Raising Goats For Dummies
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Goats are very smart and, despite their independence, can be taught to do much more than follow on a lead or come when called. Start training when goats are kids if you want to succeed with advanced training. Older goats can sometimes learn tricks or to pack, but they're more resistant than younger ones.

Training success depends on your spending a lot of time with the goat and being consistent with your teaching.

  • Teaching tricks with a clicker: You can teach a goat to do almost anything with clicker training. You need a clicker, which is a mechanical device that makes a click sound, and treats such as peanuts or flakes of cereal. By combining the click with a treat, you reinforce that the goat is doing the right thing. You need to start by getting the goat to make a connection between the clicker and a treat. To do this, click the clicker and then give the goat a treat about 20 to 30 times. Your goat begins to associate the clicker with food and eventually responds to just the clicker so you don't have to supply a treat every time.

    After you've shown the goat that treats are tied to clicks, you can start training. You train by issuing a command ("Come," for example), and then clicking as the goat does what you want it to do and giving the goat a treat after he completes his task.

    Of course, the goat won't follow your command without practice. If the goat doesn't respond to the command or does the wrong thing, you can just say "wrong" or another word, and then try again.

    Always click as the goat does the behavior and then give the treat. If you give the treat first, you risk the goat being caught up in eating and not noticing the clicker.

    If you're trying to teach something more complicated, such as "play dead," break the task into smaller incremental steps, and teach each one. The goat quickly learns to associate the action with the click sound and with the treat.

  • Using an obstacle course: Goat obstacle courses are popular at goat shows and state fairs. Some 4-H groups use them as another way to get children involved with their goats. You can train a goat to use an obstacle course with a clicker or just with treats and repetition.

    Use your imagination to set up a goat obstacle course. You can use hay bales, hula hoops, a 2 x 4 held up by two cinder blocks, old tires, or whatever else you can think of to get a goat to climb up and over, go around, or jump. If you set up a ladder that isn't too steep, you can also train a goat to climb that.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Cheryl K. Smith has raised a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf and Oberian dairy goats under the herd name Mystic Acres since 1998. She is the owner of karmadillo Press and is the author of Goat Health Care, Goat Midwifery, The Best of Ruminations Goat Milk and Cheese Recipes, and Raising Goats: Some Essentials.

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