Training Tips for Pigs

How to train a pot belly pig


So you’re thinking about getting a pet pig…

If you don’t already have a pig for a pet, you will have a few things to research and learn.  If you already have your pet pig, and don’t know what to do with it, or how to manage it, you really have jumped the gun, haven’t you?

While pigs are still somewhat a novelty pet, they are also extremely intelligent.  A pig, whether it is a half ton (market hog) or a so-called miniature variety, (usually weighing anywhere from 50 to 200 pounds at maturity) you may be surprised at their agility and intelligence.  Some people who may lack real experience with pet pigs may think that pigs are stubborn.  They are actually very interesting animals, that once they are bonded with their human, they seek your attention, and try very hard to please you. With sufficient attention, and socialization a pig usually becomes very attached to their human family, as well as the other animals in the household.

Pigs are naturally herd animals, as well as prey animals. If they become frightened, they will instinctively run, as fast and as far as they can from whatever frightened them.  Pigs can cover a lot of ground in a very short period of time when they feel they are about to be attacked, or otherwise injured. This is just one reason to never take your pig to any unenclosed area without their harness and leash attached to yourself.  There are few animals more difficult to catch than a terrified pig.

There, now that you have a little up front fill-in information, lets get down to the business of teaching your pet pig some tricks they can very easily and very willingly learn.




photo by Keith Roper
Step 1
Litter train your pig:


This will in all probability be the very easiest thing for your pet pig to learn.  If a very young pig is given a small room with a litter box containing a pig-safe litter, it will almost certainly automatically head to the litter box whenever it needs to relieve itself.  You may help the the little pig in learning where their litter box is at first, but once they know where their litter box is, they are very inclined to use that spot.

Be sure not to feed you pig anywhere near their litter area. An older pig, that is not accustomed to using a litter box, may take a little while to make the change, but they will almost certainly appreciate a clean litter box even more than does a cat.

Pigs are naturally very clean animals, and don’t like to be unclean. They will naturally eat and drink in completely different areas of their enclosure, away from where they urinate and from the area they choose to defecate.

photo by Chris
Step 2
Training to sit:


While you pig is still small enough to move around with your hands, start teaching him to sit:

Begin by getting some very small bits of his favorite treats, and while telling him to sit, hold his treat above his head, moving your hand containing the treat back toward his shoulders, thereby encouraging him to back up a bit, starting to sit down.  As soon as your pig begins the sit motion, immediately say, “good,” and give him a tid-bit of the treat, petting or patting him a bit.  Do this several times, until he catches on.

Once he seems to understand, he will start to sit on his own. You may not even have to use hand pressure if you move your hand with his treat back in such a way that he naturally begins the sitting process.

Now that your pig understands what it is that you want him to do, he will be listening and looking for his treat so he will be eager to please you to get another treat. Just practice a few times a day, every day and he will get in the mode of really looking forward to doing as you ask.

While pigs don’t ordinarily get bored as quickly as a dog, you still don’t want to keep asking for the same things every time you are with your pig. After all, you and he still need some real bonding.  He needs and wants you to pay attention to him.



photo by
Step 3
Teaching your pig to dance:


Teaching your pet pig to dance is relatively easy once you have taught it to sit.

Now, it’s just a matter of having it sit, and then using it’s favorite treat to lead it’s snout back and forth, while you say, “dance.”

Practice this several times, and praise your pet, patting him, and demonstrate your approval, praising your pig over and over.

You may decide that you would have your pet pig dance while he is on all fours instead of sitting.  This too is rather simple to teach, just bypass the sit command, and use the same technique of leading his snout in the direction you want him to dance. He should catch on quickly. Again, once he get the idea, he will willingly dance on command, waiting for his treat, which should be given as soon as he performs.

Always keep your actions and communication open between your pig and yourself, as this will develop a permanent bonding between you both.


Step 4
Continued training:

For continued training, it is strongly suggested that you have  a good connection with someone who has experience with pigs as pets. They will be an excellent source of information and help in times you may get frustrated by some very natural pig behaviors, such as eating the roots of your precious roses, or young fruit trees.

Be sure to keep up the training of your pig. It’s an ongoing, really unending process.  He will be very happy making you happy with him, and even happier with the tiny morsels he receives as his reward for performing.

As your pig grows and matures, likely he won’t be as active as he was as a very young pig, but if properly cared for and if he is not neglected, or hit, he will continue to do his very best to please you in any way he can. He knows he will gain a yummy reward, too.


Training Tips by Dr. Harry

Additional Environmental Enrichment for Pigs.

