Many people have asked me why I allow my guinea pig to freely roam my apartment. I usually just explain that he is ‘strong-willed’ and it’s easier this way. The looks I get range from shock to bewilderment. However, that is the truth…my guinea pig will not stand to be caged up.
This whole situation started right after I rescued Alfalfa. He was very hyper and liked to run around his cage. I had the cage on a small table. He quickly managed to knock it off of the table and on to the floor with him inside of it. After a quick emergency visit, I was advised by my vet to place the cage on the floor and to create an addition for the cage.
I made the door of the cage into a ramp by weaving cardboard into it, placed a piece of chloroplast on the floor, placed a fleece on top of it and made a fence to keep the pig in his new play area. This was a temporary situation. However, I soon discovered that my guinea pig was able to manipulate the cage or eat through the zip ties I used to secure them. I came home one day to find that Alfalfa had eaten though four zip ties. Worse, they were nowhere to be found. Another emergency vet visit followed that discovery. Now I had a willful guinea pig and one that was making a habit of needing the vet. What could I do?
Day after day, I tried a bunch of different ways to keep my guinea pig in his cage. Each morning I would tell him, “Alfalfa, be a good boy and stay in your cage.” That didn’t work. One day I spent an hour searching for the thing only to find him sleeping behind a box under my bed. He gave me the death stare. I broke out in tears. How was I going to live with this monster? I turned to the internet. People made some weird suggestions; some were helpful and some were just mean.
Finally, after the second month of being greeted by the guinea pig that just would not stop I just gave up. I said, “Fine, if you want to roam the house I’m not going to stop you! I won’t feel bad if you eat something and kill yourself!” I went around and piggy proofed the apartment the best I could. Alfalfa followed me. He sat and watched me move wires, cover areas, block off others, and just move things around. I was still in tears.
I walked over to the fridge and opened it. Of course, Alfalfa was there waiting to be fed. So, I took out a carrot and offered it to him. I held it about four inches above his head not wanting to place it on the carpet. He stood up on his back legs and took a bite out of the carrot. When he was done chewing, I offered him another bite. Again, he went up on his back legs and took the carrot. I sat down and began to talk to him saying “up” with each time I held out the carrot.
Alfalfa was a quick learn. He mastered up in less than two weeks. He now does it when offered a tasty treat. That’s the day that I realized that I couldn’t cage up my guinea pig. He was just too different. I’ve tried to train him to do a circle. He starts and then runs off and runs back. That’s his version of a circle. I just tell him each time he tries, “That’ll do pig…that’ll do…”