Category Archives: Settling In

Mini Pig Oscar’s Stair and Car Ramp

When Oscar was little, I picked him up all the time. I carried him around the house, lifted him up onto the sofa, and carried him up and over our stairs to take him outside several times a day. If I needed to put him in the car to take him somewhere, it was quick and easy. I just picked him up and put him in his bucket seat.

When Oscar hit about 30 pounds, I started having trouble lifting him. By that point he had figured out how to jump up on the sofa and didn’t really want to be carried around the house anyway, so those things weren’t an issue. However, getting him outside to potty turned into a chore. We have stairs at each door going outside, so there is no avoiding steps when we take him out. Although pigs can walk down stairs, I try not to let Oscar go up or down stairs when possible since I worry about him hurting one of his little legs. So, this meant lifting him over the stairs each time he went out and, even with just a few stairs, it was becoming a challenge.

I decided it was time to try to find a ramp for Oscar to go down. I was skeptical that I would find one to fit securely over the stairs going into our garage and leading up to our porch, but I was also pretty desperate. I looked at reviews and did some measuring, and I finally decided to try one. I picked the Solvit UltraLite Bi-fold Pet Ramp, and I love it. It is a perfect fit for our stairs, folds up easily, doesn’t slide around, is lightweight for a ramp, and Oscar learned to use it in under ten minutes.

The only problem I had with the ramp at first is that the texture of the area where Oscar walks up and down is really rough. The very first time Oscar walked down the ramp, I could tell it was hurting his hooves. I grabbed an old yoga mat, cut it to fit inside the ramp, and it works perfectly now. If you are looking for a ramp and decide this one is a good fit for your stairs, make sure to grab an inexpensive, slightly grippy yoga mat (or use an old one) or even using a strip of extra carpet might work. You’ll need it for this ramp to work for pig hooves, but it took me only a few minutes to cut the yoga mat to fit and I’m super happy with the result.

Oscar ready to go down his ramp.

I was nervous at first about trying to get Oscar to use the ramp. When I first set up the ramp, he didn’t want to go down it. I grabbed a handful of Cheerios and spaced them out down the ramp, and he went right down. I did the same thing for him going back up, and he was trotting up and down the ramp after a few times of doing that. We’ve been using the ramp for almost seven months now, and he and I both love it.

Placing some treats down the ramp is really helpful for training your pig to use it. We used Cheerios, and Oscar learned to use the ramp in about 10 minutes.

The other great use for this ramp is for getting Oscar into the car. Last time I took Oscar to the vet, I put his bucket seat in the car and figured I would just lift him up into it. It had been a while since I had picked him up, but surely I could lift him once in and out of the car. I picked him up and only got him up to the floor board before I had to put him down. So, rushing around trying to figure out what to do, I realized the ramp could reach the cargo area of my vehicle. I put Oscar’s crate in the back area of my car, put the ramp up, and he walked right up the ramp and got into his crate. Since the ramp folds up, I threw it and the yoga mat in the back of my car and then just put the ramp down for him to climb out once we got to the vet’s office. It was quick, easy, and safe for Oscar getting in and out of the car. Phew!

If you’re thinking about getting a ramp for your pig, the best thing to do is to measure the area where the ramp will go to make sure it’s a good fit. This ramp fits perfectly over our garage and porch stairs and into the back of my vehicle, but I don’t think it would be a good ramp for a bed or something that high up in the air. For something that high, this ramp would likely be too steep and probably wouldn’t be your best bet. But, I absolutely love this ramp, and it makes taking Oscar in and out of the house so much more pleasant. If you have a growing pig and are looking for a ramp, definitely check out the Solvit UltraLite Bi-fold Pet Ramp because it has worked really well for us.

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links. LifeWithaMiniPig.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Mini Pig Oscar is Losing His Teeth

Mini pig Oscar has started losing his teeth! He started by losing his back teeth, but just yesterday he lost his two front teeth.

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Oscar lost his two front teeth yesterday!

Pigs typically lose their “baby” teeth around 12-15 months old, so after Oscar turned a year old, we started watching for signs of him losing a tooth, like increased teething. When Oscar was really young, he liked to grind his teeth when he was feeling content, but he nearly stopped grinding his teeth as he approached one year old. When he started grinding his teeth again, that was our sign that he was teething. Some parents also notice grumpy behavior in their teething pigs but, to be honest, Oscar is pretty naturally grumpy, so we haven’t noticed enough of a difference for that to be a useful symptom. (Sorry, Oscar!)

