Happy Easter from Oscar, Rylee, and family! Since it’s Oscar’s first Easter, we wanted to let him celebrate with a special snack. We didn’t want him to have Easter candy due to the sugar content, so we came up with a healthier treat for him. Oscar has eaten oats before, but he’s never actually had oatmeal. So, we made Oscar his very own oatmeal with raisins, blueberries, and bananas.
We put Oscar’s bib on and let him enjoy his Easter oatmeal. He loved every last bite! Happy Easter!
Oscar is 11 months old! Although we’ve had some challenges with Oscar over the past few months, life with him is pretty calm these days. The biggest breakthrough in Oscar’s behavior has been due to Move the Pig, and I am both surprised and pleased with how much Move the Pig has improved his behavior.
Oscar’s aggression has a tendency to come and go from one month to the next, but right now he is showing almost no signs of aggression. After dealing with his persistent head swiping and air biting for several months, I am amazed that he hasn’t done either of those behaviors in quite a while. I have heard some people describe Move the Pig as magical, and so far I agree with that description. What amazes me is that Move the Pig doesn’t appear to deal with mini pig biting because it’s done at a different time than biting and doesn’t involve handling the snout or mouth area, but it still works. My favorite part of Move the Pig is that it’s done at random times of the day and doesn’t have to be done when your pig is being aggressive, allowing me to walk away from a tense situation and handle it later by moving Oscar.
Things between Oscar and his dog sister, Rylee, have even improved. When we first started Move the Pig with Oscar, the relationship between Oscar and Rylee got worse initially. Although I’m not positive, my theory is that Oscar was fighting even harder for his spot in the hierarchy against Rylee since he was losing his battle with the humans in the house. Fighting with Rylee gave him hope of remaining higher in the hierarchy than at least something. However, over time, he just calmed down and stopped instigating battles with her. They still have occasional “checks” with each other, particularly around food, but it doesn’t escalate and Rylee seems back to her normal self and at ease in the house again.
As I’ve learned with Oscar, shifts in his aggression can happen at any time, but for now things are calm and happy. Everyone seems to know their place in the hierarchy, and there isn’t a constant struggle going on for position. We still do Move the Pig a few times each day as maintenance, but I’m really happy with Oscar’s behavior these days.
Our little guy had a small growth spurt this month due to me increasing his food just to make sure he was getting enough. He now gets a mid-day kale salad for extra nutrition, and he’s thrilled about the addition.
At 11 months old, Oscar is 25 pounds, 15.5″ tall, and 26″ long.
Oscar loves music! When we have music playing in the house, Oscar happily wags his tail to each song. With some songs, his tail appears to even keep the beat. I have been trying to get Oscar’s tail dance on video for a while now, but it’s been a challenge because he always gets distracted when I start searching for the camera.
I was in the kitchen recently when I looked down and noticed Oscar’s tail wagging to Meghan Trainor’s song “Title.” This time I was lucky enough to have my camera within reach, so I finally got his tail dance on video. I’ve read that mini pigs love music and even have preferences for certain songs or types of music. From what I can tell, Oscar is definitely a Meghan Trainor fan!
In the video, Oscar happily wags his tail to Meghan Trainor’s “Title” and then abruptly stops when the song ends. When the next song starts, he wags his tail again.
Here is the video of us using Move the Pig. It starts out with a brief discussion of Move the Pig and then includes two examples of us using our interpretation of MTP. There is also some Oscar cuteness at the end of the second example as his reward for moving quickly and immediately after being asked.
Please keep in mind that this is simply how I’ve interpreted Move the Pig based on my research. I’m not an expert on Move the Pig, so please do your research on MTP to make sure you understand the technique before using it on your pig. I mention this a few times in the video because it’s a really important point for a pig owner’s safety when using the technique. Move the Pig techniques can vary depending on the severity of your pig’s aggression. Since Oscar’s aggression isn’t severe and since he’s still small enough that I can control him pretty well, I use some lighter MTP techniques. However, the technique I use with Oscar might not be safe for an owner of a larger, severely aggressive pig. In more severe situations, owners are often advised to use a board between them and the pig for safety. So, do your research first and decide which particular techniques are best for your pig in order to do MTP in a way that’s appropriate and safe for you and your pig.
Update: I am conflicted these days on the best way to handle mini pig aggression. Move the Pig was helpful for us, but it didn’t solve all of our issues with Oscar’s aggression. After writing this post, I learned there is another approach to handling pig aggression called positive reinforcement, taught by Lara Joseph. If you are having trouble with aggression in your mini pig, I highly recommend researching both approaches before deciding which one to use. The articles linked below are great for learning more about Move the Pig. To learn more about positive reinforcement from Lara Joseph, check out The Animal Behavior Center. She offers many different programs, including webinars (she has one on pig aggression), online training, Facebook live sessions, workshops, etc.
I first heard about Move the Pig after posting about Oscar’s first biting phase. Oscar was playfully nibbling toes, but he was also attempting to bite when we did something he didn’t like, such as move him after a nap or put his harness on. At the time, Oscar was really young and his teeth were tiny and not very threatening, so I ignored any advice about Move the Pig and instead used some positive reinforcement to stop Oscar’s air biting behavior.
