A Guinea Pig Talks!

A Guinea Pig Talks!

Catch Millie in action on Instagram at @buttonpigs

Q. So Jenny, who is this learner of yours?

Millie is a rescued guinea pig. She is extremely food motivated and sassy when she doesn't get what she wants!

Q. What was your learner’s first button?

FluentPet Guide Answer

Millie's first two buttons were Oat Hay and Meadow Hay, two types of hay that guinea pigs like.

Q. How long did it take for Millie to press their first button?

Millie pressed both the oat hay and meadow hay buttons independently within 48 hours of her first button lesson.

Q. What have the buttons revealed about Millie that you wouldn’t have known without the buttons?

I didn't know how much Millie enjoyed solving puzzles! It helps that there is food inside, of course.

Q. What inspired you to do button teaching?

I saw @whataboutbunny first on TikTok during the first wave of the Covid pandemic. I wondered if I would be possible for guinea pigs because they are so expressive. Later I saw @koning.silke teach a few buttons to her guinea pigs. However, I had elderly rescued piggies at the time who required complex medical care. In 2021, we adopted Millie and Coco. Millie quickly decided that if she stepped on a certain pillow in her enclosure, food would appear. That's when I knew she could learn buttons. I spent one year taming Millie and Coco before introducing buttons in May 2022.

Q. What challenges have you faced with button teaching? How did you overcome them?

Millie has a chronic medical issue with her digestion. This means we've had to change her diet several times. It's been complex to navigate that when some of Millie's favorite buttons are things she can no longer eat. However I'm surprised how well she transitioned. I took the old buttons out and replaced them with other things, and Millie was more than happy to have new options in her life. She took it better than I did. I think it's important to trust our animals and trust just how smart and adaptable they are.

Q. What’s your funniest button moment?

Millie regularly tells us OOPS! GO! when we don't get up off the couch in the evening to get her what she wants. She doesn't care that her humans worked hard all day and just want to relax in front of the TV.

Q. What’s your most surprising button moment?

When I gave Millie a PET PETS button, so that I could ask for consent to pet her. She decided immediately that this was a nickname for me and my husband. I didn't see that coming. And then once I gave her our actual names she did start using them. But also used PET PETS for us, specifically as a term of endearment or a way to butter us up. She's SO smart.

Q. What’s your favorite button moment?

The very first time she used her MAD button independently. Seeing an angry guinea pig chattering her teeth at you in one thing, but to then also have her pressing MAD is just hilarious and shocking.

Q. How have buttons changed your relationship with your learner?

I spend a lot more time just watching and “talking” to my two guinea pigs now. I always spent time with my piggies but not in the same way. It's a lot more interactive now.

Q. What advice would you give to others who are interested in teaching their learners to use buttons?

I say, go for it. My favorite piece of advice is to test it out first with a small object like a little pillow, Tupperware or stacking cup. See if they are willing to step on it or touch it for a treat. If so, chances are they will easily learn buttons. But some just take a long time and that's okay too. Millie's daughter Coco took 10 months to press her first button independently, and even now she rarely presses. She just doesn't want or need to. 


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