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Thread: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

  1. #41
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    @animalmadlover - Both of my girls had shorter attention spans in the beginning. The key is to keep sessions super short and super reinforcing. Both girls used to be extremely skittish. You definitely are doing the right thing--recognizing that you need to work on getting Ida comfortable with your presence before you start training. I suggest just watching her quietly, talking softly to her, and letting her do things at her pace until she's comfortable with you. Don't get offended if it takes long. Let her take her time and you'll have a lovely relationship based on trust and understanding.
    @Jessica Dale - You can definitely use the same target sticks from dog training. I actually didn't have target sticks for my guinea pigs because my dog just used a really big thick dowel that was covered in duct tape on one end. But most people use the telescoping targets or the one that comes with the clicker attached.

    For my guinea pig's target sticks, I bought the dowels from Wal-Mart and the wooden spheres were from small animal toys (the type you stick on the metal rod). I stuck the animal toy on the tip of the dowel. Didn't even need to use glue!

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  3. #42
    Cavy Slave BaconAndEggs's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Ah, I'm going to have to work with Eggs for a while before I can begin his training. He's super skittish.

  4. #43
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Just go at his pace and he'll get there Once you get to the clicker training part, the guinea pig's confidence and trust just blooms because you are giving him free choice to make his own decisions and simply rewarding those decisions. Toora took longer to tame than Fi, but she's my favorite guinea pig to work with now because of how thoughtful she is during training. I'm saving up for a camcorder to take better videos so I can make tutorials!

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    Cavy Slave animalmadlover's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Thanks ClikinCavy! I've discovered what I was doing wrong with Sparkles, it turns out that he was confused, not bored! Now that he understands what I'm asking him he's picked it up quickly.
    I'll just keep on spending time with Ida. She will come around eventually.

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    Cavy Slave Kenna18155's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Sorry if it's been asked before, but how do you "charge the clicker" exactly? What types of treats/what size should I use and how long do I need to do this? Ten clicks, a hundred?

    Thanks in advance!

  7. #46
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    @animalmadlover - I found that most of the time when an animal is not engaging with the clicker training, it's because they are confused or unaware about the rules of the game. Always be aware of moments when it feels like your pet is "blowing you off" because most of the time he's going to be either confused or stressed out! Celebrate and praise moments when your piggie makes you proud.
    @Kenna18155 - The way you charge a clicker is to click and then treat until the animal associates the sound of the click with treats. If you click at the same time you offer a treat, the treat itself is more salient (aka noticeable) and can cause the piggie to not notice the click! A huge tip I can give, specific to guinea pigs, is to try to click when the guinea pig is moving and not when he's holding still. If you do this, then the guinea pig is likely to be more active during clicker training, which makes training tricks a lot easier and faster.

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    Cavy Slave Jessica Dale's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Is there a FB group that you know of where we can connect with more animal behaviorists working with Cavies? I want to get as many contacts and research as possible to push for our foundation to utilize them in therapy work.

    What is everyone using for treats? After we pick up our second piggie this weekend I'm going to stock up at the store. I was thinking tangerines and strawberries diced. Bear in mind these are 6 and 12 week old pups. I need tiny tiny amounts! We are just priming and getting them associated with the clicker this week.

  9. #48
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I don't know of any facebook groups specific to training cavies. I'm using little pieces of carrot and lettuce for treats.

  10. #49
    Cavy Slave animalmadlover's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    I'm using whatever I can find. Fresh grass, celery, carrots, parsley (huge favorite) or lettuce.

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  12. #50
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Moooore updates. Sorry it's been awhile since my last update. I've been busy with some stuff in life.

    Okay... first a cute video:

    Toora was practicing how to jump into my lap and jump off of it, but then she explodes with happiness and starts doing her Toora Gallop. Bwahahaha, I got it on film.

    A huge piece of news: Fiona got her NTD (Novice Trick Dog) title!


