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So my sweet lil boy Merlin that I’ve had since he was 3.5m and bottle fed him until he was 4m has become very aggressive since last month.

My “friend” who lives on my property would always play butt with Merlin and I TOLD him not to but he kept doing it. So I know why he’s aggressive now. I’m just wondering if it’s possible to retrain? He doesn’t live here anymore so I don’t have to worry about him undoing any training I implement.

When I muck out his stall he’s butting me constantly it’s so annoying. I pinch his ears HARD and say “No!” firmly but it seems to just piss him off. I tried the hose he seemed unfazed. Sometimes I’ll tug his beard and say no as well. Once when he was getting really unruly I flipped him on his back and held him til he chilled out. Then when I let him up he immediately started at it again! He has a wether with him and a doe for company, although the doe is currently pregnant by him so she’s moving out soon into a third pen once I make it two weeks. My second pen has another doe in it who just had two kids and when I tried to put my pregnant doe in there she was headbutting the babies so I put her back with the boys.

Merlin isn’t just aggressive with me he’s become aggressive with his pen mates as well. Does the does pregnancy hormones effect his aggression?

I feel bad, he was my little sweetie before. I’d go sit in his pen and he’d lay down next to me and I’d pet him and we’d sit together for hours. He always seemed to prefer human company and while the rest of the herd went off he’d stick by me. Once when I took him to the vet because he had trouble breathing the vet remarked on what a calm friendly goat he was and that most goats his age were bouncing off the walls.

I looked at other threads and saw some people suggesting cattle prods, where do you buy these?? Lol

Also just any general suggestions on retraining him. I don’t want to castrate until he at least has a son by each of my does so his genetics live on. I also don’t want to sell him or eat him because even though he “works” for me by impregnating does and clearing my brush, he’s still my pet and I love him. Thanks everyone.

Merlin tax:
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I feel your pain! I got a 5 year old boer buck about two months ago. When I went to go look at him, he came up to the fence and let me pet him. Boy was I surprised when I got him home only to discover he is very aggressive! Has knocked my son on his rear a few times and won't let me come in the field with him. We battle regularly, but we have come to an understanding....he hates me and I hate him! I'd be interested to know others respond to your issue. I've learned to carry a big stick and put out the feed when the herd isn't around.
 

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I have dealt with the exact same issues! My mom gives our buck cuddles, and she lets him climb all over her! And let me tell you, he is absolutely huge and completely muscle, so now he uses his size against us.
Anyways, giving your buck positive attention always works better than punishing. Sometimes you need to assert dominance over him, but most of the time, just give him treats and cuddles. (And I mean cuddles where he is in no way more dominant than you. Make sure you don’t touch his horns, don’t let him rub them on you, and don’t let him jump on you.)
And yes, I understand your frustration. I had a doe who was kind of the opposite, and was super shy. She would kick when I would milk her, and I was super frustrated. Instead of calming her and giving her treats when she was good, I would give her negative attention.
Long story short, assert dominance, but make sure you show him that you are more than just a very dominant person. Give him treats when he is good! 💜 hope this helps!
 

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He's a cutie, but it sounds like he's developed some really bad dangerous habits! At this point escalating punishment is probably not going to do anything except make him more aggressive. Assertiveness works well to nip bad behavior in the bud, but it sounds like you're well past the corrective stage. His behavior is established and normal punishments aren't going to work. A cattle prod would certainly keep you safe, and it might be a good way to manage his behavior during those times when you must share the same space, but it will only train him to stay out of your way. It won't train him to like you or respect you. You can get a cattle prod online or at a feed store. The best use for it would be to carry it with you and only use if he comes at you with his horns so that he runs into it. If you reach out and zap him (like to move him back from the gate) he'll think you are the aggressor and it could make him afraid of you and consequently even meaner.

Another way to manage him that carries less risk of making him more aggressive or fearful would be to get a halter on him and hang a short tie rope in his pen away from the gate. Entice him over to the tie rope and when he comes over, reach through and clip it to his halter before you enter the pen. That way he never has access to you. Feed him a bucket of alfalfa pellets or something while he's tied so he learns to look forward to it. Once he learns that being restrained is a good thing, he should be pretty easy to catch and tie, and he should start trusting you.

It's amazing what tying a goat's head can do to his psyche. If you control the head you control the horns, and this has a pretty big psychological impact on an aggressive goat. If you leave a halter on him, tie a short catch rope (8-10 inches long) to the bottom so it's easy to grab him to tie him up. You can also control him quickly if you ever go into the pen before he's tied up. When he's tied, spend time brushing and petting him. If he's tied short by a halter he won't be able to reach you with his horns so you can be safe while you handle him. I don't recommend tying by a collar because he can still whip his head around and hurt you. In fact, horned goats can learn how to hook your wrist to prevent you clipping a rope to their collar. They can't do this if you have them by the halter. The most important thing here is to make sure you stay safe and set yourself up to win the battle before it starts.

It makes me angry when people "play butt" with goats as if it's a game. It might seem funny when they are small, but it's like teaching a dog to bite people. Nothing good can ever come of it, and now that Merlin has learned to use his horns on people you may never be able to fully trust him again. However, goats are very smart and if you can just figure out how to safely control Merlin for now you can start using techniques like clicker training to redirect his behavior. Good luck!
 
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