Dawn Camp @Camp Skipping Pig
1776 Torrey Hill Rd
Java Center, NY 14082
The following was written by Lydia Weaver, a very knowledgable and well qualified trainer of pigs, dogs and horses. Many people attempt this technique but do it incorrectly with the expected poor results. When applied correctly, any pig will become respectful of his human family and a wonderful companion.
DO NOT believe the hype over the "Lunatic Method", which some less experienced and unqualified advise pig owners to use. Do NOT squirt with a spray bottgle or strike the pig. It is not how they communicate and will not work.
Move the Pig is the correct proven and safe method to use with difficult pigs. The "Lunatic Method" could very well lead to serious injury and is NOT an appropriate method for retraining a misbehaving pig.
Move the Pig 101: Teaching the Pig to Move
Written by Lydia Weaver, v2014-11-16
Copyright 2014 by Lydia Weaver
Sharing and posting of this file for informational purposes is welcomed.
No commercial purpose may be made of this file without the express written permission of the author.
Teaching our pigs to move when and where we ask is just like teaching any other behavior we want.
Our goal should be to break the exercise down into tiny pieces the pig can absorb, then once he grasps
the basic concept we work toward putting the pieces together to shape the behavior further. To put
this in relatable terms its very similar to teaching a child her ABCs. When that task is mastered, she can
move on to writing words, then sentences, then paragraphs. We teach small steps, then string them
together to complete a task.
This first set of instructions is geared toward the pig that simply needs to learn to move for us, as well as
her owner, who needs to learn to move her confidently. For a pig that has already established
unwanted behaviors, like head swiping or biting, we make just a couple of adjustments, which I will
This is all perfectly natural for a pig; as a herd animal he innately understands that moving when asked is
conceding power to you. That is instinctive; its pig herd language 101. What were doing is connecting
a natural and very desired behavior to specific cues or signals so that we can calmly use that behavior to
our advantage in a variety of situations we are undoubtedly going to encounter as pig owners. This is
NOT showing him whos boss, being top hog or being alpha pig. This is simply leading our pigs in a
direction they can understand and in which we want or need for them to go.
First and foremost, it is essential that we begin teaching any behavior in a calm environment. While
MTP is extremely effective in preventing and changing unwanted behavior, like biting or head swiping,
we sure dont want to try MTP for the first time right after any altercation with the pig. Trying to do this
is akin to having an elementary school student take an English test right after having a heated argument
or fight on the playground. His mind is not receptive to processing anything new in that moment.
Choose instead a calm time and place when both of you are relaxed. In the beginning were going to
give several very clear signals or cues to alert the pig that something should be happening. She wont
understand what they mean at first, but thats expected. Well make it clear to her very quickly. As we
advance in teaching this and she understands more of what we want, we can refine the signals and ask
for more effort from her.
So the pig is chilled, maybe having a nap, maybe just snuffling about doing piggy things. The first thing I
want to do is to increase my presence and energy. Instead of just puttering about, Im going to step
toward him with authority, even thudding my feet a bit heavily. Then I give a verbal signal. Choose one
that you can live with because youll use it often with this program. I say come on, lets go, lets go! in
an authoritative voice. It does not need to be a yell or shout, but it does need to impart a sense of
urgency, like you dont have all day to wait, because you dont. When you ask for movement, for it to be
effective, it needs to happen immediately. I also will clap my hands or give a clucking sound, like
someone urging a horse into a trot. I have no idea how to spell that sound, so Ill go for the description,
So count those up: feet, voice, clap and/or cluck. Thats three, possibly four strong signals if you use
them all, which alert the pig that something should be happening. She doesnt have a clue what that is
yet, but by the time you take several animated, marching-type steps to get to her, shes on alert, and
may well have stood up if she was previously lying down. This is great, its what we want. If she
happens to move away a couple of steps, you can stop there. If not, you add another cue for her. Keep
encouraging her with your previous signals, and walk firmly into her bubble, her personal space. If she
does not move away, step right into her, being careful not to trip over the pig. She will likely give a
squeal or grunt of surprise and jump away.
As soon as he moves even a step or two away from you, immediately stop your movement and stop
your signals. Make it very defined, like someone unexpectedly pulled the plug on your power source.
Tell him good or good boy so he has a verbal affirmation that he did what you wanted. Take a deep
breath and blow it out.
When you stop, you release the pressure you were applying to have her move. She does not learn to
move from the pressure youre applying, she learns from you releasing that pressure the instant she
does what you want. The pressure is to create the movement, but the release of pressure is the reward.
She will repeat what she gets rewarded for. We want her to come to the conclusion that OH! When I
move my feet, she stops!
If your pig is one of the more dominant types that has begun or even has firmly established dangerous
behaviors like biting or head swiping, we simply add a sorting board to our tool box for safety. The steps
to move him are identical, with the exception that youll be holding the sorting board between yourself
and the pig. In that type of pig, youre much more likely to get a reaction instead of action. He may well
swing around and confront you when you get into his space, and in that case you would simply keep the
sorting board between you and his head, and carry on. As you step, youll bump-bump-bump into him
with every step. If he resists, and he probably will, it is perfectly permissible to increase the pressure
until you get the desired effect. If we stay static at the same level of pressure hes resisting, we actually
teach him to resist to that level and even a step above it. If we increase the pressure onward and
upward, we will eventually find the spot where he decides the payoff for unwanted behavior is not
worth the effort. So if bump-bump-bump does not get immediate results, you go to bump-Bump-
BUMP. If hes still in the naughty zone, banging his noggin on that sorting board, you step it up to
BUMP-BUMP-BUMP. We need to leave no doubt that we expect him to move and move now.
Then just as with the more docile, calmer pig, the moment she backs up a step or two, or even turns, we
stop and give our verbal approval by telling her good or good girl. Remember, the cessation of
pressure is what tells her she did what we want, so just like we expect an immediate response from her
when we ask for movement, so we absolutely must give an immediate response when she does what we
wanted. This is an exercise in accountability, where ours is even more important than hers.
Once hes moved and youve released the pressure, you can then invite him back into your space. This is
important, for as much as we want to have a sensitive pig that moves when we ask, we also want a
relaxed pig. If all we do is move-move-move they can become overly sensitive and jumpy. We want to
make very clear distinctions between now were moving, and now were not. We do this by inviting that
pig back to our space for a quick rub or scratch after the moving exercises, then walk off and go about
our normal business. You dont have to invite them in with every single move, but you do need to do it
often. We constantly strive to find the balance between sensitizing them (moving) and desensitizing
them (inviting them back to us for a rub). Those are two sides of the same well-rounded pig.
We lather, rinse and repeat this maneuver several times a day specifically to teach them that any time
and any place we ask them to move, they need to do it. How often depends on the pig. In the
beginning, we want to repeat it enough that it becomes automatic, the pig moves when we ask, then
calmly comes back to us when were finished with the exercise. A very light, responsive, naturally
submissive pig wont need nearly as much as a pushy, dominant pig, or a pig that has already established
unwanted behaviors that need to change.
As we advance in teaching this maneuver we will add another step or two, then another. Just like any
behavior we teach, theres a learning curve, not just for the pig, but for the human as well. With
practice we can learn to vary our speed, direction, and intensity. We will also refine the signals we give.
While we start out with exaggerated step/voice/clap/cluck, in time we shift the cues to be lighter and
more subtle. Eventually, we can simply walk into his space and he will move respectfully and easily out
of our path.
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Dawn Camp @Camp Skipping Pig
1776 Torrey Hill Rd
Java Center, NY 14082