Balking on the Trail

Discussion in 'Pack Goat Training' started by Deborah Haney, Feb 27, 2018.

  1. Deborah Haney

    Deborah Haney Well-Known Member

    289
    Jul 11, 2017
    Max, Ruby, and I have been hiking lately (or we were until the latest cold snap) and we came across an issue: balking. We have to walk on leash as we are on urban trails and every time a leaf rustles or a squirrel or bird twitches, our whole outing comes to a screeching halt. Dont even get me started on passing dogs. The way I see it, I have 3 options: don't stop and drag them until they continue walking, stop for a few seconds before continuing, or stop until the goats are ready to continue on their own.

    I think they equate pretty well to a child being afraid of a monster in his closet. A parent can say "go to bed, you're fine, your concerns are invalid" and ignore further complaints, or a parent can look in the closet, use some "monster spray" (water and lavender oil), and say "I hear what you're saying, I've checked, there's nothing there." The object of the former approach would be to convey that the child is safe. Mom and dad aren't scared so he shouldn't be either. The latter response might offer understanding to a scared child, but might also serve to validate his fears. By looking for the monster, you're admitting that there's something to look for. Thirdly, the parent could wait for the kid to become comfortable, "you can sleep in our bed tonight (forever)" and allowing him to overcome his own fears.

    The problem, obviously, is that Max and Ruby are kids, but they aren't children. How do I get them through this irritating behaviour?
     
  2. fivemoremiles

    fivemoremiles Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    western montana
    you are overthinking this. goats are a herd animal. there is safety in being with the herd.

    take one for a walk at a time during training. you are his herd drop the leash do not tug or pull the goat along . and walk away. when he comes to you give him an animal cracker to let him know that was so brave. I have found that animal crackers are a god sent during training. If you are not comfortable with just walking away get at least 100 ft of parachute cord put it on a kite real and walk away do not pull your goat needs to be more afraid of being alone than he is of the blowing leaf. you will find that after a wile you will not need a leash.
    dogs are a pain. first you need to walk off the trail at least 20 feet and let the dog pass. For loose dogs and aggressive leashed dogs invest in a "sound defense" dog attack preventer. It is the most fun you will have in a long time. I have had dogs tuck tail and run yapping like i zapped him with electricity. my wife loves cats we have 5 in the house. i thought the sound defense would work to train the cats to stay off the counter. it didn't work but what it did do was give all the cats an excuse to tear up the house as they tore around the house trying to get away. plates became Frisbees small pans went flipping through the air. candles books and salt shakers were pushed on the floor. rugs were left in a jumble against the wall. it took me 45 minutes to clean up the mess from one short blast.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
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  3. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    That is funny. I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time when you had to clean up though.
     
  4. Deborah Haney

    Deborah Haney Well-Known Member

    289
    Jul 11, 2017
    They do great off leash but we're required to use leashes <8ft (urban trails), which means that when they stop, either I'm pulling them along or they get to decide when we stop.

    I haven't encountered any aggressive dogs (yet) but I use a hiking staff just in case. I'll look into the sound defense thing. It would probably work better than a glorified stick. It's really that Ruby won't pass them, even if they're calm and sitting.
     
  5. Damfino

    Damfino Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Right behind you
    Have you tried leading in halters? I find it's usually easier than pulling on collars and you can keep them from swiveling their heads around and getting themselves even more worked up. Practice training them at home, using the verbal commands "Walk on" and "Whoa". Giving them a verbal command to focus on will help them learn to control their fears and pay attention to you, their leader. Reward with a treat when they listen and obey. Don't give a treat while they're balking as it will only reinforce the behavior. Don't let them start eating after a balk as this will also reinforce the balkiness. You don't want them to start spooking at every little thing as an excuse to grab a snack! Best of luck to you!
     
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  6. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    I strongly support the "show them you are not afraid and keep going." And I'm a fan of the "take them out individually on a really long cord so they see you walk off and "Oh My Gosh I'm Alone" push." I think these 2 in combination is your best bet.

    Still laughing hard at the lesson the cats taught you, @fivemoremiles

    Too funny.
     
  7. Deborah Haney

    Deborah Haney Well-Known Member

    289
    Jul 11, 2017
    I do have halters for them but they're only 9 months old (and nigerian dwarves) so they don't fit the halters yet, even on the smallest setting.

    Thanks all for the replies!
     
  8. Damfino

    Damfino Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Right behind you
    What kind of halters do you have and what size? Nine months is a good age to start halter training if you can find the right size.
     
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  9. Deborah Haney

    Deborah Haney Well-Known Member

    289
    Jul 11, 2017
    mariarose likes this.
  10. goathiker

    goathiker I'm watching you Staff Member Supporting Member

  11. Damfino

    Damfino Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Right behind you
    These are the halters I like best:
    http://www.soprisunlimited.com/soprisxhalters.html

    Your goats would probably be a size 2 in the Sopris, but you'd have to measure and see. What I like about these that is different from other goat halters is the little ring underneath the noseband. It helps prevent the halter from twisting strangely at the nose/cheek junction so it makes for a much better fit.

    I wish you could use a longer leash as suggested, but since you can't I think working on the "walk on" command is your best bet. Work with them one-on-one at home and reward whenever they walk and whoa at your command. Also keep in mind that they will naturally settle with time, experience, and maturity. The most important thing is to prevent a dog from ever confirming your goats' worst fears.
     
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  12. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    Tru dat