Providing food that requires manipulation,
such as apples, is good practice and pigs
also benefit from „toys‟ designed to satisfy
their rooting, mouthing and chewing
behaviour. The most attractive items are
those that are flexible and that can be
manipulated in their mouths, for example,
rubber dog toys, lengths of hose-pipe,
hanging chains with items tied to them, and
strips of fabric tied to the bars of the pen.
All such items are easily cleaned so they
can be used in areas where sterility is
required. Keeping toys clean is also
important because pigs find them
unattractive when soiled. Novelty is key to
ensuring a pig‟s continued interest, so toys
should be changed regularly, unless an animal has an individual favourite item. Brushes, or other
suitably rough materials, mounted on the side of the pen, allow pigs to perform rubbing and
scratching behaviours.

Natural Behavior:

Pigs are truly unique animals. They have several natural behaviors (that they love…and that you should become familiar with). The more you know and understand about your pet piggy, the better your relationship will be.

Verb – To roll about or lie in water, snow, mud, dust or the like, as for refreshment
Pigs LOVE to wallow! If they could talk…they’d probably tell you that wallowing is their all time favorite thing to do. Pigs also LOVE fresh mud, however, if mud is not available, they will settle for fresh dirt that they have rooted up or hay that they have chewed, piled up and pushed around. Nothing feels better to a pot-belly pig then wallowing in a mud pit or wading in a shallow kiddie pool (especially on a hot day!). They absolutely love to make a mess…the messier the better!

Verb – To pull, tear, or dig up by the roots (often followed by up or out)
Pot bellied pigs have powerful snouts! Rooting behavior is a manifestation of the pig’s natural desire to investigate its environment (they are extremely curious creatures!). A pig will unearth worms, plants, roots, bugs…just about anything. It is important to note that a pig will practice its rooting behavior just about anywhere. After all, he doesn’t know the difference between your vegetable garden, your perfectly manicured lawn or a pasture. Therefore, it is important that you provide a suitable place for your pet pig to “root” so that he or she can fulfill this natural and important instinct. If you don’t, your pig will first of all, be very unhappy and second, when inside, your pig WILL root up your carpet (trust me on this). They also enjoy chewing on and pushing around hay. In fact, a pile of hay will keep a pot-bellied pig busy for hours.

Scratching and Rubbing
Who doesn’t love a good scratch and massage now and again? If you pig had its way, it would insist that you scratch and massage him all day long. Pot belly pigs that have healthy, well oiled skin will demand less scratching time from their owners. Therefore, it is important to keep your pet pig’s skin in tip-top shape. However, even pigs with perfect skin still love the attention.

So there you have it…three natural piggy behaviors that you should become familiar with (rooting, wallowing and scratching). All three are an important part of your pet’s life. It is important that you acknowledge these behaviors and allow your pet piggy to partake in all three on a daily basis. After all, a happy, well adjusted pot belly pig equals a happy home.
Article written by Dave.

Learning how to handle and deal with your pigs

Learning how to handle and deal with your pigs relies mainly on understanding their behavior. Here is a list of pig behavior to guide pet lovers and farmers alike.

1) High level of activity
Pigs love to explore, graze, and escape pens. They require a spacious place for them to roam around. This pig behavior is common to commercial and wild pigs or boars. Animal behaviorists explained that pig’s tendency to wander around and forage is a natural legacy from the past.

2) Carrying leaves and plants back to the shelter
If you are a new farmer and sees that several pigs are carrying some leaves to the shelter, do not be surprised and take away the leaves. This is a customary pig behavior. They are highly social animals and bringing food back to the nesting area is like a typical man bringing home food for his family.

3) Mud wallowing
Pigs love to wallow in the mud because it cools their skin. Pigs do not have sweat glands on their body. Instead, they sweat through their snouts. The mud also serves as a sunblock and a repellant for flies and biting insects. So next time you see your pigs enjoying a mud bath, don’t think that they love to be dirty. They just want to cool and be protected from outside elements.

4) A restless sow or female pig walking away from the group
Just before giving birth, a female pig will seem restless and might walk away from its group. If the sow is inside the pen, notice that it will dig and make a hollow in the soil or sand, and bring straw and vegetation to that place. The sow is trying to make a nesting area for her piglets. A similar behavior is noticeable in birds that make a straw nest for its eggs.

5) Rubbing their bodies and faces against posts, tree trunks, and wooden fences
Pigs love to be scratched and scratch themselves against anything that doesn’t move, and hurt. But do not eliminate the idea of skin disease or mange affecting your pigs. Look for red spots, blistered ears, or scabs and thickened skins.

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