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Can Guinea Pigs Understand Words?

Can Guinea Pigs Understand Words?

The owners of guinea pigs always want to find ways to communicate with their guinea pigs. But gratefully, guinea pigs are the intelligent creatures who have proven that they are smart enough to be trained. They can be trained to understand what the owner wants to say through verbal and gesture clues, but can guinea pigs understand words? Let’s find out!

Guinea pigs understand the words by using clues. These words can be conscious clues, for example, gestures and verbal commands. Also, these can be unconscious clues, such as tone of voice and body language. The owners can train them, to teach their guinea pigs what these clues mean and how to react to them.

Just as our guinea pigs can be taught to understand human beings, guinea pigs also have their language.

Some behaviors of the guinea pigs that can confuse their owners are squeaking, chasing each other, and digging.

However, each act of the guinea pig has its meaning. So, you can understand your guinea pig better with the help of understanding these behaviors.

Do guinea pigs understand humans?

There is enough information to suggest that guinea pigs can understand human beings.

The owners have successfully trained guinea pigs for several years. To an extent, this shows that guinea pigs can realize the communication of human beings.

Guinea pigs will not be able to have a conversation with you. However, guinea pigs do have the potential to understand and to respond to the speech of human beings.

It is not uncommon to find a guinea pig who can perform tricks on command. So, yes with proper training guinea pigs may learn to respond to different commands and words of their owners.

Also read: How smart are guinea pigs?

Do guinea pigs recognize their owners’ voices?

Guinea pigs have to learn how to recognize the voice of their owner to understand the words. Many of the owners prove that their guinea pigs know their voices.

Guinea pigs can not only recognize the voices but also can understand the faces and smell. The owners have described guinea pigs coming closer to their owners. Just the opposite, guinea pigs tend to be impartial towards outsiders, and sometimes even scared.

Also, the owners should be careful while speaking to a guinea pig as guinea pigs have a different range of hearing compared to human beings. Guinea pigs can listen to sounds from 30 Hz to 32 kHz.

On the other hand, human beings have a hearing range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Whenever you speak to your guinea pigs, speak in a gentle and calm voice. By doing this will avoid anxiety and stress in a guinea pig.

Also read: Guinea pig communication

Can guinea pigs understand words

As guinea pigs can be trained, that also means that guinea pigs can learn the words. Guinea pigs have the talent to learn many instructions through training.

It will take some time to teach your guinea pig these commands. In addition to this, some guinea pigs can be slower beginners as compared to others. But, with enough determination, guinea pigs can learn the words and how to reply to them.

Can guinea pig understand sign language?

As there is a lack of formal research in the area, there is an excellent proof to suggest that guinea pigs can learn sign language.

There are a lot of clues in the training of guinea pigs that are not necessarily verbal.

For example, the clue will be a hand in front of your guinea pig’s face to train a high five guinea pig. Also, to instruct a guinea pig to open a box, you will need to open it yourself.

The hand signals are far from real sign language. As a language, the sign has its syntax, grammar, and vocabulary. However, it is acceptable to expect your guinea pig to learn a fundamental aspect of it.

Can guinea pig understand body language

Have you ever attempted to stop your guinea pig from chewing a wire? Or have you ever wanted to give your guinea pig a trim, only to hide and ignore you?

Have you ever looked at your guinea pig intransitively to run or go somewhere quickly before you could say a word, just so that when you leave, they can come back to chewing?

These examples show that it is logical that guinea pigs can pick up on things that we are not even aware of. Where we are staring, and the posture of our body are clever key things that guinea pigs pick up.

But how does this happen? Note that we train animals by putting together activity with a reaction of animals.

However, our operations also go along with their body language.

Repeat the activity enough, and we train our guinea pigs without realizing their actions to understand what comes next just by our facial expression, posture, or walk.

On the other side, people perform a few things that guinea pigs have an automatic response to.

For example, showing your teeth in front of a guinea pig will most probably get a terror response. Anxiety can be mostly caused by kissing a guinea pig, especially when you don’t know it very well.

All of these are because of the nature of guinea pigs as prey animals, and distress is a hard-wired reaction. These can be taught out of a guinea pig in the same way that guinea pigs can be taught tricks.

Can guinea pigs learn words?

The capability of guinea pigs to understand the words can be associated with a theory called classical conditioning.

You may have listened to this theory before, as this is commonly applied to dogs. The dog will relate the bell with food if you ring a bell and provide it to a dog afterward enough times. Hence, whenever the bell is rung, the dog will expect food.

The principle behind classical conditioning is this only. By repeating this method for enough, one incentive can be paired with another.

