Preparing Your Home for Your Potbellied Pig
The first thing you need to do before getting your pot belly is check to see if you are zoned to have a potbellied pig as a pet. Once you are ABSOLUTELY SURE of this, then you can start preparing a place for him or her in your house. You will want your pig to have a safe, quiet and warm place while he gets settled. Most people prefer the bathroom or laundry room.
Buy a toddler gate so that your pig will be able to see out and see what is going on. Assuming you have a small, young pig you can use the carrier that you brought him home in as his bed. Some nice blankets from the thrift store will be just fine for bedding. If you have adopted a full grown pig just use the blankets without the carrier.
Place his litter box in one corner and food and water bowl in another corner of whatever room they will be staying in. If the floors are slippery, like tile or linoleum, put a few towels or old rugs down for your pig to walk on. Get down on the floor at piggy's level and see if there are any drafts. Also note that it is a bit cooler at floor level. I keep a digital thermometer on the wall at piggy level where my pigs sleep.
As time goes on your pig is allowed to explore a small part of your house. Then a bit more each day. Before doing this don't forget to 'piggy proof' your house. This is about the same as child proofing for a toddler. Anything within their reach is fair game to them.
Do not yell at them for something you forgot to put away.
Things of interest to your pig will be electrical cords (they like to chew on them) and paper of any kind (so make sure you are done reading before setting that magazine down on the coffee table). Most pigs love to scratch against something hard (like furniture and walls) so make sure your furniture cannot be knocked over. They are very strong when scratching and are much stronger than they look.
Don't leave your purse on the floor - pick it up and put it on the table out of reach. They will eat or try to eat just about anything at this young age. Don't leave cleaners or toxins where your pig might get to it. We had to put child safety locks on some of our kitchen cabinets (pet pigs are notorious for getting into cabinets and refrigerators). Ziggy used to like going into the bathroom and would chew on those rubber things that cover the toilet screws to the ground and the rubber covering of our scale.
Many pigs figure out how to open cabinets, drawers and refridgerators. You do NOT want this happening, especially if food or cleaners are stored there. You will need to 'piggie proof' these things. Many stores like Home Depot will have hardware that keeps drawers, cabinets and refridgerators closed.
Do Not Underestimate Your Pig!
They are highly intelligent and quite inquisitive at this young age. If they can get into it, THEY WILL. It is your responsibility to provide them with a safe living environment. Remember, anything within reach is fair game.
Bringing Your Potbellied Pig Home
Your pig should be brought home in a pet carrier or sky kennel. This is safest for him and you. Please don't carry the pig in your lap. Should he get scared or you are in an accident it could prove to be deadly for both of you.
Put some newspaper or towels on the bottom of the carrier so it isn't so slippery. And expect there to be a few pig berries (poop) in the the carrier by the time you reach home. LOL! Pigs are known for pooping once inside a moving vehicle. Hopefully the person you are getting the pig from has worked with the pig and he won't be scared when put in the carrier and has been socialized. A pig should feel safe in their carrier.
Once you are home put the carrier in the piggy motel that you have made. There you can open it up and let your pig out to explore his new home. Remember your pig is in a state of shock. He didn't ask to be uprooted from the only home he has ever known and moved to a new place. Since pigs don't have decent eyesight he will check out his new digs by rooting around. A few soft toys along with the blankets is a good idea.
Socializing and Trust
Hopefully the person you adopted (or purchased) your new piggie from took the time to socialize your pig. If not, getting your pig to trust you may take a bit longer. This is something that CANNOT be rushed. Teaching trust takes time.
Don't invade your pigs space. Let him come to you and explore you. I did this by going into the bathroom with my pig and just sitting on the floor. When he was ready he came to me to check me out. Remember to move slowly with your pig. Quick movement can scare them (again they have poor eyesight so quick movements will scare them). The next time I took a little food with me. Before he knew it he was crawling all over and around me looking for food.
Let your pig know before hand that you are going to touch him by teaching him the word "Touch". He learns that he will not be touched without first getting a warning. If you screw up it's okay and let your pig know with the phrase "I'm Sorry!".
Pigs hate being picked up as this just isn't natural for them like it is with cat or dog. Please, avoid picking up your pig unless it is absolutely necessary. If you are going to be picking your pig up let him know with "Up" or a word to your liking. This is all part of the process of teaching your pig to trust you.
By the way, wherever your pigs sleeping area is, that is his area! Do not bother your piggie there. It is his sanctuary.
Before you start any training, be sure you and your pig have been 'socialized' and he is now beginning to trust you. This may take a few days or weeks, but trying to train him before he is comfortable, relaxed and trusts you is a waste of time and will set you back quite a bit.
Learn your pig and know what he is capable of. Come down to their way of thinking. They only understand black and white, so no gray areas in training. Teach with words. Keep them short, to the point and be clear when you speak. (Come or Come Here, not Come On) Put a word to whatever you want your pig to do or learn. Make sure each word sounds distinct to him.
Some trainers believe that the only time a treat should be given is when a trick is performed. Even if it is only "Sit". When starting training, treats are a must, but don't forget to use the tone of your voice too. You will then move on to praise with touch as a reward. Don't treat all the time. NEVER force your pig to do something that he doesn't want to. If you do you pretty much guarantee that he will NEVER do whatever it is you are trying.
When disciplining your pig keep it short and sweet. Be firm with your voice, but do not yell. They won't understand. Also, NEVER HIT YOUR PIG. This is not just an animal lovers request. Hitting your pig will encourage bad behavior and will guarantee the pig will never do what it is you are trying to teach him.
Unfortunately most of a pigs bad habits are the fault of the owner. You can end up with a snapper if you give treats from above. If you have a snapper or biter, stop giving them treats. Slowly start retraining by treating from the ground, or rather at their level. Put the treat between your fingers palm up and lay the back of your hand on the ground. This teaches them to use their lips not their teeth.
Remember: Above all take your time and do not rush. If your pig gets tired after 5 minutes of training then only do it for 3 minutes. We don't want the pig to fail. In the end you will be surprised how quickly they learn and how quickly they become a member of your family.
The information presented within our information and resources section has been collected from what we consider experts and various reputable persons including vets, sanctuary owners, and private pig owners among othsrs. Information shown is the latest available. Although we have had pet pigs for 20 years and consider ourselves quite knowledgeable, we are by no means veterinarians. Any health related information presented below should be checked out with your personal veterinarian.