Pot Bellied Pigs/Piggy is ripping the house apart!
QUESTION: My 4 month old piggy Hydee is destroying my house. We have given her every toy you could imagine, even ones that give treats when she rolls it around, but she is still determined to rip the brand new kitchen floor to pieces. It has only been a month since we put it down and she ripped a whole section up. We covered it up but now she is starting on a new place. We now have to crate her most of the day because she is obsessed with tearing it up. I don't know what to do!!! We only keep her in that part of the house because we already discovered she doesn't do well with the whole house to range. She eats the carpet and the walls. She was doing so good though until now. I wont be able to keep her if she keeps this up and I love her so much I want to find a solution. It gets very cold outside here so I cant put her outside until it starts to warm up some. Also I was told pigs didn't shed and thats one big reason we got her. We could have an inside pet without the hair everywhere. Boy were we wrong; there isn't a single thing in our house that is not covered in pig hair. Is this normal?
ANSWER: Rooting is a natural part of pig behavior. The problem is piggys instincts are driving her to root but she has nothing to root in.
Make her a rooting box. This is any large cardboard or wooden box, filled with rubber balls or smooth river rocks or something similar (wiffle balls are too light). You might need to cut one spot low for her to step in. Sprinkle some popped corn over the rooting material, and she'll be happy for hours.
Pigs like toys they can destroy, like magazines, newspapers, old blankets and catalogs. They also like infant toys that make noise. Get her interested in them by sprinkling with a little bit of vanilla.
Start regular training sessions. The point to trick training is not to have a performing pig, it's to help the person and pig understand each other, to reinforce that the person, not the pig, is in charge, and to help the pig learn to trust and obey the person.
Give her a safe space with a litter box, water dish, and lots of blankets that she can rip apart. Ideal places are laundry rooms, bathrooms, small bedrooms or large closets. Keep her there unless you can keep her with you on a harness and lead. Keeping her on the lead will help you realize when she has to potty, and keep her away from destructive behavior.
I highly recommend the book Pot-Bellied Pig Behavior and Training by Priscilla Valentine. I also recommend the dvd There's a Pig in the House from tophogs.com
Also, there is a Yahoo group called piginfoandchat devoted to pet pigs, there's lots of very experienced pig owners there who love to share advice and offer support.
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QUESTION: Thank you. We have thought about a rooting box and were just not sure how to go about it. We bought Pricsilla Valentines book awhile back and it really helped with the training. What about the shedding? We were told pigs don't shed which is the only reason my husband said yes to get her. Now we have pig hair everywhere. I wash her once a week with dog anti dandruff shampoo. I wouldn't wash her every week but she gets a smell to her after her bath i rub her down with skin soft. If there is anything that will help the shedding though I will do it.
You can use either an old cardboard box or make a simple wooden box from cheap plywood. Cardboard boxes wear out, and usually aren't strong enough for rocks, so stick to balls. A wooden box can last a long time and will work with rocks. But, a wooden box can be heavy, and with rocks it can be VERY heavy.
A simple frame won't work, the box needs a floor. When the pig stands in the box, the pigs weight on the floor keeps the box from moving. When there's no floor, the pig can lift up the frame, banging it down and scattering rooting material.
Pigs do shed. It's called "blowing their coat". They usually do this once a year, sometimes twice, in late spring and early fall. Some pigs will loose all their bristles at once, others loose them gradually. There isn't a regular pattern, a pig may blow their coat at a different time each year, or switch from blowing it all at once to steady shedding over a few weeks.
If piggy is blowing her coat, and has been shedding for a couple of weeks, she should be pretty close to finished. You can brush her and try gently tugging at her bristles to get as many loose ones out as possible. When she's actively shedding the bristles might come out by the handful, and she'll probably enjoy it.
Unusually heavy, continuous shedding for months on end could indicate some sort of problem. But if that is the case, it's very likely other symptoms will appear, too.
You can apply lotion to piggy anytime, you don't need to wash piggy first. You could try lotioning piggy every night before bed.