Ever tried walking a dog? Well, walking your pig is a slightly different story.
Most people, even pig people like you, haven’t tried putting their pig in a harness. It is very, very different from walking a dog. Pigs are different animals, and they need a different kind of walk, a different kind of harness, and a different kind of leash. That’s one of the reasons Ross Mill Farm offers the Comfort Fit Safety Harness and leads specifically designed for your pet pig.
When our founder, Susan Magidson and her late husband, Richard, started working with potbellies, there weren’t many options for walking your pig. In fact, there wasn’t much information at all for potbelly pigs! Susan and Richard knew that training your pet pig was important. It makes life easier for the owners and more fun for the pig. The added enrichment of being able to take your pig out helps to curb potentially destructive indoor behavior. It also puts the human in the “parental” position over the pig, which helps establish the proper hierarchy.
To her surprise, no one was making pig harnesses!
So, they decided to change that and Ross Mill Farm became the first manufacturer of pig harnesses. The harnesses were designed specifically for pigs because so many people were stuck trying to use dog harnesses. Harnesses for other species do NOT work well for pigs and can give them sore spots.
Why Choose a Pig Harness?
And so, we came to the introduction of the Comfort Fit Safety Harness. The Magidson’s began designing these to fill a need that they had seen, and the harnesses quickly gained popularity. They are designed to be exactly what a pig needs, nothing more and nothing less.
There are a few different styles of pig harnesses. The main three are the paralead or figure-8, the A-style harness, and the H-style. Because they’re so similar to dog harnesses, people think they’re interchangeable.
Dog harnesses often have a flat clip. It doesn’t conform properly to their neck and jowls, and they don’t like having to step into the harness. The flat clips can be irritating for pigs, and the harness doesn’t fit them so they can move freely. Or if it does, it’s might be too big!
One other issue that often comes up with dog harness is that pigs outgrow them. And they do it fast.
Ross Mill’s pig harnesses are designed to grow with your pig. They adjust more than dog harnesses so they can accommodate a growing pig for longer. All of our harnesses have different adjustments, some that can get up to 19” larger. Our largest size can accommodate a pet pig that is 53” around. That’s a big piggy!
Fitting a Pet Pig Harness
The H-style harness is the one you probably see most often with dogs. It’s basically a four-point harness. The Comfort Fit Safety Harness is a modified A-style or three-point harness. Typical A-styles slip on over the head of the animal, but our design allows you to clip it over their neck and their girth. For owners, this offers more options for training. You can choose what works best for you and your pig and focus on that method of harness training.
Remember, pigs are prey animals. They instinctively fear something trying to capture or ensnare them, so make it as easy as possible.
If you have trouble remembering which way our harnesses go, there’s a trick to it. The 2 points are in the front, which points to the two ears. The single point is in the back, pointing to the tail. It’s a 2-to-1 and gives you a good reminder whenever you slip the harness on! This is what it looks like backward:
And this is what it looks like fitted properly:
See how the shoulder straps are wider in the front to provide more maneuverability? Meanwhile, the rear strap is straight up, making sure the pig is secure and comfortable.
What’s the Issue?
There is one main detriment to the a-style harness. It does not offer the same pulling deterrent that the figure-8 style does. The figure-8 tightens around an animal’s chest when they pull, which often encourages them to stop. Other styles don’t, so you may have to work on training differently.
The good news is that pigs don’t actually like to pull in the first place! Again, it goes back to them being prey animals. If they pull against something and can’t get away, they may panic. The modified A-design that allows you to snap it together in both areas can be really helpful.
So that covers the “comfort” in the Comfort Fit Safety Harness. What about safety?
Well, it’s in the name, so it must be in the product! One of the main safety features of the harnesses is that the clasps are made of plastic. Some people think it’s just a cheaper option, but it actually has an important purpose.
A pig is smart and inquisitive. Usually, that’s a good thing, but sometimes it can get them into trouble. Pigs will root around in dense areas, and then try to back out. That can get their tusks caught on a branch or small tree, and they panic, thrash, and scream.
The same thing can happen with a harness. If the pig gets stuck and panics, a plastic clasp will eventually break. The idea is that the plastic should break before the pig gets injured. A metal clasp will not break, and will instead keep the pig trapped there until a human comes along to help. Since we offer a snap around both the neck and the body, you can free your pig quickly and with minimal stress. But, on the off chance that you aren’t close by, the pig can also free themselves.
The clasps on these harnesses won’t break with a slight tug. They aren’t fragile by any means. They are simply a safety feature that’s designed with the pig’s health in mind. The clasps themselves are also curved to conform to the pig’s body.
Pig Lead or Dog Leash?
We also offer 6′ leads, in the same colors as our harnesses. These leads are longer than a typical dog leash because pigs don’t walk like dogs. They need a bit more room to meander and roam around. You don’t typically walk a pig on a tight lead, with the intent of making them exercise and work up a sweat. Most of the time, pigs will get enough exercise if they’re allowed plenty of outside time to explore and root around. Walking your pig is excellent enrichment, but doesn’t have to be a workout for everyone.
One other note:
The tighter you hold the lead, the tighter the harness feels to the pig. Since pigs are prey animals, any time they feel like something might be trying to eat them, they panic. Training your pig to wear a harness is one thing. Walking your pig on a constantly tight lead is another. It will be much more enjoyable for the pig and you to use a regular, long leash. That’s why we sell them as 6’ long options!
If walking a pig sounds like your cup of tea, you came to the right place. Get the right stuff, and this can be a fun, exciting adventure for the whole family!