Pigs in training!

Piggy pen 2013

Helen’s guinea pigs, exploring their pen.

Our guinea pigs love ‘floor time’, often running wildly around the room in excitement – they really do gallop! We’ve recently moved our pigs from the worktop in the utility (where they lived when my little girl was a toddler), onto the floor and into our family room. They are loving the freedom to explore so easily now (the chicken wire wall also acts as their front door.) We love to watch them jump in the air and buckaroo with joy as they race around! This is called ‘popcorning’ and it is lovely to see.

Like any animal living indoors, your guinea pigs will need help learning where to poop. It is possible to train them, it just takes time and patience! Here are some helpful tips if you want to try. You will need a grown-up to help you with this!

  1. Make a ‘safe house’ and line it with newspaper, bedding and/or hay. The house can be something as simple as a cardboard box, a travel carrier or a purpose-made cosy. You can also use a litter tray but at first your guinea pigs will probably feel safer in something with a roof.

    Our strawberry cosy makes a great ‘safe house’

  2. Put the safe house in the corner of your room as usually, this is where your guinea pig will decide to poop! Depending on the size of your room you may want to make more than one box.
  3. Protect any loose wires (and toys/furniture that you don’t want to be chewed.) Willow, plastic, or bamboo lawn edging works really well for this. You may also want to block off access to the space underneath furniture if it is difficult for you to reach under (incase you need to catch your pig!)
  4. During a quiet part of the day (so your guinea is not frightened by any loud noises) gently put your guinea pig onto the floor and watch him/her disappear into their safe house! As their condfidence grows they will come out of the safe house and start exploring. You will probably hear them chuntering and squeaking as they realise they are free to roam. Soon they will be zooming around the furniture!
  5. Keep a close eye on your guinea. If your guinea pig poops or wees on the floor, try to pick them up and put them back into their safe house. You may need your grown up for this bit. You can also say to them gently, ‘poos in the box’ or something similar. This may sound strange, but guinea pigs do recognise certain words! Mine always respond to the word ‘tea’ and give me a hearty squeak, whether it’s tea time or not!
  6. You will need to monitor your guinea pig closely the first few times they are given floor time. You may need your grown-up to sweep up any stray poops for a while. To help the guinea pigs understand, ask your grown-up to put the poops onto the bedding in the safe house.
  7. Depending on the guinea pig you may be following them round with a dustpan and brush for quite a while, or they might catch on really quickly! Every pig is different. If you have more than one guinea pig you may find that they teach eachother what to do!
  8. Remember if your guinea pigs are roaming, it’s best that you are still. No running and jumping – just incase you land on a little guinea pig. Find a comfortable chair and enjoy watching your guinea pigs play!
Image from Amy's Incredible Adventure

“Amy guinea pig loved nothing more than running round the house!”

Got an outdoor hutch?

If your guinea pigs live outside you might still be able to bring them indoors for some floor time. My very first guinea pig (Bubbles) lived in the garage and would often come into the house for a good run about. Check with your grown up if this might work in your house.

Your guinea pigs can still play happily outside, make sure they have a nice big run to play in when it’s warm and sunny. Guineas will get very bored sat in a hutch every day with nothing to do. Fill your run with tubes and watch them explore! If you are lucky enough to have a safe (enclosed) space in your garden or yard, you could even let your guinea pigs wander freely outside, like Bertie does. But, make sure your guinea pig has a safe house to hide in and stay with them to keep a look-out for other animals who might scare or try to play with your guinea pig.

Wheep! Wheep!

Peppa pig

Peppa takes a break after a hard day playing!