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Pot Bellied Pigs/Lloyd the mini pig!

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QUESTION: I'm sure you remember me contacting you about Lloyd. Lloyd has taken a turn for the worse though. I'm not really sure what it is but over the past few months he's become quite mean. He absolutely hates being touched now. If he even here's any of us walking he starts grumbling and growling (pig sounds). He snaps at my dog, which he has been doing, but he's also snapping at my cats, like actually making contact with them, and now he's starting to snap at us. Nothing has changed. I have the same animals, same people, and same living arrangements. I've tried to lay with him, pet him, talk to him, but he'll usually just grumble and then turn his face away from me. If I keep trying to pet him, he'll turn and snap right in my face.
Whenever he's up, he's making noise and snapping at everyone. Unless he's getting food. I really don't know what happened. He's always had some issues with my dog and my b/f, but never me. Now it just seems that he hates everyone. I don't know how to get him back to loving everyone and loving affection. It's at the point where my b/f's not sure how much longer he wants to put up with it.
Lloyd is turning 2 in april and I'm not sure if age is playing a part in any of this or not. I know you said after age 2 they start to think less of food, but now there's soooo many more issues then him wanting food.
His life has been the same so I'm not sure what's going on with him. Pease help....Jen

ANSWER: I suspect Lloyd is going through the Terrible Twos. Pigs reach emotional maturity between 2 and 3 years old. It's a tough age for a pig!

This is when the urge to move up the piggy ladder is worst, and it often shows up by grumpiness and boundary pushing. So, even if the problem is something physical causing Lloyd discomfort, it's important to stick to the rules. Extra time trick training might help.

Piglets and young pigs do get cabin fever. If the weather has kept him inside for several weeks (or maybe months), he might be feeling a little stir crazy. New toys or more time in a rooting box might help.

Pigs his age are getting their final adult molars. Pigs, like people, can have dental problems. To the best of my knowledge, pigs don't have impacted molars, but, lots of other things can go wrong. Wait until he's sleepy. Put a little sugar on your finger, and try to feel around inside his mouth.

Lloyd might also be going through a growth spurt and need more food. Try giving him an extra 1/2 cup of plain oats. Or a small snack before trick training, but, make sure you do the training at random times or he'll expect it daily!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: How long do the "terrible two's" typically last?
I was reading about pigs trying to be alpha, and I understand how that works. Especially with my pets. I really see Lloyd trying to push his way into first, but like when my dog growls at him, he knows to not mess around.
I guess what I need to know, is how do I show Lloyd that me and my b/f are alpha and not him? I've read different things and I'm not sure which one is the right way. The hard part is that raising your voice or yelling at him doesn't work, it actually makes him worse. But sometimes he's sooo frustrating. Like for instance tonight, my b/f's on midnights and as soon as my b/f got up to get ready, Lloyd starting moaning and grumbling about my b/f just walking around him. It's something that I really don't understand, but I need to deal with asap. What is the best way to calm him down or keep him quiet when he's moaning and making high pitched noises? I've tried getting low to the ground and talking really nice to him, but I don't think I should be petting him nicely when he's behaving like that.
We have him on a strict diet and we don't give him anything other than his meals. The odd time we might give him and apple or something, but he ALWAYS has to sit for it, meals included. I want to teach him other tricks, but I'm not really sure how. I tried to teach him "spin", but he just turns his head to the side and then when you don't give him the treat, he snaps.
The weather has definitely kept him indoors. I live in Windsor, Ontario and we have winter for at least 4 months, so it's wayyy to cold for him to be outside. I bought him a sweater and little booties, but he was not thrilled.
I have checked inside his mouth, his tusks are already out, just barely poking out the side of his gums. He lets me brush the front of his teeth and also half way down the sides.
I'm afraid that feeding him more will make him put on weight. He's already around 60-70lbs.
How do I make a rooting box in the house? Does it have to be with dirt or will he root in something more clean?
I love him so much and my b/f knows that, but sometimes Lloyd is unbearable. I mean, when I say that he's groaning and moaning, and loud too, it's not a "I can barely hear it" sound, Lloyd makes sure that you know he's not happy for whatever reason, he does it constantly, all day long. I know there wont be a change overnight, but I really need some good tips on how to at least get him to not do that constantly and then I can work from there.
Like I said, I try to bond with him, but he snaps all the time, where I feel like he's not even happy being around me.
When you say "plain oats" do you mean pig chow or oatmeal?
I always love hearing what you have to say and I take this very seriously. I DO NOT want to get rid of him. I'm willing to put in the work, but he's just so damn stubborn right now. haha
Does it get better? Worse? Does he come back to his old self on his own, or is there things I HAVE to do, in order for him to change.
Thanks again so much.....Jen

Answer
QUESTION: How long do the "terrible two's" typically last?

