Owning a mini pig has been a great experience so far. Oscar brings us so much joy each day with his cuddles, curiosity, and cuteness. Over the past few weeks though, we have been going through a rough patch with Oscar. I started this site with the intention of providing an honest account of what life with a mini pig is like, so I feel that it’s important to share the challenging times along with the positive ones.
Oscar has so many lovable qualities, but he also has some difficult ones. In Oscar’s worst moments, he can be selfish, demanding, and insensitive. He knows what he wants, and he wants what he wants, unfortunately to the detriment of anyone keeping him from it. In most cases, what he wants is food, and being hangry (hungry and angry) turns our normally sweet mini pig into an obsessive, demanding monster. Even on good days, his personality before a meal and after is noticeably different. Before a meal, he is loud and pushy; he returns to our cuddly, calmer boy after he is finished eating.
One of the most challenging parts of Oscar is his general lack of interest in pleasing us. This has always been true about him, but it has become more of an issue lately. Unlike our dog, who does what we ask simply to please us, Oscar is much more concerned with getting what he wants. This means that, in order to get Oscar to do what we want, we have to figure out what he wants first and then use that to get what we want. We have mostly figured this system out, but it frequently results in a battle of wills and can feel like a mind game.
I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve had times where I feel like Oscar doesn’t like me, and I still have those moments. We had a few great months where Oscar was consistently sweet and well-behaved, but lately I’m back to feeling as if Oscar just doesn’t like me. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but my feelings have been hurt by him several times during the past few weeks. I pour a lot of my heart, energy, and attention into making sure he is happy and content. When he is snippy or inattentive in return, it’s hard not to get upset. To be honest, some days are slightly heartbreaking. I know I’m acting in his best interest by keeping him away from many of the things he wants (dog food, our dinner, the entire refrigerator, etc), but I constantly feel like I’m not giving him enough and am making him unhappy. I’m used to having a dog who acts like anything I give her is special and sufficient, so it’s been tough lately adjusting to feeling like I can’t do or give enough to make Oscar happy. Walking the line between love and discipline can be a daily struggle with a mini pig.
While it’s not completely new for Oscar to have selfish, demanding, and insensitive tendencies, they have definitely been more frequent in the past few weeks. I am hoping this is a phase, and it’s definitely possible that he’s going through a toddler phase, or maybe even teething and acting out because he’s uncomfortable. Also, it’s the start of his first winter, so he’s not able to get out and root as often as he wants, which could be part of the reason for his change in behavior. I am hopeful that by continuing to give him a balance of love and discipline, this phase will pass and bring back more of our sweet Oscar.
A bright spot in all of this is that Oscar can make me mad and then melt my heart again in a split second. I’ve learned to just walk away sometimes when he’s being demanding and my feelings are hurt or I’m really frustrated. Even just a few minutes away helps diffuse the situation, and it’s usually not long until he does something to make me smile again. He still loves to cuddle every night so, no matter how tough the day has been, I get to enjoy that precious time with our sweet and cuddly Oscar.
Although the past few weeks with Oscar have been difficult, he is a member of our family and we are 100% committed to him no matter how many struggles we have along the way. I have experienced more highs and lows with Oscar than with any other pet, but that is part of what makes my love for him so special. Even on the toughest days, he has a way of making me laugh and smile to remind me why I love him so much.
32 thoughts on “The Darker Side of Owning a Mini Pig”
What a great website/blog!! You are definitely not alone. This is where people think when they buy a mini pig that they will be just like a dog and they’re completely different. Not saying that you didn’t know or that you love him any less. I thought Rosie would always stay cuddly. Then I see people on Mini Pig Eduction that their grown pig still cuddles with them and it makes me jealous. Lol I’m like why isn’t Rosue like that…it’s certainly not from lack of love and attention. I’ve just accepted that if I want to cuddle Rosie, I have to come to her. I have to remind myself that every pig is different, and they are so complex and independent. I like mini pigs to a large version of a cat that is way more sensitive. As she had gotten older, Moving The Pig has helped immensely with her food behavior/aggression/hangry. Keep it up!! You’re knowledgeable, seek information and love your piggy immensely; he will come around.
