Paws up is a fun and easy trick to teach to any guinea pig. This trick is a great confidence builder for guinea pigs that are new to training. It’s also a great trick to build trust and teach guinea pigs to find their balance. If your guinea pig is having difficulty learning to stand up on two legs, then paws up is a great starting point to teach them to trust their balance and lift their feet off the ground.
How Long Does it Take to Teach This Trick?
Paws up is one of the best beginner friendly tricks you can teach your guinea pig. It is usually one of the easiest and fastest tricks to teach your guinea pig. On average, most guinea pigs will learn paws up on low objects in just a day or two. Higher and narrower objects can take longer to teach.
Also, if you have a guinea pig that is nervous of putting their paws on your hand, they may require a bit of confidence building time upfront. However, once your guinea pig understands the concept, they tend to figure out the rest very quickly.
What You Need for Training
To teach your guinea pig the paws up trick, you’ll need your guinea pig, some of their favorite veggie treats, and a safe enclosed space that is free from distractions. You’ll also need some random objects of various heights and sizes.
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: Paws Up (Video Tutorial)
The following is a video of Ace demonstrating the steps you can take to teach this trick. If you’d prefer to read instead, keep scrolling for the written step by step tutorial, as well as some additional training tips.
How to Teach Your Guinea Pig The Paws Up Trick – Step by Step
Follow along with these steps to teach your guinea pig to put their paws up on your hand or an object. Some guinea pigs will progress very quickly through these steps, whereas others may need a little extra time on each step. Remember to go through the steps at your guinea pig’s pace.
If you need to go back a step here and there, this is perfectly fine as well. Backtracking a bit can actually help your guinea pig to focus and learn faster. Keep your training sessions short and positive for your guinea pig to keep them engaged and always wanting to learn more.
1. Lure Your Guinea Pig Onto a Low Sturdy Object
Start with a low, wide object that is easy for your guinea pig to step up on. You can also use your arm or hand placed flat on the floor. Lure the guinea pig onto the object (or your hand) with a treat. Practice this several times. After some repetition, your guinea pig should be going over to the object and climbing up more confidently.
At this point, start using your food lure a little less. See if your guinea pig will follow your empty hand or pointed finger to the object instead. Each time your guinea pig puts their paws up on the object, give them a treat from your other hand.
2. Practice With New Objects
Once your guinea pig has mastered the first obstacle, try some similar, but slightly more challenging objects. Choose items that are still fairly wide and sturdy, but are maybe higher or have a more uneven surface.
If you’re using your hand instead, start hovering your hand a little bit off the ground. Since your hand is a little unsteady when it’s not resting on the ground, this can take a bit of time for some guinea pigs to get used to. However, most guinea pigs are not too bothered by this and adapt to it fairly quickly.
3. Practice With More Challenging Objects
Next, find some even smaller and more challenging objects for your guinea pig to step up on. Hold the object steady with one hand if needed. You can then lure the guinea pig onto the new object with your other hand. If the guinea pig is initially hesitant to put both their paws up at the same time, reward for just one paw at first until they get the hang of it.
4. Increase the Height
For more of a challenge, you can practice the paws up trick with narrower objects at a higher height. You can use your hand for this, or something even thinner like a stick or toy baton for an even greater challenge.
Start low and gradually increase the height as the guinea pig becomes more comfortable with it.
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
- You can also teach your guinea pig to put their paws up on your arm or hand instead of an object. Gradually hold your hand higher as the guinea pig becomes more comfortable stepping up onto your hand.
- If the guinea pig consistently tries to run around the object instead of putting their paws up, try placing the object beside a wall at first to avoid confusion about what you’re asking them to do.
If Your Guinea Pig Isn’t Getting it
If your guinea pig is struggling with this trick, make sure the object you’re using is low and sturdy enough. If they are struggling with something relatively easy like an upside down bowl, try a small hardcover book or something else that is super easy. Feed the guinea pig several treats while they’re standing on the new object so they learn that having their paws on something is easy and rewarding.
If you’re using your hand, make sure it is completely flat on the ground at first. Keep it very still and steady. Guinea pigs can be unsure about putting their paws on something that feels wobbly or unsteady. After they gain confidence with some easy and sturdy objects, they can learn to balance on smaller objects. But it’s important to build up this confidence with easy objects first.
Paws up is one of the best and easiest tricks you can teach your guinea pig. If your guinea pig is entirely new to training, another really great one is touch a target. These are awesome confidence building tricks, and most guinea pigs learn them very fast! If you’re ready for even more tricks, check out this list of 10 best beginner friendly tricks to teach first.