1. Home

Pot Bellied Pigs

Bonding with Your Young Pet Pig

By

Pot bellied pigs have individual personalities, but many piglets do not like to be touched much, or held. Usually, they grow to enjoy being near the people they bond with, and like to be touching them or sitting in their laps. However, piglets can be quite aloof or fearful at first, especially if they have not been well socialized by their breeder. Even well socialized pigs may take a while to learn to transfer trust to a new owner. When you bring a young pig home, you first need to gain the piglets trust in order to have it accept handling readily, then work on training basic behaviors (such as leash walking, house training) and being able to restrain the pig so necessary grooming and medical care can be done as needed. Although most pigs quickly outgrow being picked up, it is worthwhile to get them used to being picked up as they will be more willing to be handled and restrained if you are able to gain their trust enough to be able to pick them up.

A note about any sort of training with a pig: positive reinforcement is the key to success. They won't respond to force or punishment very well at all. To a pig, the most obvious kind of positive reinforcement is food, remembering that most pigs will be happy to work for small tidbits such as raisins, small pieces of apple or other fruit, or even pieces of their regular ration. When you are trying to tame a stubborn piglet, you may even want to hand feed all their food, since the quickest way to a pig's heart is through his stomach. However, obesity is a common problem, so keep treat foods to a minimum and make sure you are not overfeeding your pig by feeding full meals and supplementing with extra food for training.

Bonding With a New Piglet

When you bring your new pig home, he (or she) will probably be very nervous and scared, since he has left everything familiar behind and has to adjust to all new people and surroundings. Be patient at first. You will want to keep him or her in a small confined area until he is more comfortable. Let the pig explore a bit and get comfortable with his new surroundings, and once he doesn't seem apprehensive, try to get him to approach you by tempting him with food. Sit on the floor with the pig, and offer a bit of food (for piglets, it is probably best to just use their regular food for most of the training - small bits of vegetable or fruit could be used for special treats). You may just need to put the food on the floor in front of you at first, and gradually work up to the piglet taking the food from you. Do this repeatedly over the course of the first few days at home and have everyone in the family have a turn so that the piglet can bond with all the family members.

Once your piglet is comfortable with being near you and taking food from your hand, you can reach out and try to scratch your piglet gently under the chin or along the sides. Move slowly, and speak calmly and gently to your pig. Remember to give treats as you do this, and the piglet will eventually realize this is a pleasant experience. Move at a pace that your piglet is comfortable with, though. If he resists being scratched or petted, back off a bit until he is more accepting.

There is a fairly fine line between spending enough time with your piglet and spending too much time, though. While you want to take the time to get to know your pig and have him or her trust you, you also want to make sure you do not lavish too much attention on your baby, or he will come to expect attention all the time. This is also true of using food as a training tool - spend time with your pig without giving treats as well, or he will think of you as a food dispenser and may start to expect or demand food contstantly. Keep the bonding and training sessions short and regular, with breaks to give the pig time to rest and develop the ability to entertain himself a bit too.

Next: Picking Up a Piglet

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.