Think your pig has what it takes to make it in the show world? Training any animal for show purposes can be controversial because of the stress involved when it comes to the show and training, but it doesn't have to be, if the training is fun for the animal. Reward the animal with treats, and spend intimate time with them by touching and rubbing their bellies. You want your pig to be as comfortable as possible.
Whether your training a dog, pig or goat, training sessions should always be an adventure, and a way of forming a closer bond between pet and master. And having your pig in the show circuit is not only fun, but it also gives the pig stimulation and excitement. But there is a risk in overwhelming the pig, because so many people will be around, and not every pig can handle it. There are a variety of local festivals and circuits that you can enter your pig to show him or her off to the community. Just about any pig can enter, and it is also a way of meeting fellow pig owners.
Where to Start
Training will be key to get your pet disciplined, and on his or her best behavior. But whether the pig is on the show circuit or not, training should be done regardless, if keeping them as a pet. Once training is established, one method to train them for display is cane training.
Cane training is the use of a cane to lightly tap the animal to steer them in a particular direction. You can find an example in the video below, although the trainers in this video tap the pigs a little too hard in my opinion:
A tap on the jowl will move them in a left or right direction, or tapping on the hind quarters will encourage them to move forward. The pig should never view the cane as a tool for punishment, since they will forever associate that cane as a stressful instrument.
The meat of show training will be displaying the pig out in the open. This is a simple method that requires just walking the pig around in an open area. Avoid cane training in this instance, since you want the pig to become comfortable. You can use your hands if you want to move your pig in a certain direction. Once the pig is receptive to training, walk the animal around as if in front of a panel of judges. If you want to go the extra mile, build a makeshift ring to get the animal accustomed to being a show pig. If you have other pigs, have them join in on the fun, so your prized pig can get used to be around other pigs in a show setting. And have your family and friends join in to get the pig accustomed to people being around.
One thing that will make your pig stand out will be a specific trick and talent your pig has learned. Pigs are very smart animals, and may have an innate talent that requires nurturing, or you can teach them a new trick. Training them to do a trick is not only a good way to separate yourself from other contenders, but you'll build a closer relationship with your pig. Pigs can do a wide range of tricks, but avoid having your pig jumping for treats, since this will encourage bad behavior.
Stay tuned for my next piece on the types of tricks pigs can learn to truly make them stand out among the crowd.