- And got the T-shirt
Most importantly, just be patient. They WILL get used to you, but it'll happen at their pace, not yours.
- Thanks for the Memories
Mine still run from The Hand coming down to pick them up, but we also have hay lofts and when they know I'm wanting to pick them up and they are OK with that idea, they will run up to the loft and wait for me to scoop them up from underneath. Most of the time. Sometimes I still have to chase them because they get cold feet even if they've run up to the loft. It's not you they are fearing so much as it is their prey instinct kicking in. That instinct is strong and not easily overridden, even when they "know better."
Once I have them they are fine. They associate me with treats and snuggles and good things, and they trust me.
I like to hold them when I watch TV and if I put them on my lap they will often run up to just under my neck. Sometimes they'll climb onto my arms. They make happy noises and purr. If I sit on the floor they'll use my legs as a jungle gym and climb up and over and around. They definitely don't fear me at all. Yet, they still will run if they are in their cage and I try to pick them up.
As others have said, make yourself the Giver of Treats and talk soothingly to them, and do pick them up each day. They'll come to trust you even if they can't override their prey instinct to run when The Hand comes toward them.
As they mature, they will calm down some. They will get more used to being handled. They will always run from your hands however. It's not the pig's that need to change, it is your expectations of how you think they should act. They may never be cuddly or snuggly with you like a puppy. Some never learn to enjoy being "petted" or held. A lot depends on their personalities and previous handling in their first few weeks of life.
How long have you had them? It can take awhile for guinea pigs to adjust to a new home. My oldest pig (3.5) came from a shelter a year ago. It took him a good 3 months before he trusted anyone but me. (we had an instant connection at the shelter. he had been adopted out and brought back a few times so it kinda surprised the staff. when i came back to get him the next day he was in a box ready to go and once he heard my voice he gave a little wheek). This is just a thought but many they are traumatized from their experience at a shelter? Also, many shelters are full and staff don't often have time to do things like handle guinea pigs regularly. Now my piggy comes to me and wants to be held. He loves just sitting/sleeping on my lap while I'm on the computer or watching TV.
I also have a younger guinea pig, close to a year old, and he runs away whenever i try to pick him up. Once he's out of the cage he's a good little boy. He likes to just sit on my lap (or my boyfriend's-they are very close). But since he is still young, sometimes he can't control himself and just needs some floor time to get worn out before holding on the lap. I should mention that he only started letting me hold him about 6 months ago even tho I've had him his whole life.
I think everyone has covered most of the important parts: hand-feed, give treats while in lap, use floor time to bond, hold in a towel or a cuddle sack. The last one I think is key because as prey animals, they love to have somewhere to hide.
Most importantly BE PATIENT! Guinea pigs are shy animals and will do things at their own pace. My oldest pig only made that one little wheek at the pound and then nothing for a long time. Now he makes every sound imaginable! My youngest piggy didn't take quite as long to come out of his shell, but it is frustrating.