Classical conditioning pairs an order, be it through gesture or voice, to a reaction of them. Awarding a guinea pig when the result is right makes the guinea pig connect to the response with the instructions.

How to train a guinea pig

Guinea pigs can recognize the voice of their owner and can be classically trained.

But the question is, how will you prepare a guinea pig? The basic principles of the training of guinea pigs and any other animal training can be wiped out into three steps below:


A command can be physical or vocal, either a gesture or a word. The trainers always pair both.

The commands should be concise, clear, constant, and easy to remember. For example, the proper commands are making a circle with your hand, clapping, or tapping a surface.


Guinea pigs begin to operate or do something without knowing what their reaction should be. To express the proper response, you can either copy the exact response or move the guinea pig by yourself.

For example, if you want to bring your guinea pig to a particular location, you can put treats on it. To teach a guinea pig for a high five, you can bring their paw up to your hand.


Treats are a clue to your guinea pigs, which they achieved the exact response.

Treats should be regular, and guinea pigs should be awarded whenever they do the correct reaction.

When a guinea pig achieves the trick in every case or on every occasion, you can change the treat with verbal honor.

Things to teach to your guinea pigs

What do these principles seem like? Here are a few tricks that can put these three principles in the effort.

Sit up

Sitting up is a straightforward trick that can be easily taught. Also, it is relatively surprising.

Here are the steps to instruct your guinea pigs how to sit up:

  1. Start with attentive guinea pigs: The four feet of your guinea pig should have to be on the floor. Bring the treat in front of your guinea pig to get their attention.
  2. Place the treat above your guinea pig’s head: Shift the treat from in front of the guinea pig to above their head. The guinea pig should need to know where the treat is at all times.
  3. Give the command: You can instruct your guinea pig by saying sit up along with their name, as it is a useful command.
  4. Give the treat: When your guinea pig comes close to the treat, give the treat to your guinea pig. Repeat the steps, by moving the treat a little bit away from your guinea pig, until they sit up properly.


One of the most common tricks that are taught to guinea pigs is jumping. If you want to show your guinea pig to jump, you can do the following:

  1. Give The Treat: Give the treat to your guinea pig if they are just at the edge of the object. That will connect the treat with the surface of the item or object.
    • For the next tries, your guinea pig will quickly come closer. When this happens, shift the treat at a distance from the edge.
  2. Create Your obstacle Course: Obstacle courses are restored with items that guinea pigs can jump on to or above. The boxes should not be complicated or significant.
    • Just load a few boxes or cartons on top of each other, or small items to jump high.
    • Those who want to start the training of their guinea pigs they can start with only a box. Slowly generate your obstacle as your guinea pig learns.
    • Just make sure to cut all the sharp or sticky parts of the items you choose. Also, make sure that your obstacle course is safe and clean for your guinea pig.
  3. Place The Treat on The Surface: Take a treat and put it in the place where your guinea pig should come at first. Ensure that your guinea pig can see the treat.
  4. Give a Command: Give the command along with the name of your guinea pig. You can pick a good command by saying, “hop.” Also, you can tap the surface with your hand to make them recognize.

Can guinea pigs understand human language?

Guinea pigs are much capable of recognizing voices and learning the words, but it does not mean they can understand the language of human beings. Guinea pigs are intelligent animals, but they have their own language. 

As it can be assumed that guinea pigs don’t learn the meanings of gestures and words. How to react to them is what they learn.

Classical conditioning is nothing more than just linking an incentive with another. But still, it is a reasonably remarkable achievement, as guinea pigs still have a way to go if they want to understand the language of human beings.

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that you can think that your guinea pig can understand you. Guinea pigs are indeed much smarter than others. Any lack of understanding can be made up of determination and hard work.


Guinea pigs are smart enough, as they are intelligent creatures. They can also be trained to understand the gesture clues and oral clues, even the tone of voice and body language, as guinea pigs don’t understand the human language. 

Most researchers and information suggested that guinea pigs can understand humans through training as they can understand and respond to humans’ words.

Most of the owners were told that their guinea pigs recognize their voices, smell, and faces. Don’t try to speak aloud in front of guinea pigs as they can hear sounds from 30 Hz to 32kHz. Guinea pigs can understand the words and sign language by training, which takes some time. 

Many examples show that guinea pigs understand body language. You can also train a guinea pig by applying three steps: command, response, and reward, which is explained above.

You can also teach your guinea pig a few things, like sit up, and jump. As guinea pigs understand the words and recognize voices, but they don’t understand the human language, though they are much smarter than other animals.

Source: The effect of human interaction on guinea pig behavior.

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