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Right after losing his two front teeth

Although I felt awful knowing that Oscar was dealing with teething pain, I was also a mixture of excited and weirded out by the idea of him losing teeth. On one hand, it’s a sign that our little guy is growing up and gets us closer to being through his teething phase. On the other hand, I’m not used to finding teeth around the house. I also had a bunch of unknowns, like how would he lose his teeth and what would they look like.

I soon got my answer about how Oscar would lose his teeth. For the first tooth, I was walking through the house and just noticed it on the floor next to his food bowl. I was a little sad that I missed him losing his first tooth, but I was excited to have found it. My best guess is that he lost it while eating his dinner since it was so close to his bowl. For his second tooth, he was also eating dinner, but this time he finished his meal, looked up at me, and then just spit out his tooth. After the first two, we’ve had a mix of him spitting teeth out, swallowing them, and us finding them randomly around the house.

Since I’m used to seeing Oscar’s skinny front teeth, I was surprised by how big his back teeth were. It makes sense to me now that I realize his back teeth are larger, but it caught me a bit by surprise at first.

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On the left is one of Oscar’s back teeth. The right is one of his longer bottom front teeth.

It was only appropriate to celebrate Oscar losing his teeth, so the tooth fairy stopped by for a visit. We got Oscar his very own tooth fairy helper, read him The Night Before the Tooth Fairy, and then he went to sleep, eagerly anticipating what the Tooth Fairy would bring him the next morning.

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When he woke up, he was so excited because the Tooth Fairy brought him the book he’s been wanting – Prissy & Pop: Big Day Out! The book was everything he expected, and he loved seeing the adorable pictures of Prissy and Pop and hearing about their adventure.

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He looks pretty silly without his two front teeth but also ridiculously adorable. I’ll be excited once we’re past the teething phase because I hate knowing he’s uncomfortable while he’s growing in new teeth. But, for now, he’s happy with his new book and is hoping the tooth fairy comes back with more surprises as he loses more teeth.

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Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links. LifeWithaMiniPig.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.




Mini Pig Oscar Featured in Rodale’s Organic Life

We recently had the opportunity to be interviewed for an article in Rodale’s Organic Life titled 8 Things You Need to Know Before You Adopt a Mini Pig. The interview gave us an opportunity to talk about life with Oscar, both the positives and the challenges. I’ve discussed on the blog how important it is to research before bringing home a mini pig, and the article written by Marygrace Taylor does a great job of highlighting eight important things to know about mini pigs and is an awesome place to start your research.

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One thing I love about the article is that it also discusses mini pig ownership from a pig rescue’s perspective. Richard Hoyle from The Pig Preserve was also interviewed, and I think it’s important for pig lovers to know what’s happening in rescues. The more I become involved in the pig community, the harder it is to ignore the real issues our community is facing. Mini pigs are wonderful but challenging pets, and there are more and more ending up in shelters due to owners who either didn’t do their research, had life circumstances change, or who just could no longer care for their mini pig. Unfortunately, this is putting a huge burden on sanctuaries and rescue groups that are already over capacity and trying to keep up with the resources necessary to care for these pigs.

There will of course be times when situations outside of a person’s control require rehoming a pig, and rescues and sanctuaries are great for helping in those times. But, with mini pigs as pets becoming more popular, I think the real problem is lack of research before pig ownership. Fortunately, there is a lot of information online about both the pros and cons of living with a mini pig, and articles like the one in Rodale’s Organic Life make it easier for people to access and share this information. Oscar certainly doesn’t represent every mini pig because they all have different personalities and preferences, but the article provides a general idea of what to expect when bringing a mini pig home. An extra bonus is that there are several adorable pictures of Oscar in the article!

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For prospective pig parents wanting to know more about life with a mini pig, below is a list of some of our blog posts that will help as you continue your research. These posts touch on the lesser-known aspects of mini pigs as pets and will help you get a better idea of what to expect when you bring your new mini pig home.

Bonding With Your Mini Pig
Mini Pig Pros: The Best Parts of Owning a Mini Pig
Mini Pig Cons: The Tough Parts of Owning a Mini Pig
Mini Pig Oscar’s Spoiled Pig Syndrome
Move the Pig for Mini Pig Aggression
Times When I Wish I Didn’t Own a Mini Pig
The Darker Side of Owning a Mini Pig
A Day in the Life of Mini Pig Oscar

A huge thank you to Marygrace Taylor and Rodale’s Organic Life for giving us the opportunity to talk about life with Oscar!

