Mini Pig Oscar’s Biting Phase

People often ask if mini pigs bite; we learned first hand that the answer is yes. Oscar has teeth on the bottom row which I call his “gopher teeth” that make a mini pig bite painful.

Oscar Teeth 6.2.15
Oscar and his bottom “gopher teeth”

Oscar went through a biting phase when he was around 6 to 8 weeks old. He generally bit for two reasons: to play or to show aggression. I did not want a mini pig who bit us, our dogs, or guests in our home, so I set out to stop the biting immediately.

The playful mini pig biting happened when he would run up, bite our toes, and run off again. This was one of his favorite games for a while, and it was cute but still hurt when he clamped down unexpectedly. The fix for this took a few tries but was fairly easy. Each time he bit our toes, we reacted with a loud “ouch” or “no” so that he knew it wasn’t acceptable. We also gave him a toy to essentially replace the toe with an approved chewing option. We didn’t want him to think he couldn’t chew, but he had to chew on the right things. Over the course of a week, this consistent correction worked for the playful biting.

The aggressive mini pig biting was more difficult to correct. When we tried to move him after a nap or tried to put his harness on, Oscar would whip his head around and try to bite. Sometimes he was warning us and wouldn’t clamp down, but I knew this was dangerous behavior and had to be stopped. We used the firm “no” and very lightly tapped him on the snout to try and stop the behavior, but this only had a slight impact. I decided to try a more positive correction, so we gave him cheerios to get him up from a nap and while we put his harness on, and that worked the best. Initially I thought giving him treats would reinforce his bad behavior, but this negotiation worked almost instantly to get rid of the biting and we haven’t had any biting issues for several weeks.

One last thing to mention is that a common reason mini pigs bite is by accident when taking a treat or food from a person’s hand. To avoid accidental biting when feeding or giving treats by hand, place your hand flat on the floor with your palm up and either put the treat in your hand or between two of your fingers. This encourages the pig the take the food gently. When mini pigs are given treats from near or above their head, they learn what’s called “snapping” and can end up biting your hand or fingers when taking the treat.

If you’re having biting issues with your mini pig, give these methods a shot and see if they work for you. You never want to let your mini pig get away with biting, even at a young age, as biting can become a serious behavior problem when your mini pig is bigger. If you are dealing with a more serious biting problem, I recommend checking out this article from the North American Potbellied Pig Association (NAPPA). Part One discusses aggressive mini pig behavior and mini pig biting, and Part Two provides correction tips for more serious biting concerns.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section and I’m happy to try and help.

Update: After several months with no biting issues, Oscar is biting again. Read this post about his new biting issues and what we are doing this time to stop his biting.

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20 thoughts on “Mini Pig Oscar’s Biting Phase”

  1. My mini pig is chewing the linoleum and carpet. Any tips on how to get him to stop doing this? Ive thought about spraying tobasco on areas hes after but dont want to hurt him.

    1. Hi Tiffany! We have rugs that Oscar likes to root on and chew, so I can kind of relate. My experience is that Oscar chews on the rugs when he’s bored, so I take it as a sign that he needs more stimulation and rooting time. The first thing I do is just try to get him outside for more rooting time. He wears himself out pretty quickly when he can root around outside, and it’s a natural activity so he kind of entertains himself that way. If we can’t get outside for rooting time, I get out his treat ball or his Bob-A-Lot and feed him either entire meals or snacks in them (depending on how much time I have). (Here are the toys Oscar likes: http://lifewithaminipig.com/toys-for-mini-pigs/) He loves chasing his food toys around to get his pellets, so he gets a lot of energy out that way and stays stimulated from making sure he gets every last bit of food out. Other people make their pigs rooting boxes and put treats in there, and that works well for some pigs. For us, when Oscar has had plenty of time to root and is sufficiently stimulated, he is too tired to even bother with chewing or rooting on the rugs. I don’t recommend the tobasco sauce. Pigs need to root and have stimulation, which I’m sure you already know, so I would just take any destruction at this point as a sign that he needs more “productive” stimulation, and hopefully he’ll lose interest in your floors. Hope that helps! 🙂

      1. We just got our mini pig and we are all adjusting she is very sweet but also nervous she has nip at us serveral times and her teeth are very very sharp and really little on the top is that normal ? Thanks for your help!!

