Forget the pooch: pigs are the perfect pet 

When Babe thought he was a sheep dog in the film of the same name, the other animals on the farm made fun of him. But the little pig was on to something.

Pigs make great pets and behave in similar ways to your pooch. More than just a cute face, they can be taught to sit, come when they're called by name, be toilet trained and learn to walk on a leash, all due to to their high intelligence.

Though pigs can be stubborn at times, they learn faster than dogs and can remember a higher number of commands.

Tass Schmidt, who owns several of the inquisitive animals, says she even had one piglet who would roll over to get his belly scratched.

"And another one I had observed this and started doing it too. She seemed to be getting a bit jealous I was paying attention to him," she laughs.

"I also had one here and she learnt to come when I called her within two hours and after that it didn't stop.

"I could call out to her in the paddock and she would come running."

Schmidt has owned her pigs for only about three months, since she took over a property in Jamberoo, and was shocked at how quickly she fell for them.

"I was surprised at how nice they are. It was my idea when I came here to get rid of the pigs, but you see how sweet they are and now I really like them."

At the moment there are close to 20 pigs in her garden, but she is planning on selling most of them to people keen to call one of the intelligent creatures their own, and keeping only six for herself.

Pigs are touted as great pets because they are loyal, social, relatively easy to take care of and are very clean animals when given enough space.

Schmidt says pigs are social creatures that get on well with other animals and children, but can get lonely if isolated for extended periods.

The ideal situation for your pet pig is to let them roam free in your yard so they can exercise their natural instinct to forage, which makes them excellent gardeners.

The Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 says pigs can't be kept within 60 metres of a dwelling or public place and some councils, including Wollongong City Council, don't allow pigs to be kept in suburban backyards, so you need a decent-sized space to be able to adopt one.

"Like with anything, there is a responsibility, but they are extremely cute and you can do everything with them you can do with a dog," Schmidt says.

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