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Mini Pig Oscar Hates Water: Our Bath Struggle

Oscar hates baths. This is how it all started…

Last summer, my Facebook and Instagram feeds were full of pigs cooling off in small plastic pools. Their pig parents put a little water in a kiddie pool, and the pig climbed in and happily sat or splashed around, cooling off from the summer sun. I was so excited to let Oscar play in his own little pool! I waited until he was about 5 months old and then found him a pool to fill up for his first pool party.  It was going to be his first time in water, and he was going to love it! I put him in the pool, but then he jumped right out. I put him back in; he jumped out again. He finally jumped out the last time and ran off. He hated water.

I gave up on the pool, but then I started wondering how in the world we were going to bathe him if he hated water. Since Oscar had several skin issues when he was younger, including mange and a skin infection, we intentionally held off on bathing him for a long time. We didn’t want to stress him out or dry his skin out more than necessary, so we just wiped him down every few days with a damp towel instead. However, even that was a challenge because he didn’t like even the small amount of water on the towel touching him.

Wiping Oscar down kept him pretty clean until we were ready to try giving him a bath. Oscar was about 10 months old before we finally tried because we knew it would be a struggle. We also waited until the weather warmed up a bit because we didn’t want to risk getting water in Oscar’s ears and increase his chances of pneumonia during the cold winter.

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Before giving Oscar a bath, I get everything ready. I get him towels, a washcloth, baby shampoo, peanut butter, Cheerios, and a baby spoon. A large plastic cup also helps with rinsing the shampoo.

My husband and I teamed up for Oscar’s first bath. I got the shampoo and towel ready and added a small amount of warm water to the bath tub. My husband grabbed the peanut butter, a spoon, and Oscar. Our plan was to put Oscar in the warm water and then I was going to wash him quickly while my husband fed him peanut butter from a spoon. A lot of people prefer to put peanut butter on the side of the tub, but we just used a spoon since there were two of us and we wanted to avoid any chemicals that might be on the side of the tub.

We put Oscar down in the tub, and he freaked out! He panicked and kept trying to jump out of the tub, which meant his poor little hooves didn’t have any traction and kept slipping. On top of it, he was squealing and splashing water all over us. We didn’t want him to slip and fall, so we picked him up, put him in the towel, and dried him off. We needed to rethink our strategy.

Our biggest mistake for Oscar’s first bath was not having a bath mat since he didn’t have a way for his hooves to grip in the tub. It probably would have been fine if he stood still, but his panicking and wiggling made him slip, which made him panic even more. We decided to get a bath mat and then try again but without water. We wanted to just get him used to being in the tub and make it a happy place by using peanut butter before we even added water. I bought Oscar’s bath mat from Target so this isn’t the exact one I use, but it’s really similar. 

I bought a bath mat, put it in the tub, and we tried again. We set Oscar down on the bath mat and immediately started giving him peanut butter from the spoon. So far, so good! I let Oscar get used to the tub and enjoy the peanut butter for a few minutes and then I started slowly running warm water in the tub. I figured he would panic as soon as the water touched his hooves, but he didn’t. He was so focused on the peanut butter that he didn’t even notice. I ran just a small amount of water, enough to clean off his hooves and splash some on his belly, since I didn’t want to scare him. I quickly bathed him and rinsed him off, and he didn’t mind at all as long as the peanut butter kept flowing. As soon as the peanut butter stopped though, he remembered he was in water and all bets were off. We finished up, dried him off thoroughly, and considered it a success!

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Oscar with his peanut butter spoon. Peanut butter on a spoon is how we keep Oscar calm during his baths.

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Oscar has had two other baths so far, both of which were successful. Each time I run just a little more water and bathe a little more of him, being careful not to get water in his ears, and he handles it fine as long as he has constant peanut butter. He eats more peanut butter during his baths than I would normally give him in a day, but we only bathe him when it’s absolutely necessary, so I don’t worry about it.

My husband has helped me bathe Oscar each time, which has made the process easier. However, I have received some really helpful tips over the past few months to make bathing a mini pig easier, particularly with just one person. A really popular one is to smear peanut butter on the side of the bath tub to keep your pig busy during her bath. I avoid that one if possible just because I’m worried about Oscar licking up chemicals from the side of the bathtub, but I am open to trying it someday when I need to bathe Oscar by myself. Another great idea someone shared with me is to cut up apples or use some other small treat like blueberries or Cheerios and put them in the bathtub. Many pigs will keep themselves busy searching or bobbing for the treats and won’t mind the bath as much. We started with peanut butter since it’s a really high-value treat for Oscar, but hopefully we can switch to something smaller and healthier once he’s more used to the process.

