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Pot Bellied Pigs/8 month old potty problems

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I have read LOTS of info on potty training etc. My circumstance seems to be a little different. We have an 8 month old mini pig named Elly May who we got as a 6 week old. Elly has an area inside (a pen) that is all hers...bed, litter box, food and water bowls and it is in our living room and I also take her outside to potty during the day. She has never peed or pooped anywhere but her litter box while in her pen. She started having accidents in the house early on even though she always has access to her area and her litter box. We have an open living/dining/kitchen area where she spends her time outside her pen so her litter box is never far away. I then added a second litter box outside her pen and close to the area where she was having accidents. This didn't work, she continued to have accidents. I am diligent about taking her out often and she is definitely a water drinker so I know her bathroom needs will be more often because of that. It seems we have things under control for awhile and then she goes back to having accidents more often. I started taking her to her litter box instead of outside and telling her to go potty just to try to avoid accidents in the house and to remind her that her litter box was accessible to her. She will not go potty in the litter box when I do this. Last night she had another accident in the house in an area I usually keep blocked since she has gone there in the past. I had moved the gate and sure enough she went there. I cleaned it thoroughly like always. Tonight I moved her litter box right in front of the gate in case she had any impulses to go there again. She acknowledged that the box was there and sniffed around a bit. When she was laying on my lap tonight she jumped down off of the couch and squatted and peed RIGHT in front of the litter box, not an inch away from it. This is actually the second time she has done this but the first was when she was very little. I know the guidelines...keep her harnessed/leashed and close to you, leave her in her pen when not supervised, take her out often...I'm not sure about other pigs but Elly would throw a fit if I "tied" her up. She is harness and leash trained but does not like to be restrained in this way. I am home most of the time and she is with me during the day. I keep an eye on her and play with her but there is always that minute when you turn your head. I would just like to know if you have heard of this type of behavior and if I have any hope to have this little girl fully potty trained one day. Thank you.

Answer
Pigs learn quickly but unlearn very slowly. They may not realize they have to go until it's almost too late, and they can not hold it very long until they are close to a year old. Elly is still too young to have good control. The fact that she is Ok when she's in her space is a good start. But, she has learned bad habits and it will take her a long time to forget them.

I assume she is using the box in her space, and the second box is exactly the same as the first box, one side is low enough for her to step in easily, and the bottom is non-slip.

Elly needs new rules, but she won't understand or like the changes. Start by insisting she potty in her box, and don't let her out of her space until she does. Part of the secret is to take her to the box when she's usually got to go, such as when she wakes up in the morning or from a nap.

If piggy will not potty in the box, leave her in her safe space for a few minutes. She will not be happy. Then, take her back to the box again. Repeat this until she potties, no matter how angry she gets.

Take her back to the box at least every hour. Again, if she doesn't potty, don't let her out of her space.

As you've noticed, pigs are really good at waiting until that one second when you're not looking. Keeping piggy on a lead makes it harder for piggy to sneak. Try keeping her on a longer lead, maybe 10 or 12 ft. It will give her a little elbow room while still keeping that contact. She may not like being on the lead at first, but if her only choice is lead or safe space, she'll choose lead.

Keep her on a strict schedule of potty box visits no more than 2 hours apart. Because she's at an age where she is learning life long habits it will take her a very long time to unlearn. She'll need this strict potty schedule until she is a year old.

I highly recommend the book Pot-Bellied Pig Behavior and Training by Priscilla Valentine. Pris really understands how pigs think and why they do the things they do. I also recommend the Yahoo group PigInfoAndChat. It has several members who have gone through similar potty problems and are always happy to help.

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Helen Morrison

Expertise

Pot-bellied or other miniature pet pig care, including diet, housing, training, health care. Can provide information about zoning, adoption, supplies, and organizations. Questions about any kind of pet swine are welcome!

Experience

Owning, raising, and caring for small pet swine, including "Vietnamese" pot-bellied pigs since 1992.

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Pigs of Great Fortune; FAREC; PigCollaborative

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BBA from KSU

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