I firmly believe in beginning socialization of my micro mini piglets from the time they are born. From the moment of birth, these babies know me as well as their mother. All of my piglets are handled and loved everyday. This makes an unbelievable difference in their dispositions and attitudes. Rather than seeing the world as a "glass that is half empty, they are hopeful and trusting. Let me tell you about "Debra" and the experience she had buying her pig. My Saturday morning routine was suddenly interrupted when I received a call from a new owner of a micro mini pig. I could hear a note bordering on desperation in her voice as she apologized for the call since she had bought her pig from another breeder. “Debra” had been surfing the web trying to find a solution to the problems she was having with her new pet pig and came across my website and thought she would try a call.
After listening to her for a few minutes, Debra impressed me as being someone who had wanted a pet pig very much but was a bit bewildered at the behavior her pig was exhibiting. She and her husband traveled a good distance to pick up a 4 month old micro mini pig which turned out to be larger than the breeder had led her to believe. This should have been her first red flag. The next cause for concern was that the pig was living in an outside pen among other pigs. The breeder had said the pig was socialized.
Debra and her husband almost decided to forego buying the pig, but she thought he was cute and she would have been very disappointed to go home empty handed.
Since then she has found out that the pig was not socialized and that his diet had consisted of dog food. I gasped when I heard that a person who professes to be a breeder of micro mini pigs actually fed them dog food. As a result, not only was the pig overweight for his age, but malnourished as well! Debra had tried to contact the breeder time and again with no response and her problems with the pig; not being socialized, not being potty trained, not well cared for, and not having been neutered, were causing a great deal of frustration.
The problem she faced was: How to raise a mini pig and make an outside pig into an inside pet.
My first suggestion to Debra was to have him neutered as soon as possible and I recommended she schedule an appointment with my veterinarian since she didn’t have her own vet.
Then it there's the issue of TRUST.
Here are a few tips on how to raise a mini pig:
Patience, and lots of it - Praise him when he does something right. Above all be patient with him and give him lots of love. •An established routine – Set up a specific time to feed him, to take him potty, to play with him, to train him, and bed time. •Close human interaction - Debra should talk softly to her pig to help him acclimate to his indoor surroundings and give him more of her time.
Meet the pig on his level - Pigs’ bodies are not made to allow for looking up, so she should make it easier for him to get to know her by getting in the floor and offering small bits of apple, a few Cheerios, or raisins to him to start him coming to her while saying “come”.
Since Debra loves her pig and wants to be able to keep him, she is willing to do anything within her power to bring him around.
Although the situation is frustrating, we have to remember that it’s not the pig’s fault.
In fact, dealing with Debra and her pig brought an interesting study to mind that showed how pigs that were kept clean and lived in an enriched environment were
•More optimistic •More trusting •And, expected a good outcome
According to the study conducted by Dr. Catherine Davis of Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development: "We found that almost without exception, the pigs in the enriched environment were optimistic about what this new noise could mean and approached expecting to get the treat," she said.
"In contrast, the pigs in the boring environment were pessimistic about this new strange noise and, fearing it might be the mildly unpleasant plastic bag, did not approach for a treat.” Dr. Davis further explained,
"It's a response we see all the time in humans where how we are feeling affects our judgment of ambiguous events.”
Dr. Davis’ study shows exactly why socialization of a pig that is going to spend his or her life with a human family is so crucial. As Debra is finding out, it’s much easier and pleasant too, to interact with a pig that expects good things to happen.
Barbara Dunham has been involved in breeding, training and placing micro mini pigs and toy teacup pigs throughout the United States. Contact her at Minipigs4sale.com
Excerpts taken from Pampered pigs 'feel optimistic', Dr. Catherine Davis , Newcastle University's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, UK