Written by Nancy Shepard
It you are planning to add another animal to a household that presently includes a pet pig, there are several guidelines to follow. First, you need to be aware of how your present pig pal will view this idea – I’m afraid it is not with great enthusiasm and joy. Instead, it is most likely to be with great displeasure and animosity. Your pig will feel as if she is being displaced, not unlike how an only child responds to a new brother or sister. Your pig will be jealous and even aggressive to the animal she views as an intruder and robber of your affections. You can, however, succeed in creating a compatible companion if you are patient and willing to observe a few basic rules.
Designated Animal Areas
Hopefully, your present pig has a space that she calls her own. This is usually where she sleeps. This should be an area you can close off from the rest of the house. If the need arises, your pig can go to her room where she feels comfortable and secure. The new arrival should also have an assigned space complete with all the necessary creature comforts. This area needs to be accessible to the current house pig, but separated by a barrier that allows eye and nose contact. I prefer to use a child’s safety gate.
The Buddy System
Let your new arrival become familiar with his current environment. Allow your pig to have nose contact with the newcomer through the gate. Praise your pig using phrases like “Good girl, you’re such a good pig.”
This sort of interaction several times a day for a few days allows for gradual, mutual acceptance. Since we all know that a pig responds favorably to food, a good method is to provide your pig with a treat every time she and the new pet are in the same proximity. Do not feed the newcomer. Your pig will think that the new animal is her ticket to treats and will be more likely to tolerate and accept them. This is called the “buddy system” and is purported to be a quick and effective tool when introducing animals and helps make them into a compatible companion for each other.
When you feel the two pets are somewhat acquainted, allow the pig into the new pet’s area, all while using positive verbal reinforcement. Always have something handy that is solid and rigid to break up any fights that may occur, like a squeeze board. Pay attention to the size different between the old and new pet. Make certain that the smaller pet can get to safety quickly, should the need arise. It’s only normal that your pets will challenge each other. One may take the definite dominant stance and the other retreat. This may be a territory, size, age, or personality issue – or a combination. As with people, animal personalities are truly diverse. Continue this process and eventually you will have good results.
Scents are Intense
Your pig may respond negatively to the scent that the newcomer leaves on your clothes and body. I suggest that you wear a smock or robe when playing with the new pet. Remove that item of clothing and wash your hands prior to handling your old pig. This step may not be necessary in all cases, but if your pig becomes aggressive towards you, follow the described regimen. What were once loving family pigs have turned on their owners upon the adoption of another pet. Scent is a very strong factor in terms of territory in the animal world. The smell of an unfamiliar animal on you may be translated as an infringement upon your present pet’s turf.