Months later, Oscar started whipping his head at us and air biting again. This time, Oscar was bigger and had very sharp teeth, so I was really concerned. Oscar would growl at us and then, if we didn’t stop what we were doing, the growl would build until he whipped his head around and air bit at us. Now that Oscar was older and stronger, his aggression was really concerning and I worried that we would end up with a dangerous pig if we didn’t do something immediately to stop the aggression. My biggest fear was that his aggression would get to the point where we couldn’t handle him.
To stop Oscar’s aggression and biting, we were putting our hand around his snout while saying “no” to teach him that biting was not acceptable behavior. This is a technique that’s recommended by some pig experts and can be effective. For us, it was keeping Oscar from whipping his head and trying to bite us while we were wiping him down or moving him after a nap, but it didn’t solve the aggression behind the behavior. What we really needed to solve was the aggression issue causing the head whipping and biting.
After I posted about Oscar’s second biting phase, people reached out to me and again recommended Move the Pig. At this point, I was desperate for a solution and out of ideas, so I decided to give Move the Pig a shot. Aside from a few people mentioning Move the Pig on social media, I had no idea what it really was or what I needed to do to try it. I researched and found out why Move the Pig is used, why it’s effective, and came up with a plan to try it with Oscar.
I am absolutely not an expert on Move the Pig, which is a technique originally implemented by Lydia Weaver. I am simply an owner who has researched it and read enough articles to feel confident trying the technique on my mini pig. However, my very basic interpretation of Move the Pig is that it’s a technique that allows us to communicate to a pig that we are the top of the hierarchy. Pigs are very hierarchical, and they need to know their ranking within a hierarchy. Their aggression often results when they decide to challenge someone for their spot in the hierarchy in order to move up, and this can be an adult, child, or another animal in the house. Move the Pig uses the same types of movements that pigs use with each other to communicate hierarchy and allows us to mimic those with our pig. What results is a way for us to effectively communicate our hierarchy with our pig so that he or she can understand and fall into place within the hierarchy. The aggression you see in a mini pig is frequently because of this hierarchical challenge so, ideally, once the hierarchy is established and settled, a lot of the aggression should stop.
My biggest mistake with Move the Pig was ignoring people’s suggestions to try it. One reason I ignored it was because I didn’t want to think of Oscar as aggressive, and I was uncomfortable labeling him that way. The other reason is that I somehow got the impression that Move the Pig was for larger rescue pigs who needed a ton of rehabilitation and were 100% aggressive and disobedient. I was wrong, and I have instead come to think that nearly every mini pig owner should learn about and understand Move the Pig.
Rather than thinking of Move the Pig as a way to rehabilitate really troubled and disobedient pigs, I now think of it simply as a way to communicate with a pig in his own language. Instead of waiting until Oscar’s aggression gets out of control, we now use Move the Pig techniques daily to communicate and reinforce the hierarchy in our household. A helpful piece of advice someone gave me is to keep doing Move the Pig even after you think it has worked and fixed your mini pig’s aggression. That helped me think of Move the Pig as a simple communication tool rather than an intimidating, complicated technique.
Move the Pig has been working really well for us so far, and I highly recommend it. Oscar’s aggression isn’t 100% fixed, but it has definitely improved and we feel like we have much more control over his aggression now and an effective tool to use when he shows any signs of aggression.
Since I am not a Move the Pig expert, I will list some resources below where you can read more about Move the Pig. From what I understand, Move the Pig techniques can vary depending on the severity of the pig’s aggression. Since Oscar is still small and his aggression isn’t terribly serious, we use some of the lighter techniques. However, for someone with a pig who is larger or has become dangerous, experts often recommend using a board between the owner and the pig when trying Move the Pig. So, before trying any techniques, make sure to research first and then try the particular techniques of Move the Pig that are most appropriate for your mini pig.
For us, Move the Pig means that we move Oscar with our feet a few times each day, sometimes from his napping spot and other times just when he’s standing around in the house. We say “move, move, move, move, move” and occasionally stomp or clap, especially when we first approach Oscar so that he knows what’s coming, and he almost always gets up and moves immediately. When he gets up and moves like he’s supposed to, we call him back into our space so that he doesn’t become frightened or see Move the Pig as really negative. I also try really hard not to step around Oscar when walking through the house. After learning about Move the Pig, I noticed how often I carefully step around him when he’s in my way. However, since pigs communicate hierarchy with their feet, stepping around them can send them mixed messages about who is in charge. So, that’s been a big change, and I simply move him or ask him to move instead of stepping over him now, which helps reinforce my communication that I’m in charge.
One thing that’s really important to address is that a lot of mini pig owners think Move the Pig is mean. I’ll admit that it feels mean at first. Many of us have babied our pigs to the point of being spoiled, so intentionally moving them from a napping spot with our feet feels wrong. However, Oscar seems like a happier pig now that he knows his place in the household hierarchy. When he’s challenging us and trying to figure out where he belongs, he’s aggressive, unsettled, and seems always on guard. Now that his place is more established, he seems calmer, happier, and more able to just enjoy being a pig. So, although it might feel uncomfortable and mean at first, sticking with Move the Pig will allow you to see the positive changes in your pig first hand, and I have come to believe they are happier knowing their place rather than constantly challenging to figure it out, even if that place in the hierarchy is lower. Also, if you still think Move the Pig is mean, search for and watch a video of pigs interacting with each other. They are often very rough when moving each other and establishing hierarchy, and it will help you to see how Move the Pig works when it’s between pigs.
To learn more about Move the Pig, check out the below articles. In all of my research, I found these articles to be the most helpful in learning what Move the Pig is and how to use it.