Thank you so much! That’s really helpful to hear. I agree about pigs being completely different from dogs, and that becomes more and more true as Oscar gets older. We even knew that going in, but it’s different reading it and experiencing it. I think I understand what you mean about Rosie’s cuddling because that’s how I feel about Oscar and his lack of playing. I see pictures of pigs playing with toys, and I wonder why he doesn’t want to play. But, I guess some cuddle, some play, and some just want to be left alone…haha. I like your comment about how you’ve accepted that if you want to cuddle Rosie, you have to go to her. I think there’s so much acceptance involved with owning a pig and, if you can do that, you’ll love being a pig owner. If you need them to be a certain way or want them to be different than they are, you’re probably going to be disappointed. I love the analogy of pigs being like a large version of a cat that is way more sensitive…so true! I’m glad you mentioned moving the pig; I’m not ready for that quite yet but have my eye on it in case we need it. What has taken me the most by surprise is that everything was smooth sailing for a few months with our sweet, cuddly Oscar and then, out of nowhere, he changed to more snippy and demanding. We love this little guy enough to work through the issues and are committed to him, but this is why it’s so important for people to research and be prepared before getting a pig. There are amazing times, and there are tough times!
Thank you for the support and kindness! It helps so much to hear that I’m not alone and that other pig owners have experienced these changes and difficult times. Love your mini pig Snort Life Etsy store by the way! You are so creative! 🙂
Yes, there’s a short video on youtube, if you haven’t seen it, regarding “move the pig.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm7aR1Jewsc. I think Oscar is a lot like my Elmer, who’s almost 2 yrs old. I found myself agreeing with a lot of what you said about Oscar, esp when it comes to him being nippy, demanding and feeling like he doesn’t like you. But deep down I know he does because he likes to be with me, even if I don’t have food. We hang. Some pigs are more affectionate than others, that’s just the way it is.
Thank you for the video recommendation on “move the pig.” I just watched it, and I think learning more about move the pig will be useful. If nothing else, I think it’s helpful to understand the pig’s language for the most appropriate and effective ways to adjust their behavior. Otherwise, like she said in the video, we end up approaching it with the wrong method or like we would discipline a dog. I understand what you mean about knowing deep down that Elmer likes to be with you because I think I feel that way about Oscar. He has moments where he just comes and stands by my feet or squeals when I leave the room and those are actually nice moments because I feel like he notices when I’m not around. You’re absolutely right about some pigs being more affectionate than others and, if I’ve learned anything from conversations with other pig owners lately, it’s that they’re all different. Thanks again for the video link! It’s the first time I’ve really heard move the pig discussed at length and I think it will be useful.
Just like raising a child!!
Have you considered a rooting box? And maybe a sun lamp? These would allow him to root and sunbathe indoors when he can’t get outside.
Rooting is an instinctive behavior and providing him with that would ease him.
Hi Brenda! I like your comment about just like raising a child because it’s so true! I think you are absolutely right about the rooting box and sun lamp. I just got him a new ball pit last night and am wanting to get him a second rooting box with rocks and more natural outside rooting objects. Even in less than a day, I think the ball pit has helped some. I hadn’t thought about the rooting box easing him, but he absolutely lovex to root and I think you’re right that it would calm him in addition to providing stimulation. Thank you for the comment!
You are very welcome! I will be interesting to see the process of making the rooting box. Can’t wait to see Oscar in it. I must tell you that your posts always bring a little bit of joy into my day. Keep it up!!!
Thank you! That is always so helpful and encouraging to hear! I was a little hesitant to post about his recent naughty behavior, but it’s important to be honest so that other people get the full picture. And, I have received some really helpful tips and advice in return. The pig community and their kindness never ceases to amaze me! 🙂
Perfect read for today! I literally just had tears in my eyes minutes ago from Heidi! Frustration to the max! Thanks again! They are 100% NOT like raising dogs! Sometimes easier, sometimes harder. But what do I know. This is only week 3 for me. Lol!!
