Circle is a great beginner friendly trick that is easy to teach, and it’s also super fun and entertaining. It is one of the most common tricks you will see people teaching their guinea pigs, because it is such an entertaining trick that guinea pigs can learn easily. Once they learn this trick, circle often becomes a favorite default behavior for guinea pigs. They love to run in circles as a way to get attention and beg for food. It is one of the cutest ways they can beg for food. 🥰
How Long Does it Take to Train Your Guinea Pig to Circle?
It takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to teach your guinea pig easy tricks such as circle. This time will vary based on your guinea pig’s personality, and how consistent you are with the training. Tame, confident guinea pigs tend to be much faster learners, while shy piggies need a little more patience. In addition, guinea pigs will learn faster if you practice with them every day. If you want them to learn something at an even faster rate, try training in two short sessions twice a day.
What You Need For Training
To teach your guinea pig to circle on cue, all you’ll need is your guinea pig, some of their favorite veggie treats, and a safe enclosed space that is free from distractions.
Choose vegetables that are low in calcium and well loved by your guinea pig. My piggies love green leaf or romaine lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, and carrots the most. Once you have some favorite treats, break them up into small pieces to use for training.
You’ll also want a quiet environment to train your guinea pig. Choose a space that is familiar to your guinea pig. A room that you use for your guinea pig’s floor time is usually a great option. It’s a good idea to block off a smaller area of the room so there are fewer distractions. If you have multiple guinea pigs, it’s a good idea to separate one at a time for short training sessions.
You can do both of these things with a foldable exercise pen. Personally, I love to buy a pack of wire grids and zip tie them together to make a pen in the exact size I want. The wire grids also fold like an accordion for storage, as long as you don’t zip tie them too tightly!
How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Circle (Video Tutorial)
The following is a video showing the steps of how to teach your guinea pig to circle. If you prefer to read instead, scroll below for the written steps. You can also find some extra training tips below the video.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Circle (Step by Step)
1. Lure Your Guinea Pig in a Semi Circle and Give Them a Treat
Many guinea pigs won’t follow your hand all the way around in a circle right from the beginning.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to start by luring your guinea pig halfway around first, in a semi circle. Give your guinea pig a small treat when they follow your hand halfway around the circle.
With some guinea pigs, you’ll want to start even smaller, by rewarding when they turn just a quarter of the way around the circle.
2. Lure Your Guinea Pig in a Full Circle and Reward
Next, lure your guinea pig around in a complete circle and reward. You may have to start by giving them a small treat at the halfway point of the circle, and then lure them the rest of the way around. Reward again when your guinea pig completes the circle. Practice this until your guinea pig will follow your hand all the way around in the circle. Once they can do this, practice several times so your guinea pig is confidently and easily following your hand around each time.
3. Fade Out the Lure
Once your guinea pig is reliably following your hand around in a circle, it’s time to start fading out your hand lure and introducing a cue.
To do this, gradually speed up the pace that you move your hand each time. It helps to start luring slowly until your guinea pig is committed to the circle, and then take your hand away so they follow the momentum and complete the circle on their own.
Always give your guinea pig a treat when they complete the circle.
Eventually, your guinea pig will start responding to a smaller motion of your wrist or finger. It will likely take several repetitions to completely fade out the lure, so it’s important to continue being patient and consistent.
4. Introduce a Cue
After this, you’ll want to choose a cue. This can be a simple word like “circle” or “spin” or a nonverbal cue such as pointing or flicking your finger in the direction you want them to circle. Use the cue every time the guinea pig runs in a circle, using the lure only as a reminder when needed. Practice this several times until the guinea pig will respond to the cue alone, without relying on a lure at all.
Teaching Your Guinea Pig to Circle in Both Directions
This is an optional step after your guinea pig fully understands the first direction. It’s important to teach these separately to avoid confusing your guinea pig. You can teach your guinea pig to circle in the new direction the same way you taught the first one. If you’re going to try using a verbal cue, make sure you pick a different word for the new direction.
Personally, I use non verbal cues for both directions, because words are very hard for guinea pigs to understand. You can get away with it for one direction, but it gets more complicated and confusing when they’re trying to distinguish which word means each direction. I simply point or flick my finger in the direction I want them to circle, and that has always worked really well for my piggies.
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
It’s important to be consistent when teaching this trick. Choose one direction and stick to that until the guinea pig has learned it 100%. Once they’ve learned to circle one way, you can teach them to circle both directions. However, at the beginning, it can be confusing for the guinea pig. This can cause them to learn a lot slower or even want to give up entirely.
It’s also important to use the same word every time if you choose to use a verbal cue. Guinea pigs don’t differentiate between human words very easily, so it’s important to use a word that is short and easy to recognize. Also change the tone of your voice slightly when you say your cue. This also helps your guinea pig to differentiate that word from the rest of your regular speech.
If Your Guinea Pig Isn’t Getting It
There are a couple reasons why your guinea pig could get stuck or confused when teaching this trick. It could mean that your guinea pig is not tame enough, or they feel like the training is too hard. To fix this, make sure you’re giving your guinea pig a treat after every circle. Take a step back in the training if you need to in order to set your guinea pig up for success.
If your training session goes longer than a couple minutes, you may notice your guinea pig trying to run off and getting super distracted. This happens very commonly when teaching your guinea pig to circle. Guinea pigs (just like people) can get dizzy from spinning around too much. To avoid this, give your guinea pig a small break in between circles. Give them a larger piece of food after 2 or 3 circles, so it takes them several seconds to stop and chew.
If your guinea pig is nervous of you, this can seriously hinder your training as well. The best way to remedy this is to spend time hand feeding your guinea pig some of their favorite veggie treats. Spending some time just calmly and quietly hand feeding your guinea pig teaches them that people are not intimidating, and that they bring yummy treats! You can also find more tips on taming by visiting the taming and bonding page.
I hope this tutorial helped you learn how to teach your guinea pig to run circles on cue! Circle is one of the first tricks I always teach my guinea pig. It’s adorable, easy to teach, and quite impressive looking! It takes some consistency and repetition to teach, but the result is totally worth the effort. Circle is such a fun and cool trick, and most guinea pigs love performing it once they learn how.
Teaching tricks is a great way to bond with your guinea pig. It’s also a great form of enrichment and exercise for your piggy. To learn some more fun tricks you can teach your guinea pig, check out this page on the 10 easiest tricks you can teach your guinea pig.