4 Secrets to Make Your Guinea Pig Love you!

4 Secrets to Make Your Guinea Pig Love You!

I get the question all the time, how do I get my guinea pig to like me? First of all, creating a strong bond with your guinea pig is very important, not only for your piggy but for you as well! Trust me, it can take a lot of time and effort depending on your guinea pig’s personality and whether or not they have been neglected in the past. By creating this bond with your guinea pig, you get to know them better and can catch health problems much faster. (It is vitally important to keep track of all aspects of your guinea pig’s health, which is why I have created THIS Guinea Pig Health Binder just for you!)

So, you may be a new guinea pig parent and wondering how to start forming a bond, or you may have had your guinea pig for a while and just can’t seem to form that bond with them that you want. If you follow the tips that I outline bellow consistently, then I promise that eventually you will be able to develop a bond with your piggy.

Before I begin, it must be noted that not all guinea pigs bond as quickly to humans as others. It is important that you stay consistent and not give up on forming a successful bond with your guinea pig.

So, here we go!

1. Pick up your guinea pig multiple times a day.

A guinea pig that I adopted a couple years ago, Alvin, was so badly neglected that it is very hard for him to form bonds not only with guinea pigs but with humans as well. One thing that helped him get used to being around humans was me picking him up multiple times a day, it became part of his daily routine. In the beginning, maybe you only pick up your piggy for 30 seconds and then maybe you work your way up to 5 minutes of lap time with veggies. Sometimes it takes baby steps, and that’s okay! Once your guinea pig begins to expect to be picked up, it will become more of a routine for them and they will enjoy it a lot more!

2. Help your guinea pig associate good things with getting picked up.

It is a universal fact the way to a guinea pig’s heart is through their stomach! Cut up your guinea pig’s favorite vegetables into small pieces, and every time you pick them up give them a small piece. When they begin to associate getting picked up with food, they will start begging to be picked up!

3. Talk to your guinea pig.

Guinea pigs are prey animals and thus are naturally skittish creatures. By talking to them every time you enter the room they will begin to recognize your voice which will in turn help calm them as you hold them. Speaking softly to your piggy while you hold them (and giving them their favorite veggies, you can’t forget that!) will reassure them that they are not in any danger with you.

Tip: If you rescue a guinea pig that has been severely neglected, chances are that they will be frightened by the sound of voices. Unfortunately, that was the case when I adopted my first guinea pigs Alvin and Theodore. To help them get used to the sound of human voices, I would leave the television on low whenever I left the house – a radio will even work. By doing this, they not only get used to hearing many different voices, but they begin to realize that just because they hear a human voice, that no longer means that they are going to be in danger.

4. Never go a day without interacting with your guinea pig.

Yes, guinea pigs are social creatures and normally enjoy the company of other guinea pigs, but that does not mean that you cannot interact with them even for a day. Making your interaction with them part of their daily routine will help you guys form a strong bond, one that your piggy looks forward to on a daily basis. If you happen to go on vacation and will be away from them for a while, make sure that you have an experienced guinea pig owner pet sit for you. Explain to them your guinea pig’s schedule and they will make sure that your piggy still gets a ton of human interaction while you are away. NEVER trust your guinea pig with just anyone!

So, there you have it, my top four secrets for making your guinea pig love you!  Before you leave, don’t forget to subscribe HERE to receive updates and special offers from me! (Don’t worry, I hate spam just as much as you do, your email is safe with me!)

Also, help keep yourself organized and your guinea pigs heathy with some MUST HAVE care items from my Etsy story which you can find HERE.

As always, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you have or any suggestions on topics that you would like for me to write about! You can reach me at hi@littlecavylove.com or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! Don’t be shy guys!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

A Beginners Guide to Bonding Guinea Pigs

 

TRAVEL & LEISURE (1)
New to bonding guinea pigs? Let us help you feel confident when trying to bond your lovable piggies!