Come see Heidi on my personal IG page : Jamielbxo
Just went to your instagram, and Heidi is adorable! Oh, I’ve so had the tears in my eyes from frustration to the max, so hang in there! The first month or so is really tough because you don’t have a routine down and you and your pig are both still figuring each other out. Once you both know what to expect from each other, it gets easier. I still get frustrated with Oscar, but nothing so far has been as tough as the first few months when your pig is getting settled and figuring out home. I might change that later (haha), but so far the first few months were the hardest. You’re definitely not alone; pig parenting is really challenging for all of us but still very rewarding at times. I get tears of frustration and of joy with this little guy, and these days many more of joy (which wasn’t the case at first). Thanks for sharing and being so honest; there are some tough days! Heidi is so cute though that I bet you’ll forget your frustration pretty quickly. 🙂
I am so happy I found your page. I am getting my first pig and I have been doing lots of research over the years. I have wanted one for such a long time and now I can finally add a pig to my family. Your Blogs and videos are awesome and very helpful. I just love Oscar. I am hoping I get an even tempered little pig but if I don’t I will love him just as much. Every pet is different and I have the time to enjoy and work with all my pets. Again thank you so much for all you share and I look forward to future posts and videos.
Hi Donni! Thank you so much for the compliments about the blog! That’s so exciting that you’re getting your first pig. The beginning is a challenging but fun time. Since you’ve spent time researching, you will be much better prepared and will not have as many surprises along the way. You are definitely right about every pet being different. Even with mini pigs, there are a lot of similarities between them but also so many personality differences. You probably know this from researching, but the biggest thing to remember in the beginning is that the bond takes time, so don’t worry or stress if it takes a while for your pig to adjust and start to warm to you. It takes time, but he/she will get there. I hope everything goes well with bringing your first pig home!
I have a question. How is it introducing our pigs to other pets? I have small dogs and cats and bunnies.
I have only introduced Oscar to dogs, but the introductions for us have always gone better than expected. When we first brought Oscar home, we had a large dog (pit mix) and small dog (boston terrier). We were really concerned about how our dogs would take to Oscar, but the introduction was mostly uneventful. Oscar was really sleepy his first night home and took zero interest in our dogs, so our dogs initially got a little worked up but quickly calmed down since Oscar gave them nothing to stay worked up about. Of course, you always want to be careful with pigs and dogs since pigs are prey animals, but in my experience so far, a lot of dogs are afraid of Oscar. He is so new and strange to them that a lot of dogs back off and walk away from him. Of course, that’s not always the case and some dogs will react negatively and could possibly attack, but we’ve been really fortunate so far.
Our small dog and Oscar don’t get along super well these days (they tolerate each other), so I constantly have my eye on them if they’re out together in the house. I would much prefer them to be friends, but at least they can coexist together. Hope your introductions go well. If you can, take your time and just let everyone get used to each other through a gate or a crate or something like that, and that way you can get a feel for their interactions before they’re out in the open together. Here’s a post with some more information on our introductions with Oscar: http://lifewithaminipig.com/mini-pig-oscar-and-our-dogs/. Hope that helps!
Thank you for this honest read. Really made me feel normal about my pig “not liking me” some days. my husband gets upset when I say that. But really helps when someone else experienced this feeling. Your right the cuddling at night fixes everything! No need to reply, just wanted to say….Thanks so much this helped me!
Thank you so much! 🙂
I must be very lucky. My Hamlet has shown signs of not liking me. Sometimes he doesn’t want to play buto that’s about it. I does always want food though. So I substitute some of the time with play or a walk. I love my Hamlet
Hi Donni! You are lucky! I think pig personalities vary a lot, so some owners have trouble with feeling like their pig doesn’t like them (I’m one of them…) and others don’t. But, it’s good to hear that you haven’t experienced it and that Hamlet is so loved!
