Guinea Pig Camp

Welcome to Guinea Pig Camp!

So you like detection work and agility tricks, you are fascinated by the Hero Rats detecting landmines and you’d like to learn some tricks that could make you a better dog trainer. I’m not going to teach you to train a police detection dog or a landmine-detecting rat—that is reserved for the professionals in those areas—but I will instruct you how to train a guinea pig to detect tobacco and gunpowder, and to perform agility tricks.

Police guinea pig

Police guinea pig? Not just yet, but who knows. You could be the trainer of the first tobacco and gunpowder detecting guinea pig.

Why should dog trainers train guinea pigs?

Training dogs is easy compared to training other species due to the special relationship between humans and dogs. Dogs tend to overlook most of our mistakes and give us a second chance. Animals that don’t have such a close relationship with humans are far less forgiving so it is a high priority to be precise, to plan your training, to develop your observation skills and to have a plan B available. Training guinea pigs will help make you a better, more observant dog trainer; more attentive to detail and more receptive to the feedback your dog gives you.

Another advantage of training guinea pigs is that you won’t have a strong bond with the guinea pig you train and you will therefore be more objective than in your dog training. You will not have developed any bad habits, as training guinea pigs will be novel to you. You won’t identify with the guinea pig you train in the same way dog owners identify with their dogs, so you will not feel embarrassed if your guinea pig makes a mistake.

Training a guinea pig will improve your theoretical knowledge as well as your mechanical skills. You will be amazed at how much you can teach a guinea pig in just four days!

Guinea Pig, Cavia porcellus, also called Cavies.

Guinea pigs, Cavia porcellus, also called cavies, are social rodents. Their sight is not as good as that of humans, but they have well-developed senses of hearing, smell and touch.

The Guinea Pigs

Each team of three students will have a guinea pig to train, a training box, agility obstacles, food treats and a whistle (or clicker). Each student within a team will take turns to be trainer, observer and camera operator. The trainer trains, the observer registers the session and ensures it follows the previously designed POA (Plan Of Action), and the camera operator films the session. Since all three will follow a carefully designed plan, there is no problem in taking turns at training the same guinea pig. The team’s training will be mostly consistent but, should small variations occur, we will regard them as a bonus and an opportunity to compare factors that may influence training. That’s why all the sessions are filmed.

A day at camp

A day starts at 9am and ends at 5pm. Lunch will be between 12pm and 1pm. Teams decide when to take a break.

About 60% of the coursework comprises of hands-on training and 40% of theoretical issues such as designing POAs, reviewing training sessions, studying videos, briefing and debriefing teams.

The maximum number of students is thirty (ten teams).


You must have read “The 20 Principles that All Animal Trainers Must Know.” Click the link (available soon, also in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian) to access the free manual.

Guinea Pig: vocalization is their primary means of communication.

Vocalization is the guinea pig’s primary means of communication. At Guinea Pig Camp, you’ll learn the differences between a wheek, purring, rumbling, whining, chattering, squealing and chirping.


As we want to offer everyone the opportunity to attend a Guinea Pig Camp, we keep the fees low: EUR 395 (in Europe, except Portugal EUR 295), USD 495 (in the USA), AUS 495 (in Australia), CND 495 (in Canada) and JPY 44,500 (in Japan). This fee does not include accommodation, transportation and meals.

Event organizers may need to adjust these fees slightly to accommodate particular local conditions (please see their individual websites).

Dates, locations and registration

To register, please use the contact details below.

See you soon

Our Guinea Pig Camp is something you’ll have to experience. It’s amazing how much these cute, little creatures can learn and how much they can teach us. Don’t worry if you fall in love with your guinea pig—you can take it home after the workshop, that is, if your teammates allow you.

Guinea Pig Camps are about learning, enjoying teamwork and having fun!

Roger Abrantes 



22 comments on “Guinea Pig Camp

  1. Dear Roger,

    As alwais you are fantastic. Everyone of your works with different kinds of animals is a reason to bow my head to you!

    All the best in new 2013 !


  2. Hi Roger, Happy and fine New Year too. What fun …. I have sent a note to Jean Lessard to tell him I want to come to your Canadian Guinea Pig Camp! I look forward to the next time I see you. I remember your helpful advice re Mac computers when we were on the slate at the JAPDT conference some years ago. All the best Carolyn

    Carolyn Clark

  3. Reblogged this on EQUILIBRE Gaiá and commented:
    We have all heard of Chicken Camps and Rats in landmine and tuburculosis detection. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Roger Abrantes and his team, we now present Guinea Pig Camps in Europe, U.S.A. and Australia. I am truly proud to form part of this, and eagerly looking forward to this extraordinary learning experience.

  4. Dr Abrantes I love this idea and am wondering if you are still looking for hosts in the USA? Can you send me details?

    Brad Phifer

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Thank you for all your posts. Healthful and joyful New Year!   Irene and the pack

    German Shepherd Dogs are not pets: they’re soul mates.

  6. Hi all,

    Thank you all for your comments. Watch this space: we’re still adding new dates and locations. Don’t forget to register right away if you want to secure a place.

    Have a great day,


  7. Hi Roger:

    Please e-mail me with the details of how you are
    compensated, when you might be available in NY, in 2014 and how one obtains
    the guinea pigs to train. Arie Kopelman

  8. Pingback: So you want to be a good dog trainer! | Roger Abrantes

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