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Training a Piglet to Be Picked Up

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Picking up a Piglet

Generally, pigs do not like to be held or picked up. When a pig feels threatened, it will squeal, loudly. Usually very loudly. Obviously, when you are trying to pick up a baby pig you want to cuddle you are not a threat, but you have to remember that squealing is a natural response to something the piglet doesn't like. As the piglet bonds with you, it will trust that you are not going to hurt him or her, and you will likely be able to teach him or her not to struggle and squeal when handled. While pigs usually outgrow being picked up quite quickly, being able to pick up your piglet will make it easier to move your piglet around, which is especially handy during the house training process.

Once your pig is used to being handled and scratched, try to entice him or her to sit in your lap. If your piglet has a favorite blanket, put it in your lap to encourage the piglet to lay in your lap. Once your pig will climb into your lap, gradually work from petting his body to gently wrapping your arms around him. Then start to apply gentle pressure with your arms. You'll want to cradle your piglet gently, but firmly, under his neck/chest just ahead of his front legs and under his rump, wrapping your arms around the side of his body that is away from yours. Hold him against your body, so he feels secure. Continue to pet him and talk gently to him, and give him treats (having a helper to feed treats while you try to cradle him works well). Once he is okay with being cradled, try and lift him a bit. If he squeals or screams for more than a few seconds, back off and work on just holding him more and work back toward picking him up. This is where things get a bit tricky and it helps to really know your pig. You do not want to let him keep screaming as it is a signal that he is very stressed. On the other hand, you do not want to put him down the second he starts to squeal, since you then reward him for squealing when picked up and therefore inadvertently teach him that if he squeals he gets put down. As you get to know your pig, you can judge better when your pig is just protesting a bit compared to when he or she is truly stressed. Teaching a piglet to be picked up can be difficult, since it requires teaching something they do not like to do. Be patient and make it a gradual process, and you and your piglet will be happier as a result.

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