There is times when he wants to be alone but for the most part he is at my heals.
I know what you are going through with the mange. This is Monroes second time with mange. We are on injectable ivermectin now. Both my dogs have it. I am trying everything. Borax and peroxide baths. Sulphur cream rubs. Monroe is getting better. It’s taking a toll on me too. Washing all the dog beds, cleaning Monroes cage and blankets everyday. Just like you Monroe came home with it. And I also think I waited to long to go to the vet. But just like I love Monroe. He is always at my heals and gets upset when I leave him. He is 5 months old now and has some of the same attitudes Oscar has. I just love your blog. It gives me aloof hope and help. Will be waiting for more posts from you. Thanks
Hi! Sorry I’m just now responding. We’ve had a crazy few weeks, so I’m trying to get caught up on everything. Thank you for the kind words about the blog! I really appreciate it. Also, thanks for sharing your experience with Monroe’s mange. We went through it twice too, so I feel your pain on that. I remember being exhausted and so paranoid while dealing with Oscar’s mange, so I can understand the toll it has been taking on you. Just keep remembering that, once you finally get rid of it, you hopefully shouldn’t ever have to deal with it again unless Monroe is ever around other pigs with mange. That’s what helped get me through. Hopefully you’re through the treatments or at least getting close. Someday, once it’s gone, you’ll barely remember this time, but it sure is a struggle getting through it.
What would cause a pot belly pig to start charging and biting and stay up all the time?
I would ask if your pig is spayed or neutered because if not that’s a definite must. That causes all sorts of behavior problems. If he or she is, that’s normal behavior. My pig, Rosie was lunging and biting. I tried MTP, move the pig, but that only worsened the behavior and it intensified. I have learned a lot of Lara Joseph who staunchly is against MTP. She’s trained and educated on animal behaviors. She trains giraffes to birds to pigs to fish. I purchased her seminars and attended some of her Snappy Sessions on training your pig. I working with Rosie on Targeting and stationing. Her beahior has gotten So much better. Lara Joseph’s owns The Animal Behavioral Center. https://www.facebook.com/TheAnimalBehaviorCenterLlc/
She’s been a lifesaver. My pig is 115 pounds, so she cannot be aggressive to me or others because she so big and heavy. I highly recommend her, and she’s a lovely and genuine person devoted to really training “people” lol cuz let’s face it. We need he training as well.
Thank you for replying to this, Doreen! We are also having some trouble with Oscar lunging and biting lately. MTP has been helpful, but we still have some issues to work through. I’ve been looking into Lara Joseph’s training, especially on stationing, lately and plan on trying it once things calm down for us a little and I have time to really dive into it all. I really appreciate you being so honest about your experiences with Rosie because they help as we’re dealing with some of the same behaviors with Oscar, particularly as he’s finally heavy enough to push me around a bit. Lol…that’s so true about training “people.” I definitely need it! 🙂
He sounds like a cat, but he is precious.
He is surprisingly similar to a cat from an emotional standpoint some days! 🙂
OMG!!! THANK YOU so much this blog helps a ton i really want a pig and i am looking at a lot of websites helpful but not as this thanks
I am thinking about getting a mini pig. I unfortunately work full time but my husband works from home and we have a dog. We have a good property so I’m hoping on nice days the pig could hang outside with the dog. My husband really doesn’t want to put much effort in with the pig during the day. On days when it’s not so nice outside, is it ok to keep the pig in their crate? I’d rather not but I worry that because I’m not at home to watch it, i don’t want it to destroy my house. I would like to take my pigs on walks before and after I get home from work.
We are having an awful time with Buttercup using the bathroom in a box … she prefers to ruin our carpet and rugs …she use to do well in a litter box as a 3 month old but now at 6 months she lets it go wherever without even trying to go to her potty
We have been taking her outside as much as we can too … but she isn’t giving us notice ??? Help
Hi, I would reach out to Lara Joseph, with the Animal behavioral center. She’s a trained animal behavioralist. Here’s her website: https://www.theanimalbehaviorcenter.com/
She helped Rosie and I because she kept lunging at people in the house.
