Whether to walk your guinea pig on a leash or not is quite a debatable topic among the pet owners. Some of them claim that it is unsafe and stand by using the playpens while others enjoy the perks of walking a guinea pig on a leash. So I am going to dig into the advantages and disadvantages of this activity and, hopefully, we will find a definite answer.
To start with, let’s answer the most common question on the web:
– Are guinea pig leashes safe?
Yes, they are if you are using leashes which are specially designed for guinea pigs. DO NOT use cat’s or dog’s leash on your guinea pig. Also, unlike the lead and collar combo which is appropriate for dogs, guinea pigs require a mesh harness with a clipped leash. You have to adjust the harness properly ensuring that your pet is comfortable.
So, let’s start with the cons first.
Cons Of Walking Your Guinea Pig On A Leash
- The main concern many vets and owners have with walking guinea pig on a leash is that when wearing a collar guinea pigs are pulled like dogs. This is very dangerous because the spine of these tiny creatures is very delicate and can get easily fractured.
- You can’t actually teach your guinea pig to walk on a leash. Although many sources claim that it is possible, we can all agree that each guinea pig is an individual and it totally depends on its abilities. Many owners admit that when they tried to teach a guinea pig to walk on a lead, all the attempts were unsuccessful and left a piggy very confused. It might be a good idea to stick to the outside playpens then.
- Guinea pigs are prey animals and hiding is their natural instinct. Some owners note that piggies can freak out when you put a harness and a leash on them as it closes their desire to run and hide somewhere.
Now let’s move on the pros of leash walking.
Pros Of Walking Your Guinea Pig On A Leash
- Guinea pigs are actually fast on the ground. You probably noticed that they are very speedy, for example, they can take corners and change directions rapidly. That is why many pet owners opt for using a harness and a leash. You can actually control a piggy especially when it is out and about in the unfamiliar surrounding.
- Piggies enjoy the time outside and have to exercise for at least 3 hours a day. Although you can organize the playtime indoors, nothing is going to replace the natural sunshine, grass and fresh air. Walking on the leash helps to protect your piggy from other animals. Also, you can easily monitor your pet and keep it away from the grass contaminated with chemicals or other pets’ waste.
- Guinea pigs love exploring! So the playing indoor or in a playpen won’t satisfy their desire to experience new things. However, when taking your piggy for a walk outside you have to be very cautious of the hazards, that is where leash comes in handy.
- Guinea pigs can easily get lost inside your house and, especially, when running around outside. They can easily run into a closet or hide under the table and sit there for hours. If you want to avoid that – harness and a leash is the perfect solution.
Tips On Choosing The Right Harness For A Guinea Pig
If you decided that you want to walk your guinea pig on a lead, then finding a harness of the right fit is on top of your priorities. Always go for the mesh harnesses that fit around the body. You want to avoid your guinea pig being choked by the harness during the walk.
A foolproof way to check if the harness suits your pet is to slip a finger between the harness and guinea pig’s torso. You should be able to do that freely. The ideal harness should properly accommodate guinea pig’s build and not be too loose.
Prior to buying a harness, please, see your vet and ask for the advice of the pet shop staff on what is the best option for your animal.
How To Teach A Guinea Pig To Walk On A Lead?
First, I want you to know that there is no guarantee that your pet is going to learn how to walk on the leash. Indeed, most of the guinea pigs can’t become lead-trained. However, there are some guidance to help you with the training. So, you have used the guidelines above and chose the harness. Now you need to check how your pet is feeling about it. Is your guinea pig comfortable wearing it? If the first impression was positive, you can start learning.
Spend a few minutes every day working on becoming more adjusted to the harness. Repeat the same procedure for the course of a few weeks. At this point you have two decisions to make – stop trying if your pet doesn’t respond to the training or to carry on if you see an improvement.
Things To Consider When Taking Your Guinea Pig Outside
– Make sure that the temperature outside is between 60° – 80° F (15° – 27° C) and it is not very humid;
– The best time for the walks is early morning and evening because it is not extremely hot;
– Asses the area you are planning to walk your guinea pig in: the grass should not be contaminated with pesticides and chemicals; there should be no other animals’ waste; the area should be free of the poisonous plants;
– Keep the walks short, 10 to 15 minutes should be enough.
Once again I want to remind you that walking guinea pig on the leash is not the same as if you would walk a dog. These are two totally different activities. You are primarily walking a guinea pig for the monitoring purpose. So you have to be very conscious about pulling and making rapid moves.