Guinea pigs should be disciplined using positive reinforcement or by delaying rewards (such as hand-feeding or time outside the cage). Never yell at your guinea pig, as they will not understand what you are doing.[toc]
Although it may seem like a crazy idea, disciplining guinea pigs can help them learn what behavior is good and what behavior is bad. It can also prevent fighting between two guinea pigs.
Remember to never yell at or hit your guinea pig. This only hurts your relationship with them and makes them not trust you. Positive reinforcement is the best way to discipline your cavies.
How Do I Use Positive Reinforcement to Discipline My Guinea Pig?
Positive reinforcement means giving your guinea pig a treat or a piece of food when it is doing something that you want it to do.
For example, if you have a guinea pig who likes to escape its cage, you could use positive reinforcement to have the guinea pig come back to you. If your guinea pig has escaped, give it a piece of food when it comes back to you.
While it takes time, positive reinforcement garners trust between you and your pet. In addition to improving your relationship, it will also solve your guinea pig’s frustrating behaviors.
What Can I Do to Curb Unwanted Behaviors?
Certain items can curb your guinea pigs’ unwanted behaviors. For example, if you want your guinea pig to stop pooping in a certain area of its cage, you can spray a little apple cider vinegar on that spot. This is completely harmless and should deter your guinea pig from the area.
You can move your guinea pig’s cage to a different room in your house if it gets anxious around other people or loud noises. If you don’t have space for the cage anywhere else, you can throw a towel over it so your guinea pig feels more secluded.
How Do I Discipline My Guinea Pig If It Bites Me?
If your guinea pig is biting, the first thing you want to do is figure out why. If you have food in your hand, your guinea pig might just be excited and mistake your finger for the food.
If that’s the case, a simple solution is to stop hand feeding it. This way, your guinea pig will not mistake your fingers for food anymore.
However, there are other reasons your guinea pig might be biting. If you pick it up and don’t hold all four of its feet, your guinea pig might feel threatened or unsafe and bite. Carrying your guinea pig correctly will solve the problem.
Guinea pigs also bite when they are in pain. Because guinea pigs are prey animals, their instinct is to hide their pain. Another pain indicator is biting the bars of their cage, so if they do that along with biting you, you may need to get your guinea pig checked out at the vet.
If your guinea pig is biting and you want to curb the behavior, you can always use positive reinforcement. For example, if your guinea pig usually bites you when you pick it up, feed it a treat whenever it doesn’t bite you. Over time, it will learn that it gets rewarded when it doesn’t bite and will stop the behavior.
How Do I Discipline My Guinea Pig If It’s Aggressive With Its Cage Mates?
It’s hard to discipline a guinea pig for aggression, so the better option is to figure out the environmental factors contributing to your guinea pig’s behavior.
If your guinea pig is aggressive with its cage mates, the immediate solution is to separate them. You can do this by purchasing a cage divider or a second cage to put the aggressor in.
Once they are separated, figure out why it’s being aggressive. There are a lot of factors that could make this happen.
You might have tried to bond them too quickly. If these guinea pigs are new cage mates, separate them and start the bonding process over, and be sure to introduce them slowly this time around.
Anxiety in guinea pigs produces head tossing, fidgeting, teeth bearing, and aggression. You might have too many guinea pigs in one cage, making them stressed, so you need to purchase a larger cage so they have proper space to run around.
Guinea pigs also need places to hide in their cage, so make sure they have plenty of spots to do so. Make sure each hiding place has two exits.
Guinea pigs also get bored, so they may start fights out of boredom. Purchasing plenty of toys for them to play with will solve this problem.
Things You Should Never Do to Discipline Your Guinea Pig.
There are certain behaviors that you should never do when disciplining your guinea pig. You should never yell at your guinea pig. This will only scare it and not solve anything. It will make the problem worse because now your guinea pig will be afraid of you.
If your guinea pig is frustrating you, take a few deep breaths before trying to solve the problem.
It goes without saying that you should never hit your guinea pig. This is animal cruelty and is completely unacceptable in any situation. You are your guinea pig’s caretaker and if you hit it, it will learn to get defensive and be aggressive toward you for its own safety.
Another thing to never do is starve your guinea pig. This is negative reinforcement and cruel. Your guinea pig will not learn anything. All you are doing is harming an innocent animal. In fact, your guinea pig’s behavior will typically improve if you keep it on a regular feeding schedule.
It Takes Hard Work and Patience
It is possible to discipline your guinea pigs through positive reinforcement. You can also change certain behaviors you have with your guinea pig, like hand-feeding, until you figure out what the problem is. With some hard work and patience, you can curb unwanted behaviors and work toward a healthy relationship with your guinea pig.
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