Give a paw is a super cute guinea pig trick, and it’s a lot of fun to teach. Shake a paw is a pretty common dog trick, and it’s actually one of the few dog tricks that guinea pigs can learn as well. This trick is generally easy to teach, but it does often require a bit of extra repetition and practice. However, it is one of the most adorable tricks you can teach your guinea pig. Keep reading for a full tutorial on how to teach this trick.
How Long Does it Take to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Give a Paw?
It usually takes about a week of consistent daily training to teach your guinea pig to give a paw. Sometimes it can take longer, and sometimes even a little less time. It helps if your guinea pig is pretty tame before starting any training. Tame and confident guinea pigs make much faster and eager learners.
What You Need for Training
To teach your guinea pig to give a paw, 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, radicchio, 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!
It can also help to have a waterproof floor mat to protect your floor or carpet from messes while your piggies are running around. My favorites are these waterproof splat mats made for kids. They are washable, easy to sweep clean, and do a great job of preventing any pee from seeping through.
How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Give a Paw (Video Tutorial)
This video below outlines the steps to take to teach your guinea pig to give a paw. If you prefer the written steps, keep scrolling below for the rest of the tutorial. I also included some additional training tips further down this page.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig to Give a Paw – Step by Step
1. Lure Your Guinea Pig Onto Your Hand With a Treat
Hold one hand flat and close to the floor in front of your guinea pig. Holding a piece of food in your other hand, lure the guinea pig up just a little so one paw lands on your hand.
If both paws land on your hand, gently shift your hand to one side so one paw slips off, or take your hand away and try again. Practice this several times, until the guinea pig is following the lure confidently and putting their paw up on your hand easily.
It’s also best to be consistent about using the same hand, and asking for the same paw every time to avoid any confusion for your guinea pig.
Also encourage your guinea pig to keep their paw on your hand a little longer each time. To do this, keep offering more food before the guinea pig has a chance to take their paw off your hand. This step will likely need plenty of repetition over a few sessions before your piggy is ready to move on to the next one.
2. Get Them to Give You a Paw Without Prompting
Try holding your hand out in front of the guinea pig to see if they will give you their paw without any prompting. Be ready to reward quickly, as soon as their paw touches your hand. Give your guinea pig lots of treats and praise when they put one paw on your hand, even if they only do it for an instant.
If they try to step up with both paws, take your hand away and use a lure again to get just one paw. If needed, go back to the previous step and keep practicing. Test it again later when you think they can do it on their own.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Once you have your guinea pig giving you their paw, practice until they can do it consistently without prompting. Oftentimes, guinea pigs will get impatient here and there or try to resort back to climbing on your hand with both feet again. Be consistent and keep asking for one paw. Once the muscle memory kicks in, guinea pigs typically become much better at consistently giving you one paw each time.
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
Remember to keep your hand very close to the floor when teaching this trick. Guinea pigs have bodies that are very wide and low to the ground. This makes it uncomfortable for the guinea pig to lift one paw too much higher than the other. Keeping your hand low enough makes it much easier for them to give you their paw.
This trick also requires a fair bit of repetition and muscle memory on the part of the guinea pig. Be patient and consistent when working through this trick with your piggy.
If Your Guinea Pig Isn’t Getting It
This trick can take a lot of patience and repetition. It can seem like your guinea pig isn’t going to get it when they keep trying to climb your arm or refuse to give you one of their paws. However, it really does click after awhile. The guinea pig often hits a moment where they just “get it” and all of a sudden realize what you’re asking them to do. It can often take multiple sessions of just luring them onto your hand before they get it.
This trick can also be more difficult for young or energetic guinea pigs. These guinea pigs tend to get impatient and prefer to just jump and climb up your hand instead. These guinea pigs usually take longer to learn this trick than a calm guinea pig that likes to think things through. (All the lazy piggies unite!) I did teach this trick successfully to my hyperactive Abyssinian piggy though, so there is still hope for them as well. 😁 But patience, patience, and more patience will be key!
I hope this tutorial helped you teach your guinea pig to give a paw! This is one of the cutest tricks, but there are so many more you can teach that complement it really well. Spin circles, as well as stand up and beg are a couple good ones. You can find a whole list of beginner friendly tricks here, or check out another list of the 7 coolest tricks you can teach your guinea pig.