Spoiled Pig Syndrome (SPS)
Spoiled Pig Syndrome refers to the behavioral problems of a pet pig that does not respect his humans. It’s all about respect, but you have to earn it! Spoiled pigs quickly become accustomed to getting what they want, when they want it. When they don’t get their way, they will act out. These tantrums and fits of anger can result in dangerous aggressive behavior. When a pig becomes spoiled, everyone is miserable, including the pig. Set boundaries, enforce them, and enjoy a relaxed relationship with your mini pig built on trust and respect.
Pigs become spoiled when they are overindulged or not given adequate leadership structure. In a household, when the pig does not respect the people as leaders, they will treat them as lower ranking herd members. Pigs live in a world of very strict hierarchy. The leader reinforces their role often throughout the day. In a group of pigs, the herd leader will not tolerate misbehavior from pigs of lower ranking. Leader pigs are quick to correct the lower ranking pigs, swift and stern. Lower ranking pigs quickly react to the orders of the herd leader, or face the consequences. To live happily with a pet pig, you need to be the herd leader. Do not allow yourself to become the “lower ranking pig”.
If the pig demands food by rooting at your leg while you are cooking, and you give him a bite, he has become higher ranking than you and expect you to follow his orders. If you fail to do as the pig wants, he will “correct” you with swift and sternness. When you feed your pig to quiet them when they are screaming, you are shifting the leadership role to your pig and telling them it’s ok to set demands for you to fulfill. If you feed your pig snacks often throughout the day, he will start to expect and demand food. When food isn’t available he will become frustrated and angry.
Signs of Spoiled Pig Syndrome (SPS)
- Head Swiping
- Snatching Food
- Failure to move when asked
- Destructive Behaviors
(angrily shredding bedding, furniture, or other items)
How to Prevent & Correct Spoiled Pig Syndrome
- Nothing is Free – Every morsel of food needs to be worked for. Ask the pig to sit or spin before offering the treat. Nothing is free, it should all be earned. ·
- Restrict food to mealtimes – If pigs are expecting food at all hours of the day and night, they will demand it. To rein in a spoiled pig, restrict food to mealtimes only, 2 or 3 times a day. Do NOT feed your pig a bite of food when you are preparing meals, do not feed out of the kitchen, do not give the pig a bite when you are eating, do not feed the pig off your plate. There needs to be a very clear distinction of their food vs your food, so they are not expecting food unless it is actually intended for them. ·
- Work the Mind – Instead of feeding out of bowls, have your pig work for their food. Scatter food throughout the yard or spend 10-15 minutes in a training session while they earn each bite of their food. The more time you spend training your mini pig, the better you will be able to communicate with each other. Just 10 to 15 minutes once or twice a day will give you plenty of opportunity to interact, learn, and teach. Besides the basic commands like sit, stay, bow, you are also learning together how to communicate with each other. Positive rewards will have them yearning to learn more and do as you’ve asked. ·
- Move The Pig (MTP) – Practice MTP throughout the day, at all different times of the day, for no particular reason. When you choose, walk up to your pig and expect them to move out of your way, out of the kitchen, off their bed, off the porch, off the couch, or out of the hallway. This is classic leadership communication between pigs. MTP earns respect and reinforces hierarchy boundaries. ·
- Outdoor Time – Make sure your pig gets plenty of outdoor time daily. Housebound pigs are far more likely to develop Spoiled Pig Syndrome symptoms. ·
- Expect Respect – Set yourself up as the herd leader, enforce the rules, and expect respect. If your pig snaps or swipes you need to correct them. Do not tolerate misbehavior or acts of aggression, no matter how small it seems. Those little seeds of disrespect grow and fester into bigger problems that are more difficult to correct. ·
- Routine – Mini pigs thrive on routine. Setup a clear routine for your mini pig that he can depend on. Pre-mealtime routines are particularly helpful in combating spoiled pigs. Instead of having a screaming pig at your feet while you prepare a salad, keep the pig out of the kitchen until the meal is ready. Before you feed, ask him to do a series of tricks. Go to a particular mat and sit, then spin, wave, and bow. THEN, put the food bowl down for him to eat his lunch. Continue this routine with each meal and he will look forward to earning that meal. Instead of being frantic and hysterical for food, he will be THINKING about the moves he’s learned to get what he wants.