With guinea pigs, it can be hard to gauge if your pet likes you, is scared of you, or hates you. When they’re showing this energy towards humans, you may question whether or not they want to be touched. Luckily, guinea pigs are very affectionate pets, they just require some extra steps to get cozy with their owners.
Guinea pigs are very affectionate animals, but each one will show signs of how much affection they are okay with. Since they are prey animals, they need to trust their owners first. Once there’s trust, guinea pigs usually love to give and receive affection to bond with their caretakers.
Keep reading to understand how your guinea pig shows affection and how you can show them affection.
How to Tell If Your Guinea Pig Wants Affection
Guinea pigs are prey animals, meaning that they often have an automatic defense mode. Although they don’t live in the wild anymore, they still possess some wild instincts. You might notice them hurry to safety if they hear a strange noise or a possible threat. This is just their natural instincts that helped them survive in the wild, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are running away from you because they dislike you.
The longer you own one, the less skittish they are. They might just run away for a second until they realize it’s you. However, if your guinea pig approaches you willingly, this means that they trust you and see you as a protector, guardian, friend, and provider. (Source)
As prey animals, guinea pigs have a strong flight or freeze response, but it’s only a matter of time until they let their guard down. This could take weeks or months, but as long as you’re patient and gentle, your guinea pig will come around.
Steps You Can Take to Gain Your Guinea Pig’s Trust:
- Give them space: After bringing them into your home, they need to adjust to their surroundings. You should avoid picking them up and cuddling them right away, it will overwhelm your new pet. Let them explore their cage without interruption and get used to their new environment. (Source)
- Minimize sound: For the first week or two, make sure your guinea is away from loud sounds like TVs, dishwashers, or washing machines. Be cautious of their alert ears so they aren’t constantly hearing noises that they find threatening. You should also be quiet around them. Speak softly and quieter to your pig so they can relax and let go of their freeze or flight instinct. Your guinea pig will get used to more noises with time. It was even recommended by professionals to put your guinea pig’s cage in a room that gets visited regularly but doesn’t have constant noise. This is so they can get used to the daily activity of the house without being overwhelmed.
- Talk to them: As you talk to your pigs, they gradually get used to your voice. This allows them to make a connection that your gentle voice and your face go together, which results in their defensiveness going down. It also helps to feed them some vegetables or fruit as you talk to them so they can associate you with a positive experience.
- Get them used to being picked up: It can be overwhelming for a pig to be held for a long time, even if it happens once. Make it a daily routine to pick your pig up for a short time, about 30 seconds, and do this a few times throughout the day. You can make the pick-ups gradually longer and reward them with a treat so that they look forward to bonding with you.
- Dedicate floor time: At the same time every day, let them explore and get used to you in a safe play area, which you can set up. Let them acclimate to the environment for a few minutes, then play with them.
- Be consistent: This is the most important step to gaining their trust so that they don’t fear what’s going to happen next.
- Patience and time: Remain patient and allow your guinea pig the amount of time needed to feel secure in their new home. As long as you understand their certain behaviors and why it takes them a while to adjust, you won’t be as confused or concerned if your guinea pig seems scared of you.
How Do I Bond With My Guinea Pig?
Once the guinea pig realizes you’re not a threat, they will most likely appreciate some affection.
When it comes to creating or strengthening a bond with your guinea pig, you mainly have to spend time with them and let your pig get to know you. Allowing them to familiarize themselves with your hand, your voice, and what they should expect from you doing certain things will form a strong relationship and establish trust.
Picking Up Your Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs most often like to be petted on the top of their head and behind their ears. Pet them after they’re safely adjusted in your arms to prevent them from reacting skittishly. After owning one for a while, you can pet them along their back, just be sure your hand is going the same direction as their fur, otherwise, it’s painful to them when going against their fur.
You can feel free to cuddle and hold them, and they’ll love it even more if you give them treats as you pick them up or while you are holding them.
How Do Guinea Pigs Show Affection?
Here are some ways your guinea pig might show their affection for you:
- Licking: Just like most other pets, guineas will lick or groom you.
- Kissing: Guinea pigs give kisses in a similar way that humans do. Different from nibbling, they will gently nip you repeatedly with their lips.
- Nuzzling: This can be compared to when cats do what’s known as “bunting” or “allorubbing.” This is where the guinea pig will skim their head against you.
- Purring: Guinea pigs purr and it often sounds like a cat’s purr. When they do this, it’s a sign that they’re content. You also may hear them squeaking after petting or tickling them for a while.
Overall, guinea pigs can be affectionate pets once they trust you, and it is relatively easy to gain their trust.