How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Wave

Wave is by far one of the cutest tricks a guinea pig can learn. It’s so adorable to see your guinea pig wave back at you when you wave at them with your finger. Before teaching this trick, it’s a good idea to teach your guinea pig how to stand up on their hind legs or go to a platform. If your guinea pig is hesitant to put their paws up on your hand, it may also help to teach them the paws up trick before starting on wave.

How Long Does it Take to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Wave?

Wave usually only takes a week or so to teach to your guinea pig. However, they also need to learn a few tricks before starting this one. If you haven’t yet taught your guinea pig to stand up or go to a platform, this will take a bit of extra time to teach. The good news is that all of these tricks are generally quite easy to teach, so each one individually doesn’t take too much time.

What You Need for Training

To teach your guinea pig to wave, you’ll need your guinea pig, some of their favorite veggie treats, a safe enclosed space that is free from distractions, and a guinea pig-sized platform. Choose something that is safe, sturdy, large enough for the guinea pig’s whole body, and ideally less than 3 inches high.

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 Wave (Video Tutorial)

The following is a video of my guinea pig Ace demonstrating the steps to teach wave. If you’d rather read the written version, I have the steps outlined below. I also have some more information and training tips for this trick below the step-by-step guides.

How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Wave – Step by Step

Teaching Wave Version 1 (Wave one paw)

1. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Get on a Platform

The first step to teaching this version of the wave trick is to find a suitable-sized platform and teach your guinea pig to get on/off it on cue. (See Go To Platform page)

I like to use a platform for this version of the wave trick because it’s easier to teach the guinea pig to reach their paw out. Many guinea pigs will be tempted to climb on your hand instead, and the platform deters them from doing this.

2. Lure One Paw Onto Your Hand

Starting with the guinea pig on the platform, move your hand slightly to one side of them and lure up, so one paw lands on your hand.

Practice this several times until the guinea pig will consistently touch your hand with their paw without a lure. You can also encourage some guinea pigs to paw at your hand by holding some food in your closed fist. Give your guinea pig the treat as soon as they swipe at your hand with their paw.

3. Move Your Hand Further Away

Hold your hand out in front of the guinea pig, just out of their reach. Reward any time they try to reach or wave their paw towards your hand.

If they won’t try to paw at your hand at all, move it a little bit closer until they will, or go back a step and keep practicing.

Practice this step until the guinea pig is consistently pawing at your hand.

4. Add a Cue

Once the guinea pig is consistently pawing at your hand, start adding a cue. You can say “wave” or just do a hand motion like waving your finger while they wave.

Continue to practice with the cue until they are waving consistently on cue. You can also start building duration by waiting until you get a second or third wave before rewarding.

How to Teach Wave Version 2 (Stand Up & Wave)

1. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Stand Up

The first thing you’ll need to teach your guinea pig for this version of wave is to stand up on their hind legs. Make sure your guinea pig is very confident with this trick before trying to teach them to wave at the same time.

(See Stand Up page)

This type of waving requires more balance, so it may be a good idea to teach version 1 of wave first.

2. Teach Your Guinea Pig to Put Their Paws Up On Your Hand

Teach your guinea pig to put their paws up on your hand.

You can start teaching this by luring the guinea pig onto your hand with a treat. Keep practicing until they are becoming more confident about putting their paws on your hand. Once they start getting the hang of that, start gradually raising your hand higher and begin to fade out the food lure.

This is important to teach, as you’ll be combining this trick with standing up to encourage your guinea pig to reach up and wave at your hand.

3. Raise Your Hand Higher

Continue practicing the paws-up trick while gradually raising your hand higher.

You can then ask your guinea pig to stand up and put your hand in front of them so they can rest their paws on your hand. Give them a treat every time they touch your hand with their paws.

Practice this until your guinea pig will put their paws on your hand every time you present your hand to them while they’re standing up.

4. Raise Your Hand Up and Add a Cue

While your guinea pig is standing, raise your hand a little bit higher until it is just barely out of the guinea pig’s reach. Reward anytime they try to reach up and paw at your hand, even just a little bit at first. Eventually, you can start waiting until they are waving their paw more prominently before giving them the treat.

Keep practicing this until your guinea pig is waving at your hand pretty consistently. You can then start adding a cue such as a little finger wave as they are waving their paw.

Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick

  • Your guinea pig should be able to stand up fairly well before attempting version 2 of this trick. If your guinea pig is lacking confidence with standing on two legs, you can teach them to wave from the ground (version 1) instead and try version 2 once the guinea pig has grown more confident with their balance.
  • Encourage the guinea pig to wave more by praising them extensively whenever they put in more effort or wave with more enthusiasm than usual.

If Your Guinea Pig Isn’t Getting It

If your guinea pig is struggling with one version of this trick, try the opposite one. Also, make sure your guinea pig has good balance while standing before teaching them to stand up and wave together.

This part of the trick can be challenging for many guinea pigs. If you’re struggling to get your guinea pig to use their paw, try teaching a paw target first. In addition to paws up, stand up, etc., paw targets can help a lot when teaching this trick.

What’s Next?

Wave is an adorable trick! I hope you had fun teaching this trick to your piggy. After teaching one or both versions of this trick, you may be wondering what else you can teach your guinea pig. There are countless options and adorable tricks you can teach next. For some more inspiration, check out our list of 7 coolest tricks you can teach to your guinea pig.