I have bonded, and attempted to bond, LOTS of guinea pig pairs. There are a few things you need to know before starting:

1. When bringing a new guinea pig into your home, you should quarantine them for a least a week. This will allow you to make sure that neither of the piggies have any illnesses that they could pass onto the other and the new family member will be able to get used to the smells of the home. During this time, you can also begin to bond with your new piggy one on one.

2. This is probably the most important to remember: not every guinea pig pair will get along! One of my guinea pigs, Alvin, has been un-pair-able thus far. He does, however, enjoy being grid-mates with Girzzly. He and Grizzly are in a large C&C cage with two grids diving them. They are able to smell each other and interact while still having their own space. You NEVER want to have a guinea pig isolated form other piggies!

3. Know that if you pair a young pig with a slightly older one, once the baby hits maturity there is a chance they may not bond well anymore. This is not true for every case, but is something to keep in mind.

There are many methods to bonding guinea pigs, and many experts have their own routine and things that have worked for them in the past. There is no one right way. Here I will outline the way have been bonding guinea pigs for many years now and has worked the best for me.

Step One: Lay down new blankets/fleece in a neutral part of the house. I like to use the bathroom because there are no other animal odors in there. Everything you use during this introduction phase should be cleaned or new. This is because you do want to use items that one of the guinea pigs has marked as their own already. A neutral, level playing field is key to success.

Step Two: Make sure there are several shelters, water bottles, hay racks, and plates of fresh veggies and maybe some fruit nearby. The reason you want several is because you don’t want them fighting over places to lay, food to eat or water to drink.

Step Three: There are different opinions about this step, so you need to decide what is best for you and your piggies. Sometimes I do this step, sometimes I don’t. I have not really found a definitive answer as to whether this step make a difference or not.

So what is this optional step?

Bathing.

Some people think that by bathing the guinea pigs prior to meeting you can eliminate heavy marking scents that are in their fur. Like I said, I have bathed guinea pigs before a meeting, and other times I have not because over bathing is not good for piggies.

So, this third step is optional. There are so many differing opinions on this.

Step Four: Place the guinea pigs in the neutral area together. You want to make sure that you have dry fluffy towels near by to toss over the piggies and break them up should a fight occur. NEVER stick your bare hands between fighting guinea pigs, trust me on this one! I once got a beautiful puncture wound on my birthday from doing this during my first bonding session. (I still have the scare to prove it!)

Step Five: This next step is also something that is debated between people, which is why knowing the piggies you are bonding ahead of time is so important.

48 hours is key.

In my experience I have tended to find that it takes about 48 hours to truly determine whether or not the guinea pigs will be a good match or not. I have talked with others who say 12, 24, or 36. Just make sure you keep your eye on them for a few days after bonding, especially after you have returned them to a clean permanent  cage.

Finally, here are some other things you should know when bonding piggies:

1.  Mounting and rumble strutting are perfectly normal at first. The piggies are trying to figure out which one will be the dominate one. Now, should they start biting each other and blood is starting to appear, this is a sign that they are not going to be a good fit. I have heard of people being able to successfully bond guinea pigs after a nasty fight, this has never happened for me though. I tend to find that once two guinea pigs have had a huge fight (where there is blood involved), they usually will never pair together.

2. Once they have eaten and fallen asleep, waking up to another guinea pig in the cage with them is one of the determining factors in bonding, and the time where you want to have a towel ready for sure.

There you have it. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment down bellow and I will answer them to best of my ability! If I don’t know the answer, I find one for you!

You can also connect with me on any of the social media platforms or shoot me an e-mail at hi@littlecavylove.com

And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE HERE for exclusive content and updates!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

Guinea Pigs in Animal Assisted Therapy

Guinea Pigs in Animal Assisted Therapy

What exactly is animal assisted therapy?

Let’s get some vocabulary out of the way so you know what the heck I’m talking about!

When volunteering with your piggy (or any approved animal for that matter), there are different types of activities that you can participate in.

1. Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). The leading organization in bringing animals and people together in this type of environment is Pet Partners. (To find out more about this amazing organization, and hopefully join me in volunteering with them, click here.) They define AAT as “Animal-assisted therapy is a goal oriented, planned, structured and documented therapeutic intervention directed by health and human service providers as part of their profession. A wide variety of disciplines may incorporate AAT. Possible practitioners could include physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, certified therapeutic recreation specialists, nurses, social workers, speech therapists, or mental health professionals.”

2. Animal Assisted Intervention, which Pet Partners defines as “Animal-assisted interventions are goal oriented and structured interventions that intentionally incorporate animals in health, education and human service for the purpose of therapeutic gains and improved health and wellness. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT), animal-assisted education (AAE) and animal-assisted activities (AAA) are all forms of animal-assisted interventions. In all these interventions, the animal may be part of a volunteer therapy animal team working under the direction of a professional or an animal that belongs to the professional himself.”

3. Animal Assisted Activities, which Pet Partners defines as “Animal-assisted activities provide opportunities for motivational, educational and/or recreational benefits to enhance quality of life. While more informal in nature, these activities are delivered by a specially trained professional, paraprofessional and/or volunteer, in partnership with an animal that meets specific criteria for suitability.”

4. Animal Assisted Education, which Pet Partners defines as “Animal-assisted education is a goal oriented, planned and structured intervention directed by a general education or special education professional. The focus of the activities is on academic goals, prosocial skills and cognitive functioning with student progress being both measured and documented.”

So, now that we have the nitty gritty of the vocabulary out the way, let’s get to the fun part!

I start preparing Grizzly before we even leave the house. I have a store bought cage for his travel carrier (all they should EVER be used for). I put some fleece at the bottom, his hay rack, water bottle, and the fleece sleeping bag I made for him so he can hide if he wants. I get him out of his big cage and spend some time with him, giving his veggies and just loving on him. Next, the car ride.

He actually seems to enjoy car rides. He tries his hardest to get high enough to were he can see out the window. (If my husband is driving I will sometimes take him out and let him look out the window, he is so fascinated by it!)

During the car ride, I try to talk to him as much as I can. Hearing my voice not only reassures him that I am still there with him, he seems to be calmer through the visit as well.

Before we head into the facility where were we will be visiting, I put his blanket in his basket that he travels in (I use the same blanket every time) and give him a few minutes to get comfy in his basket. We have done this so many times now, when he goes into his basket, he knows it’s time for work!

This is where I tend to get the question, “How do you keep him from using the bathroom on people?” 99% of the time he stays in his basket, and if I do take him out to let someone hold him, he is on a VERY thick blanket so that if he were to urinate, it would not get on anyone. If he does poop, I ALWAYS keep hand sanitizer with me, so I pick it up discretely as possibly and use hand sanitizer right away! However, because we have visited so many facilities together, Grizzly knows when he is working and he tends not to use the bathroom. Once he gets back into his travel cage, that’s a whole other story though!

So, like I said during the visit, 99% of the time I keep Grizzly in the basket for two reasons:

1. Less stress on him.

2. Most people have never held a guinea pig and they may feel uncomfortable holding him. Using a basket provides an opportunity for the individual and him to connect in a way that is comfortable for both of them.

Once our visit is complete and Grizzly is back in his travel cage, I like to let him decompress for awhile before I snuggle on him anymore. I give him lots of fresh veggies as a reward, and he usually ends up taking a nap on the ride home.

Why do I volunteer with him?

It is absolutely amazing to be able to see people that are very stressed out, completely  decompress and relax when they are interacting with Grizzly. Their whole demeanor changes. I also just love interacting with people, you would be surprised how much people open up to you, and you might be the only smiling face that they see all day!

I love visiting nursing homes and seeing people who don’t normally engage with other or talk much, open up when they see Grizzly.

Volunteering with Pet Partners has been such an incredible experience. I highly recommend looking into getting your guinea pig (or another animal you may have) certified through this amazing organization. Get plugged in and see the difference that you can make!

