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Why won't my guinea pig let me put a leash on him?

Two guinea pigs (1 white, 1 brown) facing each other on a grassy lawn inside their playpen.

A pair enjoying their outdoor playpen. (Photo: Flickr/picto:graphic)

Why won't my guinea pig let me put a leash on him?

August 27, 2013

Q: I've tried several times to put a harness on my guinea pig, Mumford, and he just won't let me. In fact he tries to bite me when I do? I've tried 9 or 10 times. I've purchase a cloth-like harness made for guinea pigs, rabbits, and ferrets. I want to use it so he can walk and I won't have to carry him outside his cage.

A: The harnesses that are sold for guinea pigs are very dangerous and should not be used on these small animals. The harnesses that are being sold can actually hurt Mumford, rather than help you control him. The pressure that it puts on the guinea pig's spine can actually injure the spine and in some cases cause permanent paralysis. You can see this video was made to warn owners about using the various types of harnesses.

The best solution when you take Mumford is to set up a playpen where he can run within its confines and you can monitor him. You can put his toys in with him, but using a harness is very dangerous. The companies that sell these items are not about the health of the animals but actually about finding ways of making money.

Guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and other small pocket pets are considered as disposable pets by pet shops and accessory manufacturers, since most people pay a small price for the animal. They are tricked into buying items for the animal.

I am trying to be as honest as possible with you. I know you love Mumford and you would not want him injured in any way, so him refusing to allow you to put the harness on may have saved you some serious veterinary expenses. I hope that this does help and here is a link to a number of guinea pig playpens available on Amazon. These will allow him exercise and to be in a safe supervised place.

-- Answer from Joan Vokes, a veterinary assistant on JustAnswer.

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