7 Wonderful Ways to Get A Shy Guinea Pig To Like You

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Does your guinea pigs shy away from you? Keep hiding when you enter the room? You may wonder if they’ll ever come running to you. Don’t be discouraged. This is all normal when you first take your little friend home.   

To get shy guinea pigs to like you try: talking to them, hand feeding, and spending time with them. It’s also important to keep the area around them calm to make your piggie feel safe. Just because your guinea pig’s shy, doesn’t mean they’ll never like you. It just takes time to gain their trust.

a picture of an owner and a guinea pig and the owner want the guinea pig to like him

There’s many ways to show your shy guinea pigs that you’re friendly. Try some of these techniques to get your guinea pigs to come out of their shell. Here’s 7 things that will make the taming process easier for both you and your new piggie. 

1. Hand feed 

a tip about how to get a shy guinea pig to like you

Hand feeding is a great way to bond with your little fur baby. The process is different for everyone. It may take longer for some piggies than others to eat out of your hand. Hang in there, friend.

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When trying to hand feed your guinea pig, you can follow these steps: 

  1. Start by holding something big, like a lettuce leaf, and let them nibble at it. 
  2. The next step is to give your little friends smaller pieces of vegetables, letting them come closer to your hand.
  3. Give them food at floor time, letting them come closer to you and encourage them to climb onto your lap
  4. Hold the food in your open palm and rest it on the floor, until they come and eat out of it

During all these steps, remember to be calm and don’t make any sudden movements. You can also talk to them while hand feeding. This will make them associate your voice with food. 

Make a habit of feeding them by hand once a day, instead of pouring all food into a bowl

2. Give Them Space

Guinea pigs are very prone to routine. When they find themselves in new environments, they can get stressed or anxious. It will take them a while to get used to their new home.  

It can be good to give them their space in the beginning, don’t try to pick them up or lure them out straight away. 

Make sure your furry friends feel more comfortable in their new home. Provide plenty of huts or hiding spots that are safe for them – where they can hide from things that scare them.

(And yes, that’s includes you. Don’t try to invade their hiding spaces. Even if you know you’re not going to harm them, they don’t know that yet. All you’re going to do is freak them out and make them even more skittish around you.)

Here’s a few examples of some easy-to-make hiding spots: 

  • 4 inch diameter PVC pipes
  • Cardboard houses
  • Cover part of the living area with blankets 
  • Big, big piles of hay

There are many different types of hideouts you can buy for your guinea pigs. Some of them are very cute.

But, keep in mind that the main purpose of these is to make you piggies happy and comfortable.

At the end of the day, your piggies will be perfectly happy with a cardboard DIY house.

infographic describing ways to get a shy guinea pig to like you

3. Comfy Living Conditions

To create a safe and comfy living area for your little fuzz spuds, there’s a few things to keep in mind. 

Your piggies will need floor time to get their exercise, but their enclosure must also be large enough to give them space to stretch out and run around. Thus a cage or living space for two guinea pigs should be at least 10 square feet and 10 inches tall.

# of Guinea PigsSize Of Cage
1 piggie10.5 square feet 
2 piggies10.5 square feet 
3 piggies13 square feet
4 piggies16 square feet

How to make a comfy home environment for your guinea pigs: 

  • Line it with soft, dry, absorbent bedding (like fleece, soft grass hay, kiln dried pine or paper bedding)
  • Provide plenty of hiding places (piggies LOVE to hide!)
  • Deep clean it 1-2 times a week
  • Spot clean daily
  • Make sure the temperature in the room is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Provide fresh hay and water 24/7 
  • Keep it away from other pets and noisy spaces
  • Make sure all materials you use are guinea pig safe! 

There are plenty of design ideas if you want to build your own guinea pig home. For example, you can make it two stories if you don’t have enough space.  

If your little friends don’t feel comfortable in their home they might get stressed. This’ll make it harder for to bond with your guinea pigs – especially if they’re shy.

4. Spend Time With Your Guinea Pigs

While you should give your piggies some space in the beginning, you can still spend time with them by being around them. This will allow them to recognize and get used to your scent, voice and footsteps.   

It’s important to be consistent in spending time with your piggies. Guinea pigs feel more comfortable having a routine.

Try to spend time with them around the same time every day. Apart from feeding them, you can talk to them or let them out to play. 

Talk Or Read To Them

Your little fuzz potatoes will learn to recognize you in many ways. One way is by talking to them. Guinea pigs have very bad eyesight. They will feel safer hearing that it’s you that is approaching them, and not some predator.  

How to talk to your guinea pigs: 

  • Speak in a calm and friendly voice
  • Speak whenever you’re around them
  • Avoid shouting or screaming around them 

If you’re a bit nervous (or clueless) about what to say to your piggies, try reading them a book or a magazine! You can read out loud to them at floor time for example.   

