There is no doubt that the more you handle your guinea pig the more sociable he will become. It is quite a pleasant experience to be able to flop in an armchair at the end of a busy day knowing you can get your guinea pig out for a cuddle and he is not going to motor off at the first opportunity. When he is happy to go along with your “vegging out”, you will have won the day.
Of course, this isn’t going to happen overnight but the input time can be reduced by the length of time he is in your arms at each sitting.
If the guinea pig or the owner is very nervous, we recommend wrapping the guinea pig in a towel, especially where children are concerned who incidentally should be supervised at all times. The child always needs to be sitting in a chair under your watchful eye. If there is concern that the guinea pig may wee on you, after towel-wrapping, put his bottom end in a carrier bag.
Guinea pigs also have a habit of leaping forwards when in a hurry to get to their destination which is often when being put back into their hutch or cage. A leap from 3 or 4ft out is not uncommon. To combat this problem, put the guinea pig into the back of his enclosure, bottom first, making sure he doesn’t run forwards out of the hutch or cage.
The guinea pig needs to feel totally confident in you before he can relax. Try to find his “hot spots”: where he likes to be scratched. It maybe around the ears, on his nose and eventually under his chin, when he gets over the idea that you are not trying to trap him in an unseemly way.
The only other magic ingredient is time. We always tell people “you will get out what you put in”. Guinea pigs are naturally the hunted and are usually ready to run. It’s their instinct so it takes some time to get your guinea pig’s trust unless he is regularly handled from birth; in which case taming your guinea pig should be a piece of cake. It’s the older ones with a history of poor care or non-handling or youngsters that have never been picked up who will find the experience the most unsettling.
We have witnessed some of the most difficult guinea pigs eventually turn into laid back, sociable creatures who love to be handled. It does take many hours – and lots of interaction – but once he has your trust, you will be handsomely rewarded as long as the handling regime is maintained.