving them the treat. Build this up gradually until the guinea pig pushes the ball around a few times for one treat.
10. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Barrel Race (Go Around an Object)
Teaching your guinea pig to go around an object is a relatively straightforward trick to teach. For this, all you need is a small cup or cone your guinea pig can run around.
Start with the object close by and lure your guinea pig around it with a treat. If your guinea pig doesn’t want to follow it all the way around, reward for going halfway around and then again for coming the rest of the way around.
Practice until the guinea pig reliably follows your hand around the cone. Once they can do this, start fading out your hand lure. Lure the guinea pig partway around the cone, then move your hand away faster so the guinea pig follows the momentum and comes around the rest of the way without directly following your hand.
Once your guinea pig is less reliant on your hand, start moving the cone gradually further away. Practice until your guinea pig is consistently running over to the cone and going around it.
11. Bonus: Teach Your Guinea Pig to Pick Up a Ball
Teaching your guinea pig to pick up a ball helps set a foundation for so many fun tricks in the future. Basketball, playing fetch, handing you objects, playing cards, painting, taking a ring off your finger… It all starts with learning to pick up an object consistently.
I like to start by teaching my guinea pigs to pick up a lightweight, slotted ball. These tend to be easy for the guinea pig to pick up, and you can also put lettuce or other treats inside to entice the guinea pig to pick it up if they need extra prompting.
Once you have a suitable object for your guinea pig to pick up, the first step is to encourage them to touch or nibble at it. Hold the object between your fingers in front of the guinea pig.
Every time they turn towards the ball to sniff it, give them a treat. Practice this a few times, then start waiting for the guinea pig to touch it multiple times before giving them the treat. If they happen to nibble it at any point, even just slightly, provide them with a jackpot of extra treats and praise. Keep asking them to touch the ball multiple times and wait for any slight nibble on the ball.
If the guinea pig still isn’t offering to nibble it at all after a few minutes, try stuffing some food in the ball and hold it in front of them again. Every time their teeth touch the ball, give them a treat from your hand. You may need to stuff the ball with food a couple of times before they fully catch on. Once you’ve done this a few times, try again without food in the ball, and reward for all nibbles on the ball.
Practice until the guinea pig consistently nibbles on the ball for a treat. You can then wait for harder nibbles at the ball to give them the treat. Once the guinea pig is biting on the ball a bit harder and doing it quite consistently, you can move to holding the ball in your open palm or placing it on the ground. Continue to reward for all nibbling on the ball, but have a jackpot of treats ready to give the guinea pig the first few times they pick up the ball. Keep practicing this until the guinea pig can pick up the ball reliably.
Set Your Guinea Pig Up For Success
Remember to take your time and progress at your guinea pig’s pace when training new tricks. If your piggy gets distracted or confused, go back a step to where they were previously successful and keep practicing. Guinea pigs also learn best with short sessions and consistency. If possible, try to train for a couple of minutes each day rather than 30 minutes once a week.
Most importantly, be patient and have fun training your guinea pig! Training sessions are a great way to bond with your guinea pig. Once your guinea pig has mastered the list of tricks above, you can find a list of 7 more of the coolest tricks you can teach your guinea pig here.