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Using a washcloth during his bath helps get any rusty spots off of Oscar.
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A large cup is handy for rinsing the shampoo off.

Once Oscar’s bath is finished, I towel dry him as much as possible. He doesn’t like the towel much, so then I dry him off the rest of the way with a hair dryer. I keep the heat low and usually put his harness on before blow drying him so that I have a handle in case he tries to run off. He doesn’t care for the hair dryer, but I like to make sure he’s dry to reduce his risk of pneumonia.

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As soon as his bath is finished, I towel dry Oscar as much as possible.
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After towel drying, I dry him the rest of the way with a hair dryer. Putting his harness on gives me a handle to keep him close while I finish drying him.
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All finished! Clean, dry, and fluffy! Still foamy though…

Don’t worry – Rylee was next but she got Cheerios too.

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After Oscar finished his bath, Rylee was next.
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Rylee is used to baths and behaves well, but she got some Cheerios anyway.

There are so many pigs who love water and don’t mind baths. However, if you’re like us and have a pig who hates water, hopefully our experience will help as you try to bathe your mini pig!

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Note: The link above is an affiliate link. LifeWithaMiniPig.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.




Mini Pig Oscar’s Spoiled Pig Syndrome

Before we got a mini pig, I read about Spoiled Pig Syndrome and was determined to not spoil Oscar. Then we brought him home and I realized very quickly how difficult it is to not spoil mini pigs. When pigs first come home, they are often scared and slow to adjust, so pig parents have to focus on making them comfortable and work toward bonding with them. This requires a ton of attention and affection. In the beginning, focusing so much on them is necessary because we want them to feel safe and happy in their new home.

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It can be really challenging to not spoil mini pigs.

Even once they’ve adjusted, mini pigs are so cute and curious that we want to continue giving them our attention and affection. Even on a challenging day with a piglet, it’s hard to resist their cuddles and little grunts. Also, they seem so happy with each bite of food they get, we shower them with treats and watch as they adorably smack and enjoy every single bite.

By the time our mini pigs are a few months old, we’re aware that they are spoiled but it’s hard to stop. These pigs have a way of wiggling themselves deep into our hearts, and we so badly want them to be happy. When Oscar is content, I feel like I have done my job as a pig parent and, when he isn’t, I stress about what I’m doing wrong. Am I not giving him enough love? Does he need more treats? Does he need more rooting and outdoor time to just be a pig? Maybe more play or toys is the answer. Maybe it’s more cuddle time that will make him happier. I try to make more time to focus on him and go through my mental checklist of what he needs to be a happier pig.

Typically, my answer is to spoil him more. I give him more attention and more affection hoping that he’ll love and respect me more. Then, when that doesn’t work, I get frustrated and angry. I try to write this blog based solely on my experiences as a mini pig owner and, in case I’ve ever given off the impression that I’m an expert, let me be the first to tell you that I’m not. I’m still learning and going through all of these new experiences as a pig parent, and some days are amazing and other days are really tough.

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Me? Spoiled?

This week, I had a completely new experience of learning the realities of Spoiled Pig Syndrome. Like many mini pig parents, I often joke and laugh about how spoiled Oscar is. In some cases, it is funny. Similar to so many other pampered house pigs, Oscar has his humans trained ridiculously well. We want so badly to make him happy, and we spend a ton of time and energy on giving him a good life. But, while it’s not uncommon to joke about mini pigs having Spoiled Pig Syndrome, the reality of it is not as humorous.

Last weekend, Oscar’s attitude was getting out of control. He was snipping at everyone in the house, including the dog, growling, and head swiping. When we went to move him after a nap, he tried to bite us several times. We even saw the first signs of him charging at us when we attempted to bring him back in from rooting outside. When we grabbed his leash and started toward the house, he would charge at our feet and then act as if he was going to bite us. In one of the worst moments, he was playing with the sandal on my foot like he always does and then just bit my foot out of nowhere. By the end of the weekend, my husband and I were extremely frustrated and wondering what to do.

On Monday morning, I decided maybe Oscar wasn’t getting enough direct attention. I have been making sure that he gets plenty of outside rooting time and he always gets cuddle time at night, but I thought maybe he needed more attention during the day. So, I tried getting on the floor with him where he was napping and, when I went to pet his head, he growled, whipped his head at me, and then ran off. I felt like he hated me and didn’t even want me near him. I’ve mentioned before that owning a mini pig can be heartbreaking, and this was one of those moments.