Avoid Being Loud Or Making Sudden Movements 

No matter how easy going your guinea pigs get, they will most likely still jump and hide when hearing a loud noise. It’s in their DNA after all.  

When you approach your piggies, move slowly and talk to them so they hear it’s you. Kneel or sit down beside their cage, get on their level. If you tower over them they might see you as a threat (like a predator).  

If you’re clumsy (like me) you might accidentally trip near your piggies. This might startle them. If this happens, try speaking to them in a soft voice and give them some food, so they know it’s nothing to be scared of. 

Lay Down With Them During Play Time 

When you let your piggies out to play on the floor, try sitting or lying down with them. Put down a fleece blanket and lay down on it. This will allow your little fuzz spuds to become comfortable with your presence.  

You can try to attract them with food or just lay there reading or scrolling on your phone. Your piggies will most likely be curious about you. If you don’t make any sudden movements they might come up and sniff you, or even crawl over you.  

I HIGHLY recommend that last part. Being covered in cuddly guinea pigs is an amazing feeling!

Doing Other Things In The Same Room With Them 

Some piggies take more time than others to bond with. This is especially true for rescues that haven’t been treated well by humans in the past.

Even if you don’t directly interact with your guinea pigs, just being in the same room can help them feel more comfortable with you. Try doing other things in the room such as:

  • Watching TV
  • Working on your laptop
  • Reading a book or magazine
  • Writing in a journal
  • Drawing

Just make sure you don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises that might scare them. And of course, you want to make this a routine.

Consistent exposure to you (with nothing horrific happening) will help your shy, little friends understand that you’re not a threat. Over time they will become more and more relaxed around you.

Having their cage in a space where people regularly move about will help them get used to the constant foot traffic and other noises like the vacuum cleaner.

Once they’re used to that, they’ll be less likely to get spooked by every little thing, and it’ll help your furry friends to be a little less shy.

5. Get Your Guinea Pig A Friend

Your piggie may feel anxious, bored or unsafe because they’re alone. Guinea pigs naturally live in herds and are very social creatures. When adopting guinea pigs, you should get at least two. This will allow them to live out their social needs and make them feel safer too. 

Social interactions between guinea pigs is good for both their mental and physical health. It’s important they get introduced to each other at a young age. This will help them learn social structures and behaviors.

When guinea pigs live in a compatible group of other piggies, the risk of them getting bored, anxious or scared will decrease.

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6. Supervise Anyone Else Around Your Guinea Pig 

Once you have built a stronger bond with your piggies, you can start introducing other people to them. Teach your friends how to handle your piggies, you know best.

It can be a good idea to let your piggies observe you and your friends from their cage at first. Make sure your friends understand they might not be able to hold them straight away.  

It’s especially important to supervise small children around your piggies. You can let the child pet them gently at first while you’re holding your piggie or let them try hand feeding. 

If new people are careless and loud around your little fur potatoes it might set back your own bond with them. Make sure to be present when any new people are handling your piggies. Just like you worked on bonding with your piggies, your friends will have to work too.

7. Keep Their Area Calm 

When your piggies are stressed or scared, they’re more likely to shy away from you. It’s important to keep your living area calm and safe.

These are some common things that can scare your guinea pig: 

  • Sudden loud noises 
  • Loud surroundings
  • Predators (cats, dogs, bunnies etc.)
  • Small cages
  • Irregular schedule or sudden changes in routine
  • Handling them roughly  

If your furry friends experience stress, they will most likely have a harder time trusting you. Guinea pigs require a calm environment in order to feel safe and let their guard down.   

How Long Will My Guinea Pig Be Scared Of Me? 

Your guinea pig may feel scared for a few days up to several months. If your guinea pig is still skittish after a few weeks, don’t worry, some guinea pigs are just naturally more shy than others.

Ultimately, three things impact on how long your guinea pigs will be shy for:

  • The personality
  • Their background (how they were raised, whether they’ve been handled a lot etc.)
  • How much time and effort (and finesse) you’re willing to put in building a bond with your piggies.

Let’s look at each one of these in a little more detail.

  • The guinea pig’s personality: Some guinea pigs are just naturally more shy than others and they may always be a little wary around people.
  • How much time and effort you’re willing to put into building a bond with your guinea pigs: If you’re patient and consistent, you will slowly build trust with your guinea pigs and they will eventually become less scared of you.
  • Your guinea pig’s background: If they were neglected by their previous owners, it can take longer for them to get used to you. Some trauma in their past can make guinea pigs distrustful of humans for a long time.

It will take time for your new fur baby to adjust to you. There’s no getting past it. Keep trying different bonding techniques and be consistent, even if you feel like there’s no hope. Your piggie will come around eventually. 

