A paw target is a little more challenging to teach to a guinea pig than a nose target, but it’s still a good foundation beginner trick. Teaching a paw target also helps lay the foundation for teaching other paw related tricks, such as wave and give a paw.
How to Teach a Guinea Pig: Paw Target (Video Tutorial)
For this trick, you will need…
- Your guinea pig
- Your piggy’s favorite veggie treats
- A safe enclosed space with few distractions
- A ball or other small object to use as a target
Choose a small object to use as a target. It can be anything from a ball, to a phone case, small rock, or other object of a similar size. You can also use your hand (ideally in a fist) as a target.
Place the object on the ground in front of the guinea pig, and hold it with one hand so it doesn’t move. With your other hand, lure the guinea pig towards the object with a treat. Reward when they step on the object or touch it with their paw.
Repeat Step 2 several times, gradually relying less and less on the lure. Once the guinea pig will consistently step onto or touch the object with less reliance on the food lure, you can move on to the next step.
Hold the object just off the ground and reward the guinea pig for either standing up and stepping on it with both paws, or preferably reaching up one paw to reach for it or touch it. You can go back to using the food lure for this step if needed.
Practice at different heights and angles.
If the guinea pig has already started to touch the object with only one paw, reward this and keep repeating until they are doing it every time.
If they are still stepping up with both paws, hold the target slightly to the side of the guinea pig to encourage them to put one paw up instead of both.
At this stage, don’t reward when the guinea pig touches the target with both paws. Keep the target to one side so it’s difficult to step up with both paws, and wait until just one paw touches or reaches for the target. As soon as this occurs, offer lots of treats and praise and keep practicing until they are consistently touching with only one paw.
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
Be sure to reward the guinea pig accordingly whenever they put in extra noticeable effort or make some kind of progress. Doing so helps the guinea pig understand that this is the right thing to do and they will be more likely to do it again in the future.