Guinea pigs, like all small animals, sometimes become anxious when their human companions try to pet or hold them. A shy guinea pig will be reluctant to accept physical contact with his owner. This is often the case when a pig is first introduced to a new home. Even shy guinea pigs, though, are sociable creatures that enjoy and need affection. With a little patience, trust-building and a few of his favorite snacks, you can help your guinea pig ease away from his fears and learn to feel comfortable around you.
Things You'll Need
- Small treats
Ease into physical contact. Your guinea pig will need to gain your trust before he lets you hold him. To start this process, slowly stick your hand into the cage and pet him gently. Some guinea pigs love to have their heads patted, while others prefer the back. Watch how your guinea pig responds to your touch. If he enjoys the affection, he will stand still and allow it, and possibly even purr. You can also try using a soft-bristled pet brush on his fur to help him feel relaxed. Avoid sudden movements when making contact with the pig--this will increase his anxiety, and he'll instinctively try to hide from you.
Gently scoop him up with both of your hands if he seems calm enough to not mind being held. Petting him for a little while will usually relax him enough to get to this point. When you lift your guinea pig out of the cage, make sure you support his body with one hand under his belly and the other on his rump. Holding him any other way could hurt him and enable him to wiggle away and fall. Place him against your chest while you're carrying him, so he feels snug and secure.
Sit down on the floor, a couch or a bed and place the guinea pig on your lap--or next to you on a surface he can't fall off of. Choose a room that is free of loud noises or bigger pets. Loosely wrapping him in a soft towel or small blanket will make your pig feel safer in the open environment. Allow him to move as he pleases. He'll probably be still at first, but will soon start to sniff around and become curious about his surroundings. In the meantime, stroke his fur and speak to him in a soft, soothing voice.
Offer your pig a small treat and let him eat from your hand. Guinea pigs adore eating, so this will ease his anxiety and give him something to focus his attention on. Baby carrots are especially useful for this purpose, because you can easily hold one end while he munches on the other. Once a guinea pig learns to equate your presence with a snack, he will be much more eager to let you take him out of his cage.
Routinely hold your guinea pig. The more familiar he becomes with being outside of his cage, the more he'll enjoy it. A relaxed pig usually loves snuggling with his human pal and running around on the floor and exploring. Affection and exercise are important to a guinea pig's well-being, so helping yours to become less shy will ensure that he is happy.
Tips & Warnings
- If you can't seem to ease your guinea pig's shyness, get him a companion guinea pig so he'll have enough social interaction. Companionship is important for non-shy guinea pigs, too.
- If your guinea pig constantly runs away when you try to pick him up, don't persist. You could accidentally hurt him when trying to grab him.
- When letting a guinea pig roam on the floor, put him in a room that's free of spots where he could get stuck or injured.
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