This is the first of a series on different tricks you can teach your mini pig using a clicker. Mini pigs make the best pets when they are properly trained and understand boundaries. Basic 101 tricks can be easily taught, and mini pigs respond very well to clicker training. You can purchase a clicker at any pet store for just a few dollars. We were impressed when we saw a new mini pig owner teaching her mini piglet tricks using a clicker. She is not an animal trainer or experienced mini pig owner. Oscar is the star of, Life With a Mini Pig, a website showing how Oscar is being trained and growing up. Check out the “how to” video, and step by step instructions, to implement clicker training with your mini pig. Watch for future blogs to learn more tricks!
Mini Pig Clicker Training Basics
Mini pig training is a great way to teach your pig basic obedience while building trust to improve your bond. Additionally, mini pigs are smart and stubborn, and training helps direct your mini pig’s intelligence toward productive, positive activities. Mini pigs can become destructive when bored or lonely, and training allows your pig to spend time with you doing something challenging and fun, making your pig a better pet and companion.
Training your mini pig should be fun for both you and your pig, so keep the training sessions short, preferably no longer than 2-3 minutes each. I train in two short sessions each day after our mini pig’s meals so that we can make progress without him getting distracted or bored. Some days our pig loves training and learns quickly; other days he is disinterested and easily distracted. If either you or your mini pig gets frustrated during training, stop for that session and try again later or the next day. Always keep it fun!
I highly recommend using clicker training with your mini pig. I train our mini pig with a clicker because I find the click provides a consistent and concise message to him that he’s doing the trick correctly. The biggest challenge in training has been getting our mini pig to figure out what I want him to do with each trick. The clicker allows me to clearly communicate to him, reducing confusion and frustration for both of us. Some people prefer to just train with words, but I prefer the click as it’s quicker and more consistent. Also, using the clicker means I never forget which praise word I was using and accidentally confuse our mini pig.
For training treats, I keep them small which allows me to do more training without overfeeding. I prefer to work with Cheerios since they are dry, portable, and easy to break in half for even smaller training treats. I’ve learned that our mini pig 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. If your pig seems bored with the reward, switch up the treats to keep it fun.
Before your very first training session with a clicker, you need to teach your mini pig that the click is positive. This is called priming the clicker. Sit next to your mini pig with the clicker and some treats, and simply click the clicker and then immediately give your mini pig a treat. Continue to click and give a treat several times. You can repeat this process in as many sessions as you would like, but my experience is that mini pigs figure out very quickly that the click is positive and is accompanied by a treat. When you click and your mini pig either comes to you or looks as if she’s expecting a treat, your priming is finished and you are ready to start training.
Oscar’s First Trick (Circle)
I always recommend starting mini pig training with circle. Circle is easy to teach, and it’s a very comfortable, natural movement for your mini pig. People use different names for this trick including circle, spin, twirl, and turn around, but it doesn’t matter which one you pick as long as you use it consistently in your training. So, pick your favorite!
Steps to training your mini pig to circle.
1) Start with a clicker in one hand and a treat in your other hand.
2) With your mini pig in front of you, take your hand with the treat and place it above your mini pig’s snout. I put my hand several inches above the snout to keep the pig from biting at it, but you can put it closer to the snout if you want. It’s just important that the treat is in front of your mini pig; you want your mini pig watching the treat.
3) Once your mini pig is watching the treat, say “circle” and then take the treat and move it in a circle, going horizontally to the side, behind your mini pig, and all the way around to the front. As you’re doing this, your mini pig will follow the treat with her snout.
4) When your hand with the treat and your mini pig are back to the front, your mini pig will have completed the circle. Go ahead and click and give her a treat.
5) Repeat the trick by having your mini pig follow the treat in your hand until she has it down, and then take out the hand movement. Just hold the treat in place and say “circle.” Your mini pig may need a little help for a while, so you can start the circle with the treat in your hand but let her finish the circle by herself. Each time she finishes the circle, click and give her a treat.
6) Eventually your mini pig will go in a circle with just the command “circle” and will have the trick down. You might even find your mini pig circling at random times in hope for a treat!
Watch for future clicker training blogs coming soon!
Thank you Oscar and family for sharing your wonderful training videos and step by step write up. Many pig owners will benefit from watching!