This is usually a fairly short phase, but a lot depends. Some pigs are naturally "alpha" pigs and will continue to push boundaries from time to time. Other pigs are more mellow, and settle into their own spot in the family hierarchy.

Pigs in a herd see the world as a ladder with each person, pet or pig having his or her own rung. They show each other who is in charge by making lower ranking pigs move. So, the way to reinforce your position over Lloyd is to make him move. Make him take a couple of steps back, or to one side, or even make him walk all the way out of the room. Once he's moved, he's got the message. Pigs don't understand time outs, but they do understand being made to move.

One way to make sure Lloyd gets the message is to wake him up from naps and make him move. Again, you don't have to make him move far, but he does need to get up and walk. It may seem a little mean, but it's the sort of thing pigs in a herd do to each other, so it's telling him where he ranks in his language.

best way to calm him down or keep him quiet when he's moaning and making high pitched noises? I've tried getting low to the ground and talking really nice to him, but I don't think I should be petting him nicely when he's behaving like that.

High pitched squeak toy noises usually mean a pig is tired or sleepy.


We have him on a strict diet and we don't give him anything other than his meals. The odd time we might give him and apple or something, but he ALWAYS has to sit for it, meals included. I want to teach him other tricks, but I'm not really sure how. I tried to teach him "spin", but he just turns his head to the side and then when you don't give him the treat, he snaps.

Top Hogs has a dvd called Amazing Pig Tricks. John is a professional animal trainer, last summer he appeared on America's Got Talent with his pig Mudslinger. He shows you how to teach simple tricks, and goes from there.

The book Pot-Bellied Pig Behavior and Training by Priscilla Valentine is also very good. Priscilla was another professional trainer. Her pig Nellie had a long list of tv appearances and could even spell. Sadly, Pris and Nellie passed away a few years ago.

Also, if you do a YouTube search, there's quite a few homemade videos of people's pigs doing tricks.



The weather has definitely kept him indoors. I live in Windsor, Ontario and we have winter for at least 4 months, so it's wayyy to cold for him to be outside. I bought him a sweater and little booties, but he was not thrilled.


If you have an unheated garage with some space and you can give him a couple of bales of straw to play with, he will probably be Ok for an hour or so. Playing in the straw will keep him busy, he'll enjoy looking for the little bits of grain that remain.

I have checked inside his mouth, his tusks are already out, just barely poking out the side of his gums. He lets me brush the front of his teeth and also half way down the sides.

The tusks sound right for a 2 year old neutered male. At first he may not realize he has sharp tusks sticking out of his mouth. But he will figure it out soon.


I'm afraid that feeding him more will make him put on weight. He's already around 60-70lbs.
How do I make a rooting box in the house? Does it have to be with dirt or will he root in something more clean?

Any sort of big container will work, like the bottom of a pet crate, a plastic storage bin, the bottom of a giant cardboard box, or even a homemade box with a plywood bottom and low board sides, like a sand box. You can use anything that sort of moves around, like rubber balls or smooth river rocks.


I love him so much and my b/f knows that, but sometimes Lloyd is unbearable. I mean, when I say that he's groaning and moaning, and loud too, it's not a "I can barely hear it" sound, Lloyd makes sure that you know he's not happy for whatever reason, he does it constantly, all day long. I know there wont be a change overnight, but I really need some good tips on how to at least get him to not do that constantly and then I can work from there.
Like I said, I try to bond with him, but he snaps all the time, where I feel like he's not even happy being around me.
When you say "plain oats" do you mean pig chow or oatmeal?
I always love hearing what you have to say and I take this very seriously. I DO NOT want to get rid of him. I'm willing to put in the work, but he's just so damn stubborn right now. haha
Does it get better? Worse? Does he come back to his old self on his own, or is there things I HAVE to do, in order for him to change.


Appearance is more important than actual weight. You'll know when he starts to get too fat!

By Plain Oats I do mean oatmeal, steel cut oats, or rolled oats sold as animal feed. They're all pretty much the same. The only kind to avoid are the pre-flavored packets, because those are often very high in sugar.

Yes, eventually Lloyd will go back to his old self.  

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!

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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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