Remember your first day of school? You were probably nervous because this was a strange place, and there were strange people, strange sounds, and strange smells. These are the same feelings experienced by your new pet guinea pig when you bring him home for the first time. If you can be patient and mindful of this then you and your furry new friend will get off to a great start on a friendship that can last many wonderful years.
Your new guinea pig will need time to adapt to his new surroundings. The idea of being in a strange new place is quite scary for the timid and shy little fellow. You may be really anxious to make friends with your new guinea pig, but the first three or four days can be very stressful for them. Loud noises and your constant presence can also be very scary. Although it may be difficult you need to avoid touching and and trying to hold your new pet until they are adjusted to and comfortable in their new space.
One of the best things you can provide your new guinea pig during this period of acclimation is a place for him to hide. A simple section of plastic pipe or a box with a hole cut in it would work just. If you get more than one guinea pig be sure you get each of them their own separate hiding area otherwise someone will get left outside or they might fight over the hideout.
The best way to observe your new guinea pig is not by hovering over his cage from above. When you do their instinct is to hide from what they may perceive to be a predatory bird or animal. Instead you should kneel down to guinea pig-eye level. It will be particularly hard for your children to be patient enough to refrain from wanting to hold their new pet. But you must remind them that their new guinea pig needs peace and quiet to get used to his new home.
Slowly but surely your guinea pig will begin to feel comfortable in his new home. Now it is time to begin building a bond of trust with your new pet. Offering treats is a great way to build trust. As you might have guessed your furry new buddy loves to eat and there are no shortage of items to treat him with. Once again you have to take this slowly. Gently show the treat to your pet and then slowly place it just inside the cage’s door. Then quietly move away, making sure you are still at guinea pig-eye level (no hovering), and wait. If your guinea pig is reluctant to move towards the treat to check it out then reach into the cage slowly and pick up the uneaten treat and then slowly close the cage door. It takes a little bit of partience but keep trying this until your guinea pig learns he must come and pick up the treat himself. Eventually your guinea pig will get accustomed to your presence, and he will trust you enough to take the treat right out of your hand. After a while you will find he will begin to associate your presence with treats and he will come to enjoy taking his treat from you!
Now that you and your guinea pig have become friends and you’ve taught him to trust you by offering him treats, it is now time to learn how to get him used to being held. One important thing that you don’t want to do is use treats to lure your pet into being held. Remember, if you pick your guinea pig up against his will he will likely struggle to escape because he is afraid. The fear he may experience over being held when it is not used to being held can damage or destroy the initial bond that you have built with treats. Instead what you want to do is get him or her used to being touched by simple, gentle petting.
When your guinea pig is comfortable with your touching and petting it won’t object to being picked up any longer. When picking up your guinea pig remember to be gentle. Gently grasp your pet’s torso with one hand then slide your other hand under their rear end – make sure you are being gentle and providing full body support. Always supervise young children as your guinea pick can be injured easily if mishandled or dropped. If it begins to struggle set it back down in its cage very gently. If you try to hold on tight when it is squirming to get away you can actually damage the guinea pig’s lungs by squeezing it too hard.
Before long your furry, warm, cuddly little friend will actually look forward to being held and petted. Your patience will be rewarded when you see your new friend get excited and squeal for joy when he sees you!