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Pig O My Heart Potbellies - potbelly pig, potbellied pig, pet pig, pig, pot-belly pig


Potbelly Pig Tips Your Responsibilities

Pig O My Heart Potbellies - potbelly pig, potbellied pig, pet pig, pig, pot-belly pig

Jesse and Tito.

Providing The Perfect Premise For Your Potbellied Pride & Joy

Oh what fun it is to prepare your home for that new little sweetie pig. And it’s important to make the transition from living with littermates to peoplemates as smooth and painless as possible. The details I attend to as a breeder in preparing a piggy for adoption are similar to what you as an adoptive family can do to welcome the little newcomer into your home.

Much of the preparation for your new housemate will depend upon how old the pig is, how long it has been weaned and away from other piglets, if it has been handled and socialized, and if it has had any litterbox and/or outdoor training. When you buy a pig from a breeder, ask lots of questions about how the pig has been handled, what and how much food he has been eating, the extent of his litter training, the vaccinations the pig has received and if the pig has had any type of problem. Don’t be bashful. Information you gather beforehand will only make the transition easier.

I am writing from the perspective from which my pet pigs are adopted: that the animal is at least seven weeks old, has been weaned and isolated from littermates, has become user friendly and has been taught the fundamentals of potty training.

Giving The Pig Space

A well-defined place for your piggy is most important. This area should not be too large, have the ability to be closed off from the rest of the house and be draft-free with an even temperature. Kitchens and utility rooms work well because of the linoleum or tile floors in case potty accidents occur. If you received your pig in a travel or carrying crate, this should be left in the designated quarters — familiarity breeds contentment. Also, if you intend to use this carrier for pig pleasure travel, trips to the vet or as a kennel when you are away from the house, it is a good idea to feed your piggy in his carrier and lock him in once in a while. This way when it is necessary to have your pig confined to his carrier, the experience is not scary or unusual because he is used to it.

If you don’t have a room or part of a room you can use for your new piggy, a large children’s play pen is a good temporary compromise. The space is not really adequate for other than a very young piglet. Since the bottom of play pens are usually plastic, I place throw rugs down for traction and define the sleeping area with a blanket or sleeping bag, putting the litter pan in an opposite corner. The feeding area should be in yet another corner. Pigs don’t like to eat and eliminate in the same area. That’s simply not piggy-like. The play pen arrangement only works for a young pig, so prepare a more permanent space as soon as possible.

Le Toilette

Another essential item to have set up before your pig arrives is a litter box. You will have to use a pan that is more shallow than those designed for cats, which are far too high for our porcine pals to climb into easily. Cat boxes also eventually won’t be large enough to accommodate your growing pig. My favorite litter pan is the plastic tray that is used to catch droppings in the bottom of a rabbit hutch made by Havahart (www.havahart.com). The litter box should be placed away from the sleeping area and if you put your pig’s water dish inside the tray, you will marvel at how your piglet will urinate while having a nice drink!

For litter, I prefer newspapers because they are readily available, cheap, and effective. I lay several layers in the litter pan and remove as needed. Granted, you will be changing the papers more often, but I find wood chips to be very messy. If you prefer wood chips, use pine and not cedar. Don’t use cat litter; pigs like to eat it, those silly guys.

A combination of indoor and outdoor potty training is a good idea. My experience indicates that piggies don’t mind urinating indoors in a litter box but they prefer to defecate outdoors. So with the goal that one day your pig will be totally an outdoor eliminator, choose a spot in the yard that you want the pig to use and start training your pig to “potty” there. You must stay with your piggy during this initial outdoor training for two reasons: 1. To praise his accomplishments (say “Good pee!” or “Good poo!” when he completes his mission), and; 2. To make certain he doesn’t find a way out of the yard or the enclosure.

If you want to make it easy for your pig to go outdoors, you can install a dog door. These can either be purchased that fit into the frame of a sliding patio door, or they can be installed in the bottom of a hinged door. Of course, you will have to teach the pig to use the door, but he will readily figure out how to push through it if you stand on one side with a shaker can of pellets and call him. It won’t take long for him to be scampering in and out. You’ll find that he learns very quickly to go outside when he needs to do his business.

Safety First

If your house has floors that are not carpeted, your piggy will really appreciate paths made of throw rugs. Smaller pigs have more difficulty navigating on slick surfaces than larger ones, so these throw rugs may need to be used only temporarily. They also function to direct your pig to the areas you prefer him to go. If allowed, your porcine pal will investigate every nook and cranny of your abode, as pigs are very curious by nature. They like to help you with your daily chores, happily following you around, snorting and almost always collecting dust bunnies on their noses.

