How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Follow You
Following you around is one of the cutest things a guinea pig can do. Some guinea pigs will even do this with almost no training! If your guinea pig has a lot of confidence and trust in you, this trick will be so easy to teach. The concept of teaching your guinea pig to follow you is really quite simple. Once your piggy catches on to the main idea, they’ll be following you easily!
If your guinea pig is nervous, teaching them to follow you can be a great way to bond with them. However, it is important to go at your guinea pig’s pace when teaching this trick. If they seem scared or hesitant to follow you, move slowly and maybe give them a treat just for staying near you or sniffing your leg.
Be extra careful where you’re walking when teaching this trick. Take very slow steps, and shuffle your feet as you walk. Since guinea pigs are so small and delicate, they can be seriously harmed if you accidentally kick or step on them. Keep your eye on them at all times and be very cautious about where you step.
Can All Guinea Pigs Learn to Follow You?
Absolutely! Some guinea pigs will pick up on it very naturally, while others will take much longer. However, all guinea pigs will learn to follow you with a little bit of patience and persistence.
How Long Does it Take to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Follow You?
This varies so much on the individual, but on average, it takes a few days to a few weeks. The biggest factor is your guinea pig’s personality and how tame they are. The more you can bond with your guinea pig and build up their confidence, the faster they will learn this trick.
It takes a lot of trust on the part of the guinea pig to comfortably come close to your feet, especially while you are walking. People look incredibly big and tall from a guinea pig’s point of view, and this can be intimidating for some piggies.
If your guinea pig is nervous about coming close to your feet, go slow and spend some time hand-feeding treats while you’re standing near them. Taking the time to build up that confidence will help them learn so much faster.
What You Need For Training
To teach your guinea pig to follow you, all you’ll need is your guinea pig, some of their favorite veggie treats, and a safe enclosed space that is free from distractions.
Choose vegetables that are low in calcium and well-loved by your guinea pig. My piggies love green leaf or romaine lettuce, cucumber, radicchio, bell peppers, and carrots the most.
Once you have some favorite treats, break them up into small pieces to use for training.
You’ll also want a quiet environment to train your guinea pig. Choose a space that is familiar to your guinea pig. A room that you use for your guinea pig’s floor time is usually a great option. It’s a good idea to block off a smaller area of the room, so there are fewer distractions. If you have multiple guinea pigs, it’s a good idea to separate one at a time for short training sessions.
You can do both of these things with a foldable exercise pen. Personally, I love to buy a pack of wire grids and zip-tie them together to make a pen in the exact size I want. The wire grids also fold like an accordion for storage, as long as you don’t zip-tie them too tightly!
It can also help to have a waterproof floor mat to protect your floor or carpet from messes while your piggies are running around. My favorites are these waterproof splat mats made for kids. They are washable, easy to sweep clean and do a great job of preventing any pee from seeping through.
How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Follow You Around (Video Tutorial)
Below is a video I put together with my guinea pig Ace, showing some steps you can take to teach your piggy to follow you. I have a written tutorial and some more training tips down below, so keep scrolling for the rest of the tutorial.
Teaching My 3 New Guinea Pigs to Follow Me
This video shows my 3 newest guinea pigs, Peach, Daisy, and Poppy, learning to follow me around. In this video, you can see all the training step by step and watch them progress from beginning to end.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Follow You – Step by Step
These are the steps you can take to get your guinea pig to follow you. Be sure to go at your guinea pig’s pace. Work on each step as long as you need to. Once your guinea pig is completely confident, then move on to the next step. Don’t hesitate to go back to a previous step if your guinea pig gets distracted or scared! This can be a great way to get them back on the right track quickly.
1. Build Trust With Your Guinea Pig
As mentioned earlier on, trust is a big factor when teaching this trick. If you think there’s some room for improvement, you may want to take some time to sit with your guinea pig and hand feed some treats. Also, try some of the other tips on the Taming and Bonding page.
Bonding with your guinea pig will make this trick so much easier to teach. It often makes the difference between teaching this trick in 3 days versus 3 weeks.
If your guinea pig’s personality is just a little shy despite some taming work, that’s perfectly fine too. You may just need to be extra patient and progress through the steps slowly to set your piggy up for success.
2. Build Confidence Around Your Feet
The first real step is to teach your guinea pig to feel more comfortable around your feet. One way to do this is by dropping pieces of food on the floor around your feet or bending down and offering food from your hand whenever your guinea pig approaches you.
It’s also a good idea to practice luring the guinea pig back and forth around your feet with a piece of food. Reward them for following the food lure in your hand, even just for a step or two at first.
3. Teach Them to Follow You One Step
Once they seem more comfortable around your feet, take a small step away from your guinea pig and lure them towards you with some food in your hand. Give them a small treat as soon as they approach you. Repeat this step several times until your guinea pig is easily and willingly following your hand and approaching your feet.
At this point, you can stop using your hand to lure them to you. Instead, wait and see if they will come to you without prompting. As soon as they do, give them the treat. Practice this until your guinea pig can confidently follow you for one step.
4. Gradually Increase the Distance
Now that your guinea pig has mastered one step, you can start gradually increasing the distance your piggy follows you. Start with one larger step, and then increase this to two smaller steps, and so on.
During this step, it’s easy for guinea pigs to get distracted and run off periodically. Don’t worry if this happens. Simply encourage them to come back to you and give them a treat.
If it starts happening a lot, you may want to decrease the distance again or end the session for the day. Guinea pigs often get distracted when they are tired.
5. Increase the Challenge
Now that your guinea pig understands the basics of following you around, it’s time to make it more fun. Start by varying the directions that you move around.
Practice stopping and also changing direction while you’re walking. Reward the guinea pig periodically for staying with you. If they start to wander a bit, reward them more frequently to keep them on track.
You can also practice this in other areas of your house if it’s safe to do so. My guinea pigs love to follow me out to the kitchen because they know that’s where all the food is.
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
- Take the time to bond properly with your guinea pig and build up trust before teaching tricks, especially those that involve standing and walking around them, like this trick.
- If the guinea pig gets distracted or stops following you at any point, go back a step to where they were previously successful before trying the next step again. You can also try rewarding them more frequently or taking smaller steps to keep their attention and decrease the chance of them getting distracted.
- If the guinea pig is hesitant to walk around much at all, try leaving them out in a safe playpen for an hour or so a day, with pieces of their favorite veggies spread out all over the floor. Encourage them to move and explore their environment. Once they are moving about more during floor time, you can try training again. Reward for small efforts at first, such as following a food lure in your hand even for just a step or two.
If Your Guinea Pig Isn’t Getting It
If your guinea pig is really struggling with this trick, it may be best to put it aside for now and come back to it later. Confidence and trust are important for this trick, and there are many ways you can build up these two things. Spending some time bonding with your guinea pig, hand feeding, and getting them out frequently for floor time can help a lot. Sit with your guinea pig at their level first and encourage them to come to you.
Teaching other types of tricks can help build their confidence quite a bit too. Coming when called is very similar to this trick. It doesn’t involve standing or walking around your guinea pig, so most nervous piggies will find it much easier to learn.
Once your guinea pig has aced this trick, what else can you teach? There are countless tricks that are complementary to this one. Weave walk is a super fun and cool-looking trick. Once your guinea pig has learned to follow you, weave walking is often super easy to teach. You can also find some more fun trick ideas on our page 10 easy tricks to teach your guinea pig.