Raising a piglet is similar to raising a puppy or a baby human. In this post, I compare raising a piglet to raising a baby and a puppy. Not that babies and puppies are the same, however since I’ve had experience with both, and my dear reader may have only had experience with one (after all, not everyone has a baby, nor does everyone have a puppy… nor does everyone need either or both!), I will compare both youngsters to a piglet to make the post as relatable as possible.

Below are a few similarities between a piglet (in this case, Lucky) and an infant and puppy.

  • Infants, puppies and piglets tend to sleep a lot. Lucky slept a lot as a 2-week old piglet. He still sleeps a lot as a 2 month old pig. However, it was even more as a small baby pig.
    • My son slept a lot as a new born and as an infant. My daughter slept much less during both stages. Puppies never seemed to sleep enough.
  • Lucky started turning a corner when he was provided love and attention. I can’t (and won’t) say our love and attentiveness saved him. Rather, I will say, because we took the time to look after him, feed him regularly even when he had diarrhea simultaneously, find and remove the the tiny ticks that were feeding on him, provide him with proper medical care, and keep him clean and warm, he was able to regain his strength and push through to become a healthy pig.
    • I’ve heard stories about newborns who were on the brink of life and death, and were immediately held in a skin-to-skin fashion by their mother, and regained their livelihood. There’s something about being close, having your hearts close to each other, feeling loved, safe and secure, and being warmed by touch that is magical. I imagine a puppy in a similar situation to Lucky may have a similar outcome, however I have not been in that particular role.
  • Still bottle fed, Lucky drinks out of a bottle and he’s up about 4-5 times per night (or every 2-3 hours) to feed. Just like a new baby!
    • New babies wake to feed every two hours on average. Puppies feed throughout the night as well.
  • He gets stir crazy in his pen and needs to go outside to walk, play and dig. He needs to be stimulated by different touches, smells, environments and experiences.
    • Puppies and infants need stimuli. Stimulus helps young brains develop, engages reflexes, and is a way for babies and puppies to interact with their environments.
  • Lucky doesn’t love snuggles, however he’s become a lot more tolerant of them and even asks for attention. While he may not want to be cuddled under a blanket, watching a movie sipping milk from his bottle, Lucky does enjoy tummy scratches, belly rubs, bottom and top of the neck caresses. He loves being petted, and sitting next to his humans. He even enjoys company from cats and dogs. 
    • Not all children and puppies want to be held and coddled all the time. However, many enjoy physical touch. They like having their head stroked, hands held, feet (or paws) played with and crowns kissed.
  • When Lucky’s sick, he likes to be petted and he wants nice attention, just like any other child (and lots of adults!).
    • Babies tend to want to be held and coddled. Puppies, I’m not sure about. I haven’t had a sick puppy… yet.
lucky the feral pig
lucky the feral pig
  • Lucky’s learned to socialize with people and other animals. We have invited friends and family over to meet and play with Lucky. Our friends and family enjoyed it since they never saw a baby pig, and Lucky soaked in the attention. We also took him to our neighborhood holiday party, where he was the star and met Santa. Both the adults and kids wanted to pet, play with and hold (which we didn’t allow) Lucky. He did awesome at the party and was welcomed back by everyone! Lucky didn’t even mind the other big dogs, however since he was on a leash and the dogs were on a leash, neither of them interacted too closely. One of his best friends is my husband’s parent’s Italian Greyhound, Pesso. Lucky and Pesso chase each other, jump on and scoot underneath one another and run in the sun. They quickly became friends, which was a marvelous surprise. Lucky and Lola (our dog) also get along quite well… except when they are both scavenging underneath the breakfast table after a meal. Finally, Lucky and our cat Clover are buddies. When Clover doesn’t feel well, he lies next to Lucky’s pen.
    • Both infants and puppies need to be socialized. This helps them foster long-term relationships, build trust and learn about the world around them. Did you know that baby’s start forming their attachments, which impact them their entire lives, as newborns?
  • He has to learn to use his litter box.
    • Puppies need to be taught where to potty, when to potty (if they are going to be let outside) and/or where the doggy door is if they let themselves out. Babies of course, have diapers and then have to be taught to use a toilet, hence the term, toileting. 
