Pot Bellied Pigs/5 month old piglet snapping and showing signs of aggression
I have a 5 month old Juliana pot belly pig. I got him when he was about 8 weeks old. He has been very aggressive lately not only to me but almost everyone, especially my boyfriend. If you go anywhere near his face with your hand he responds by snapping usually not biting but sometimes he does. It's really starting to frighten my parents and people who don't know him. He is especially aggressive with my boyfriend. As soon as my boyfriend comes in the room he grunts or squeals. Also whenever there is food involved. If I try and get him to stop eating something he shouldn't have he will snap. When my boyfriend tries to pet him he almost always snaps. I know he thinks he is dominant but I don't know how to correct his behaviors. I tell him no when he snaps, and sometimes tap his nose or push him back, but he usually snaps again. He usually feels bad after he snaps if i raise my voice to say no he will try and cuddle me to make up for it. My issue is that if this continues when he is older it may be very dangerous and someone could get hurt. What can I do to make him stop snapping?
Pigs are very food oriented animals. Excessive food aggression is often, but not always, a sign of an underfed pig. Piglets should get a minimum of 1/2 cup of pet pig pellets per day, divided into two meals and supplemented with fresh veggies, fruits, training treats and grazing time. Piglets over 15 lb need at least 1/2 c per 15 lb of piglet.
Pigs see the world as a ladder, with each person, pet or pig having his or her own rung. Naturally, nobody wants to be on the bottom rung.
Pigs exhibit dominance by making each other move. For example, one pig may be sleeping in a comfy spot under a tree. A dominant pig will make the sleeping pig get up and move a few steps. The dominant pig then may or may not take over the comfy sleeping spot. The confrontation is not about who gets the spot under the tree, it's about the dominant pig being able to make the subordinate pig move.
Use this same technique to teach your pig that people get the higher rungs. Snout tapping doesn't work, it just hurts and makes the pig angry.
If piggy is lying in the way or underfoot, make him move. Do not step over or around him. If he's napping, make him get up and take a few steps. But be ready, the first few times this happens piggy will be unhappy. But he will understand that you are establishing yourself as dominant pig.
Give him a safe space he can retreat to, with a bed and litter box. It doesn't have to be big, it can be a laundry room, bathroom or maybe even a closet.
It sounds like your boyfriend has already let piggy be on a higher rung. So your boyfriend is going to have to re-establish his position. Ignore the grunting and squealing. Use the same moving techniques, that is, when piggy is sleeping your boyfriend should make piggy move. Don't do this while piggy is eating.
When you are cuddling, rub his belly and slowly try working your way towards his face. If you can get there, put a little sugar on your finger and try to feel around in his mouth for anything that might be causing him pain.
Harness and trick training teaches the pig to listen to, obey and trust the person, and teaches the person to understand the pigs body language. For training I highly recommend the book "Pot-Bellied Pig Behavior and Training" by Priscilla Valentine, and the dvds "There's a Pig in the House" and "Amazing Pig Tricks" from tophogs.com
I also recommend the Yahoo group PigInfoAndChat. There's lots of pig people there who've dealt with aggressive house pigs and can give you specific tips that will help your particular situation.