These are primarily dominance traits, but can also be displayed from a goat that is afraid or nervous. A goat displaying out of fear will try to move away and will not contact the person, unless they feel threatened or cornered. Older goats are often nervous around children, when exposed to them for the first time. If you have a new goat, keep kids from getting too close, until the goat gets used to them. Small people are unnerving to a goat used to adults. Let the kids feed the goat treats and talk to it, with your close supervision, until you are confident that the goat is comfortable around the child.
If the goat is aggressively displaying this behavior to humans, then steps should be taken to correct the situation. To better understand what is causing the problem, it is important that you realize that a goat’s life revolves around their social standing or pecking order in the herd. Most goats bonded to people view humans as part of the herd too. A goat biting, butting, or horning people is a goat that is trying to put the human into place, behind it, in the pecking order. To correct the problem, you simply have to show the goat that you are the dominate member of its herd.
A goat husbandry book, written in England in the late 1800’s, describes a simple method to accomplish this, and it is as effective today, as it was then. Start by standing beside the goat. Reach under the goat’s belly and grab the two legs on the other side. Pull them toward you, while pushing the goat over with your shoulder. Once the goat has fallen, step over it, to avoid the flailing legs, and continue to hold the front leg up, while holding the goat’s neck down, by using your knee or hand. As long as you hold the neck down and the front leg up, the goat will not be able to rise. By simply holding the goat in this position, you are showing it that you are dominate. The goat will struggle wildly and bawl like you are hurting it, but the only pain is to the goat’s pride. It will eventually give up and lay quietly, while you pet and talk to it. Once you are satisfied that the goat has completely submitted and accepted the situation, then you can let it up. If the goat moves away from you without posturing (turning sideways while hunching it back and tipping its head to the side), then you know that the goat has accepted you as the dominate animal. The aggressive behaviors toward you should stop at that point. If the goat postures (a goat’s way of saying. “I think I can whip you”) or rears up at you, then repeat the lesson on the spot. The goat should give space when you move toward it, like it would to a bigger goat. No aggressive behavior from the goat should go unchallenged by you. After you are sure the lesson has been taken to heart by the goat, then you can make up to it by giving it some treats over the next week or so. Show the goat that you are still friendly and willing to scratch its itchy spots, as long as it knows you’re the boss. If the aggressive behavior is toward someone else besides you, then instruct that person how to flip the goat, or flip it yourself, and then let them hold the goat down until it gives up.
If the aggressive behavior is toward a child, that is unable to perform the method described above, then use a dog training collar (shock collar). Put the collar on the goat. Wetting the goat’s neck helps ensure good contact. Then, have the child approach the goat, with you hiding nearby. If it is a very small child or a really aggressive goat, then have the child stand outside the fence. The goat should approach and posture at them. When the goat postures at the child, immediately shock the goat. (Don’t wait for the goat to rear up.) The reason you are hiding is so that the goat associates the shock with the child and not you. You want the goat to think that the child did it and it will respect him/her, even when you are not around. Depending on the goat’s attitude, this may need to be repeated.
Another method that works for children is the use of pepper spray. If the child is old enough to safely use a can of pepper spray, you can have the child spray the offending goat when it displays aggressive behavior. Be sure to instruct the child on the proper use of pepper spray and wind direction. Never allow a child to do this unsupervised.
Whenever children are involved with aggressive goats, it is extremely important that the training situations described above be under your strict supervision to ensure the safety of the child.
Goats that were previously friendly and suddenly became aggressive toward strangers are likely the victims of teasing. Kids and some adults derive pleasure from tormenting animals. Your goats will react the same as a dog which is tied near an alley and gets mean after being teased by passers by. Rock throwing and hits from sticks are enough to make a goat aggressive toward people they don’t know. The methods described above will stop the aggressive behavior, but the cause needs to be addressed before the goat is ruined.
Other problem goat issues:
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