How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Jump Through a Hoop
Jumping through a hoop is a fun and flashy guinea pig trick. Hoop jump is quite simple to teach and also super cute and entertaining to watch. Jumping through a hoop is a beginner-friendly trick that can be suited to guinea pigs of all ages and skill levels.
You can hold the hoop higher for younger guinea pigs or keep it down at ground level for older piggies. This is also a great trick to teach if you want to teach your guinea pig to run agility courses. After teaching the basic version of this trick, you can even add an extra challenge by attaching a piece of paper or fabric to the top of the hoop for the guinea pig to go through.
How Long Does it Take to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Jump Through a Hoop?
It usually takes about a week to teach your guinea pig to jump through a hoop. Many guinea pigs will understand the concept of walking through the hoop in only one day, but it takes a bit longer for them to start actually jumping through. This can vary from one guinea pig to another, so be sure to progress at your guinea pig’s pace when teaching this trick.
What You Need For Training
To teach your guinea pig to jump through a hoop, 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 hoop (or multiple hoops) that is big enough for your guinea pig to pass through easily. Something similar to the purple hoop in the photo is best. I have tutorials for how to make 2 different types of hoops. You can find them by following the links below.
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 Jump Through a Hoop (Video Tutorial)
The following is a video demonstrating the steps to teach your guinea pig to jump through a hoop. The written steps are down below the video, so keep scrolling if you’d rather read the instructions. I also have some additional training tips below that.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Jump Through a Hoop – Step by Step
The following are the steps you can take to teach your guinea pig to jump through a hoop. Remember to spend as much time as you need on each step before moving on. All guinea pigs progress at their own pace, so some will be ready to move on faster than others.
If your guinea pig gets stuck at any point, it’s also perfectly fine to go back to the previous step for a little longer. In many cases, this helps to get your guinea pig back on track very quickly.
1. Find a Suitable Hoop to Use
Naturally, the first thing you need to do is find a suitable hoop to use for this trick.
This can be as simple as a cardboard cutout or a thin weaved hoop from a craft store. You can also make your own simple guinea pig hoop or a freestanding agility hoop.
Make sure the hoop you choose has no sharp edges and is an appropriate size. It should be big enough that the guinea pig can pass through it easily. It should be at least two inches bigger than the guinea pig’s body if you want to teach them to jump through.
If you only plan to have your guinea pig walk through at ground level, it only needs to be slightly bigger than the guinea pig (although a bigger hoop is easier when you’re just starting this trick.)
2. Lure Your Guinea Pig Through With a Treat
Hold the hoop in front of your guinea pig at ground level. With a treat, lure them through the hoop. If they go all the way through the first time, that’s great. Give them a treat and lots of praise!
Some guinea pigs will plant their feet and try to stretch their neck forward to reach the treat without going through the hoop. If this is your piggy, you’ll need to break it down into smaller steps.
Give them a treat just for reaching their nose through the first time. Don’t try to lure them as far as they’ll go each time. This will make them think that the food is evasive and hard to get, and they’ll often give up entirely. Keep your hand still and let them poke their nose through the hoop to get the treat. Hold the treat a tiny bit further the next time, so they have to maybe put one foot through the hoop. Keep at this until the guinea pig will go all the way through the hoop.
Practice this several times until the guinea pig will follow your hand easily back and forth through the hoop.
3. Fade Out the Lure
The next step is to get your guinea pig less reliant on following your hand. You can start to fade out your hand by using it as little as you need to.
Try waiting to see if your guinea pig will anticipate and go through the hoop without prompting. If they don’t, try holding your hand briefly on the other side of the hoop to guide them in the right direction.
Continue to give them a treat each time they pass through the hoop. Practice this until your guinea pig can go through the hoop without your hand to prompt them.
4. Gradually Raise the Height of the Hoop
Gradually raise the hoop off the ground, so the guinea pig starts to jump through. Increase the height slowly and gradually. If your guinea pig shows any hesitancy or tries to avoid jumping through, lower it again.
Only raise the hoop to the maximum height that your guinea pig seems comfortable jumping (I usually keep the height to a maximum of 2-3 inches high).
5. Teach Them to Go Through Different Types of Hoops
This step is optional, but it can be a fun challenge to practice with different types and styles of hoops. You can practice with a smaller hoop that’s just slightly wider than the guinea pig. This is more challenging because the hoop will be touching their sides as they go through.
Note that this hoop is too small to jump through, so you’d have to keep it at ground level. You can also teach them to jump through a freestanding hoop obstacle. These types of hoops can make great additions to a miniature guinea pig agility course. You can also teach your guinea pig to go through a covered hoop below.
An Additional Challenge: The Covered Hoop
Once your guinea pig is consistently going through the regular hoop, you can add a piece of paper or fabric over it and teach the guinea pig to go through a covered hoop.
To teach this, start by holding the piece of paper up and luring the guinea pig through the hoop. Next time, hold the paper a little lower so the guinea pig’s back brushes the paper as they come through the hoop. Gradually continue to hold the paper a little lower each time until the guinea pig will go through on their own.
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
It’s important to make sure the hoop you choose is big enough for the guinea pig to walk through comfortably. If you use a smaller hoop from the beginning, your guinea pig may be hesitant to go through at all. Smaller hoops are also harder for the guinea pig to jump through when you begin to raise it off the ground. Choose a hoop that’s at least 2-3 inches larger than your guinea pig to be on the safe side.
Also, practice having your guinea pig go through the hoop from both sides. This is important so your guinea pig doesn’t become one-sided and refuse to go through in the opposite direction.
If Your Guinea Pig Isn’t Getting It
If your guinea pig is having trouble catching on to this trick, make sure you’re breaking it down into small enough steps. If they won’t go through the hoop at all, try holding a leaf of lettuce or a carrot and let them nibble on it through the hoop for a few minutes. Sometimes just eating for a bit while their head is partway through the hoop helps them to realize that the hoop isn’t that scary after all.
I hope you had a lot of fun teaching this trick to your guinea pig! Trick training is a great source of exercise and enrichment for guinea pigs. It’s also a fun and interactive way to spend time and bond with your piggy. There are so many cool and easy tricks you can teach your guinea pig. A good list to check out can be found on our page called 10 easiest tricks you can teach your guinea pig first.