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Pot Bellied Pigs/Miss Pig Pig our pot belly

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Question
Hello,
I have a female pot belly pig. We found her in her late piglet age. She is now around a year old. We have tried everything we can think of to make her more social with us, but she doesn't seem intrested. She won't play with us, but will play with our small dog (shitzu/poodl mix). We tried leash training her, by putting on a harness and letting her wear it around the house in order to get comfortable with it. She wouldn't have it. Picking her up causes her to squeel and we were told when she was younger she would eventually grow out of it the more we pick her up. She loves Oreo's so occasionally we give her one when she does show more social interaction. But that is very rare. What can we do to make her more friendly and active with us?

Thank you,
Heather

Answer
Some pigs are naturally more cuddly and social than others. At a year old, she is still young enough to change a little.

Pigs in nature and never lifted or held, except if a predator has caught them to eat! So, pigs need to be trained to tolerate being lifted. Start by feeding her from your hand only, or from a dish held in your hand. Nothing off the floor or from a dish on the floor. Sit on the floor, let her come to you for food. Tell her what you are going to do before you do it, and start touching her. For example, say Touch piggy belly, then gently tickle her tummy. Because she's used to you, she should get used to being touched, then cuddled at mealtime fairly quickly.

To teach her to be lifted, get her used to being held securely in your lap while she eats. When she's comfortable with that, try holding her while you rise to your knees, then, eventually, stand upright and hold her while she eats.

A better approach is to work on harness training. Connect the harness to her meals. Put a bit of meal in her dish, and put the harness on her. Choose one that slips underneath the pig and fastens on the back so piggy does not have to put her head through the harness. Make it a matter of fact thing, every morning harness goes on, every night harness comes off. No breakfast until the harness is on.

Trick Training isn't about tricks, it's about teaching the pig to communicate with you. Start with a simple trick like, twirl or circle, where the pig must walk in a small circle before getting a treat.

I highly recommend the book Pot-Bellied Pig Behavior and Training by Priscilla Valentine, and the dvd Amazing Pig Tricks from Tophogs.com Both of these take you through socialiaztion, harness and trick training step by step. You may be able to get them from your local library. Two excellent internet resources are the Yahoo group PigInfoandChat, and the Facebook group Pet Pig Advice Network

Pot Bellied Pigs

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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.

Organizations
Pigs of Great Fortune; FAREC; PigCollaborative

Education/Credentials
BBA from KSU

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