    I only needed to do fifteen tricks, but I did sixteen.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Fi has gotten so tame now. She always hops in our laps when we sit on the floor with her now. We don't need to click her into the lap any more and she loves hopping in and climbing on our hands to give us kisses.


    I'm enjoying both of them so much. I love them both with all of my heart and I know they love me, too.


    Right now, both girls are working on retrieves. Toora is making the quickest progress!

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    Cavy Slave Heart_Roxie's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    This is amazing! My piggy does a popcorn/hop if I say "happy!" In a really high pitched "baby talk" voice! She's so cute when she does it, I think she would respond well to this! I'm definitely going to try it! Your piggies are so so cute!!! What an awesome job you've done with them!

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    Cavy Slave animalmadlover's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    You are so amazing @ClicknCavy!
    What you've done with your guinea pigs, and from what I can see in the videos, they really trust you completely!

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    Cavy Slave CutsieCavies's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Would you have to gain their confidence before you began the training? (If the piggie is new to you still) and when you did how long did you practice with them?

  16. #54
    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    The only confidence building that you have to gain up with them is that they are comfortable in the training area (I usually start in the cage) and that they are comfortable with taking food from your hands. If you have those two things, you can get started with training.

    You start with pretty hands-off behaviors with the piggies in the cage and you outside of the cage. For example, target stick training. Fiona quickly learned finger targeting, but Toora preferred using the target stick. She was also older and had been handled inappropriately before I got her so that she started with a pretty intense dislike to hands and people. However, training gives both the person and the guinea pig a structured way of interacting which promotes a strong bond. I've never tried to interact with them like picking them up or petting them until they were fully comfortable with my hands and offering behaviors to my hands like stepping in my palm or touching my fingers.

    That said, I continue to transport them via carrier/upside down hidey from cage-to-floor and from floor-to-cage because it allows them to communicate with me better. For example, if Toora is having a bad day then she won't load up to go out to play. If I didn't use this method, I might pick her up when she wasn't feeling up to it, force her on the floor, and she'd have to find another way to say, "Not today" and that may include a bite. Or worse, she'd just put up with it and our relationship would be one of tolerance rather than trust. If there's opportunity to allow the guinea pigs to have more say about what happens to them--let them have it! It only teaches them that you will listen to their needs.

    I train my girls maybe 15 minutes each day and some days I don't train them at all. They also get ample floortime together.

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    Cavy Slave Piggly12's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    My clickers arrived today!

    Are the buttons meant to be quite stiff? The ones I got are really stiff! They are quite loud too. Is this what happened with yours? I think that they are the proper one, as they have the karen pryor logo printed on the back in big writing, and ‘A Karen Pryor Clicker Product’ written in raised font on the front.

    Should I start by just doing it while they are in their cage, or should I take them out separately to get them used to the loud click-click?

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    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    When starting training, you should try to do one at a time before having the guinea pigs together. It's strange that the i-clicks would be quite loud (then again... you haven't used other clickers to compare). The buttons are quite stiff, as the way the clicker works is by bending a piece of metal with a dimple and that makes a click-click sound.

    Try to click from your pocket or in some cloth to get them used to the idea of click = treat if you are worried about them being noise sensitive. Once they make the association, they quickly become used to the volume and work diligently to earn clicks.

    If your guinea pigs are comfortable during floortime, you can set up a training area for floortime and work with them, one at a time, there. If they are very timid outside of the cage, then you'll want to start in the cage by taking all the guinea pigs except one for floortime.

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  21. #57
    Cavy Slave Piggly12's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Thanks! Maybe they are just louder than what I was expecting them to be The buttons are actually getting easier to press now that I have been clicking them a bit (not in the pigs’ room of course).