I’m not going to lie to you. The process of building a bond with your guinea pigs takes time, sometimes even months. Don’t get discouraged if they’re still skittish after a few days or even a few weeks. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Eventually, your fuzz spuds will reveal their personality to you and show you how they’re going to show you affection.

How Do You Calm A Scared Guinea Pig? 

The best way to calm your guinea pig is to stay calm yourself. Your own mood reflects on your guinea pig. Move slowly, speak in a calm and friendly voice and approach them on their level. This will help make your furry friend not see you as a threat.  

If your piggie got a real fright, they might take longer to calm down. Be patient and keep these things in mind: 

  • Remove any obvious threats
  • Keep their surroundings calm 
  • Talk gently to them
  • Don’t make sudden movements or loud noises
  • Make sure they have places to hide
  • Offer them food 

You may also have to give your piggie some space until they calm down.  In some cases, it’s best to let your guinea pigs come to you when they’re ready.

When Can I Pick Up My Shy Guinea Pig?

a sarcastic meme for how to get a guinea pig to like you

You can pick up your shy guinea pig after giving them a day or two to adjust to their new home. After that, start slowly by petting them and letting them get used to your smell. Once your guinea pigs are comfortable with you, you can try to pick them up.

What you really want to focus on it how your piggies react when you HOLD them; not when you pick them up.

You see, most piggies always scramble away from you, because they don’t like to be picked up in the first place. Since they’re prey They will try to get away from you as soon as they can.

Once you have a deeper bond with your shy guinea pig, th. How long it takes of course depends on a variety of factors. 

First you need to make sure your piggie is comfortable with your touch

You can try approaching your piggies step by step:  

  1. Hand feed them
  2. Gently pet them
  3. Get them to crawl onto your lap 
  4. Try petting their belly and put a hand on their little tush

If your little furry potato doesn’t flinch or run when you put your hand on their belly or behind them, you might be able to pick them up. You can also use a cuddle sack to pick them up. This will feel safer both for you and your piggie. 

To pick up your guinea pig correctly, scoop them up from underneath so that they feel supported. Avoid picking them up by the scruff of the neck or by their legs. Hold them close to your body so they feel secure.

Final Thoughts 

Shy piggies need a lot of time, care and attention. You mustn’t be discouraged by their behavior, give them a good reason to trust you instead.

In the beginning, you may have to give your new friends some space. But after a while you can start gaining your shy guinea pig’s trust by: 

  • Hand feeding them
  • Securing a comfy living area
  • Spending lots of time with them
  • Being patient and consistent

Wanna Give Your Piggies
the 5 STAR Treatment?

Stop getting dirty looks from your piggies, because you forgot to do something for them...AGAIN. These colorful, chore charts will help you keep track of when to feed your fuzz butts, clean their cages, and much more. 

FREE

If your piggie has a friend it will also feel a lot safer and may become more outgoing. 

It’s important to supervise visitors. Trauma caused by someone else may also reverse the progress you’ve made with your little fuzz spud. 

It can take anything from a few days up to several months for your guinea pig to start trusting you. Remember to stay calm around your piggies since they’ll pick up on your feelings. Once your bond is stronger, they might allow you to pick them up without too much of a fuss! 

Just because your guinea pig seems scared of you right now, doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Be persistent, patient and calm. Eventually your piggies will popcorn in excitement when they see you! Well, at least if you bring food.  

A care guide for your Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus). (n.d.). Seattle.gov Home. https://www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/AnimalShelter/care-guides/care-sheet-guinea-pig.pdf

(n.d.). The Animal Welfare Foundation. https://www.animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/caring_for_guinea_pigs-1.pdf

Here are the 4 steps to bond with your Guinea pigs. (2020, February 7). GuineaDad. https://guineadad.com/blogs/news/4-ways-to-bond-with-your-guinea-pigs

How to pick up a skittish Guinea pig (4 steps!). (2020, August 17). wee whiskers. https://weewhiskers.com/how-to-pick-up-a-skittish-guinea-pig/

How to tame Guinea pigs. (2021, August 23). Guinea Piggles. https://www.guineapiggles.co.uk/how-to-tame-guinea-pigs/

Stressed Guinea pig? How to spot the signs | 9 ways to calm your cavy | Home & roost. (2021, July 24). Home & Roost. https://homeandroost.co.uk/blog/stressed-guinea-pig/

Taming & bonding with your Guinea pig. (2022, April 17). Guinea Pig Tricks. https://guineapigtricks.com/taming-bonding.html

What companionship do my Guinea pigs need? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-companionship-do-my-guinea-pigs-need/

What kind of housing do Guinea pigs need? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-kind-of-housing-do-guinea-pigs-need/

Why is my Guinea pig scared of me? (2021, November 24). Clever Pet Owners. https://cleverpetowners.com/why-is-my-guinea-pig-scared-of-me/

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