Mini Pigs and Aggression: Why You Should NOT “Move the Pig” – Part 1

Lately, I’ve had quite a few calls and consults with pig owners. The number one complaint? Aggression. The number one method used? “The Move the Pig” program.

For many mini pig owners, their adorable piglet starts out as a sweet companion. As time goes on, piglet begins to push its way around, maybe even starts nipping or chasing kids and dogs (much to a loving owner’s horror). So what’s a pig owner to do?

 You search frantically through Google. You find Facebook forums. You inevitably come across the “Move the Pig” program. A heavenly beam of light shines upon you. Cherubs sing! This is the answer to your piggie prayers! Is this the hope you’ve been looking for? Will your porcine companion be tamed?

What I Learned About the “Move the Pig” Program

A few years back when I first heard of the “Move the Pig” program, I was curious. This was not a method that I had ever learned about during my years obtaining a degree in Animal Behavior, so I figured I had to look into it. After many discussions with owners, I quickly realized that this program was being advocated by mini pig breeders, Facebook forums, and pig enthusiasts.

I discovered that the program was started by a pig owner who wanted to help fellow owners get a handle on their own pig’s aggression. I was intrigued. I love when pet owners are proactive about their animal’s behavior and want to set something in place that addresses both their needs and the animal’s needs.

I delved right in. I read through the posts and comments. I was excited! And then my heart sank.

Pig owners, as with dog, cat and parrot owners, were being informed by well-intentioned individuals who want to help, but they unknowingly treat animal behavior modification as an anecdotally informed process.

Behavior is a science, to the dismay of many curbside “animal behaviorists.” The greatest travesty in animal behavior is that knowledge is available at large institutions such as universities, but it is rarely available to the common pet owner.

The result? We have enthusiastic pet owners giving advice on how to solve behavioral issues based on their personal experience with their animals.

As pet owners, we need to be vigilant and think critically about where we get our information. To put it into context, we wouldn’t go to a grocery store to get our broken arm set, even if the grocer had many broken arms throughout his life.

Why? Because as sweet and helpful as he may be, he is not trained in the science that is medicine.

The same is true for animal training and behavior. Our field is completely unregulated, which means much misinformation goes unchecked and can spread quickly.

The Problem With the “Move the Pig” Program

It is promoted by a self-declared “expert.” You should always be wary when individuals declare themselves “experts” based on:

  • Living with animals their whole lives;
  • Having an “intuitive” sense about animals; and/or
  • Having a pet that was their teacher.

For example, I love my dear Border Collie, and it is true that I have learned so much from our experiences together and observing her behavior.

However, it is not enough to base a methodology off of our own interactions for an entire group of animals.

It needs to be examined under the lens of science. Otherwise, it is basically our opinion based off of a particular experience, not a method. Which, I suppose, wouldn’t be as detrimental if it was just you and your own pig. But when you start telling many pig owners and position it as a bona fide solution, now your idea has some far-reaching consequences.

A method is defined as, “a procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, especially a systematic or established one.”

Nothing is systematic about lack of peer-review or replicability. Opinions are needed and valid, but it’s important to become an advocate for the animal you are teaching by learning about how and WHY they behave the way they do.

I always caution pet owners when they listen to advice from a self-declared expert that has no formal education on how the science of behavior works. It can do great harm to both the animals and the owners. When a person acts as an expert in a field as significant and influential as behavior, it has a large ripple effect.

I always say that being a trainer or behavioral therapist is a very powerful role: You are changing the life of an animal or person, often both.

That holds great weight; it’s a serious ethical responsibility and should be treated as such.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I delve into the details of the “Move the Pig” program, the dangers of the methods recommended, what mistakes pig owners make, and what you can do instead.


Read Next: Labeling Behavior as a Personality Trait: Why You Should NOT “Move the Pig” – Part 2

10 followers

I am an animal trainer and owner of Bark and Soul. I have guided hundreds of people to new, empowered and educated relationships with their pets through my science-based and heart-centered approach. I earned my degree in Biological Psychology with an emphasis in Animal Behavior from UC Davis and worked in veterinary clinics, shelters, farms and sanctuaries before opening my own practice. My unique approach integrates the latest research in the fields of psychology and mindfulness studies.

