Although some people would never consider sharing their home with a pig, there are many people who are charmed by the intelligence and the personality of their pet pot bellied pigs. There is no doubt that when given the proper care and training, a pot bellied pig can make an interesting and much-loved addition to the home. However, many people find that pigs are demanding pets and are overwhelmed by their needs - as shown by the abundance of shelters overflowing with pot bellied pigs.
Pot Bellied Pigs Are Smart
Pigs are very intelligent. Pot bellied pigs are quite trainable, much the same as a dog (they can be house trained, leash trained, and will learn a few tricks); however, their intelligence can make them a bit of a handful, too. They are curious and playful, but also headstrong and sensitive. They will become easily bored and possibly destructive if not provided with enough activities and enrichment.
Pot Bellied Pigs Have an Appetite
Pigs are unrelenting in their quest for food. They can learn to open the fridge, cupboards, and pantry - wherever food may be lurking. They can become demanding, begging for food, and even getting aggressive with kids that have food. Pigs also "root" or dig/explore with their snouts and in doing so may overturn items in the house, including wastebaskets, and can disrupt the landscaping outside. An area to allow rooting in the dirt outside should be provided and food can be scattered for the pot bellied pig to search for.
Pot Bellied Pigs Can Have a Temper
Another problem some owners have encountered with their pigs is aggression. Pot bellied pigs can be territorial and have a drive to be dominant ("top pig"). Unless shown that the humans in the household are number one, pigs can exhibit a form of aggression known as dominance aggression (also seen in dogs).
Pigs need to be taught to respect their owners by setting rules and boundaries, teaching the word "no," and using gentle but firm discipline. Pigs respond well to positive reinforcement (e.g. using praise and treats when the pig is doing something desirable) and do not do well at all with physical punishment. From day one, the owner should be setting the rules and enforcing them. Consistent rules, praise for good behavior, and correction/redirection with lots of repetition and patience will help produce a well-mannered pot bellied pig with a good relationship with its family. Neutering or spaying is also a must to control those raging hormones.
Pot Bellied Pigs Live a Long Time
Pot bellied pigs will live an average of 12-18 years with some getting to be older than 20 years. Responsibility for their care (with respect to both time and finances) is not to be taken lightly since pot bellied pigs live such a long time.
Other Pot Bellied Pig Considerations
Pot bellied pigs should be obtained from conscientious and reputable breeders and you will need a lot of good quality pot bellied pig food and regular hoof trims throughout their lifetime. Pot bellied pigs will also need to be spayed or neutered.
Regular access to the outdoors for exercise is a necessity as well. Pigs are social animals so they need lots of attention and interaction. Of course, as with any other exotic pet, an owner needs to check local regulations to make sure pot bellied pig ownership is permissible where they live.
For people with appropriate expectations, a pot bellied pig will make a rewarding, entertaining, much-loved pet.