Pot Bellied Pigs/Passive-aggressive pot bellied pig and cry baby Juliana pig
Hi, I have a couple of concerns, first of all, my boyfriend and I have two pot bellied pigs. We got our first pig, Leo, who is now almost 18 months old, in December of 2013 at 8 weeks old. He's always been a very sweet boy up until right before he was neutered in November of 2014. ever since then, he's had severe moments of aggression towards me and other people that come over to visit. For the most part, he's gotten over his aggression towards visitors, and saves it for me. I've been charged at, head swiped, I have a scar above my right eye from being head swiped while I was sitting on the floor with him and our other pig rubbing their bellies, and Leo got mad because I was rubbing the other pig. I've gotten black and blue bruises on the side of my knee a couple of times from him. I've tried Move The Pig on more than one occasion and no matter what I do, or how often I do it, he never turns tail on me, he stays with his hackles up and ready to charge. Sometimes he'll go months without doing this to me, then out of nowhere it happens and it really scares me. Last night was the last straw, I brought both pigs from outside at their dinner time (same time every evening)Leo came inside no problem, ate his dinner, then came into the bedroom where I was folding towels. Next thing I know, he's charging me. I ended up chasing him out of the room and into the kitchen where I could close the baby gate. during this time I tried MTP and nothing worked. He is not afraid of me no matter what I do. I'm at a loss because I'm the one who feeds him, bathes him, loves on him, gives him belly rubs. What is causing this behavior and how do I stop it?
Enter Alfie... he is almost 8 months old, we got him in December 2014 at 3 months old. Alfie is a CRY BABY. He does not let us pick him up, he barely lets us pet him and rub on him and if he does let us rub on him, he stays far enough away to where when he falls over from being rubbed, if we move closer to scratch him, he jumps up, squeals a little and moves away. The lady who had him before us, has his mommy, he was in her first and only litter of piglets. When we got him from her, she told us if we wanted to pick him up, to throw a blanket over him and hold him tight next to us until he stopped screaming, well, needless to say, that NEVER worked, and now he's terrified of blankets and I can't even cover him up with one when it's cold because it scares him. Alfie cries so much, it's disturbing everyone in the house. He goes to bed with Leo at about 9:00pm, in the kitchen with the baby gate. He starts in with the crying at about 2:30am or 3. He sounds exactly like a monkey. I get up and try to quiet him, then he starts again about every 2 hours until breakfast time at about 5:30-6am. I take them out to go potty, I try to make sure he's comfortable, still the crying continues. Even Leo gets fed up, sometimes I hear Leo snap at him. I don't know what to do because now my boyfriend is threatening to leave them in their pen all night, something neither of them are used to at all. I'm afraid that will make Leo even more aggressive and Alfie even less social. What am I doing wrong? I love these pigs like they're my babies, and I want them to be happy, but I also don't want to be afraid of Leo, and I want Alfie to stop crying and let us love on him. We have tried EVERYTHING with Alfie, patience, patience, patience, nothing works. Can you please help me before they get sent outside? Thank you for your time.
There's actually a couple of things happening here.
Poor Alfie had some rough experiences, and it's left him a bit messed up. I've heard people mention the "cover with a blanket" thing before, always with the same results, a pig who is terrified of blankets, coats, etc.
Leo is reaching the terrible twos. Pigs reach emotional maturity around this time. In a natural herd, Leo would be ready to try to grab a high position in the herd.
Leo and Alfie are pigs, they think and act like pigs. Pigs see the world as a ladder or staircase, with each person, pet or pig on his or her own rung. Naturally, most pigs want to be as high up the stairs as possible, with more pigs below and fewer pigs above. Little piglets are ok with being on the lower steps, because they know they are small and vulnerable. But when they reach adulthood, they begin to test the boundaries. The pigs goal is to move up the staircase. In the wild, this process actually serves a valuable purpose. It ensures that the strongest, smartest pigs become the herd leaders, which makes the whole herd safer.
Alfie may never be Ok with being covered with anything or even wearing a coat. At this point, the best thing to do is accept it as his own personal quirk. If he is indoors, and your home is normal indoor temperatures, he will not be too cold. If he is outdoor, give him straw for bedding, and he will burrow into it.
Alfie has learned that if he cries at night, you will come to him. He likes that, so crying gets him exactly what he wants. Unfortunately, that is also exactly the opposite message he needs to hear! Alfie has SPS - Spoiled Pig Syndrome.
The only solution is tough love. Your boyfriends approach is drastic, but, he has a point. The ONLY way to make Alfie stop is to completely ignore his cries. Give him and Leo a good night snack, then ignore him completely until breakfast time. The first night you do this Alfie will probably cry all night, and cry much louder than he ever has. From his point of view, this makes sense. In the past, when he cried louder, you came. So, he must cry louder now. And if you don't come, he'll have to cry even louder. That's what's his piggy mind is telling him.
He may be even worse the second night, but most pigs catch on within the first week. And there's the catch - it's really, really tough to ignore the pig and EVERYONE must do it!! When piggy is outside, it's a lot easier to ignore the cries.
People are often nervous about leaving their pig outside overnight, and in some places, that's understandable. In cities pigs are stolen, in rural areas predators might attack them. In the average suburb, a pig with secure fencing and a dry, windproof house and lots of bedding and drinking water is fine outside overnight. If it helps, you can think of it as Piggy Summer Camp.
When Alfie arrived, Leo had to readjust his view of who was on what step in his world staircase. Now, Leo is ready to move up. It sounds like he and Alfie have accepted each other. Don't worry about the occasional head swipe or snap. It is Leo's way of reminding Alfie that Leo has a higher stiar.
And that leads to the occasional confrontations with you. Leo sees you as herd leader. He isn't that interested in anyone else. He wants your position as Top Hog - or to make sure you meet his standards for keeping that title!
The trick to MTP is to do it all the time. As in 3 to 12 times a day, every single day. It isn't a big, one time thing. It's tiny, repetitive behaviors. The constant reminder that you are in charge will discourage him form challenging you for position. For example, during the next belly rub, only do a couple minutes then stop. BEFORE he's ready for you to stop. Then, when you've stopped, make him get up and move. Never step over or around him. If you let him on furniture, let him up, make him get down, then let him up again.