Mini Pig Oscar is Biting Again (with Sound Recording)

Several months ago, Oscar went through a biting phase and would try to bite us when we put his harness on or moved him after a nap. The biting wasn’t very serious and he never clamped down, but he was definitely sending a warning that he didn’t like what we were doing. Still, we took the biting seriously and succeeded in stopping his biting using positive reinforcement.

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Hard to believe this cute little guy can make such an ugly sound when he tries to bite.

After months of no biting issues, Oscar has started biting again. The one bright spot is that he doesn’t just bite randomly; it’s always for the same reasons. He attempts to bite when we wipe him down or put lotion on him and also when we try to move him after cuddle time. For the grooming issue, I have tried everything to make these parts of his grooming more pleasant, from warming up the towels and the lotion to giving him scratches and rubs but nothing helps. Even treats only help for a second and then he is back to trying to bite. As for moving him after cuddle time, I’ve tried giving him verbal “notices” that I’m about to move him or giving him a little scratch to wake him up a bit first, but nothing has helped.

Although he consistently tries to bite when I’m wiping him down or trying to move him after a nap, he never actually clamps down. He growls, whips his head around, and will even put his mouth around my hand, but he never bites down. Nonetheless, I take this behavior seriously. He is quickly growing, and I want him to know that any sort of biting or even attempts to bite are not acceptable behaviors. Biting at his young age needs to be addressed so that it doesn’t become a serious problem when he is older and stronger.

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Oscar’s top two teeth form a point and can be painful even if accidentally brushed against a finger, so I worry about his bites if he ever really clamps down.

Here is a sound clip of one of Oscar’s bite attempts. In this clip, I needed to move him after cuddle time, so I was reaching to pick him up. When the clip starts, you’ll hear him grow increasingly agitated with a low growl as I’m putting my hand under him to grab him. When the sound peaks, he is whipping his head around and air biting as I’m picking him up.

Although mini pig biting should never be tolerated, I’ve become unexpectedly sympathetic toward Oscar’s biting attempts. Mini pigs have so few defenses. As I watch Oscar roam around the yard, I think about how susceptible he is to attacks or punishment from other animals and people. He doesn’t have claws or size to defend himself; he only has his bite. It doesn’t make biting in a safe environment like our home okay, but it helps me understand that he’s using his only defense to protect himself from something he doesn’t like, helping me take a more compassionate approach to fixing the issue.

I need to be able to safely groom and move Oscar when he’s older, so I stubbornly continue to wipe him down each day and move him after cuddle time. We are working through the biting issues, slowly making progress. Since his biting isn’t serious at this point, I use his grooming each day as an opportunity to work on his biting. Using advice from the North American Potbellied Pig Association (NAPPA),  I am working on establishing my dominance with Oscar using Move the Pig (which I plan to write more about in a future post) and also using the technique of gently holding his snout closed when he is aggressive. The corrections have been difficult because I hate upsetting Oscar, but they don’t hurt him and are important for establishing our household hierarchy and ensuring we don’t have more serious biting problems in the future.

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It might take some time and patience, but we are committed to working with Oscar through his recent biting issues.

If your mini pig is biting or even attempting to bite, it’s important to take it seriously even if your pig is young and small. Mini pig biting can become a serious issue, so it’s better to deal with it before it becomes a real problem. Although Oscar’s bites are just warnings for now, we are working hard to stop them so he doesn’t become aggressive as he grows bigger. If you’re having biting issues with your mini pig, I highly recommend checking out the NAPPA articles linked to above for steps to help stop the biting.


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21 thoughts on “Mini Pig Oscar is Biting Again (with Sound Recording)”

  1. Nahla sometimes bites at us if she gets too excited about getting a treat or when we wake her up. Grabbing around her snout as you mentioned or tapping their snout with a finger has helped while saying “no biting”. After three years, I have picked up on her pig growls/warnings so I instantly put my finger on her snout and tell her “no biting”. She pulls her face away because she doesn’t like it and usually obeys the command.

