Jumping is a fun trick to teach guinea pigs, and it can provide a great source of exercise! You can also teach your guinea pig to run miniature agility courses. Jumps are one of the most common obstacles in an agility course and are likely to be one of the first things you teach to your guinea pig.
When teaching this obstacle, it’s beneficial to have an adjustable jump or a few jumps of various heights. This is helpful for training, especially if your guinea pig is hesitant to jump at first. If you don’t have jumps that can be made lower, you can easily create some temporary low jumps by rolling up newspapers or using books and a pole/baton to make a higher jump gradually.
Some guinea pigs may be confident enough in their jumping ability to jump the normal height from the beginning. If your guinea pig does this, you won’t have to worry about making any kind of lower jumps, and you will be able to skip ahead a little in these steps.
How High Can Guinea Pigs Jump?
How high a guinea pig can jump will vary greatly from one guinea pig to another. A young, agile, and athletic pig will likely be much more willing to jump than an older or middle-aged guinea pig. If your guinea pig is overweight, that will also affect their jumping abilities. An overweight pig may be tired after just a few repetitions of going over a relatively low jump.
I find that my guinea pigs prefer jumps under 3 inches high, so I typically don’t go any higher than that. If I am going to be doing several repetitions of jumps in one session, I often keep the jumps only at about 1 inch high. I usually only ask them to do higher jumps 3-4 times in a row before lowering the jump again. It is important to keep training sessions involving jumps short and sweet (typically under a couple of minutes), so the guinea pig doesn’t get tired.
Some guinea pigs seem happy to jump even higher than what I mentioned above, which is usually fine in small amounts. As mentioned above, keep sessions super short, and avoid asking your guinea pig to go over higher jumps more than a couple of times in a row. Keep in mind that guinea pigs don’t really have the ideal body type for high jumping and other athletic tricks, so it’s best to keep it limited and work up to higher jumps gradually. Always keep it short and fun for your guinea pig!
Is Jumping Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Guinea pigs often jump naturally, such as when popcorning. As such, jumping is not bad for them, as long as it’s in moderation. When teaching your guinea pig to jump, it’s slightly more unnatural than the way they would jump themselves. This is fine, but it’s important not to make them jump too high or too repetitively. Guinea pigs aren’t really built to be the most athletic of animals. Keep your training sessions short and the jumps relatively low. Guinea pigs can handle a few repetitions of higher jumps, as long as you don’t do it multiple times in a row.
How Long Does it Take to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Jump?
Guinea pigs that are young and athletic can often learn to jump in just a few days. Other times it can take a couple of weeks of practice. Slower or middle-aged guinea pigs may learn to walk over a pole quite quickly but take more time and encouragement to actually start jumping. You can help these guinea pigs learn faster by keeping your jumps low and training sessions short.
What You Need for Training
To teach your guinea pig to jump, you’ll need your guinea pig, some of their favorite veggie treats, a safe enclosed space that is free from distractions, a jump that is around 2-3 inches high, and something lower that your guinea pig can jump over. I’m using a plastic baton toy and a few books for this purpose.
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!
How Do You Make a Jump for Guinea Pigs?
As you can see in the videos, I have made a few different styles of jumps for my guinea pigs. There is no right way to make your own jumps, as long as they are safe and sturdy.
I made my flexible jumps by finding dollar store dog rope toys and hot gluing some popsicle stick frames to each side. My miniature red and white “horse jump” in the second video was made with jumbo craft/popsicle sticks and a couple of dowels.
I put together a tutorial for some easy cardboard jumps you can make for your guinea pig. These jumps are very easy to make and find materials for, which is why I did a tutorial for this versus the other jumps.
How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Jump – Video Tutorial
This is a video demonstrating the steps involved in teaching your guinea pig to jump. If you prefer the written steps, keep scrolling below. I also have a video down below that shows the first training session with a new guinea pig learning to jump from scratch.
Training a Guinea Pig to Jump From Start to Finish
This is my guinea pig Poppy’s very first training session with a jump! You can see her go from being hesitant in the beginning to jumping confidently just a few minutes later. We practiced walking over a pole on the ground before this video, but this was her first time attempting to navigate a full-sized jump.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Jump – Step by Step
1. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Walk Over a Pole on the Ground
Place a pole or other low object on the floor and lure the guinea pig over it with a treat. Give them a small treat every time they go over the pole. Practice this several times until the guinea pig seems comfortable following your hand back and forth over the pole.
After this, start to fade out the lure by guiding the guinea pig over the jump without food in your hand. Reward with your other hand after they go over the pole. Eventually, try waiting to reward until the guinea pig goes over the pole on their own.
2. Increase the Height Gradually
Next, make your jump a bit higher by propping one book under each end of the pole. Lure your guinea pig over the low jump with a treat. Guide them back and forth over the jump a few times. Remember to give them a treat each time they pass over the jump.
After this, try making your jump just a little bit higher. If you’re using the pole and books method, stack a second book under each end of the pole. Repeat the same thing. Your guinea pig should catch on to this very quickly after the last couple of steps.
3. Switch to a Higher Jump
Switch to your higher (2-3 inch high) jump. After practicing with the lower object, your guinea pig should be primed to tackle this new obstacle.
You may need to start by giving your guinea pig a treat when they put their paws up on the jump. Hold another piece of food on the other side to encourage them to jump all the way over.
Guide them back and forth over the jump until they seem quite comfortable navigating their new jump.
4. Add More Jumps
This is not a necessary step, but it adds more fun and a bit of a challenge! You can make this trick more interesting by teaching your guinea pig to jump back and forth multiple times for one treat. This is much flashier and more fun than one jump.
You can also teach your guinea pig to navigate multiple jumps. You can arrange them in a multitude of different ways. Set them up in a row, a circle, side by side, or any other configuration. Jumps can be a lot of fun to play around with!
If Your Guinea Pig Isn’t Getting It
If your guinea pig is struggling to learn how to jump, try to make it as easy as possible for them. Progress very slowly so your guinea pig doesn’t get overwhelmed. Practice on a low jump or just a pole on the ground until your guinea pig is completely confident about going over the obstacle.
If they don’t want to take treats at all, you may need to spend some time teaching your guinea pig to trust you before starting trick training. If your piggy doesn’t want to follow your hand over a super low jump, you probably need to teach your guinea pig to follow a lure.
Make it easy for the guinea pig to succeed. Give them a small piece of food every time they follow your hand for just one small step. Practice luring them around without any obstacles at first. You can find more information about this on the page on how to start training your guinea pig.
I hope this tutorial helped your guinea pig learn to fly over those jumps! Jumping and other agility-type obstacles provide great exercise for guinea pigs. This is so great for piggies because they’re so prone to obesity and related health problems.
If you’re interested in trying more agility-related activities with your guinea pig, check out our tutorials for teaching your guinea pig to run through tunnels, and weave poles like an agility champ! Also, now that your guinea pig knows how to jump, you may want to make it flashier by teaching them to jump through a hoop.