Category Archives: Training

Mini Pig Training Basics and Oscar’s First Trick

Oscar learned his first trick! Since mini pigs have a reputation for being stubborn and spoiled, I am training Oscar so he learns some basic obedience and listening skills. Hopefully these quick training sessions at a young age will help minimize behavior problems as he grows.

Here is a video I put together on basic mini pig training and you can see Oscar perform his first trick near the end.

I train Oscar with a clicker because I find the click provides a consistent and concise message to him that he’s doing exactly what I asked him to do. Some people use words and that’s fine, but I prefer the clicker as it’s quicker and I don’t forget which praise word I was using and confuse him.

For training treats, I keep them small which allows me to do more training without overfeeding Oscar. He likes Cheerios, so I often break them in half for training. I’ve learned that he doesn’t really care how big the treat is, just that he’s getting a treat consistently for each trick done correctly. Occasionally I give larger treats for challenging tricks or just to keep him interested and excited about training, but I try not to overdo it. You can also use cut up carrots, peas, or fruit if your mini pig likes those. When Oscar seems to be bored with the reward, I switch up the treats.

Keep the training sessions short, preferably no longer than 2-3 minutes each. I train in two short sessions each day after his meals so that we can make progress without him getting distracted or bored. Training sessions should be fun for you and your mini pig, so if you or your pig is getting frustrated just stop for that session and try again later or the next day.

To see Oscar’s first trick, check out the video and watch him circle. If you want to hear more about mini pig training basics, start from the beginning. If you just want to see the trick, jump in around minute 3.

Mini Pig Training: How to Hold a Mini Pig

One of the trickier parts of our first few days with Oscar was learning how to pick him up and hold him. Mini pigs generally don’t like to have their feet off the ground, and that includes being picked up or held. A lot of the advice I read prior to getting a pet mini pig was to wait several days before trying to pick him up. That was my initial plan, but we ended up needing to lift and hold him from the first day to get up and down our porch steps to take him to potty. We learned quickly what to do and what to avoid.

The first hurdle to picking up and holding a mini pig is getting through the squealing. Since they don’t want to be picked up, they squeal and it can be surprisingly loud and piercing. It’s important that you continue to hold them through the squealing and resist putting them down so they don’t equate squealing with getting put down. It’ll be difficult, but do your best to hold them until they calm down or at least stop squealing. It will get easier.

The second hurdle is figuring out how to hold them. Oscar squirmed a lot when we first held him; between the wiggling and the squealing, my panic mode kicked in and made the situation even more stressful. On top of it, I swear he could sense my fear. So, go in confidently and pick up your mini pig and get your arms under his legs and feet to support him. If you can get the legs or feet supported, your mini pig will calm down much more quickly. Here is a video showing how I hold Oscar.

Now that Oscar is used to being held, he generally falls asleep soon after being picked up. It’s great being able to lift and hold him, but it took time and patience. If you’re in the first few days of learning to hold your mini pig, hang in there and stick with it through the squealing. You’ll get there!

Mini Pig Potty Training

During my mini pig research, I read over and over that mini pig potty training is easier than potty training a dog, but I was skeptical. I have potty trained two dogs, and one was a nightmare (I’m looking at you, Rylee) and the second dog was a little easier since he followed Rylee’s lead and learned to use the dog door quickly. I wasn’t going to be fooled by thinking that potty training a mini pig would be easy and then be angry and frustrated later. Nope, I prepared for the worst: sleepless nights, constant crate cleaning, surprises of unexpected accidents in random places in the house.

As it turned out, potty training Oscar was much easier than potty training my dogs. In fact, we really didn’t have to potty train him. From the day we brought him home, he preferred to go outside instead of in the house. Since pigs prefer to go to the bathroom in the same spot (sometimes uncomfortably so), we picked a spot for him outside and took him there each time we went out.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t have accidents to clean up, but they weren’t due to Oscar not knowing where to go. Most have been our fault and just needed adjusting our strategy. We ran into two main issues.

Consistency: Young piglets can’t completely hold their bladders until they are older, so getting Oscar outside consistently and frequently enough and at the right time was a challenge. Unlike our dogs, Oscar won’t go a little each time we take him out. Instead, he likes to hold off until he really has to go and then goes all at once. What this meant for us is that we could take him out three times in a row with no result and then the fourth time he would go because that’s when he really needed to.

This has been frustrating at times, but the issue vastly improved once we figured out the pattern and adjusted our process. The key for us was getting him out every hour or two knowing that sometimes he would go and sometimes he wouldn’t, but we needed to give him the opportunity. The alternative is that he wouldn’t be able to hold it any longer at some point and would pick a spot in the house. Frequency and consistency in taking him out was key.

Meal Time:  We soon realized that most of Oscar’s accidents happened within an hour after meal time. He would pee two or three times in the house after a meal which we figured out was due to drinking too much water too quickly while eating. In my research, I read how it’s important for piglets to have access to fresh water at all times, but having it available for him at meal time didn’t work. He would go back and forth between his food and water bowls every few bites and take in too much water which was causing the bathroom problems. So, we found some fun and different ways to feed him or just put a little water in with this food pellets and then made sure he had access to his water bowl at all other times.

I know a litter box is a great solution for mini pigs and their families, but we ultimately chose to not go that route. My husband is not a fan of odors in the home and preferred we stick to outside, and I’m home to take Oscar outside frequently so we didn’t need an indoor option. That’s also good because we tried a litter box the first night, and Oscar preferred to use it as a sleeping box.

Oscar Asleep in Litterbox First Night 5.8.15
Oscar sleeping in his litterbox.
Oscar Asleep in Litterbox First Night 5.8.15
Oscar asleep in his litterbox.