Ellison Hartley is an agriculture advocate and animal lover who believes that life is better on a farm!
Introducing a New Baby Pig
I am a professional horse trainer and riding instructor who runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses. I also have a traveling petting zoo and have trained many animals.
Unfortunately, my first house pig, Hamlet, passed away unexpectedly about a month ago. He was a beloved pet, but also "worked" for us in our traveling petting zoo.
Today, I'm going to pick up a new piglet to introduce into our household and to our traveling petting zoo. Below, you'll find out the following:
- How to set up a private indoor pen for your pig
- Introduce him to the other residents
- Pig-proof your home
- How long to keep the pig separated
- How to litter train
- How to hand feed
- How to train the pig on a harness
Introducing New Animals Responsibly
Whether it is a dog, cat, or mini pig, anytime you bring a new animal into your home, you need to responsibly and carefully do the introductions. It isn't fair to your animals that are comfortable in their home to just throw in a stranger! Not to mention, the poor new animal is already going to be nervous, so just bringing him home and expecting him to just fit right in is unfair as well.
Give Him His Own Space
We have a "pig pen" in our house. This is an area in the living room close to where we are so that the pig can be near us. It is a pen with a gate on it. That way, the pig has its own personal space.
When he gets home tonight, we will put him in the pig pen. He won't have to interact with any of the other animals. We will just bring him home, feed him, and leave him alone to explore his new environment.
Eventually, he will be able to come in and out of his pen as he pleases. First, though, he has to get litter trained and meet the other animals from inside his pen.
Getting to Know Each Other From Opposite Sides of the Fence
The new piglet will get to see our day to day activities when we are in the living room. He will get used to seeing the cat and the dogs, without having to worry about them coming after him or confrontation of any kind.
I have found that if they see each other through opposite sides of the cage fence, they will get used to each other quickly. Then, when the time comes to open the gate and let them interact with each other, it will be no big deal. Since they have been living close to the other animals and they will have seen each other so much, maybe even touched through the fence.
This way when the day comes to let the piglet out with the dogs and cat, it hopefully will be no big deal. Hamlet, our first house pig, learned to get along great with the dogs and cat. They even laid together sometimes. I think the reason that they got along so well is that I took the time to introduce them all carefully.
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Even though it will be a while before the piglet has free roam of the house, I need to make sure to pig-proof the house. This means making sure there are no electrical cords he can chew on or things on the floor that he can eat or shred up.
Just like puppies, piglets have to learn the rules of the house—what they are allowed to do and what they aren't allowed to do. By pig-proofing the house when the time comes to let the pig out of his pen into the big wild world of the rest of the living room, it will be safe for him to explore.
How Long Until He Can Explore the House?
I won't let the piglet out to explore the house until he is friendly enough that he will come to me, either when I call his name or for food. The pig pen is plenty big enough for him to stay in until we can bond. Then, when the time comes to let him out, if I need to get him for some reason, I will be able to get him to come to me.
Want I want to avoid is letting the piglet out when he is still skittish. I don't want him to ever feel like I'm chasing him around.
Since the piglet will stay in his own little area until he is more used to us, litter-training should be easy.
I will make a bed area for him at one end of the pen and at the other the litter pans. Pigs are clean animals, and since they are smart enough not to soil their bedding or sleeping area, they pick up litter training pretty easily.
I have used all different sorts of litter. I'm just going to start this new piglet on regular cat litter. It is easy to clean and helps with odor.
I will be feeding my new piglet by hand three times a day. That way it motivates him to overcome his fear or skittishness if he knows that if he is brave, he will get food. This is how I gentled my first piglet, and it didn't take any time at all to get him wanting to come over to me.
I will also try and figure out what healthy snacks this piglet likes, knowing their favorite treats definitely helps with making friends with them. I used baby food with my last piglet, and he loved that. He would do anything for baby food.
Once the piglet is comfortable with me and comfortable in the house, I will begin to harness-train him.
Harness-training goes back to using food again. I normally put the harness on for the first time loosely while they are eating. When they are eating it is easy to get it on, nothing will make a big take his mind off of food! Once I can get it on loosely while he eats with no problem, then I will snug it up and let him get used to that.
Then getting them to walk on the leash once they have the harness on is the easy part! By then, I will know what the piggies favorite foods are to make a little treat trail and walk the piglet through it on the harness.
It Is a Long Process, so Be Patient!
Don't get a piglet and expect it to be trained immediately. Just like a puppy, it takes time and dedication. It is harder with piglets because they are naturally more fearful of people than dogs are. Once you earn their trust, they are great pets. You just have to put the time into bonding with them and gentling them.
Remember: Every Pig Is Different
Every pig is different. They are smart and have different personalities. Just like any other animal, they all need to be treated as individuals. Hopefully, my experience with my first house pig, Hamlet, will have me off to a good start with the new piglet.
Stay tuned to follow the new piglet's introduction and training. I plan on sharing my experience to help give others who have considered a house pig. My hope is to give them a reference and a good idea of what to expect!
© 2019 Ellison Hartley
Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on March 24, 2019:
Thank you, so far, so good!
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 22, 2019:
I hope everything goes well with your new piglet. I think pigs are lovely animals.
Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on March 08, 2019:
Thank you, they are super smart! They actually are good indoor pets if you get a small one and take the time to put the training in. That is where people go wrong, any pet you get requires a commitment to training so they know what to expect.
Laynie H from Bend, Oregon on March 07, 2019:
Adorable! They are so intelligent.