Perez, J., Collins, R., Lambert, K. 2021. Using positive reinforcement training to build compliance in Sinclair mini pigs. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 9(1) (January/February), 50-53.
Pigs are an ideal model for treating osteochondral defects, though their sedentary nature could impair their healing when being used for one of these projects. Following joint injury, some level of lameness is anticipated. Developing a routine of exercise is essential in facilitating healing of the limb as it enables the research team to assess lameness and range of motion. Positive reinforcement training (PRT) has been known to foster compliance in Sinclair miniature pigs across various aspects of the research facility, as they have demonstrated proven intelligence and recall. This type of training is effective by using positive rewards, such as praise, positive physical contact (rubbing), or treats to increase the likeliness that behavior will be repeated.3 For us, using PRT to develop and maintain an exercise routine has made porcine handling and assessment a more streamlined process. PRT has been adapted by our veterinary personnel and daily caretakers, enabling both groups to complete husbandry and clinical tasks with minimal resistance from the pigs while optimizing the animals’ welfare. The behavioral modifications introduced in these pigs were carried out to create and establish a rehabilitative routine before surgery.