“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.”
Forget about intention. We need to talk about reinforcers.
(While there are certainly a whole host of various things that might serve as reinforcers for pigs, lets focus on the ultimate reinforcer for just about every pig: FOOD.)
When we intentionally give a pig food, we usually understand that the reinforcer (food) is doing exactly that: reinforcing whatever behavior preceded the food. We ask the pig to "sit" ... the pig gets the treat ... we have reinforced the "sit."
So what about all those times that the pig gets ahold of food unintentionally? We have the very human tendency to justify to ourselves that THOSE treats (reinforcers!) somehow don't count; that they somehow AREN'T reinforcing anything simply because we don't want them to...
"Well, I didn't INTEND for Pig to grab that treat out of my hand before I had a chance to ask him to sit; I don't understand why he continues to bite at my hand every time I try to be nice and give him a treat!"
"Well, I didn't INTEND for Pig to sneak into the kitchen and knock the garbage pail over..."
"Well, I didn't INTEND for Pig to break out of his pen and get into the vegetable garden..."
"Well, I didn't INTEND for Pig to steal my toddler's snack while we were watching TV..."
Nobody said living with a pig would be easy. But we complicate matters when we fail to understand that reinforcers REINFORCE, regardless of whether we want them to or not. We don't get to choose what reinforcers are to an animal, and to a pig, obtaining food is almost always worth the challenge and risk of punishment. Don't assume that your intentions make a difference in whether a behavior is reinforced, because regardless of intention, if a behavior is increasing, it is somehow being reinforced, even though you (undoubtedly) don't intend for it to be happening! Don't set your pigs up for failure by waiting until they are consistently being rewarded (via stolen food, crumbs, garbage, etc) for performing unwanted behaviors... prevention is key to a happy pig household.