    1. I’m glad you mentioned that because I’ve also been trying something similar. It took a while before I learned to pick up on his warnings but now I’m able to almost anticipate them. I’ve tried saying no firmly when I know he’s going to growl and sometimes it works to stop him before he really gets going. I’ll try saying “no biting” with putting my finger on his snout to see if that helps for the times I know it’s coming. That’s a great tip for me and for other piggy owners, so thank you for sharing it! Love the name Nahla too! 🙂

  2. Sounds like something from The Exorcist….haha. From what I’ve noticed, pigs hate to be pushed or moved, especially when they’re comfortable. Who does? My pig also doesn’t really like the sides of his face touched, so I’ve learned to just not touch him there. He also hates to be picked up, as with all pigs, so he’s learned to go up and down the stairs on his own. He’s too heavy to pick up now anyway. My pig does the same thing regarding the biting if I try to move him. He won’t actually clamp down. Like he knows if he does he’ll hurt me. I still scold him for it but at the same time he’s just letting me know he doesn’t like what I’m doing. I often worry about taking him to the vet and how he’s going to react. I’d imagine they’d have to tranquilize him in order to do anything. Maybe instead of physically moving him after cuddle time, try teaching him a verbal command to move. What’s Oscar like when people come over? My pig is 2 now, but when he was Oscar’s age he was good around strangers, and around a year old, my dad came over and he charged at him. I read that’s the age they start to test the waters of challenging people for “top pig” status. Maybe he just didn’t like my dad because he was male. I dunno. It’s funny thinking about it now, but at the time it upset me because it was embarrassing and I was looking forward to my dad meeting Elmer. Now I’m scared to have anyone come over, haha. But I tell myself, if he can’t behave in front of company, he simply goes to his room. What else can I do? I’ll never abandon him. Well, good luck and don’t give up on him.

    1. Haha…it definitely sounds like something from the Exorcist. I was a little hesitant to post it because he sounds evil…ha. We are still at the point where Oscar is really friendly to visitors, but I’ve heard so many stories of pigs charging guests that I kind of expect it will happen to us at some point. I hope starting with move the pig early will help, but there are certainly no guarantees. I can understanding being upset like you were when Elmer met your dad. It’s easy to just want everyone to see the good sides and love your pig, and it’s surprisingly disappointing when that doesn’t work out. I’m still in the stubborn position of trying to correct all of Oscar’s bad behaviors since he’s young. Oscar has the exact same issue with not liking the sides of his face touched, and I’m still in the “I should be able to safely touch the sides of your face” phase, but I’m also okay with settling into just accepting that and not touching him there someday if the corrections don’t work. I think there’s a lot of acceptance required with pet pigs that isn’t necessarily true for dogs or other pets. I like the idea of trying the verbal command after cuddle time and maybe training it just like I would any other trick until he gets it. We definitely won’t give up on Oscar. Even in the tougher times, he’s still a member of the family and worth the time and frustration. I think we’ll try to train what we can while he’s young and accept what we need to as he gets older. Thanks for sharing! Oscar sounds a lot like Elmer, and I think we’ll experience some of the same challenges you have.

      1. HI I have a mini pig and she is about 4 months old. I am having a BIG issue with her pressing her snout against my children and my legs. It hurts and I can’t get her to stop. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  3. I have a problem with Heidi, my mini pig, going after a women that was watching her for me. She would nip at her legs as she left the pen, now I can’t find anyone to watch her.

    1. That’s really frustrating. I’ve heard so many stories of pigs charging people who visit the home in one capacity or another. I think so many of these issues come down to hierarchy. There are some great resources out there for working through the hierarchy battles, but it can really be a challenge. Some people even use a board or similar object with large pigs so that they can stand their ground and push back on the pig without getting injured. I think it’s worth it in the long term, but it really requires repetition and commitment from someone visiting the house to deal with the behavior. Sorry you’re dealing with that because it can be really difficult!

  4. Dolly is the same about the sides of her mouth. I’ve wondered if it might be the tusks pressing on the inside of the mouth. I try to make sure I don’t do that. I’ve learned that if I can come behind Dolly and raise her up with one arm under her chest, and come over her head from behind her ears to her mouth to clean her up using a nice warm wash cloth, that works best. Sometimes she still tries to head swing around open mouth and nip, but I just say no Dolly and keep going and she always stops and let’s me clean her mouth and face completely.

