Guinea pig agility is where you set up a mini obstacle course and teach your guinea pig to run it. Not only is this incredibly adorable, but it provides your guinea pig with a great source of fun and exercise. Guinea pig agility equipment can be handmade, or even modified from things around your home. Agility is a fun activity for guinea pigs and people of all ages and skill levels.
Why Teach Your Guinea Pig Agility?
Teaching your guinea pig agility gives you a way to play and interact with your guinea pig in a fun way. Training helps you bond with your piggy and form a closer relationship with them. Many guinea pigs love training time, and will greet you at the side of the cage or start following you around when they know it’s almost training time.
Guinea pigs are also smart animals that enjoy using their mind and learning new things. Agility provides great mental enrichment, as well as physical exercise all in one. Exercise is essential for guinea pigs, as they are prone to obesity and cannot run on wheels like most other animals in the rodent family.
How to Get Started With Agility
The first thing you’ll need is some agility equipment, training treats, and your guinea pig. An exercise pen or two is a bonus, especially if you’re bringing your guinea pig outside or to a larger room for training.
Training treats can be any vegetables your guinea pig likes. However, it’s best if you use veggies low in calcium, because you’ll usually be training with a significant amount of food. My guinea pigs love green or red leaf lettuce, bell peppers, carrots, radicchio, and cucumbers.
It’s a good idea to spend some time hand feeding your guinea pig veggie treats and teaching them to follow a hand lure. You can find some great beginner training tips here: How to Start Training Your Guinea Pig.
Guinea Pig Agility Equipment
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find guinea pig agility equipment for sale. Your best option is to make some agility equipment or modify things that you find around your house. You can use all kinds of things as makeshift obstacles. Just make sure they are safe and also sturdy if it’s something the guinea pig will be standing or walking on. Cardboard is quite versatile, and can be cut and taped into different shapes. You can also use bricks and wood blocks to create a little beam for your guinea pig to walk across.
Tunnels can be purchased online. I love the plastic tunnels that can bend in different shapes for training. In an agility course, you can make them longer, shorter, or curve them like you often see in dog agility competitions.
I also have a tutorial on how to make a cool hoop jump obstacle and also some easy to make cardboard jumps. You can find more agility equipment inspiration and ideas on the guinea pig agility equipment page.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Run an Obstacle Course
The first thing you’ll need to do is teach each obstacle separately. Jumps and tunnels are typically the easiest obstacles to teach your guinea pig first. Once your guinea pig has learned to navigate the obstacles you want to use in your course, you can start putting them together.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Jump
To teach your guinea pig to jump, start by luring them over a low jump or bar with a treat. Give them the treat as soon as they go over the obstacle. Practice this a few times. You can then gradually increase the height of the jump and fade out your lure. You can find the full tutorial, video, and troubleshooting tips for this trick on the jump training tutorial page. Most guinea pigs prefer to jump obstacles that are less than 3 inches high. Keep your guinea pig’s age and athletic ability in mind when choosing your jump height.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Hoop Jump
You can teach your guinea pig to jump through a hoop in a similar way to the bar jump example above. Start with a hoop that is low to the ground and lure your guinea pig through it with a treat. Gradually raise the height of the hoop until your guinea pig can jump through it. Practice this several times until your guinea pig can jump through the hoop confidently each time. You can find more tips on teaching this trick by checking out our hoop jump training tutorial.
Teaching Your Guinea Pig to Go Through Tunnels
Tunnels are another popular obstacle in an agility course. You can teach your guinea pig to go through tunnels by luring your guinea pig through a short, easy to navigate tunnel. Give them the treat as soon as they come out the other end of the tunnel. Practice this a few times until the guinea pig can confidently run through.