  • He thrives on positive reinforcement. While researching how to train Lucky, a common theme stuck out: pigs tend to respond well to happy, warm, higher-pitched tones for praise. A few people in various pig-related forums suggested that swine are food motivated. My conclusion is try both and see what works best for your pig. When Lucky pushes boundaries, we correct him just as we would a puppy with a firm NO.
    • No one wants to be corrected or receive negative reinforcement all of the time. A firm NO may work for a dog or child, however pigs are intelligent and emotional, and tend to prefer positive reinforcement. They like to be trained using treats, happy voices and kind physical touch. Babies seem to prefer positive reinforcement as well, since they don’t understand words although they can pick-up on tone.  Infants may cry as a response to harsh tone and they may not understand the intended lesson. Training puppies often involves both positive and negative responses; in this way they differ from pigs and infants. Still, when Lucky gets too rough with our children, we push his side away and say NO to physically redirect him. This doesn’t hurt him, and I can’t say it teaches him. Rather, it’s teaching my 1 and 3-year olds confidence around him and how to maintain their rank above him in the pack’s pecking order.   
  • Lucky’s had to learn walk and then to climb and descend the stairs safely. When Lucky was a tiny piglet, with legs only a few inches long and full body weight less than a watermelon, we kept him away from the stairs to help him avoid face planting. However, as he grew and became more stable on his feet, we let him learn how to descend and climb stairs
    • Similarly, when our children were infants, we kept them away from stairs and low ledges. Since they couldn’t walk, how could we expect them to safely negotiate floors on different levels. Once they began walking, we taught them how to safely go up and down stairs. They loved going up, and we held their hands whenever they would let us. I have no experience teaching a dog how to climb stairs.
  • He has to learn to eat solid food and tradition from milk to solid food.
    • Babies and puppies start their diets on their mother’s milk or a bottle and tend to slowly transition to thicker foods then solid food. It’s a process we all go through.
  • He’s even teething! In come his front top and bottom teeth. We gave Lucky a dog toy to play with so he would have something to chew on.
    • Have you ever felt a puppy’s new teeth? They feel like little razors! Don’t be fooled by their cute faces, soft fur and waggly tail, it’s not a pleasant experience when puppies’ teeth on your hand! When my children were cutting teeth, they too chewed on my fingers (I see a trend here…). Their teeth weren’t little daggers like puppies’, although their jaws were just as strong which made their bites hurt if they got me in just the right place. I can’t say this happened to often, for I quickly got smart and substituted teething toys for my fingers!   
Lucky the pig
Lucky the pig
  • Lucky’s learning to play. As his parents, it’s our job to teach Lucky how to play beyond his natural instincts. He’s inclined to dig in the dirt, however, if I want him to play with a ball, I need to teach him how, when and where.
    • I had to teach my children how to play, as well, to an extent. I could roll a ball to them and then encourage them to roll it, bounce it, or throw it back. Had I not taken the extra step to teach them what to do, the ball may have ended up in their mouths or under a couch! Puppies are the same way. Unfamiliar with toys, it’s a parents’ responsibility to teach them what is and is not a toy and how to play with toys if it’s not clear to the dog.
  • He even had to be taught how to kiss. I love kissing Lucky’s head. I don’t know why, it’s just nice. I kiss him above his eyes, on his forehead, when I feed him. I kiss him when he falls asleep in my lap. I kiss him whenever he lets me. Lucky seemed to like the affection for he would close his eyes and come back for more. The only thing was that he did not have a way of expressing his feelings of happiness, love, gratitude. I taught him to kiss by putting his snout against my puckered lips (yes, I always wash my lips and face afterwards!). Now, he does it on command, and sometimes when I’m not expecting it!   
    • Babies learn to kiss from imitating the kisses they receive. They watch the people around them, observe their facial features and the way the nose scrunches and lips stick out. They listen to the sound the lips make as they they gently push-off from one another. They feel the way a kiss feels when it lands on their head, cheek or hand. Then baby’s try doing it themselves. Puppies also need to be taught the difference between biting playfully, teething and kissing. 

Lucky’s likes being taken care of and in return he is loyal and a best friend.

Lucky the pig
Lucky the pig