Bringing home a guinea pig for the first time is always exciting. That fluff! Those floppy ears! And he makes such cute noises!
The excitement dies down a bit after the piggy parent observes that the newest addition to their family has spent most of the day in hiding. From there, the questions begin. "How do I bond with my guinea pig? How do I get her to trust me? It's been three weeks, why is he still scared of me?"
Like with any new pet, it takes time to build a trusting relationship. You won't become instant besties - guinea pigs are naturally shy and skittish so it may take a while for him or her to adjust to the new environment. Depending on your cavy's personality this can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or more. A rare few are naturally outgoing and will run up to greet you from the start but the majority take time to come around.
So what can you do to encourage your pigs to come out of their
- Pick a quiet location for their cage. Preferably away from other pets, boisterous kids, and other startling noises. Your pigs are likely nervous and overwhelmed so they will certainly appreciate a peaceful place to settle in.
- Provide pigloos, huts, cozies, and other hiding places. Make them as comfortable as possible while they get used to their new surroundings.
- Speak to them so they become used to the sound of your voice.
- Avoid grabbing them without warning. Slowly extend a hand first so they can see you and smell your scent. Some will let you pet them before picking them up.
- Carry them in a cozy or cuddle cup. Many guineas dislike being picked up, even if they enjoy being petted. This will help them feel more secure so they'll be less likely to squirm while being transported. Plus, the fabric provides a barrier from grumpy midair nibbles. I'm looking at you, Truffle!
- Indulge in shameless bribery. The way to a pig's heart is through their stomach, so veggie treats are definitely in order! Greens, grass, and the occasional bit of fruit will go a long way towards winning your pig's trust. Bonus points for using bribes during cuddle time.
- Spend time with them regularly. Even fifteen minutes a day can help a lot with bonding.
Don't be discouraged if your guinea's behavior doesn't change right away - have patience and keep up the good work! They'll be wheeking their hellos and demanding food before you know it.
Longtime piggy parents, do you have any human-guinea bonding tips to share? How long did it take for your newly adopted pigs to settle in?