Fetch is one of my top favorite guinea pig tricks. It’s a super fun (and incredibly adorable) trick to teach your piggy. Although it does take some time and practice to teach a guinea pig to fetch accurately instead of just throwing their head around everywhere, the cute puppy-like result of this trick at the end is totally worth it. 🙂
It’s a good idea to teach your guinea pig to play basketball (with a mini net or simply a shallow bowl)
before starting to teach them to play fetch. If your guinea pig knows the basketball trick already, you should be able to skip some of the steps below and work through this trick a bit quicker.
This video shows my guinea pig Ace when he was 4 months old, practicing his fetch trick. We practiced the basketball trick for a couple weeks before starting on this trick. Although he’s not perfect quite yet, he’s off to a great start!
How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Play Fetch! (Video Tutorial)
Find a suitable ball to use for this trick. Look for one that is lightweight and easy for the guinea pig to pick up and carry around. A slotted cat toy ball (preferably with the bell removed) works well.
I prefer to use a slotted type of ball like the one shown in the photo to the left. These slotted balls can be found in some pet stores or on Amazon. They come with a bell inside, but since the balls are a little bit flexible, the bells can be removed pretty easily.
Stuff some lettuce inside the ball (or rub some food on the ball so it smells like food) and place it in front of the guinea pig. Give an additional treat from your hand if they pick up the ball at any point. Keep refilling the ball with lettuce until the guinea pig is picking it up frequently.
Once the guinea pig is picking up the ball with lettuce inside, try placing the ball on the floor without lettuce and reward if the guinea pig nibbles or picks up the ball at all.
If they lose interest, try holding the ball in your hand and reward the guinea pig for touching or sniffing the ball. Give a jackpot reward (extra treats and praise) whenever they nibble or chew at the ball (even just slightly at first.) Practice until they are picking up the ball consistently without lettuce inside.
Put your hand under and catch the ball every time the
guinea pig picks it up. Only reward when the ball lands in your hand. Practice this several times so the guinea pig begins to understand that the ball is supposed to land in your hand.
Hold your hand close to the guinea pig, but keep it in one place. Use your other hand (holding food if necessary) to lure their head towards your open hand and encourage them to drop the ball in your hand. Practice with your hand in one place for awhile until the guinea pig is able to confidently put the ball in your hand.
Once they’ve mastered this, practice the same thing with your hand on the other side of them. You will likely need to spend a few sessions working on each side individually before the guinea pig fully understands this step.
Once they can put the ball in your hand from both sides, practice switching your hand back and forth to each side in the same session. Practice until the guinea pig can confidently put the ball in your hand on both sides.
Start placing the ball a couple inches away from your hand. Over time, you can gradually increase the distance you place the ball away for them to bring back to your hand.
Be patient and practice one step thoroughly before moving on to the next one. Practice frequently, but always keep sessions short and fun!
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
- Be patient with this trick. Be generous with rewards, progress at your piggy’s pace, and make sure they have a really solid grasp of one step before moving on to the next step. Fetching is a skill that takes time for guinea pigs to develop.
- Guinea pigs naturally tend to pick up objects and throw them around, or toss their head back and forth. With time and patience, they will eventually replace the throwing with something a little more controlled. Short, frequent sessions are key.