Pot Belly Pigs respond to food. Whenever teaching your pet a new trick or behavior always use treats (raisins, grapes, Cheerios, etc.). It is best to keep them in a plastic type container with a lid so that you can shake it and have it make noise. Your pet will quickly learn that when you shake that container it means food, which means they will come right away or pay attention right away, When they do what you ask they receive a treat. When they do not you can come up with a sentence such as "Let's Start Again" and try it over again until they get it correct and then give them a treat. Pigs learn very quickly for food rewards and they learn very quickly what "Time Out", "Start Again", or "Be Gentle" type of words mean. For Time Out many pig owners will put the pig in the bathroom, put it outside, put it back in its pen, etc. Time Outs for pigs, as with children, do not have to be long, but it is amazing how well it works with our pet pigs.
EARLY MORNING EATERS
It is finally the weekend and you thought you would get to sleep in. Instead, at 5:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. your Pot Belly Pig has decided it is time for you to get up and feed it. Many times they will not stopping the behavior until you do get up and feed them. We hear this a lot from people whose usual work day schedule during the week is to get up at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. for work and feed their pet right away. We are normally told that after their pet eats it will go back to sleep and they go off to work. We have to remember that our little darlings live to eat and it is a VERY important part of their day. When they become accustomed to eating at a certain time in the morning they do not understand that some mornings you wish to sleep in. A simple solution for those pigs that just MUST eat at their set times when you want to sleep in is to go to the feed store and get one of those feeders that operates on a timer.
It needs to be wall mounted to prevent your pet from deciding to push it all over the house hoping for food to come out. Set it at the normal feeding time and let it drop the food onto the floor for your pet to eat. I have been told by many people that once they did this there pet would eat and then go back to sleep (just like a baby) and not disturb there sleep (unlike a real baby). Others tell me they keep food in the drawer next to their bed for weekends and then when their pet wakes up they just reach over and put the food on the floor. I have found that this works a lot better than trying to train your pig to understand the difference between work days and days you want to sleep in. Luckily not all Pot Belly Pigs have this problem, but it is a simple one to correct.
Potty training your pet is usually very easy. You can teach them to use a litter box, teach them to go outside, or teach them to use paper. As with all training, the minute they go where you want them to you reward them with a treat. It does not take long for them to realize that they want the treat and so they will go where you want. Some Pot Belly Pigs are more than happy to use a litter box with no treat yet others need an incentive.
Sometimes a Pot Belly Pig will not want to use its litter box or will use it some time but not all the time. In those cases we suggest you take a glass shallow casserole dish and put a little water in it and place it next to its litter box. For some unknown reason some baby pigs want to walk into the dish with all 4 feet and go to the bathroom in it (we also suggest you put a towel under it so that when they step out of the dish their feet become dry from the towel). Then you simply empty the dish out periodically and refill with a little water. Eventually most pigs decide they will start to use the littler box all the time and give up the little water dish. Why this works or why they usually give it up on their own and start to use the littler box I don't know but our saying is whatever works - do. Occasionally there will be a Pot Belly Pig that has its own ideas as to where the litter box should be. Some will actually move their litter box while others will simply pick the spot or possibly 2 spots they like and use them. Since this is not always what you had in mind our suggestion at that point is to either put newspaper or another litter box in the area or areas they have picked out. If that is impossible we have been told that spraying "Fabreze" on the area they had used to go potty in will eliminate the odor and help to get the pet to realize it is not his chosen spot. I have tried this many times myself and I find it works well. Fabreze is the only product I have found that truly eliminates the odor instead of just covering up the smell and thus does not draw this or other pets back to it.
Once in a rare while comes the Pot Belly Pig that will not house break no matter what. In those cases you need to keep it outside unless playing with in indoors and keep it on a feeding schedule that allows you to know the times that your pet needs to go out. Most Pot Belly Pigs need to go to the bathroom about 5 or 10 minutes after they eat so in the case of an untrainable pig you probably would want to feed it outside and bring it in after it has done its business.
I should also mention the very rare case of a Pot Belly Pig that must urinate while it is drinking water. I don't know if this happens because they have a small bladder or other problem but I do know it is easily solved. You simply attach its drinking water dish to the wall and under it you place either newspaper or its litter box. In all the cases I am aware of this has solved the problem.
When using a litter box you may need to experiment some to see which litter works best for your pet. Do not get the type that clumps up because should your pet eat it, you could end up with a dead or sick pig as it will swell inside of them. Some Pot Belly Pigs like the simple inexpensive litter, others like shavings, yet others like torn up newspaper. You need to remember that whatever you use you want to make sure it is something your pet has no interest in eating, and like children, they all behave differently with different types of litter.
Always start with a harness that has 2 areas to adjust, around the neck and around the stomach area. Our pets tend to get cubby cheeks and more round stomach's as time goes on so if the harness adjusts in both locations it will give you plenty of room to adjust it as your pet grows before you have to purchase the next size. We prefer the ones that are easily unfastened at both locations instead of having to try to undue it another way. You want your pet to understand what treats are and be old enough to know to run to your treat container when you shake it.
Leash Training should be started as soon as possible. As with all else, treats are used. We have found the easiest way to leash train is to have one person holding the leash while another person is across the room holding the treats and shaking the container. Some pigs take to walking with no effort and others create quite a scene. If your pigs jumps up and starts to do summer salts and acts crazy do NOT let that upset you. In some of those cases you may want to simply let your pet run around and get use to the harness before then trying the leash. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave a harness on a pig if you are not home to supervise. They can get their legs stuck or somehow get caught. I don't care how tight you think you have it on your pet, they can be quite inventive in trying to get them off if they don't want them. I know of many pigs that keep their harness on them full time but those are pigs that do not mind their harness and initially were never left alone with it on. The idea when leash training is that your pet will learn that there are treats to be had if they walk on the leash. A little persistence pays off in the long run and once your pet is leash trained you can always take them easily with you.