You can then make the tunnel longer or curve it in different directions to up the challenge. You can even teach your guinea pig to run through a collapsed tunnel or a tilting tunnel. You can find the full tutorial, along with information on teaching these various types of tunnels on our tunnel training tutorial page.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Weave
Weave poles are another cool obstacle you can teach your guinea pig. To teach this, you’ll need some miniature cones or plastic cups. With a treat, lure your guinea pig in and out through the poles. Give them a treat periodically for following your hand around the weave pattern. Eventually, you’ll want to fade out your hand lure so the guinea pig can weave independently. You can find more tips on this in the full tutorial on teaching your guinea pig to weave poles.
Teaching Your Guinea Pig to Run a Full Agility Course
The best way to put obstacles together is with a method called backchaining. This is when you start with the last obstacle in the course. For example, let’s say your course consists of a balance beam, then a tunnel, and finally a jump.
When teaching this course to your guinea pig, you’ll start by having them go over the jump. After that, you’ll add the tunnel in front of the jump. Guide them through the tunnel and then over the jump, giving them the treat at the end. After practicing this a few times, you’ll add the balance beam in front of the tunnel. Guide your guinea pig over the balance beam, then through the tunnel and over the jump.
This method keeps the guinea pig on track, because the course will get easier and more familiar as they go further through the course. If you add the new obstacles to the end instead, it makes the course seem harder as it goes on. This can cause the guinea pig to get distracted more easily and go off course.
Reward Randomly to Keep Your Guinea Pig on Track
Another way you can keep your guinea pig on track is to give them a treat at random spots in your course. For example, you could reward them after the 4th obstacle one time, then after the second obstacle the next time they run the course. If your guinea pig has an obstacle that they find more challenging, this is a good one to reward after.
It’s a good idea to give them a treat at the end of the course as well. However, if your guinea pig figures out that they only get a treat at the very end, some inquisitive piggies will try to shortcut the whole course and run straight to the end. If they never know exactly when they’re going to get a treat, they’ll be much more likely to do all the obstacles together.
How Long Does it Take to Teach Your Guinea Pig Agility?
It usually takes at least a few weeks to get your guinea pig running a small agility course. Guinea pigs with very confident and outgoing personalities usually learn the fastest. Timid guinea pigs can learn to love running obstacle courses too, but it may take more time and patience upfront.
Also, the more obstacles you have in your course, the longer it will take to train your guinea pig. Each obstacle needs to be taught separately, and then your guinea pig needs to learn to run them all together in a course. It’s a good idea to start with a small course first, such as a tunnel with a couple of jumps. This will get you started quickly and build up your guinea pig’s confidence from the start.
Can All Guinea Pigs Do Obstacle Courses?
Absolutely! Guinea pigs love navigating obstacle courses, and it provides a great source of exercise and fun for guinea pigs of all ages. If your guinea pig is older or overweight, it’s best to keep your agility obstacles low and your training sessions short.
Instead of jumps, you can use a little bar on the ground or something similar for your guinea pig to walk over. You can also use a long block of wood for them to walk across instead of a balance beam. It’s important to tailor your agility equipment to suit your guinea pig’s age and athletic ability.
Are Guinea Pigs Agile?
Guinea pigs are not as agile as most other animals. Their body is low to the ground and their spine does not bend like most other rodents. Younger guinea pigs tend to be more agile however, and often enjoy running around and jumping in the air. Keeping your guinea pig at a healthy weight helps them stay more agile a little longer, but most older guinea pigs are not the best jumpers.
For this reason, it’s best to keep any jumps lower than 3 inches. Balance beams should be low to the ground and easy for the guinea pig to walk across. Obstacle courses can be a lot of fun for guinea pigs, but the obstacles need to be built to accommodate a guinea pig’s size and body type.
Teaching your guinea pig agility is a fun activity with countless benefits. You’ll likely find that your bond with your guinea pig is stronger, and that they really look forward to their training time. Agility can be a great way to boost your guinea pig’s confidence too. Trick training and agility are both a lot of fun for guinea pigs and a great source of mental enrichment.
I hope this page gave you some good ideas and a solid starting point for teaching your guinea pig some cool obstacle courses. If you’re looking for even more things you can teach your piggy, check out these 10 easy tricks you can teach your guinea pig.