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on any of the social platforms or shoot me at hi@littlecavylove.com

And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE HERE for exclusive content and updates!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

P.S. Here is a picture of Grizzly in his basket heading to “work”!

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Taking Your Guinea Pig Outside

Taking Your Guinea Pig Outside

To start off, raise your hand if you know that guinea pigs can’t sweat.

Did you raise your hand?

If you didn’t, keep reading.

If you did, keep reading, I still have some information that will help you!

So, guinea pigs can’t sweat huh? That’s right, anything over 80 degrees F puts them at risk of dehydration and heat stroke. Now, this doesn’t mean that they can’t get too cold. You want to keep your guinea pigs in an environment that is between 70 and 80 degrees F (some will say 65 to 75 degrees F, as a rule of thumb if you are uncomfortable, your piggies probably are too).

With this mind, and for other reasons as well, you should never keep your guinea pigs outside in a hutch that is not temperature controlled! Taking your guinea pigs outside is completely fine, and highly encouraged for busting boredom, but there are a few things you are going to want to take into consideration before adventuring out into the open with your piggy.

1. Heat (if you haven’t guessed that one already 🙂 ) and humidity level.

2. You want to make sure that your guinea pig is contained, you don’t want them to escape as they will not be able to survive on their own in the wild.

3. Keep an eye out for prey animals, especially birds that can swoop down and pick them up. By sitting under a tree with them, putting a sheet over a wire play pen, or creating a hutch with a roof your guinea pig will be safer.

4. You also want to make sure that there have been NO PESTICIDES used on the grass (your piggy should NEVER be placed on the concrete to run around, as it can get too hot), they will harm and potential kill your piggy.

5. Make sure where you place your guinea pig there are no harmful plants near that they could eat.

Your guinea pig will love going outside with you, it is a great boredom buster for them and a great bonding experience! Follow the five guidelines I have written about here, and you and your piggy will have a safe adventure out doors!

Here are two of my guinea pigs, Alvin and Theodore, enjoying time outside together!

If you have any questions please comment down bellow or follow me on any of the social media platforms!

And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE HERE for exclusive content and updates!

Love,

Ashlee + Piggies

Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop?

Why_Do_Guinea_Pigs_Eat_Their_Poop

Let me start off by saying that this is NORMAL! Do not panic, do not try and pick up the 148 poops that your Guinea Pig has produced in last .5 seconds, not only is this behavior completely normal for a Guinea Pigs, it is actually very healthy and beneficial!

Let me explain…

Guinea Pigs excrete two different types of pellets, or poop. One, the normal hard pellets that you find all over the cage, the others are called caecals. (don’t even ask me to try and pronounce that!) These little “C-Poops” are a lot softer than the normal hard pellets that you see around their cage, this is because they contain roughly half the plant fiber of the harder pellets.

Why the difference in texture?

Plants, when eaten, are not completely digested the first go-around through the digestive tract. In order to maximize the nutrients that they are getting, your little piggy is eating these softer pellets. Now, this might seem absolutely horrendous to you, but this concept is pretty similar to that of a cow chewing it’s cud.

Interesting Tip:

If your guinea pig happens to be sick they are more than likely going to be placed on antibiotics. Antibiotics are great! They kill all the nasty bacteria that is making your piggy sick, however, they also kill off all the good bacteria…not good. So, if your guinea pig is on antibiotics, for whatever reason, offering some of the poop from another, healthy, guinea pig will help their body replenish the good bacteria that should be found within their digestive tract.

If your guinea pig is refusing to eat, you can always take a few poops from a healthy guinea pig and mix them up in some warm water. Once you mash them up to a consistency that will go through a syringe, feeding this to them between meals is a wonderful way to help get your guinea pig back to their healthy, happy selves. Now, I know this is a bit nasty, but that’s what being a good piggy parent is all about, isn’t it?

Moral of the Story?

Your guinea pig will, and should, eat their poos!

If you have any questions, please leave them bellow and I will answer each and every one! If I don’t know the answer I will find one for you!

Thanks for Stopping By!

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Love,

Ashlee + Piggies