It’s important to keep kitchen and bathroom cabinets that contain dangerous substances closed securely, just as you would for a child. Keep your piggy away from anything that might harm him.

I would not recommend using crockery dishes for feed and/or water bowls. Pigs love to push things around with their noses, hence the possibility of lots of broken dishes. Because pigs have big jowls, a wide bowl is necessary. I’ve had the best luck with straight-sided, plastic bowls about 7" in diameter and 2" tall. Another good option is an aluminum pan about 1-1/2" tall and 12" in diameter. Both are light weight, good for traveling, indestructible, and easy to clean.

Very young, newly weaned pigs really like to have something warm to cuddle up to. A rubber hot water bottle filled with warm water and wrapped in a cloth or old t-shirt works great. This is like a mini water bed, warm and very comfortable, and not unlike the feel of another piglet. A household electric heating pad should not be used because the pig may chew on the cord and the result could be disastrous. It’s important to keep all electrical cords inaccessible to your pig, but because pigs are so smart, you can quickly teach your pig that cords are a definite "NO." Special heat mats are available if you feel your climate and usage would warrant the expense. They are made of a heavy plastic material with the heating element completely embedded and the cord protected. Many sizes are offered, and they can be used indoors as well as outdoors. (heat mat: Kane Mfg. Co. Inc., 800-247-0038). Another heated pad for dogs, cats and other small animals is made by K & H Manufacturing and is called Lectro-Kennel. If not available locally, call 719-591-6950 and inquire.

Every pig I’ve ever dealt with would much prefer a sleeping bag to any other indoor bedding. I’ve tried blankets, rugs, and dog pillows, but the bag definitely wins. I think they like the slick feel and coziness as well as the ability to burrow down. Discount stores carry sleeping bags for under $20 that fill the bill and are machine washable.

You can create a cozy sleeping area for your pig by setting up a card table and draping blankets, large towels or sheets over it, making a tent afair. Place your piggy cushion and all your pig’s special blankies inside. She will love the privacy and there will definitely be no drafts. The table top serves as a handy space for her supplies.

The Mobile Pig and More

At first, getting your pig up and down steps and in and out of cars will be no problem—just pick him up and do with him what you will. However, as the size of your sweetie pig increases, so will this ease of handling lessen. All of the entries into our house have steps. It just so happens that we had built a ramp for an aged, arthritic, canine buddy that also works beautifully for the pigs. It is made out of piece of 3/4" plywood with a guard rail that is made from a 1" x 6". Be certain that the slope of your ramp is not too steep. I’ve stapled a piece of rubber matting down the center of the ramp to help with traction—indoor/outdoor carpet or roofing shingles will also work. A similar ramp can also be constructed to use with your car.

It seems that younger, smaller pigs have less trouble climbing stairs than older, larger ones. Since my breeding girls are in and out of the house a lot, I certainly don’t want them dragging their precious underlines along hard, concrete steps. But that is not to say a perky, pet pig can’t learn to use the steps without harming himself. Using food as a motivator, work with your pig on stair training. You will be surprised at how quickly your pig will master this. As always, be slow and patient and don’t over do your training sessions—short, frequent sessions are more productive than long ones.

You will have fun watching your particular pig and discovering what works and what pleases him. I’ve bought dog toys, hung tether balls from trees, and perused toy departments looking for the perfect diversions, but none have been overwhelmingly successful. Rather, my pigs most enjoy playing with a throw pillow or tearing up newspapers. A wagging dog tail or shiny canine toe nails passing by also have proven appealing.

I discovered a wonderful rubber brush that is actually designed for cattle but works well for pigs. On one side there are bristles, on the other little rubber nubs. It fits on your hand like a glove, which makes grooming convenient and reinforces that the human hand brings pleasure to the pig—a concept that comes in handy during training. I’ve tried other styles of brushes, but this is by far the favorite of my piggies, and it is very durable. (scrub & wash mitt: Nasco, #C11574N, 800-558-9595)

The items I’ve mentioned here have been tried and tested and work very well for me and my pigs. That’s not to say that there aren’t lots of other systems and supplies that will work for you. Success depends upon each individual’s set up, the personality of each pig and the time you spend with your pig. The most important thing to remember is that your pig is quite intelligent. Put yourself in your pig’s position and try to reason as he would. If you suddenly move his litter box, for example, don’t be surprised if your pig either eliminates in the spot the box used to sit, or refuses to eliminate at all. Try not to make abrupt changes in your piggy’s environment and routine. The adaptability of these little creatures never ceases to amaze me, but consistency and familiarity are very important when you are trying to train your pig.

Potbelly Pig Tips Your Responsibilities


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