The AMPA’s official Mini Pig Training Handbook: Tricks, Life Skills, and Communication With Your Mini Pig is the first training book of it’s kind! An impressive 130 pages full of training instruction, behavior, communication, problem solving, aggression, tricks, manners, and FULL COLOR or B & W photos to help you visualize the wonderful companion that is within your reach.
One of the keys to a long and successful relationship with your mini pig is training and enrichment. Pigs are incredibly intelligent animals. Highly trainable and they thrive when their minds are stimulated and challenged. A well trained pig is a happy pig. Every time you train with your mini pig, you are improving your communication and strengthening your bond. Training teaches your mini pig the skills she needs to be a well behaved member of the family. Training also gives her the tools she needs to communicate with you.
Basic Life Skills ♦ Harness and Leash ♦ Potty Training ♦ Fun Tricks Obstacle Course ♦ Teaching Respect ♦ Enrichment Activities
Tricks, Life Skills, and Communication
With Your Mini Pig
Key To Success! Training Mini Pigs
Start Off On The Right Hoof
Training Series: Blog 2
Start with the right tools.
There is no right or wrong way to train. There are no training tools that are required. Do what works for you and your pig! There are certain items that can make your training time easier and more rewarding, if you choose to use them. A treat pouch is a life saver when you’re walking around during training. It keeps your hands free with easy access to the snacks. This allows you to direct your pig without distracting food in your hands.
A training clicker is a wonderful tool to pinpoint when your pig has completed the task you asked for. A simple “good pig” can serve the same function. However, my experience with clicker training is the pig is very responsive to that click. If they lose interest and wander off, I simply click click and they come running back! They associate the click sound with a reward. A training clicker also helps to precisely communicate when the pig has done the desired behavior. This means the pig will learn faster with less frustration. A target stick can also be used, but is completely optional. This stick can be handmade or store bought. In target training you can use anything you want, even your hand as the “target”. The Karen Pryor Click Stick from Amazon.com is very handy because it has a built in clicker and telescoping target end. There are certain benefits to training with a clicker or target stick that will be explored in future blogs.
There isn’t a perfect training treat. The best treat for a pig is what she chooses to work for! When planning your training, take into consideration calories, mess, and quantity. You don’t want to give whole marshmallows for sitting. Ice cream doesn’t work, either. You want something preferably dry (but fruits and veggies are good too) that is in bite sized pieces. Starting with treats that are too big will quickly fill your pig’s tummy and also add on the pounds. There is always an opportunity for low calorie high exercise training, no matter how picky the pig! Cut up apples, cucumbers, or grapes are a huge favorite, but if you are using a training treat bag you may want to avoid anything wet or juicy.
Excellent treat choices are:
- Any healthy food on this list for mini pigs
- Mini pig pellets – turn meal times into training adventures!
- Dry oatmeal
- Frosted Mini Wheats
- Raw pumpkin seeds
- Black oil sunflower seeds
- Air popped popcorn
- Coconut oil treats
- Banana Bread Bites
- Diced apples
- Diced cucumbers
- Cut up grapes
- Dried fruit or vegetables
- Sweet potato jerky
Tips for training your pig
Cut the distractions. Make sure the pig can focus on you. Choose a quiet room, just the two of you. Do not train multiple pigs at once.
Use good flooring with traction. If the pig is slipping on hard wood floors, she won’t be keen on putting her butt down for a sit.
Be consistent. Only reward behaviors you want them to repeat.
Keep it short! 5-10 minute sessions. Don’t overdo it. Let them learn, then take a break.
Choose the right treats. When learning, you want them to pay attention (yummy treat) but not be frantically excited.
Timing is everything. Pigs are SMART! They learn quickly when you time the command and reward and command perfectly. If your timing is off, you will confuse them on what they are being rewarded for.
Choose your training routine wisely. Don’t train right before or after a meal. They will either be overly excited for food, or not motivated to work for more.
Set her up for success. At first she won’t know what you’re expecting. Set up the trick so she is sure to do what you want, with some help. REWARD!
Train often. 3 times a day or 3 times a week. Any time you can turn to your pig with treats, make them work!
Rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Solidify that trick or command by repeating many times in the same session. The more they are rewarded for a behavior, the more they will remember THAT earns a treat.
Incorporate training into EVERY food that is offered. Every snack, meal, or treat, the pig should do something even a simple sit will suffice, or a routine of 5-6 tricks in a row is even more fun. The pig will soon by showing off her smarts trying to earn extra snacks throughout the day.
Start slow, then increase difficulty. Give her the chance to figure out what you expect, but don’t bore her. She’s smarter than you think!
Be patient. If the pig doesn’t seem to be catching on, just make it easier for her to succeed, give her a helping hand, and REWARD as if she did it all by herself. After a few well timed successes she will surprise you with her own.
LISTEN to your pig. If she is uninterested and walking away, she is either bored with the treats or bored with the task. Change up the treats to something more valuable and try a new trick she hasn’t mastered yet. If she is snapping or grabbing at the treats, she is frustrated. Slow down, take it back a notch. Try a trick that she has mastered very well.
The most important part of training your mini pig is to ENJOY! This is quality time between you and your pig. Let it be rewarding for you both.
What can you teach a pig?
- Back up
- Walk on a harness
- Relax for hoof trims
- Come to their name
- Out or leave it
- Shake hands
- Push a ball
- Pick up objects
- Solve Puzzles
- Honk a bike horn
- Play a piano
- Play guitar
- Obstacle course
- Use stairs
- Use a doggy door
- Step up (onto an object)
- Jump through a hula hoop
- Run through a tunnel
- Roll out a red carpet
- Walk up a ramp
- Understand sign language
- Distinguish colors
- Distinguish shapes
- Walk on teeter totter
- Weave through poles
- Figure 8 through legs
- Ring a bell to go potty outside
- & Lots more!
Where can I find more training resources?
The American Mini Pig Association has a wealth of educational articles inlcuding training and enrichment for your mini pig.
Visit our website to learn more about mini pigs, become a member of the AMPA and register your mini pig as a pet!