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Norwich Bulletin - 7/26/2009

The Pig As A Pet

Having a pig live in your house is a lot like having a three year old child that might be well behaved, but never grows up. Add that to the fifteen years that a pig can possibly live, it is a long time commitment to have a pig as a pet. You must be sure that you can commit to that length of time before deciding on a pet pig. And you must make sure that your zoning laws, where you live, will accommodate a pig as a pet.

Pigs are very smart animals and learn very quickly. Contrary to what you have probably heard, pigs are very clean animals and pretty well-behaved. They will test you just like a three year old, but if you are gentle and show them the way they should behave, they will learn what is good behavior fairly quickly.

Remember that you need to get that good behavior while your pig is still small. When they reach 100 pounds, the bad behavior won’t be cute anymore – in fact it could be scary! This is an animal that has a large mouth, hard head, tusks and sharp hooves. The pig must know by the time it reaches adulthood what is okay to do and what is not okay – and the humans must learn not to engage in rough play with their pig.

The actions may be perceived as threatening to the pig and he may lash out to protect himself or let you know that he does not like what is happening. This is normal pig behavior but could end up hurting you so you need to be cognizant of what you are doing when you are bringing up a cute piglet. Pig proof your house (much like you would baby proof it) and if you have children, you must teach them that the pig must be respected.

You can teach your pet pig to use a large doggie door where it can go outside to exercise or go potty. Make sure you have your pig spayed or neutered so that hormones will not kick in and stand in the way of his being a great pet. And ask around to find a veterinarian who knows pig care before you bring one home.

Not all vets take care of large farm animals. And when your pig is full grown it may be a little difficult to put him in your Volkswagon and take him to the vet so you will need to know you have a vet who makes house calls for large animals.

Kids put everything in their mouths. So do Labs and Pigs. Remember that it can be anything from a rubber ball to a steak to a chocolate bar – pigs will try anything and they will never outgrow it either. This will be your biggest challenge in my opinion. At first everyone is very conscientious of the new kitten, puppy, or in this case, piglet. When your pet pig is full grown, you may lapse in your commitment and then there could be some serious consequences depending on what he eats.

It seems that we read all the time on different lists about people moving and not being able to take their dog or cat. I think that is a poor excuse and people need to have more commitment to their pet and find a place that their pets are welcome. Well, if you have a pig, you really need to think about that commitment because you will need to find a pig friendly community when and if you relocate.

Pet pigs bond with their family for life, and if separated a possibility of death can occur. They become so depressed when their families give them up that they stop eating and drinking. So don’t get a pet pig on the spur of the moment – you really need to think if you have the dedication it takes to be there for the life of your pet pig.

I have been told that pigs make great pets. They can be taught tricks in no time at all, and they know how to let you know when they want to go outside or come back in. They like to be brushed, pet, kissed and scratched behind their ears. And they love to hear you tell them what wonderful, smart pigs they are!

There are harnesses that are made so that you can take them for walks, and just like dogs, they have clothes, winter coats, special food, vitamins, shampoos and conditioners and anything else you could find for a dog or cat. Kennels are a little harder though so you will have to figure out what to do with your pig when you go on vacation. The best answer is to have someone stay at your house.

If you talk to a pig enthusiast they will tell you that they are the greatest pets in the world.

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