One question that lingers in the minds of many pet owners is, “do guinea pigs recognize their name?”
The short answer to this is Yes.
While it won’t be an immediate response or instinct, this creature can certainly be trained to know its name.
Read on to learn more about the signs that this recognition has occurred, plus some tips on teaching cavies their names.
Do Guinea Pigs Respond to Their Name?
To answer the question of whether guinea pigs recognize their name, we first need to know if they actually recognize words in general. Let’s discuss.
Can Guinea Pigs Recognize Words?
Yes, they can. Guinea pigs are among the most intelligent rodents. In fact, one study shows that domesticated guinea pigs learn an activity just as fast as their wild siblings.
As such, they can be trained to recognize individual words, meaning they can also learn their name.
The only problem is that they learn a little slower than cats and dogs do.
So, you shouldn’t expect him to understand his name on the first go. You will likely have to repeat it a couple of times.
When Do Guinea Pigs Learn Their Name?
Guinea pigs can learn their name a short while after they’re brought home.
As explained later in the article, it’s wise to wait until they have familiarized themselves with the new surroundings.
This way, they’ll feel safe and comfortable training in their new home.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Their Name?
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to this question. The length of time it takes to learn their name will vary from one guinea pig to another.
It will also depend on an array of factors, such as how consistent you are with the training, the training method used, and more.
4 Signs That a Guinea Pig Remembers Their Owner
Before we can teach our guinea pigs to recognize their names, we should start by making sure they recognize us as their caregivers.
Training always goes much smoother after you’ve established a bond. So let’s look at some signs that your cavy knows you.
#1 Run Towards You
When a guinea pig knows you, they’ll feel safe around you. So, whenever they see you, they will always run towards you. If you’re seated, they will run and climb on your lap.
#2 They Seem to Listen
Once you teach your guinea pigs some tricks and commands, you’ll notice that they’ll just seem to listen and “obey” more often in general. This is particularly the case if you’ve owned your pet for a long time.
#3 Distinctive Noises
Another aspect that proves that a guinea pig recognizes its owner is the sound it makes. Let’s say you were away from your pet for a long time. The minute you walk through the door, he will let out a wheeking sound to show how happy he is.
Wheeking is a prolonged and loud squeal- almost whistle-like- noise that this creature makes when he’s excited.
#4 They Make Responses
Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets that can obey their masters. Guinea pigs do too. If your guinea pig knows you, they will always respond whenever you ask something of them.
How to Teach Guinea Pigs to Recognize Their Name
Teaching your guinea pig to learn his name is no easy feat. But with a few hacks, the process can be a little bit easier.
Training Guinea Pigs
- Gently place your guinea pig on the floor
- Place a few of his favorite treats in your hand
- Call his name and stretch your hand out so that he can see the treats.
- Repeat this process several times until he learns to respond to his name.
To help him train faster, call him by this name anytime you’re addressing him.
For instance, if you want him to go back to his cage, you can open the cage then call him as you direct him to return to his abode.
5 Useful Tips
#1 Familiarity with The Environment
If you’re bringing your guinea pig home for the first time, allow him enough time to familiarize himself with his new surroundings.
Don’t start training him right away as he might not be too receptive to it.
Instead, give him a couple of days- even weeks- during which time you should display your love and affection. This way, he won’t feel lonely or frightened.
#2 Zero Distractions
Another thing you need to ensure is that the setting in which you’re training him is conducive to learning.
During the training session, this area should be completely free of distractions.
By distractions, we mean guinea pig toys, pets, or any objects that will likely draw his attention.
Here’s the thing, you don’t want to expose your guinea pig to distractions like toys while he trains.
If you do, then he will find it confusing when you finally reward him with the same things that are always in his vicinity.
Think of how a toddler, who is always spoiled with gifts, behaves. If this child is constantly receiving gifts from his parents, then he’ll find them less special over time.
He will learn to expect or feel entitled to these gifts, whether he’s worked hard to earn them or not.
In the same way, you want your guinea to earn special treats like some of the best vegetables for guinea pigs by learning to respond to his name. And the best way to do this is to train him in a distraction-free setting.
#3 Use a Positive Reinforcement Approach
Just like dogs, guinea pigs learn faster and better when you reward good behavior. So, once he responds to his name, be sure to reward him with either toys or treats.
But once he starts learning to respond, you don’t have to continue offering tangible gifts, especially if your choice of treats wasn’t healthy.
Sometimes, even praising him is enough of a reward. Important to note though is that you should only reward him once he responds, though.
If you reward any sooner, he will get used to the idea of being rewarded even when he hasn’t behaved correctly. This defeats the purpose of the training.
#4 Repetition and Consistency
These two factors work in harmony. Your guinea pig, no matter how smart he is, won’t pick up on his name immediately.
It means that you’ll have to remind him a couple more times and exercise patience while you’re at it.
One thing that really helps is being consistent. If you call him by his name every time, you’re addressing him, he will eventually learn that it’s his name.
Consistency should also apply when it comes to the particular name, you’re calling him.
Stick to one name from the beginning, otherwise, your guinea pig will have a difficult time figuring his exact name.
#5 Pick the Name Wisely
Picking the right name for your guinea pig is just as important as the training. In fact, choosing the wrong guinea pig nickname can be a dealbreaker.
You want to choose a name that is simple enough for him to decipher during training.
The most crucial point to remember when selecting a name is to stick to one- or two-syllable names.
This way, the name will easily grab your pet’s attention. Think of names such as Sasha, Gracie, Tyson, Bleu, Coach just to mention a few.
Another tip that works for some guinea pigs is picking a name with a sibilant consonant.
In simpler terms, these are sounds, which when pronounced, bring the tip of your tongue to the roof of the mouth. Consonants like “s”, “z” and “sh.” Examples of such names are Sarah, Sage, Shelby, Shep, among others.
Also, ensure the name you choose doesn’t sound so similar to a particular command.
For instance, avoid names like Kit, which can be confused with “sit” or Beau, which sounds so similar to “no.”
Why do guinea pigs have pig in their name?
It is not clear how exactly these creatures came to be known as guinea pigs. But two of the reasons that people suspect is because of their piggy-like squeals and porcine shape.
How many words can a guinea pig learn?
Unfortunately, there’s no research that has been done to determine the precise number of words that this creature can learn. Perhaps this is because learning language for guinea pigs is more about vocabulary than volume.
Guinea pigs do recognize their name. If yours doesn’t recognize his name yet, all he needs is a little training.
That said, you’ll need to stick to a few rules for this training to be a success.
For one, be consistent. Call out his name whenever you address him, and he’ll gradually understand that that’s his name. Two, choose a simple word that is easy for him to pick up. Also, train him in a setting clear of distractions and consider using a positive reinforcement approach.