    I will hopefully be able to start with them on Saturday. I’ll take 2 of them out for floor time and give the other one 5 minutes or so in the cage being clicked at when she moves

    I haven’t done floor time in a while, as they just sit inside their houses for pretty much the whole 1/2 hour that they are there, after an initial 2 minute walk around (to find the best house). Maybe they will like it more now that they have settled in a bit... Should I do it with no houses? Or is this a bad idea? Maybe they don’t like the way that the towels sometimes slip a tiny bit when they walk on them (we have a tile floor that I cover with towels)?

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    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    You definitely want to keep some form of hiding places when you put out floortime. I use boxes that our crackers come in, so it's pretty new and exciting, but yours may benefit from comfortable hides. Always make sure your guinea pigs have the opportunity to hide or quit if they want. They'll grow bolder as you build confidence through training and make sure they are able to give consent for: being picked up, being touched. And let them initiate contact with you. My girls walk in my kitchen sometimes, but they definitely prefer sprinting across the carpet!

    I actually have an update video now that sort of it along the lines of how to build a relationship with a guinea pig and how clicker training can support and enhance that bond. It shows the process of taming Fiona from when I first got her in mid January to late May.



    Also! One of my FB groups that I'm part of showed me a link to this page, which TOTALLY encompasses everything I believe in as far as animal training/taming small animals goes. It's on a rat website, so I don't know how much applies to guinea pigs and I haven't read every page, but this page is totally awesome. It's something I keep in mind with every interaction: Training sessions, routine care, etc.

    http://www.joinrats.com/EarningTrust/Letratsdecide/

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    Cavy Slave Piggly12's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Thanks for the video and the link @ClicknCavy!!
    I have been doing about 3-5 minutes a day for about 4 days now, and Parsley is already much more comfortable with me! She doesn’t usually run away when I enter the room now, and even puts her nose in the air sometimes, saying, “do you have yummies please?”. She will also eat out of my hands while I am holding her, which she didn’t before. Maple is becoming more confident, and my Clover (the smallest and most nervous) is learning to put her nose out from under her house to get a bit of pepper (and a click).

    I take them out of their cage, hoover it, then put one of them back in and give them a few minutes of clicks. Is that OK? When they are a bit more confident (or maybe when it is the holidays) I will try training them (separately) in floor time.

    Thanks again for all your help!!

    Oh and by the way, how do you teach them that getting in a carrier or an upside down pigloo means that they will be put back in their cage? I think I understand how to get them into it (basically do a click and treat for going near it, then for sniffing it, then for walking into it), but how do they know that igloo = going back to cage?

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    Cavy Slave ClicknCavy's Avatar
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    Re: Clicker Training Guinea Pigs!

    Sounds awesome! Clicker training is a wonderful way to build a bond because it really does give your guinea pigs a comfortable way to interact with you that is more their choice rather than, "I'm doing this to you anyways whether your like it or not, so deal with it."

    What you are doing is definitely okay. Remember that you know your guinea pigs the best and what matters the most is that they are building a bond with you. It sounds like they are doing a great job.

    For your question:
    Once your guinea pig has the skill to load up into the carrier or hidey, then you can work it as a communication system. You teach this by first using it as a way to get your piggie into and out of her cage. Give her a click and treat (c/t from now in this explanation) for entering and a c/t for exiting the hidey. Whenever she offers the behavior uncued (without you telling her), c/t her, and then bring her back to her cage. Wait for her to potty and then offer the hidey again to see if she goes in. If she does, carry her back to floortime. She'll eventually make the connection. How long it takes her is not indicative of her intelligence, but is more related to her temperament. Toora Loora, my piggie, is sensitive and so less likely to try new things. She took longer to piece together this connection, but she's definitely one smart cookie. Fiona, my fearless punk, tries new things all the time and figured this out fairly quickly.

    And... of course: UPDATES! I took a lot of video since last time, haha.

    Cutest recall video in the world:


    Some target training tips:


    Uses for hand targeting:


    I've started retrieval training with the girls! Toora is actually really smart at it!

    Fiona's progress


    Toora's progress:


    SOoooooOOoo Many videos in today's post!

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