    1. That’s a good point about the tusks pressing on the inside of the mouth. Oscar’s biting is much better these days since we’ve been using Move the Pig, but the sides of the mouth are still a touchy spot. I’ve actually started wiping Oscar down in a way that sounds similar to the way you wipe down Dolly. I still place my hand very lightly around his snout to keep him from nipping, but it’s mainly to have it there just in case rather than a reinforcement at this point. That’s awesome that Dolly responds to your no well. I’m pretty sure Oscar just thinks his name is “No” these days and ignores it. Although to be fair, I haven’t done a good job of training him on no and what that means, so it doesn’t really stop his behavior. Maybe it would help to work on that and then I would have a useful verbal command with Oscar. I love your point about the tusks, and that’s probably a good area to just avoid in general in case it bothers them. He just despises being wiped down, so even though it’s better these days, it’s still stressful for both of us.

  5. Hi, Thank you so much for your blog. I love reading it! We have a Mini-Pig Ginger, she just turned 8 months. You have definitely inspired me to keep up on her training, currently she sits, shakes, dances, jumps a hurdle and touches our hand when we tell her. We have also had a problem with her biting, mostly just visitors or her Daddy when she is sleeping and doesn’t want to be disturbed!
    I want to share that recently I have been feeding her with her food ball morning and night and I have seen a HUGE improvement in her behavior. She no longer harasses me while I am preparing the food, she no longer tries to attack the other animals for their food and it keeps her busy for over 1 hour. First to empty the ball then to check everywhere to make sure she hasn’t missed anything. This has definitely been a game changer for us!
    Hope this helps and thanks again for all of your amazing information!

    1. Thank you so much for your nice comment! I love that Ginger is doing so well with her training, especially with dancing and jumping a hurdle. How cute! We have made improvements with Oscar’s biting, but I can especially relate to the ones when they’re sleeping. That’s been the toughest biting issue to tackle for us, and we still have issues with it. Oscar hates to be disturbed when he’s sleeping, so he’ll growl and try to bite when we bump him or try to move him. I sometimes forget to give Oscar his food ball, so your comment reminded me to get it back out for him. So thank you! Oscar loves his food ball, but sometimes I get out of the routine and don’t give it to him for a while. He’s had so much energy lately, so I think giving it to him for his meals will help. I feel like a one-woman show over here some days trying to keep him entertained…haha. I think giving him his food ball on a regular basis will help with that. Oscar does the same thing where part of the time is spent getting the food out and the rest is spent checking and rechecking the area to make sure he didn’t miss any…haha. 🙂

  6. Thanks a lot for this blog, and all the comments 🙂 My Cutlet is 8 months old and mostly very nice. We had the same problem with the “I’m unhappy” biting, but this is mostly gone now. She still growls occasionally of course, but hey, who doesn’t ? 🙂
    In the past two weeks, she has been doing something new though : I work from home and sit on a kneeling chair, where she used to climb up on the knee platform, and sleep on while I was working. She cant really do that anymore because she’s grown too big for the chair, so she comes to me, and gently nips on my big toe. It doesn’t hurt at all, and I think she just wants to grab my attention, but I dont want this to go on because any biting/nipping behaviour could potentially be bad for the future. But I dont want to scare her from coming and trying to get my attention, so I say no, move my foot away, and wait.
    We’ll see how things evolve 🙂
    Another problem we have is that most of the time, she wont pee in her litter box, but only on the training pads that are outside of it. #2 is fine though. Any suggestion for that ?
    Apart from that she’s wonderful, and does plenty of tricks already 🙂

    1. Hi Zefred! It sounds like things are mostly going well with Cutlet. We had some of the toe nipping when Oscar was younger. Fortunately, he stopped doing that with us just saying “no” mostly, but he still will approach toes and just put his snout on them. I agree with your guess that she’s just wanting to get your attention, and I used to think it was completely innocent behavior. However, I recently read that it can also be a dominance move since it has to do with feet and pigs control others through the feet (Move the Pig explains this well), so you’re right to try to stop the behavior. That was a pretty quick behavior for us to stop, so hopefully you have good luck with that. We are still working on some of the growling and biting, although Move the Pig has been a ton of help, so I can relate with you on the “I’m unhappy” growling.

