Pot Bellied Pigs/7 year old pig aggression
We have a 7 year old, neutered, mini pot bellied pig who weighs about 60 pounds. I have had him since he was a few months old. He is normally all right with me and my husband. However, we had a baby about a year ago, and he definitely started having more of an attitude towards me. Since I now have a little more time to spend with him lately, he has seemed to not be so angry with me anymore. The only way I know how to explain him is he is like a very grumpy old man. He only gets up and walks around when it is time to eat, or he has to go out, or someone is here and he wants to scare them away. He will snap at us sometimes, and if we yell at him and get in his face and tell him no he calms right down, but obviously we can not have him doing this with the baby. I can not even let the baby and him walk around at the same time in the house. If he is in his spot in the living room on the couch, I know she can walk around as long as she doesn't go near the couch. He will let her pet him if I bring her over and let him smell her hand first then she rubs his belly and he will roll right over and let her do it. However if she is just playing and gets too close, he will try to snap towards her. He has also gotten to when anyone comes in the house besides us, he just lays on his spot on the couch and yells trying to scare the people away, and if they stay around he will jump down and run at them with his mouth open. We keep him in a dog crate while we are at work, and at night, and he seems to like his "safe spot". All I have to do is say "do you want a carrot? get in your bed" and he will run right in his cage with his blanket and be quiet and I give him his carrot. He is a huge cuddler and at night after the baby is asleep he will curl up as close as he can with me or my husband and sleep for hours as long as no one else is around. We need him to start behaving better, or I'm thinking we may need to build him a home outside, which I really don't want to do if I don't have to. I really hope you have some advice to how we can break his attitude. Thanks so much!
At age 7 your pig is a senior citizen. He is at the age, about 7 or 8, where pigs really start to slow down. He probably has a touch of arthritis that makes it difficult for him to move.
Pigs see the world as a ladder with each person, pet and pig having his or her own rung. You are firmly established on a rung well above piggy. And piggy understands that you put the baby at a very high rung, somewhere over him. But pigs can be pig headed, and he doesn't want to let baby be higher than him unless he has to.
If his lack of activity is due to pain and stiffness, fixing that will put him in a much better mood overall. You can try using one of the many joint supplements or home arthritis remedies available for pets or people. A vet can prescribe a strong arthritis drug like Rimadyl.
Pigs in the wild demonstrate who is in charge by making lower ranking pigs move. Many pig people have used this technique with pet pigs, it is telling the pig in pig language who is in charge. For example, one pig might be sleeping under a tree. A higher ranking pig might come along, and chase the sleeping pig away. The second pig then might, or might not, decide to sleep in the comfy spot. The argument was not about the spot, but about which pig could make the other pig move.
The first few times you try this, your pig will probably be unhappy, because it represents a change and lowers his rung. Never step over or around the pig, if he is in the way, make him move. At random times during the day and evening, if piggy is sleeping, make him get up and move away from his sleeping spot. It might seem harsh, but you are being the upper pig and making him move away.
If he doesn't already know a few simple tricks, teach him to spin or sit. Start by having one guest visit. Have the guest make piggy do a few simple tricks for treats, then the guest leaves. Repeat this with a longer stay, then more guests. Don't let piggy get worn out, if piggy acts tired or unhappy, it may be best to let him go sleep in his crate. If he is uncomfortable from arthritis, or just exhausted from being a senior pig, it might be best to let him sleep in his crate when guests are visiting.
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. Yahoo groups has several groups devoted to pet pig lovers, I highly recommend the group PigInfoAndChat It has a number of members who have added new babies to homes with pigs, and they can guide you with personal experience.