Bringing home your new mini pig is such an exciting time. The first few weeks are filled with getting to know your mini pig, training her, and enjoying her curiosity as she learns about her new home and family. It’s also the time when you start bonding with your mini pig, building up the love and trust that will last a lifetime between you and your piglet.
Mini pigs are generally slow to love and trust, so bonding with them requires time and patience. Unlike puppies who often love and trust immediately, mini pigs can take several weeks to even months before bonding with their new owners. The bonding process can take even longer for a rescue pig coming out of a negative environment. However, pigs can form incredibly strong bonds with their owners, making the time and effort spent worthwhile.
The best thing you can do to prepare for bonding with your new mini pig is to set your expectations. For us, the first few weeks with Oscar consisted mostly of going through the motions of feeding him, taking him outside, and trying to pick him up without him squealing. We focused most of our efforts on basic care and helping him feel safe and comfortable at home. The biggest bright spot was that Oscar would nap on us if we picked him up and placed him on our lap, so we cuddled with him as often as he allowed. I don’t remember exactly when we felt bonded with Oscar, but it was at least a month after we brought him home.
Setting your expectations and preparing for a slow bonding time will also help you avoid frustration. With Oscar, I felt like I was doing all the right things, including giving him treats, cuddling with him, and spoiling him, but after a few weeks I started to feel like he just hated me. He wouldn’t come to me, seemed indifferent toward me, and was still squealing a ton. I took it personally and got offended because he didn’t want to be near me. A few weeks later, he came up to me while I was sitting on the floor, climbed in my lap, and went to sleep. It was completely out of nowhere, and I realized all of my previous worries were silly. He simply needed more time to build trust before bonding with me. Now he squeals when he can’t climb in my lap!
It’s important to let the bond with your mini pig form naturally and in the pig’s time. You might not even be able to pet your mini pig at first, and that’s okay. Spend some time sitting on the floor and let your mini pig come to you. You can offer your pig some treats or toys and see if she will approach you, but make sure not to force the bond. For the first few weeks, go ahead and give your mini pig extra treats, belly rubs and scratches, and cuddles if he will let you; use this time to bond and you can adjust your behaviors once your mini pig feels safe.
If you have family members or friends over to meet your new mini pig, it’s useful to set your expectations there as well. We were excited to have our family meet Oscar, and I expected everyone would love him as much as I did. However, Oscar was too timid to approach new people at that point and, when a few family members were brave enough to try to hold him, he squealed and scared them. When the visit ended, I was really disappointed that they didn’t see in Oscar what I saw, but I had my expectations all wrong. I forgot how overwhelming it was to meet a young mini pig for the first time and how long it took for him to approach me. People are so used to dogs with their quick love and happy greetings, and meeting a mini pig is very different. After several more visits with the same family members, Oscar is finally starting to approach them and they are warming to him but it’s been a really slow process.
Even though I did my research and thought I was prepared for a slower bonding process with Oscar, I still went through periods where I thought he didn’t like me or would never bond with me. It took longer than I thought and I was frustrated frequently because Oscar wouldn’t approach me or would run off when I tried to pet him. Once we bonded though, I was overwhelmed with how wonderful it felt. To know that he finally felt safe and secure with me was a great feeling, and it was worth the wait. If you’re frustrated and worried that your mini pig hasn’t bonded with you, hang in there. You will get there, and it will be so worth it!