Training Your Pig

My Miniature Potbellied Pig is always rubbing her nose on everything, why is she doing this?

This behavior is called “rooting”, and is done for a variety of reasons. Pigs have a bone in their nose, which in the wild helps them to dig through dirt to find roots and bugs. Pigs also root in soft dirt in order to eat the dirt if they need more minerals. If your piggy is rooting your leg or arms while you hold her, it is an affectionate behavior. Often this is accompanied by grunting and suckling noises. She may also be searching for food, or just exploring. Pigs are much like children and will explore their world through their mouth since they do not have hands. Pushing balls, opening cabinets, and moving things around is all part of the game for a young pig. To help focus your piggy’s attention you can use dog treat dispensing toys or small children’s toys like leap-frog or other toddler aged toys. Your piggy will happily push around the objects to figure them out. Just make sure they are sturdy and won’t accidentally lose a part that could be eaten by your pig. (toddler age toys are usually study and safe, but pigs do have strong jaws so always inspect before you let your pig play with anything.) Some people have in the past (and a few still do) resort to a practice of placing rings or large metal staples through the pig’s nose to keep them from rooting. This is cruel and unethical. It is extremely painful and should never be done under any circumstance.

I want to make sure my Miniature Potbellied Pig is properly socialized, what do I do?

It is a necessity to socialize your pig as you should any pet, but you should not start socialization until your new pig has adjusted to his new environment and family. If you try to push things too fast it will make it more difficult for your pig to bond with you. Once your pig is happily settled you can invite guests over to meet him. This isn’t to say that you can’t have people over while you’re adjusting to your new pig, just restrict showing him off and stressing him. When you do start socialization, let him investigate the strangers at his own pace like you would a new dog. A good time to introduce new people is during meal or snack/play times so that there is a positive correlation with meeting guests nicely. When you introduce children instruct them to keep their bottoms on the ground. It is safest for your new little one that kids are not running around or carrying him around.

How do I potty train my new Miniature Potbellied Pig?

When you first bring home your baby pig you should never let him have free reign of the entire house. Start by setting up a playpen (you can purchase a human baby playpen or close off a small area of a room). Divide up the playpen into a bed area and a potty area. Set the litter box filled with pine pellets (not clay cat litter) on a puppy pee-pad and set his blankets on the other side of the play pen. By restricting your pig’s area he will try to keep his bed clean. Just like a puppy, he should only be allowed out of his playpen if he is supervised. After several weeks of him using the litter box correctly you can expand his area to a laundry room or bathroom. Slowly expand the area he is allowed to be in unsupervised only if he is consistently using the litter pan. If your pig has an accident, clean the area thoroughly and use a pet enzyme cleaner so that he won’t go back to that area. Even if you cannot smell anything your piggy may be able to smell the urine, which will signal him to potty their again. Enzyme cleaners break down the urine so that it will not attract your pig back to that area. If you move too quickly and your pig is going on the floor, the best idea is to go back to the beginning (or at least to a laundry room). Supervise your pig when he is out in the house and only after he has gone to the bathroom outside or in his litter. Try cleaning the area with enzyme cleaner and also move his food dish to that area. A pig will not want to potty where he eats.

How do I discipline my Miniature Potbellied Pig?

It can be difficult to punish a mini pig because they can take things very personal. The best advice is to be consistent. They are very intelligent animals and will try to get their way. Most people fail because they give in when their pig starts to sulk after being told “no”. Just like all herd/pack animals, they need a leader. If you give in to their demands, you are now second in command. Be firm. Set clear guidelines from the beginning and always hold your ground.

My piglet cries when I pick her up, does it hurt her?

Pigs do not have very good eyesight and are not used to having their feet in the air, so when you lift your Miniature Potbellied Pig up it frightens her. If you work with her to make her feel secure with you she will become used to you lifting her. Here are some things you could try: once you pick her up, hold her in your lap or coddle her so that all four feet are touching a solid surface, don’t just suspend her like you might a small dog. If she feels secure she will be less likely to cry. Wrapping her in a blanket will also make her feel more secure. When you get a piglet she should already be socialized, but for the first week or so you will be a new person and she will have to bond with you before she completely trusts you. Try to invite her to climb in your lap on her own. Sitting on the floor where she can reach you or set her on the couch with you where she can easily reach your lap. You can use small amounts of treats to make it more rewarding.