Pigs love to root in different substrates, like sand, mulch, mud... (Photo credit Fenny Gaastra)

Pigs love to root in different substrates, like sand, mulch, mud… (Photo credit Fenny Gaastra)

Kylie Robinson Christie says:

Hope it’s ok to post here – reaching out to see what success people have had training pigs? Or if anyone knows who best to ask? Thanks 🐽

Kayce Cover: I have trained innumerable pigs. I have overseen the development of entire pig training programs. I had a column in PotBellied Pig Magazine for years. if that qualifies, how can I help?

Kylie Robinson Christie: It should not surprise me! I can see how marker training will work with them (and would be able to apply name and explain) so I think my question is more on the socialization of pigs – I have only socialized dogs before! Is there any similarity?

Kayce Cover answers:

Kylie, I use the same techniques with pigs as I do with dogs. In other words, I use Bridges, Targets, Name & Explain, Conditioned Relaxation, and Cycles…. AND respect and a sense of play.

Pigs are smart in a way we can appreciate easily. They learn quickly and are often hungry for intellectual stimulation and accomplishment. One, Lady Lee, used to stand next to her flash cards, chomping till she frothed her saliva into a foamy cloud dripping out of her mouth. She was eager to show her ability to discriminate her cards. She was the proverbial “call on me, call on me!” student.

However, many pigs have traits that can make them a bit tricky. For example most pigs appear to be rather sensitive, and can take offense at their owner moving, when they are lying upon them (a favorite pastime of many pigs and their people). Or, I have seen pigs charge people they normally liked, when that person showed up in sandals, instead of closed shoes. And they seem to be creatures of habit. Almost every pig I have known likes to be asleep by 9:30 pm at the latest, and they do not want to be disturbed or awoken early. Change is often not welcome. In fact, they seem to find it downright annoying! And in some pigs, this is seen in a tendency to charge and bite.

They seem to be more flexible when they are youngsters, so this is a good time to expose them to the world at large. They thrive with small increments of change, and lots of information. Pigs LOVE ‘Name & Explain’. It takes the edge of change and gives them time to get themselves ready for what is coming.

One tip: be very mindful of jostling their jowls. This can trigger aggression, and the pig can swipe with the tusks very quickly. Also, pigs are heat delicate compared to many animals, so be mindful of the temperature and how much effort they are outputting.

Thanks to Fenny Gaastra, featured in the lead photo, for sharing her photos with us. Cool, Fenny!