How to Put a Harness on a Mini Pig

We ran into a few challenges with trying to get mini pig Oscar to wear a harness. Our first challenge was finding the best kind of harness for him and the next was getting Oscar to let us put the harness on him. Here is a video discussing the two types of harnesses we have tried on Oscar and how to put a harness on a mini pig (peacefully!). 

We have gone back and forth between a step-in harness and an over-the-head harness for Oscar. Step-in harnesses are generally recommended for mini pigs, but we had trouble getting that type on Oscar. We couldn’t get him to stand still long enough to get his short little legs into the harness and, when we did, he managed to still slip out a few times. Once Oscar gets a bit older and calmer, we plan on trying this kind again, but it’s not our preferred harness type for him while he’s young and wiggly.

We use an over-the-head harness on Oscar, and it works well overall. Initially, he squealed and fought us when we put the harness loop over his head. He actually hated the harness so much that he would whip his head around and act like he was going to bite us. We decided to try positive reinforcement with the harness training and gave him treats for letting us put it on him, and his attitude about the harness changed immediately.

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The over-the-head harness we have works for now, but it’s not a perfect solution. I have read about harnesses made especially for mini pigs, and I will try one of those when Oscar stops growing out of things so quickly. If you have a mini pig harness that works well or any additional tips on how to put a harness on a mini pig, please tell us about it in the comments!

6 thoughts on “How to Put a Harness on a Mini Pig”

  1. I purchased a small dog/ animal over the head harness at Target and tried using it ok my piggly however her leg slipped through the neck and belly strand choking her. It was quite an ordeal. Did you specifically buy a pig harness or did you use a dog or general small animal harness? She also hates her harness even with treats its a struggle.

    1. Hi Paris! So far we have only used dog harnesses on Oscar, and I haven’t found one that’s a perfect fit. I need to break down and finally buy him a pig-specific harness because we’ve had fit problems with all of the dog ones. Now that Oscar is a little older and less wiggly, I use the step-in ones for around the house and the over-the-head ones for when we travel or when I need a more secure fit. The step-in ones are easier for me to get on him now that he’s not a wiggly piglet, but he can slip out of that kind really easily. The over-the-head kind is more secure on him and he’s less likely to wiggle out, but he’s a little fussy about putting that one on these days since we don’t use it as often now. Getting Oscar’s harness on him has been easier with time, but he still doesn’t love putting it on. He’ll grunt at me a bit just to express his disapproval but at least will stand there and let me put it on him. I don’t think he’ll ever like putting his harness on. But, once it’s on him, he doesn’t seem to care at all and wears it around without complaint. If you need a more secure harness, you might try one of the pig-specific ones. There are more and more being made these days, so that’s a huge plus and people seem to like them. The harness process does get easier, but I feel your pain because I used to dread putting Oscar’s harness on.

  2. I look at your page a lot about tips and info on how to deal with my mini pig Harley. Harley’s gotten to the point where he’s fine with putting the harness on as long as he gets a treat, but I’m still have trouble with him walking on the leash. I’ve only had him for a little over a month, so I know it’s something that will take time. However, I was wondering if Oscar is leash trained? And if you had any tips or advice on how to help Harley get used to his harness and leash and walk with me? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Shay! Oscar is somewhat leash trained. Since we’re in the country, I mainly just let him roam around the yard on his own, so I haven’t worried too much about actually leash training him. If he’s going somewhere he wants to go or isn’t distracted by grass he wants to eat, he is good on a leash and moves where I need him to. If there’s a patch of grass he wants to stop and root in or eat, all bets are off and I’m left tugging him along until he forgets about the grass and moves on.

      One thing we did in the beginning that I recommend trying is to put Harley’s harness and leash on in the house and just let him roam around. This takes any fear of the leash away and also keeps him from equating the leash with loss of freedom. It won’t do much for actual leash training, but it’s a great way to get him to not mind the leash before you start the real training. Also, when you start training, remove distractions as much as possible, so go somewhere away from grass that he loves to eat or anything like that so that he can focus on just moving with you. One reason I haven’t focused too much on Oscar’s leash training is that I’m a bit skeptical that they can be trained to move on a leash as well as a dog can. I might be completely wrong on that, but I think you just do the best you can with pig leash training. When I’m desperate and absolutely can’t get Oscar to move, I get behind him and nudge him with my feet (almost in a “move the pig” way) and he will usually move right along and past the distraction enough to get going again.

      The best thing is to just keep at it and try to move him past distractions and keep him by your side as best you can. Hope that helps!

  3. Hello, my mini pig Daisy refuses to let me put on any harness with or without treats. We have tried many harnesses for her and she either doesn’t like it or she’ll slip out of it. And we have had her for a little over a week now, and no matter how we try to pick her up or hold her, she squeals but eventually after well so just stop. We have tried the way you provided, but she still squeals. I’ve tried treating her while holding her but it seems to make her more angry or aggressive l. Sometimes she bites. What do I do?

    1. Hi Skyler! This is such a tough part of starting out with a mini pig. One thing I don’t think I mentioned enough in the video is that, even if you hold her “correctly,” she will still squeal until she’s used to being held. It’s more of a training process than a fix. So, don’t worry that you’re doing something wrong because she’s still squealing. I can’t remember how long it took us, but I think it was a few weeks to a month of holding Oscar through the squealing until he was finally more comfortable being held. Some days are easier than others. The important things are just to keep up what you’re doing (maybe pick up some ear plugs…haha) and don’t give in and put her down. This is one of those things that unfortunately just takes time, but she will get better with it.

      If she’s getting aggressive with the treating, I would stop trying to give her treats and just hold her. You don’t want to accidentally give her the message that throwing a fit or biting gets her treats, so only give her a treat once she’s calm and quiet. If possible, try to hold her into your body so that you have a good grip on her and see if you can hold her in a way that keeps her from trying to bite. Unfortunately, it’s not completely uncommon for young pigs to try to do that, and it’s important for you to “win” those battles and for her to not think that biting or squealing is the way to get what she wants. With the harness and with holding her, just keep at it. I got to where I hated putting Oscar’s harness on or trying to pick him up, but both of those things do get easier once they’re more used to it and once they’ve learned that you’re going to do it no matter if they squeal or throw a fit. Sorry you’re having trouble with it, but it will get easier!

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