Pigs in the finishing stage are infrequently handled and can be difficult to handle when experiencing novel situations. This study sought to determine the effects of minimal training and a novel odor/taste reward on the ease of handling finishing pigs in a novel environment. Pigs were assigned to one of four treatments organized in a factorial arrangement: training and odor exposure at the barn or not (trained or non-trained, respectively) and provision or not of maple syrup in the simulated pre-stun area of a slaughter plant (reward or no reward, respectively). Trained pigs (n = 14 pens) were let out of their home pens and onto a trailer for 10 min/d for 10 d and could chew on maple syrup-soaked flags. Non-trained pigs (n = 14 pens) were not handled or exposed to maple syrup. After the 10 d, trained and non-trained pigs were transported, unloaded and then experienced a novel simulated pre-stun area. A maple syrup-soaked flag (reward) was dragged through the simulated pre-stun area and put in a simulated CO2 stun box. Non-rewarded pigs were not exposed to maple syrup. Trained pigs unloaded the trailer and reached the resting pen faster (P = 0.014) than non-trained pigs. Trained pigs had fewer (P = 0.02) blood neutrophils and more (P = 0.03) lymphocytes than non-trained pigs. Rewarded pigs received fewer (P = 0.02) taps before reaching the simulated CO2 stun box than non-rewarded pigs. Cortisol concentration increased (P = 0.004) when the total time to reach the simulated CO2 stun box increased. Pigs that were allowed to exercise out of their home pen and were given access to an odor/taste reward moved faster and the neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio was decreased when exposed to a novel environment containing the same odor/taste reward.