Platform training is a great foundation behavior for all species of animals. Not only is it an easy trick to teach and a great confidence builder, but it also makes certain tricks (such as wave) easier to teach.
Working on a platform is great for teaching tricks at a distance and responding to hand signals too. A platform reminds your piggy to stay in their own space and look for cues rather than following your hand or searching for food.
How Long Does it Take to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Go to a Platform?
This is a great beginner trick that generally doesn’t take long to teach. Most guinea pigs can learn to get on and off a low platform in just a couple of days. Adding distance and time they stay on the platform can make this trick more challenging.
This can add an extra week or two to your training or even longer, depending on how far you want to take this trick. However, it generally takes a week or so to teach your guinea pig to go to a platform from a couple of feet away and stay on for a few seconds.
What You Need for Training
To teach your guinea pig to go to a platform, you’ll need your guinea pig, some of their favorite veggie treats, and a safe enclosed space that is free from distractions.
You’ll also need a safe and sturdy guinea pig-sized platform, ideally less than 3 inches high.
Optionally, you can also use some hardcover books or a soft binder. This can be helpful in creating a temporary low platform for some guinea pigs that are a bit lazy or lack confidence.
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: Go To Platform (Video Tutorial)
The following video is my guinea pig Ace demonstrating the steps you can take to teach your guinea pig to go to a platform. If you prefer to read the written steps, scroll below for the rest of the tutorial, along with some extra training tips.
How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Go To a Platform – Step by Step
Follow along with the steps below to teach your guinea pig to get on a platform. Take as much time as you need on each step. Some guinea pigs will progress more quickly, while others will need more time on each step. Always move forward at your guinea pig’s pace.
Also, if you notice them getting distracted or confused, don’t hesitate to go back a step to where they were previously successful. Sometimes backtracking a little can be the best way to keep your guinea pig focused and learning quickly.
1. Lure the Guinea Pig Onto The Platform
Lure your guinea pig onto the platform using a treat. You can also place some food on the platform for extra encouragement.
If the guinea pig is initially hesitant to get onto the platform, give them a treat for just putting their front paws up at first.
If the platform is too high for your guinea pig to feel comfortable getting on, you can start with some sturdy books or a binder instead. Gradually stack more books as the guinea pig gains confidence. Practice with this until the guinea pig is comfortable enough to get onto the actual platform.
2. Lure The Guinea Pig Off and Back On the Platform
Once your guinea pig can confidently get up on their platform, it’s time to teach them to get on consistently with less prompting from you.
You can do this by luring your guinea pig off and back on the platform repeatedly. Only reward for getting up, not coming back down again.
After a few times, your guinea pig will start getting up much more eagerly, as this predicts food! They will often start going over and getting up on the platform on their own without a food lure. They will also likely become somewhat hesitant to get off the platform, as this requires work and results in no food. This is good because it makes training your guinea pig to stay on the platform much easier.
If your guinea pig is becoming very hesitant to get off, you can start giving them a small treat each time they get off. However, make sure you’re giving them a bigger piece of food every time they get on the platform. This way, they’ll still find it much more rewarding to get on the platform. You can also encourage them to stay on the platform longer by giving them an extra treat periodically for staying on the platform.
3. Increase the Distance
At this point, you can start increasing the distance that you send your guinea pig to the platform.
Move the platform 6 inches away to start, and reward when the guinea pig goes to the platform from this short distance.
From there, gradually stretch out the distance you can send them from.
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
- Only reward the guinea pig for getting off the platform when it’s starting to become difficult to lure them off. You want the guinea pig to be somewhat “magnetized” to the platform, so they aren’t as tempted to jump off when you start teaching other kinds of tricks on the platform.
- Avoid picking the guinea pig up to put them on or off the platform. Let them figure out how to get on at their own pace and get off when you ask them to as well.
- If the guinea pig is hesitant to climb onto the platform at first, practice with books first and gradually stack more books until you reach the same height as your actual platform. You may also want to practice the paws up trick and/or stand up with your piggy to improve their balance and build more confidence with their feet off the ground.
If Your Guinea Pig Isn’t Getting It
If your guinea pig finds this trick challenging, try using a different object for the platform. You may need to find something that is very low to the ground and soft on their feet when you first start training. A soft binder is often a good choice. If you’re using a hard platform, put a mat or blanket on it to provide more grip for your guinea pig.
Spend a lot of time luring your guinea pig on and off this low platform before switching to something more challenging. Once your guinea pig gets on it, you can also spend some time feeding your piggy several treats, so they learn that being on the platform is easy and rewarding.
Once your guinea pig has learned to get on a platform, it’s much easier to teach tricks such as waving your paw. You can also teach other types of beginner-friendly tricks such as spin circles or following a target.
You can find even more inspiration and trick ideas by checking out this article on 10 easiest tricks to teach your guinea pig.