  2. Hello… My pig is approx. 3 weeks old we have been bottle feeding him but all he does is root on our arms. It sometimes hurts! I thought that maybe that is what they do to their mothers but I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to positively stop this habit. I have tried giving him blankets to root on instead along with pillows and he only wants our arms. I had a potbelly before that we bottle fed and he never rooted THIS MUCH! Thank you!!

    1. I also take him outside to root everyday. Sorry this dosent relate to biting but this was the closest I could fine to rooting .

    2. Hi Arissa! I know that can be problem for a lot of pig owners, and I’ve heard how much it can hurt. Oscar has done some very light rooting on us but never to the point of pain. I’ve always heard that it’s a positive behavior and is an affectionate sign, but still it can hurt quite a bit. The main thing I’ve heard is to do exactly what you’re doing by using plenty of blankets or even pillows to cushion the feeling of the rooting. Another option I’ve read about is using a rooting box to redirect the rooting, but I don’t know how realistic that is for such a young piglet. Below is a link to an article I really like on rooting that talks some about why they root on people, one being that it’s an instinct the piglet uses to root on his mom to get food, which would make sense with bottle feeding. Sorry I don’t have a great answer for you, but hopefully something in the linked article will help. http://www.pigs4ever.com/pot_belly_pig_information/rooting.php

      1. Thank you so much… he is around 9 weeks now and off the bottle and he has seemed to stop the rooting. Oscar is so cute by the way!

    3. I am going through this right now with my 3 week old baby pig and I’ve got bruises but he only does it to me. He is also only biting me and no one else. He gets so mad at me if I’m not petting him he will charge and bit me.

  3. Isabelle is 3 1/2 months old now. She has started this biting stage, plus going after my silky terrier. She is still a little bit smaller than him in size. When she thrusts at us or our dog, I have put her in a “time out” kennel and tell her no, firmly, but when I do she becomes upset and urinates in it, knowing that she will be let out for it to be cleaned up right away. I have put her right back in afterwards, but I’m afraid that by then she doesn’t know why she’s going back in. We have had our dog for almost 9 years now so this was his house first. Any other suggestions to help keeping her from going after the dog or even us at times? This has become a daily problem. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Gina! We have had some really similar issues between Oscar and our dog, Rylee. Rylee is in a similar place as your silky terrier; she is older (10 years) and has always been top “dog” in our home. We go through phases with them where they battle every day and then phases where they get along and coexist fairly well. My belief is that it all has to do with hierarchy. Isabelle has probably finally decided to challenge your silky terrier for hierarchy. I used to intervene between our two and finally decided to let them work it out a bit. I’m always near them (I never leave them alone together in the house…even if I’m taking the trash out. I’ll usually put one in a crate or just take Rylee outside with me), so I never let the fighting escalate to a dangerous point. However, I’m concerned they won’t ever stop their battling until they work the hierarchy out, and the problems seemed to get worse when I was constantly intervening. Of course, if yours are fighting to a more serious level, don’t let them work it out like I have been with mine. Our biggest problem is that neither one of them will give in and just let the other one be higher in the hierarchy, so the snipping continues. I think the battles would stop if one would just give in, but they’re both really stubborn. So, for now, I continue to keep a close eye on them but let them work things out. I have stepped in a few times, but I try to hold out if the situation is still safe. If one of yours will “give in” to the hierarchy, I think the fighting will calm down.

      One thing to mention is that I’ve noticed a pattern with Oscar that you may or may not have with Isabelle. When my husband and I start Move the Pig with Oscar, Oscar instigates battles with Rylee more frequently. In fact, if we haven’t been keeping up with MTP and restart it (which happens fairly frequently), I notice Oscar starts snipping at Rylee within a few hours of us moving him. My guess is he knows he’s losing hierarchy with us and is grasping at any hierarchy and starts picking on Rylee to stay “above” her. After a few more days of MTP, the frequent battles between them slow down to normal again. But, it’s something I always know to count on when we restart MTP.

      The kennel situation is frustrating and, since you’re having trouble with that, I would just see if letting them work through things helps. If Isabelle is determined to be “top dog” with your silky terrier, she will likely continue the challenges, despite putting her in the crate, so I wouldn’t even stress yourself out with putting her in there and then dealing with her urinating in it. Here is a post about Oscar and Rylee and their little battles that might be helpful: http://lifewithaminipig.com/our-mini-pig-and-dog-are-enemies-again/.

      It’s so hard to watch your two “kids” battle and challenge each other, so hopefully they can start to work things out.

