Rodents are one of the world’s most unique pets. Guinea pigs are especially unique due to their huge personalities and fun-loving nature. They are often thought of as being less intelligent than some other species of animals. Additionally, they are thought of as being boring and simply pets that sit in their cages.
However, this isn’t at all true. Guinea pigs rely on their owners to properly interact with them to engage them in lively behavior. Any pet should have owner engagement and this certainly includes rodent pets like guinea pigs!
Giving a pet a name is a great opportunity to choose a truly fitting name. When we name our pets, we aren’t naming them strictly to give them something unique to their looks or personality. We are providing them with a name so that we can identify them on command. We have this expectation that if we call out their name, they will respond.
Guinea pigs aren’t like cats or dogs in that they will come running to their names. However, this isn’t to say that they don’t recognize their names.
Guinea Pigs can recognize their names! Repetition is a training tool that’s used throughout the animal kingdom to help train animals to respond on command. Through repetition, certain things can be remembered to be used practically. When we assign a name to a pet, we want them to know their names.
Guinea pigs can be trained like other animals. While not all of them are as intelligent as other guinea pigs, they still have a basic understanding of certain things. This includes their name. If we use repetition in repeating their name to them, they will associate that word with themselves and their owners that are calling them the word.
Do Guinea Pigs Recognize Their Owners?
Guinea pigs are prey animals. Their initial instinct is to run and hide from things that intimidate or scare them. This can include humans. Some guinea pigs are quite shy and will often run away from their owners, even after long periods of time of being around them. This cannot be helped as this in their nature. Not all guinea pigs stay this way but some of them can.
Guinea pigs can recognize their owners, even the shy ones that run and hide. It is important to note that the guinea pigs who run and hide aren’t necessarily scared of their owners but simply reacting to something larger and louder than they are.
Just like using repetition to help them recognize their name, it can be applied to build trust with a guinea pig as well to help recognize their owners as a safe thing rather than a dangerous one.
Once again, it depends on the guinea pig. Not all guinea pigs will overcome this, but most will through regular training and respect for their space and surroundings. In general, through working with a guinea pig regularly, they will come to learn their owner’s voice, smell, and touch.
This familiarization gives them comfort in knowing who is bringing their food, changing out their bedding, and refilling their hay. This recognition is a huge step in building trust with a guinea pig and creating a strong bond between it and its owner.
Can Guinea Pigs Learn Words?
Guinea pigs can be trained like other pets though the process usually takes longer. This isn’t to say that they are dumb just that the process isn’t as quick as it can be for other animals.
Just like training a dog or other animals, guinea pigs should be rewarded for desired behavior with treats to create positive reinforcement of certain actions. There are some guinea pigs out there that have come to know certain commands like jumping, running, and scent association, just to name a few.
Overall, words or phrases that guinea pigs might need to learn include: “treat”, “mealtime”, or “snack”. This is in addition to their names. These words create a sense of engagement between the guinea pig and its owner. Guinea pigs enjoy routines where they know when to expect to be fed or when it’s time for bed.
These patterns give them something to look forward to. When they learn words like “treat”, “mealtime” or “snack” they are being taught to establish a routine where they can expect snacks or treats.
Once again, this is best achieved through repetition. A guinea pig owner who wishes to train their piggie must have patience. This is because initially, a guinea pig will not respond immediately to certain words or phrases. This is where positive reinforcement comes into play.
When saying words like “snack” or “treat” or “mealtime” it is important to also be providing the treat, snack, or meal so that they see what is being given while the word is being said.
Moreover, guinea pigs are known for recognizing sounds in addition to certain words. It could be argued that they are more responsive to sounds than actual words. Perhaps this is true. This would align with their prey instinct and sense of alertness.
Guinea pigs certainly establish an association with particular sounds. Below are some common sounds that guinea pigs are known to recognize. When they hear the following sounds they typically respond by producing what’s known as a “wheek” squeaking sound, which indicates excitement.
Sounds That Guinea Pigs Recognize
- The sound of crinkled bags or paper
- A knife on a cutting board
- A refrigerator door being opened
- Any other types of door being opened or closed in a house
- The voice of their owners
All of these sounds that guinea pigs are known for recognizing are sounds that often repeated in their presence. They are able to make the connection to these sounds and receiving a treat, a meal, or time with their owners. Once again, it all falls back on repetition.
As with the repetition of their name, the repeating of these actions helps guinea pigs maintain a regular schedule for feedings and attention. This engagement is important to their growth on a mental level.
The Importance Of Engaging With A Guinea Pig
There is a common misconception with guinea pigs that they are boring pets. While they aren’t likely to play fetch, guinea pigs can still be a really fun pet to own. In order to really give them the best life, it is important to engage with a guinea pig as much as possible.
This eliminates them sleeping in the corner of their cage. Additionally, it helps owners bond with their piggies and gains a level of trust with them. This helps them stay happy! Below are some ways to engage with a guinea pig that enriches their life as well as gives them quality time with their owners!
Ways To Engage With A Guinea Pig
Hand-feed Your Guinea Pig
Hand-feeding a guinea pig is a critical tool in building trust. It provides familiarity with the scent of its owner. Additionally, they are able to enjoy eating their favorite foods. It is important to not move too quickly and keep the food or treat extended out.
Letting the guinea pig come to you is the best way to let them associate a safe boundary with the hand and the food being offered. Forcing them to be near the food or chasing them in their cage to offer it to them is more than likely going to scare them.
Provide Plenty Of Toys For Your Guinea Pig To Play With
Toys that are made for guinea pigs are an ideal way to engage with guinea pigs. This can be done by offering a toy by hand or having it readily available for them in the cage to interact with. Guinea pig toys are generally made of twine, wood, or paper (all materials that are safe for them to chew).
They come in all shapes and sizes and provide guinea pigs with the opportunity to grind their teeth down (which grow constantly). This interaction with these special toys helps them stay mentally happy.
Provide A Variety Of Treats For Your Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs should be offered treats. This can range from fruits like strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, kiwi, etc to treats that are made especially for guinea pigs. Treats that vitamin-c fortified are ideal for everyday feeding and usually come in compressed hay tablets.
Guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin-c so offering them these types of treats is a great way to supplement their diets. Fruits should be given up to 3 times a week but not daily as they are higher in sugar.
Guinea pigs can find anything to be a treat though! Giving them their favorite veggie is a great way to keep their sugar content low and still engage with them.
Cuddle With Your Guinea Pig
Not all guinea pigs like cuddling (and if the don’t, their space should be respected to maintain a trust level), but some do. For those who do like cuddling, cuddling with them not only keeps owner and piggie bonded by trust but helps a guinea pig feel safe in their owner’s arms. This sense of engagement is critical to their mental health. They gain a sense of safety and comfort from the cuddling!
Talk To Guinea Pigs
Talking to a guinea pig is important for a lot of reasons. Primarily, it is important because it helps a guinea pig get used to its owner’s voice. It helps them to recognize their name when its said and to establish a routine with other parts of their life.
When talking to them, it is a good idea to use a low, steady voice. A guinea pig should never be disciplined. The loud, angry voice that goes behind a disciplinary phrase could break any trust that a guinea pig has built up. A soothing voice helps keeps them calm and builds on the association that they make with their owners.
These methods help a guinea pig maintain a healthy mental status. It helps them from getting bored and gives them a more enriched life. Guinea pigs that are happier will be more active and more likely to engage with their owners.
Guinea pigs might not be as trainable as dogs, or even cats, but they can absolutely recognize their names, certain sounds and activities, and even words. It is all through repetition and established routines that they can achieve this!
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