We all know that the most common larger pets such as dogs and cats do learn their name.
But does this hold true when it comes to less popular and smaller pets such as guinea pigs as well?
I’ve decided to answer that in this post:
Do guinea pigs learn their name?
Yes they can, but with the help of some excellent training. It’s not as simple as training a dog to respond when they are called. Guinea pigs are smart, but some don’t ever respond to their name regardless of the training.
It might sound confusing, but what a guinea pig learns is a little bit up to you and mostly up to them.
While there is a lot of training you can do to encourage your guinea pig to learn its name, you may find that the guinea pig demonstrates other ways to convey that he or she understands you.
How Guinea Pigs Can Learn Their Name
Guinea pigs have similarities and differences to a new puppy when it comes to training. Though it might be harder to train the guinea pig to specifically learn its name, there are certain things you can do to encourage your pet to respond.
The difference is that dogs may be easier to train when they are puppies, but guinea pigs can learn at any age and are considered to be brilliant animals.
There are a number of factors like environment and your training technique that makes it easier for them to learn their name. So let’s look at those things:
The environment is one of the most important factors when it comes down to whether your guinea pig will or will not learn its name. If it’s a baby, then it has a lot to adjust to while coming into a new home, so making sure the environment is conducive to learning is key.
Getting Used to Surroundings
Starting school right off the bat with a baby guinea is not a good idea. Like previously mentioned, the guinea pig is going to be going through a lot as an adjusting baby, especially when you bring him or her to a new home.
You want to give that guinea pig some time to get used to its surroundings.
Your guinea pig won’t be comfortable learning any new tricks if its frightened and startled. It’s best to give your little pal a little love and affection to help it adjust to its new space.
Avoid Treats in the Area
Once it’s time to start training your guinea pig, you will want to make sure the environment that it’s in doesn’t have toys and treats during the training session.
It sounds mean, but it can be confusing to your animal if it’s constantly exposed to treats, and then it does something good just to get the same sort of reward.
It’s similar to a kid spoiled by its parents. The more gifts the kid get, the less special it realize that new gifts are. It becomes expected instead of earned.
But if the guinea pig doesn’t have a lot of toys around and does what you want, you’ll reward that behavior, and it will recognize that it want to get another one.
A good tip when it comes to treats is finding out what which toys and snacks are your guinea pig’s favorites.
You can find out in the early stages which toys and treats are its favorite as you want to make it comfortable when it first get used to its new home. You only take away its treats in their training area.
Repetition and Patience
These two go hand in hand when it comes to training your new friend. Your guinea pig won’t get it right off the bat. It’s not the guinea pig’s fault, even us humans don’t learn new tricks on the first time we do something.
A lot of owners who have been successful in training their guinea pigs to respond to their name have said that staying consistent in the name that you call your pet is important. A lot of people have tons of nicknames for beloved animals, and sometimes it’s fine.
But when training your pet, it’s important to not confuse them or else they won’t understand.
While repetition and patience are imperative to getting your friend to understand you, it’s also important to realize that if you go too long every day you will exhaust your pets and they can likely get frustrated, frightened, and lose trust in you which will completely deteriorate the work you have been putting in.
Consider it preschool. The kids need breaks, food, and encouragement in order to learn and be productive.
You do not want your furry friend to be distracted by things during the training. Keeping an open space is easy to consider when avoiding distractions, but what you may not think about is how your pet is feeling.
Going back to the toddler theory of them needing to be nurtured to have progress, then consider having your guinea pig being well-fed and making sure they have had water before their training.
Do Guinea Pigs Respond to Their Names?
Absolutely. This is part of the fun when training your guinea pig at first. It will take time, but repetitive actions and vocal tones lead to positive and desired outcomes. You can do it!
Don’t give up and your guinea pig will not either. You will be repeating this name over and over and try to keep it enunciated with the same tone of voice. They are highly intelligent. Read more about what we found out regarding Guinea Pig Intelligence.
They will hear the sound and tone to associate it with your eye contact, physical contact or offering of a treat at the same time. The type of conditioning you are looking to perform is classical conditioning.
Guinea pigs can learn their name this way and many other commands as well. It’s up to you to decide how far you wish to take this practice and training.
How Did Guinea Pigs Get Their Name?
Guinea pigs originated in South America and were brought over on English ships in the 16th century. They have many names in many languages. The term “guinea” is hotly debated for its origin.
It could be derived from an indigenous language around what is known as Peru today or the story that English traders would sell them for the price of one guinea each. This unit of currency could be the reason why they got their first name, but what about the pig?
This part is also debated as many people in history thought they resembled miniature pigs. These animals belong to the family Caviidae. They are also referred to as cavies or a cavy. The taxonomic name is Cavia Porcellus. Here are other names for guinea pigs in different languages.
- Spanish: conejillo de indias or el cobayo
- French: cochon d’Inde or le cobaye
- German: meerschweinchen
- Italian: porcellino d’India or la cavia
- Japanese: morumotto
How to Teach Guinea Pigs Their Name
This is a part of classical conditioning to associate their name with positive moments in their daily life. You will have to learn your guinea pig’s unique character for a few days or weeks.
Find out what drives them. They will respond to certain treats more than others. They will enjoy certain locations over others as well. To allow a guinea pig to obtain their desires comes with the calling of their name.
A guinea pig getting a treat should hear their name, When they want to sit on your lap, they should receive the name call as well. The name must be repeated over and over again.
When you are bonding, petting or playing with your guinea pig, repeat their name. When you come home from work or elsewhere, greet your guinea pig with their name as well.
Make sure to use the same vocal tone to not only speak out the letters of the name, but associate it with a tonal quality that allows your guinea pig to better associate the sound to themselves.
Why Just Stop at the Name
All the same training techniques that you would use to get your guinea pig to respond to their name is the same kinds of technique you would use for some of the other tricks.
While guinea pigs aren’t as smart as dogs, some of the tricks you can teach them are similar, like going in a circle. Get your guinea pig’s attention with a treat, and once you have it move your hand in a circle to get the fella to follow your hand. Once they do it correctly, reward them.
The same goes for getting them to stand up on their hind legs by holding a treat over their head, allowing them to stand, and then later rewarding them for their effort. Most tricks like this are taught using the same sort of technique as more similar tricks are, it just requires more time to learn.
Just check out this adorable video of a very skilled guinea pig:
Guinea Pigs Compared to their Friends
How do guinea pigs measure up to their closest friends like hamsters, rats, and rabbits? Though they all fall into the same family there is some distinction to which of the rodents respond to “learning” better.
Research has shown that hamsters are the least smart among the group or rodents because of their lack of grey matter and neurons. But neurons aren’t always a telltale sign of who is smarter as rabbits technically have more neurons.
Guinea pigs go toe-to-toe with rabbits because guinea pigs have a way better memory. This is why guinea pigs are capable of training certain things like response to command etc. Rabbits on the other hand have a much shorter memory as studies say it only can last for minutes.
Comparing guinea pig’s intelligence to dogs and cats isn’t even worth your time. While they are smart, they simply don’t measure up to dogs and cats. Both dogs and cats have more grey matter in their brain that allows them to remember to do things better than guinea pigs.