  4. So my pig cricket is about 4 weeks old and I have been working with him since he was at the breeders now that I have him home he gets really worked up when I pick him up and has been whipping around and bite what should I do? He also does calm down unless I put him down

    1. Hi Sheena! Cricket is probably still just scared and adjusting to home, and unfortunately it takes a while for them to get comfortable at home and start trusting humans. I recommend keeping working with Cricket and continue holding him through the squealing and fits, and it will get better with time. If he was completely adjusted to home and older, I would recommend looking into Move the Pig. But, for now, I would just keep working with him until he feels safe and comfortable at home, and I think you’ll see improvements. If you haven’t checked out our post and video on How to Hold a Mini Pig, I definitely recommend checking it out. Hope that helps! http://lifewithaminipig.com/how-to-hold-a-mini-pig/

      1. So today I was holding cricket through the screaming and fit he whipped his head around and bit me and drew blood do I have a mean pig on my hands? Will it get better when I get him fixed

        1. Fixing him will definitely only improve the situation. Their hormones can contribute to aggression, so fixing him will help his overall aggression and behavior. It’s usually the first thing recommended when a pig is showing aggression and/or having behavior issues. That being said, we’ve had some issues with Oscar head whipping and attempting to bite us. Some of it has improved with Move the Pig, but it isn’t perfect for us yet. Oscar hates being touched on the right side of his face by his cheek (no idea why…), and he will head whip sometimes when we touch him there. So, we’re still doing Move the Pig regularly and working through that issue. I don’t know for sure, but I think a lot of times their biting and head whipping at first is due to fear and being in a new home with new people, and then later tends to be from hierarchy issues. So, once you feel like Cricket is comfortable, I recommend looking into Move the Pig. It’s such a helpful technique for working with mini pig aggression and for understanding how they think and process in general. This is definitely a tough part of mini pig ownership, so hopefully it improves some after he’s fixed and starts to learn his place in the home. Here is the post on MTP if you are interested. http://lifewithaminipig.com/move-the-pig-for-mini-pig-aggression/

  5. hi, i have a pet pig named Oscar too!! he is going to be 3 in the fall, i’ve had him since he was very little and he was always very friendly. When I take him to the vet they always tell me that he is so much nicer then the other pigs that they see! but recently if we take him out in public or even if we have people over he will go after them and sometimes bite them. It seems to be getting worse. At first he only lunged at certain people and we put a stop to it. we’ve done positive and negative reinforcement but now he goes after almost every stranger. He won’t go after my family or my grandparent and he doesn’t go after the dogs. I just don’t know what to do now? i don’t want it to come to the point where he can’t be out when other people are around I rarely bring him out in public. please help me

  6. Recently my mother and father in-laws were at my home. My father in law was in the kitchen cooking. I went to go by with my miniature pig Porkchop and he went for my father in laws leg. No teeth just mouth. He is one year old and he was neutered young. He is my baby. He has never done this to me for say, unless he doesn’t want to be moved and I don’t get intimidated I say no and shout let’s go and do the move the feet or stomp and he usually goes. He acts almost over protective at times. He is usually by me and if someone gets close to me he charges. He just did it to my daughter. I said no and I said that’s bad boy and swiped his nose. She didn’t feel teeth just lips and wetness. She made him do tricks after a while and gave him treats. He does this with new comers to the home is it protection over me or is it unsureness of the person?

  7. Hello,

    My mini pigs name was Oscar, he was a Julieanna and a member of our family. He use to nip as a baby, we use to feed him treats by hand. We stopped that and the biting also stopped.

    Oscar was a sweet boy. He would lick my toes so I would give him belly rubs. He went to work daily with my husband, went on walks with my son. He would have visitors to his outdoor playpen all the time.

    Saturday morning I Got up to let him out. He ran the wrong direction so I followed to redirect him to the correct area. He charged me and jumped up and knocked me down. He then attacked me with his tusks that had grown back after we trimmed them when he was a baby. The attack was brutal. He would not stop attacking. My yelling finally woke the other members of my family who saved me. I lost over a pint of blood and ended up in the hospital. This was not my dear boy at all. Don’t know what happened. Oscar lost his life, we had to put him down. The attack was too bad. I am so sad wonerding, what could I have done differently. I miss him so much and wish I could have done anything else. Anyone have any ideas?

  8. Question. I have a pig about 5 month male neutered about 3 weeks ago. He is having an issue with biting anything wood in our home. Like the coffee table, legs of the chair, even the base board heater. I’ve tried no and redirecting but it’s not working. Any tips or other things I could try?

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