      We didn’t litter box train Oscar, so I unfortunately don’t have a great answer for you on that one. I can tell you though that I get a ton of questions about the same issue, so it’s a common problem for pig parents (specifically the peeing right next to the litter box instead of inside of it). A few things you might have already tried is making sure the litter box is clean and also making sure Cutlet can climb into it easily and that the sides aren’t too high for her. Here is an article I always recommend on litter box training for anyone looking for help. http://www.pigs4ever.com/pot_belly_pig_information/litter_box_and_potty_training.php. Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks for the reply 🙂

        I also wanted to share that I’ve been trying to find ways and toys to keep Cutlet busy. Food related toys are not easy to find, and usually not for clever piggies, BUT… I found a very inexpensive one that she LOVES : a dollar store plastic food container.
        I began by giving her a small one with a popcorn or a grape, and she was spending a lot of time pushing it around, cornering it, etc… to try and open it, until she finally found a technique that works everytime. It takes her about 5 seconds to open it now, so I switched to a bigger one, with tougher locks on the sides. It took her two days, and she still hasnt found the perfect technique, but she loves it ! It stimulates her brain, and at the same time keeps her busy for a long time while being super cheap and safe (the plastic is quite tough and she can’t tear it or eat some of it).
        Something like this :
        https://www.dollartree.com/household/food-storage/Sure-Fresh-Square-Storage-Containers-with-Clip-Lock-Lids-25-5-oz-/500c512c512p357497/index.pro

        1. What a creative idea! Thank you for sharing that. People are constantly looking for ways to keep their pigs entertained and stimulated (me included), and this is such a creative and inexpensive way to do that. Thank you for sharing that because I’m sure it will help people out there trying to come up with new ideas. I might just have to try it with Oscar soon! 🙂

  7. I love this post. It is hard for people to understand having a pig as a pet. Where do your pigs sleep? Anyone that sees this I’m just looking for advice. My pig has been so good. His name is Sir Tipton and he is 1 year old. I got him when he was tiny and I knew he was going to get big.. and he sure has 🙂 the only problem now is that he gets weird when strangers come over and he is nipping at my daughter. We have started with training techniques and I hope it starts to work. The full story is since he was little my boyfriend was here living with us. Tipton always knew his place when my boyfriend was living here and he is like a whole different pig when he is around. You see, Tipton tried to bite ONE time when he was little and my boyfriend held his nose shut and pushed him back. After that they had a mutual respect and Tipton didn’t and STILL doesn’t EVER act up when my boyfriend is around. Fast forward and my boyfriend moved out for reasons I won’t go in to. After that it’s like Tipton changed. My siblings came to visit from Washington and I was excited for them to meet him because I love him so much. I take him on walks and my daughter and I snuggle with him and watch movies. But everything changed when my siblings came to visit. He HATED my brother. He nipped at him any chance he got and my brother wouldn’t even stay at my house anymore. It all went downhill after that. He tried to nip at my sister who he snuggled with and never was like that towards and it was when she tried to move him off the couch. Now he is nipping at my daughter. I’m at a loss. Any advice would be great. My boyfriend still comes over from time to time and Tipton is on his best behavior when he is around. He wouldn’t DREAM of biting anyone with my boyfriend around. Where did I go wrong? I don’t think Tipton respects me how he should and maybe I’ve spoiled him too much. I love him and my daughter loves him and we don’t want to give up. I don’t believe in giving up on pets. Any advice would be great!!

  8. I hope things went better with Mr Tipton. We’re struggling with biting with our 4 year old Juliana we just adopted. He keeps going for my husband, I’m trying to get him to scold her and bop her nose but it’s not in his nature. I’m afraid if he doesn’t she will not fit in. Our 12 year old cocker is dominating her which I think my be driving this. I’m interested to learn more about hierarchy with pigs.

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