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After that incident Monday morning, I was wondering how I was going to deal with Oscar as he continues to grow and become more aggressive. He didn’t seem happy and definitely not grateful or content, despite all of my efforts, so I was at a loss. I thought about it for a long time, did some research, and decided to take a different approach this time.

During my research on mini pig behavior, I came across an article on Spoiled Pig Syndrome (SPS) that caught my attention. I knew about SPS, but I never really took it seriously until now. Oscar had all of the signs of SPS: grouchy, screaming, biting, charging, snapping, and head swiping, What I learned was really hard to take in and accept. When pigs are spoiled, they don’t respect their humans. They essentially treat their humans as lower-ranking herd members and will swiftly and sternly correct the lower-ranking members for not following their orders. As hard as this was to hear, I knew it was true. I was not the herd leader and, since Oscar didn’t respect me, he was correcting me for doing things he didn’t like, such as not feeding him when he wanted, moving him during his naps, and bringing him inside when he wanted to stay out and root longer.

This is where pig parenting gets really hard for me. I’m not a dominant personality, and I don’t enjoy having to assert myself in order to be Oscar’s herd leader. It feels unnatural, and I much prefer the answer to his problems to be more love and play and treats. But, he’s a pig, and that’s not how he functions. So, while my approach of more attention and affection might work well for a dog, it actually makes Oscar’s behavior worse and everyone in the house more miserable. This has been really difficult to accept because it feels counterintuitive, but I’m learning that it’s necessary in order to live a happy, content life with Oscar.

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So, Monday afternoon I set some new rules as a kind of mini pig behavior boot camp. Oscar has to earn all of his food, so no treats without doing a circle or other trick first and his meals will come from his Bob-A-Lot so that he works for them.  He will also eat at 8 am and 4:30 pm, no earlier even if he’s upset. Everyone needs to Move the Pig a few times a day and never step over or around him. Oscar will continue to get plenty of rooting and outside time to keep his rooting needs satisfied. Here’s the big one for us: no more playing with feet. I have always let Oscar play with feet and shoes because I thought it was cute and innocent, but the feet are where he’s really showing aggression lately. He has been charging and nipping at feet, and I found a really useful article that suggests that allowing them to do this gives the pig dominance and can cause hierarchy problems.

After less than a week of the new rules, I feel like have a completely different pig. He’s sweet again and has growled a few times but hasn’t even tried to nip or bite. I can lay down on the floor and get close to him without any negative behaviors. He is no longer charging at our feet when we try to bring him in or take him somewhere on the leash where he doesn’t want to go. Things aren’t perfect and he still growls some when we try to move him after a nap, but I can barely believe the changes I’ve seen in him this week. I went from crying and wondering how I was going to handle him to enjoying being around him and having my sweet pig back. Best of all, despite what feels like more harsh rules and behavior toward him, Oscar seems happier and more relaxed. He seems comfortable knowing his place and isn’t bothered by his lower position in the hierarchy.

I know this isn’t a permanent change because we go through these cycles with Oscar’s behavior. I will get busy and forget to move him and keep up with the new rules, and he will start to challenge for hierarchy again. But, it’s important for me to remember the pig that he can be when I’m acting as the leader. Although it feels more natural to shower him with love and affection when he’s grumpy, I need to remember that he functions differently and that hierarchy is very real to him. In order for him to be the best pet he can be, he needs love and affection, but he also needs a leader with structure and rules.

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Owning a pet pig can be really challenging at times. With my dog, I never think about hierarchy or moving her or any of these mind games that I feel I have to play with Oscar. But, these are the challenges of life with a mini pig, and they truly can be the difference between having a spoiled pig who runs the home or a sweet pig who respects her family. A spoiled mini pig is not fun for anyone; they are typically aggressive, grouchy, and just unpleasant to be around. Fortunately, there is real hope. I am amazed at the changes I have seen in Oscar in just a week and hope to implement these new rules as part of our daily life to avoid future SPS issues.

In case you’re struggling with Spoiled Pig Syndrome and some of the same behavior issues we’ve experienced recently with Oscar, I’ve listed below a few of the articles I found most useful in creating Oscar’s new rules.

Mini Pig Facts – Spoiled Pig Syndrome: This article gives a good explanation of the “ladder” that pigs live by and also gives some ideas for dealing with SPS. My favorite part about this article is the discussion about not letting pigs play with feet. Not allowing Oscar to play with feet has caused a huge positive change in his behavior.

American Mini Pig Association – Spoiled Pig Syndrome (SPS) in Mini Pigs: This article is where I learned a ton of general information about SPS and, in particular, was helpful in “diagnosing” Oscar through their list of SPS signs.