This trick is another simple, yet cute behavior to teach a guinea pig. Most piggies catch on to this trick quickly, which makes it a good choice for guinea pigs new to trick training. For this trick, you will need a lightweight, guinea pig sized ball that is easy to roll around. After teaching the basics of this behavior, you can also find or make a guinea pig sized net and teach them to play soccer to add a fun twist to their new trick.
How to Teach a Guinea Pig to Push a Ball Around (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 smooth, lightweight ball that’s easy for the guinea pig to push around
Start by placing the ball on the ground in front of the guinea pig. Put several small treats beside and under the ball. Encourage the guinea pig to check out the ball and look for the treats. They should nudge the ball a little as they are sniffing around and getting the treats. Give an extra treat from your hand whenever they nudge the ball.
Do this a couple more times, putting fewer treats on the floor each time. Continue to reward from your hand if they nudge the ball at any time.
After putting treats around the ball a few times, try without any treats on the floor. Offer a treat from your hand anytime the guinea pig nudges the ball.
Continue to reward every time they push the ball until they are doing it pretty consistently.
Instead of rewarding for every single nudge, start holding onto the treat until the guinea pig pushes the ball a second time.
Keep building duration in this way until the guinea pig will push the ball several times for one treat.
Also be sure to reward randomly sometimes to keep the guinea pig engaged in the game (for example, reward after only one nudge sometimes, even if they can do five.) Guinea pigs may start to get bored or lose interest if they know they always have to push the ball several times to earn a treat.
Additional Tips For Teaching This Trick
- Be sure to scale the reward that the guinea pig is receiving with the amount of effort they are putting in. For example, you may be giving them one bite of a carrot every time they push the ball once. When you get to the point where the guinea pig is nudging the ball twice every time, the reward should be increased to maybe a bigger bite of carrot, or two nibbles instead of just one. This keeps the guinea pig motivated and happy to put in the extra effort.
- Once the guinea pig gets good at pushing the ball around, you can find a guinea pig sized net, or even just two cups placed apart that they can push the ball through. You can teach them to play soccer by placing the ball close to the net at first, and gradually moving it further away as the guinea pig gets better at rolling the ball towards the net.