Many people would be quick to call a guinea pig just another “dumb animal,” but that’s actually not true. Of course, when compared to a human or a dog, guinea pigs aren’t going to astound you with their intellect, but they are much more intelligent than the average person gives them credit for, as any guinea pig owner knows quite well.
For example, if you feed your guinea pig fresh vegetables right out of the refrigerator, it won’t take long for him to equate the sound of the refrigerator opening and him getting a tasty treat. His squeals and whistles will tell you that he wants what you’ve got in there.
Obviously, guinea pigs are trainable. They can be taught to walk on a leash (these are available at most pet stores) or to go to the bathroom in a certain area. Some have even learned to come when their owners call their name! Just like with any other animal, you must be willing to work consistently with your pet and to reward the desired behavior with treats, usually a favorite food. The guinea pig will then make the mental connection between the good feeling he gets from the reward and the behavior you want from him.
If you do plan on having your guinea pig on the floor a lot, then it may be a good idea to start litter training them early. You don’t want to set your expectations too high for this endeavor, however. Guinea pigs will still go to the bathroom throughout their cage and will occasionally have accidents on the floor, but litter training them considerably reduces the liklihood that this will happen.
The easiest way to do this is to set aside part of their cage as a bathroom. A small litter pan (available at most pet stores) can be placed in one of the corners of the cage. In order to entice your guinea pig to use it as a bathroom, you should add in some of their waste to the litter when you clean out the cage. You should keep doing this each time you change the bedding in the cage.
When you let your guinea pig out on the floor, you should also place their litter pan on the ground with them. Most of the time they will use the pan to go to the bathroom. Even if your guinea pig does have an accident, it will most likely be poop, not urine, you’ll have to clean up and that is much, much easier to take care of.
You can also train your guinea pig to walk on a leash in a similar way. First, you must get him or her used to wearing the leash. Put it on them while you are petting them or hand-feeding them fresh vegetables so that they’ll connect the enjoyable activity with having the leash on. Once your guinea pig feels comfortable with the leash, you can begin walking with him. Start off with small distances in the house, then gradually move outside. Just be careful not to pull or yank on the leash too hard, since guinea pigs are more fragile than dogs.