I would also join the FB groups, mini pig info and mini pig education, and ask the members for advice their too. Post a pic with your issue, it always gets more attention with a pic.
Hello, I really really appreciate your blog which I only found 4 days ago as 4 days ago I was given a one week old piglet that had been abandoned by its mother. It was found in the frozen evening by a couple travelling through my small rural town, limping and shivering. No way could it have survived the night either the cold or a hawk would have devoured it , and they were asking people if anyone could help. I said yes then went on line and began to devour everything I could, your blog has been the most real, and I appreciate that you share so honestly, the difficult and joyful parts of this experience. My plan is not to keep my piglet as I want him to interact with other pigs and enjoy a real outside pig life. He is not a mini pig either, so having him as a companion is not really feasible. He is a rescue pig but already I am completely utterly smitten, and I do worry about how intensely we have bonded and if it will cause him too much stress when we part. I know I will be heartbroken, but that is how love is, and my need to find him a safe forever home with kindly vegetarian people is paramount. It is the fiercest bitterest winter here so for the last four days he has been travelling about in my hoodie ( walking from room to room) and snuggling up in bed. His little legs are only the length of my middle finger. From what I have read it is very very hard for such young pigs to survive with out their pig mum, her nutrient rich milk etc but I am determined to do all I can to surround him with warmth and love and good nutrition. I am using warm goats milk diluted with rain water, and for meals a table spoon of rice or oats warmed up with the diluted goat milk water mix, and a warmed up TSP of fresh made apple sauce and a few slices of mashed cooked carrot, perhaps he is almost two weeks..it is very hard to gauge from the way he turned up. But from four days ago till now he has so much more energy. Still super tiny but not emancipated -like a rat with a snout, as he appeared when I first took him home.
I totally get everything you speak of re the emotional highs and lows. For me it was love from the very first moment, just total joy in this little being, and the feeling of great devotion. Though we have had our downs. Last night it was so bitter bitter cold, but not under layers of blankets, a hot water bottle and me and piglet but he got very loud snorting and nipping and rooting and when I got up for the midnight milk feed, the room was like ice. I was so tired and he was scampering about ( doing his weeks which always happens after he ingests something, and when he got back to bed , the whole time out only 5 minutes he was so cold and so I just stroked and stroked him burrowing him into my skin and today he is fine. But last night I feared I had taken on too much. A total activation of maternal feelings. I live in a farming town with a sensibility of meat animals vs pets ( cats and dogs) and horses are mostly functional. It is a bad fit for me ( vegan, activist, hippie) and hopefully I will move soon. Sorry to go on, really just want to say how much I enjoy your blog, how intense the experience is ( loving a little piglet) ( 4 days into it I feel completely changed) and wonder if anyone with any rescue experience could over any suggestion. I’m patiently picking him up every time he wees and poos and taking him to his box. I can’t really do the treat thing because his dietary requirements are minimal and the warm oats rice etc I provide are sufficient for his tiny belly. Anyway thank you. I wish I could add a picture but not sure how to and am not on face book etc. And two last things, one is he was found with a limp from cuts in the sole if his front hoof( perhaps why he was left behind? And I wonder about when he gets older and could weigh as much as 300 pounds ( I think he is a kuni kuni pig) the other thing is he is male, and so very young, Im curious about how long it would be advisable to keep him before transferring him to his next and final home. I was thinking 5 weeks otherwise it will be too hard emotionally, also the bigger he gets he needs things I cannot provide, like fenced space outdoors. I should add at this point I live in a rental complex that does not allow animals. Any animals!. So we are hidden in my place but there ate big windows for sun, and that is warm despite the freezing temperatures outside. I also live in an area with no sanctuary’s less than 800 miles away. But as said I am determined to find him a safe pig home with wildness in it and a rich good pig life.