Want to start sharing your mind and have your voice heard?

Join our community of awesome contributing writers and start publishing now.

LEARN MORE


ENGAGE IN THE CONVERSATION

Mini Pigs and Aggression: Why You Should NOT “Move the Pig” – Part 1

Lately, I’ve had quite a few calls and consults with pig owners. The number one complaint? Aggression. The number one method used? “The Move the Pig” program.

For many mini pig owners, their adorable piglet starts out as a sweet companion. As time goes on, piglet begins to push its way around, maybe even starts nipping or chasing kids and dogs (much to a loving owner’s horror). So what’s a pig owner to do?

 You search frantically through Google. You find Facebook forums. You inevitably come across the “Move the Pig” program. A heavenly beam of light shines upon you. Cherubs sing! This is the answer to your piggie prayers! Is this the hope you’ve been looking for? Will your porcine companion be tamed?

What I Learned About the “Move the Pig” Program

A few years back when I first heard of the “Move the Pig” program, I was curious. This was not a method that I had ever learned about during my years obtaining a degree in Animal Behavior, so I figured I had to look into it. After many discussions with owners, I quickly realized that this program was being advocated by mini pig breeders, Facebook forums, and pig enthusiasts.

I discovered that the program was started by a pig owner who wanted to help fellow owners get a handle on their own pig’s aggression. I was intrigued. I love when pet owners are proactive about their animal’s behavior and want to set something in place that addresses both their needs and the animal’s needs.

I delved right in. I read through the posts and comments. I was excited! And then my heart sank.

Pig owners, as with dog, cat and parrot owners, were being informed by well-intentioned individuals who want to help, but they unknowingly treat animal behavior modification as an anecdotally informed process.

Behavior is a science, to the dismay of many curbside “animal behaviorists.” The greatest travesty in animal behavior is that knowledge is available at large institutions such as universities, but it is rarely available to the common pet owner.

The result? We have enthusiastic pet owners giving advice on how to solve behavioral issues based on their personal experience with their animals.

As pet owners, we need to be vigilant and think critically about where we get our information. To put it into context, we wouldn’t go to a grocery store to get our broken arm set, even if the grocer had many broken arms throughout his life.

Why? Because as sweet and helpful as he may be, he is not trained in the science that is medicine.

The same is true for animal training and behavior. Our field is completely unregulated, which means much misinformation goes unchecked and can spread quickly.

The Problem With the “Move the Pig” Program

It is promoted by a self-declared “expert.” You should always be wary when individuals declare themselves “experts” based on:

  • Living with animals their whole lives;
  • Having an “intuitive” sense about animals; and/or
  • Having a pet that was their teacher.

For example, I love my dear Border Collie, and it is true that I have learned so much from our experiences together and observing her behavior.

However, it is not enough to base a methodology off of our own interactions for an entire group of animals.

It needs to be examined under the lens of science. Otherwise, it is basically our opinion based off of a particular experience, not a method. Which, I suppose, wouldn’t be as detrimental if it was just you and your own pig. But when you start telling many pig owners and position it as a bona fide solution, now your idea has some far-reaching consequences.

A method is defined as, “a procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, especially a systematic or established one.”

Nothing is systematic about lack of peer-review or replicability. Opinions are needed and valid, but it’s important to become an advocate for the animal you are teaching by learning about how and WHY they behave the way they do.

I always caution pet owners when they listen to advice from a self-declared expert that has no formal education on how the science of behavior works. It can do great harm to both the animals and the owners. When a person acts as an expert in a field as significant and influential as behavior, it has a large ripple effect.

I always say that being a trainer or behavioral therapist is a very powerful role: You are changing the life of an animal or person, often both.

That holds great weight; it’s a serious ethical responsibility and should be treated as such.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I delve into the details of the “Move the Pig” program, the dangers of the methods recommended, what mistakes pig owners make, and what you can do instead.


Read Next: Labeling Behavior as a Personality Trait: Why You Should NOT “Move the Pig” – Part 2
Scroll to top

Follow Us on Facebook - Stay Engaged!

Send this to a friend