Domineering Doe

Discussion in 'Goat Frenzy' started by cricket, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. cricket

    cricket New Member

    Apr 24, 2010
    Hello, new to The Goat Spot. I will post pics as soon as I figure out how (help ? all I want is a profile picture !)

    I know I have an aggression / dominating problem with my 3 year old alpine cross doe and I feel very foolish for letting it start in the first place. I just want to make sure that you folks agree I am on the right track before she hurts someone. I am a vet tech and often have intense discussions with clients about negative dog and horse behaviour so I feel like a complete idiot for letting this happen !

    Cricket was my first goat, intended for horse company, which she is great at. She was a very sick kid when I got her and I spent an obscene amount of time with her. She followed me everywhere, I rarely enclosed her in her paddock and she was allowed to be "one of the family".

    Unknowingly, we initially thought her "play" to be cute and encouraged her to head press, and laughed at her when she would rear (foolish foolish newbies, I know). She has NEVER connected with her head (disbudded) but she will crowd you and be pushy.

    Her first 2 years she lived a life of luxury on our farm and came and went as she pleased. A year ago we moved and she no longer has the run of the property , and I am no longer at home as much as I was previously. In fact I am able to spend 1/4 of the time with her as I used to due to a new job. She is pissed ! She now has a wether (castrated and dis-budded) and a ewe for company, but Im sure it is me that she really wants back in her life.

    She weighs approx 100 lbs. Some days she is quiet and sweet and couldnt care less if Im in the paddock with them or not. Other days she tries to herd me, rears, threatens to head butt me but doesn't (so far). Some recent new behaviour while she is rearing and crowding me are..makes weird posessed sounding noises, tries to nip / grabs my coat sleeves, salivates a bit and sticks the tip of her tongue out. I can see the whites of her eyes when she is like this and frankly Im not liking it one bit ! She certainly will never intimidate me or run me out of the paddock. I push her out of the way (probably encourages things though) and manage to keep her out of my personal space. I do not have a problem handling her, trimming her feet, deworm and vaccinate with no issues. I still enjoy sitting with her in the sun and having a quiet moment and a scratch.

    So...I know I need to start putting her to the ground. She is friggin strong, any suggestions for a successful first time ? I have read here that I should use a vinegar / water spray bottle in the eyes ?? Any other suggestions ?

    We do not have children and she does not get let out when we have company. I really dont want to rehome her as she would just do it to someone else. The only other option is euthanasia if I cant nip this in the bud. I will not ship her for meat.

    Thoughts anyone ? Am I right in assuming this is strictly dominant behaviour and there is nothing else going on ? Hormones might add to the mix ? Explain the noises, saliva and tongue please !

    I have since "goat educated" myself intensely ! I really enjoy them as pets and I realize I will always have a goat, or a few, in my life. I admit complete responsibility for turning her into a beast as a newbie, and I really hope to diminsh her behaviour asap and return to goat sanity.

    Thanks all, so glad I found this site.

    Jane and Cricket :whatgoat:
  2. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    first off welcome to TGS :wave:

    as to the salivating, tongue and eyes -- sounds like the wether buddy has brought out in her signs of heat and is mixing up her hormones.

    Yes a spray bottle may work or it may not -- one thing to do also is to give her a good wack on the top of the head. I knwo it sounds mean but their heads are hard!!!! They way they smack into eachother is crazy. When mine get to pushy at feeding time I have the feed scoop in my hand so I just bop them on the head with it and they stop.

    I haent had much success with sitting on a goat -- but I do it from tiem to time and it can settle them down a bit but in your situation I dotn think it will help because its partly out of jealousy she is doing it.

    Spending more time with her might help but she needs to be reminded YOU are top goat and not her. Its hard once you have allowed the behavior from the very beginning though. I had this issue with our first baby to. When she was 160lbs it wasnt funny. she would head butt anyone she didnt like in the kneecap. Everyone but me though. She knew I was boss and I wouldnt tollerate it.

  3. CrossCreekTX

    CrossCreekTX New Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    Central East Texas
    This sounds crazy, but find someone with a stinky buck and get a "buck rag". Hang is up in her shelter where she can smell it. I bet she'll stop the new bucky behavior.

    You might want to breed her this fall too.
  4. DebMc

    DebMc Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    Step back and look at your goat as just that. She's a goat, not a human, so human traits such as "jealousy" do not apply. :) And the dominance theory - forget about it. Like dogs, goats are intelligent enough to know humans are not goats and vice versa.

    It sounds to me like your doe may be experiencing some hormonal changes (heat, buckiness, whatever) that manifest in behaviors you find unacceptable. Have you considered behavior modification?

    I use only positive training methods and have found it works great with goats. One of my does, the Queen, is a biter and I was able to modify that behavior by NOT responding with behaviors that inadvertently reinforced it (e.g. pushing her away, bopping her on the head). Instead I taught her some tricks to do as alternative behaviors (tricks) for eliciting human attention, ones she could be rewarded for, and taught her impulse control. With attention seeking behaviors such as biting, use of physical reprimands or corrections tends to backfire as it reinforces the very behavior you're trying to halt. Negative attention is still attention is it not?

    I prefer a relationship based on trust, respect and effective communication, whether it be with other humans, a goat, a dog or a goose.

    Deb Mc
  5. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    sorry but after 14 years of raising goats -- yes goats can show emotion like jealousy! I see goats as farm animals not people. Goats can get lonely, sad, and even die from being depressed. sorry but saying that "human traits such as jealousy do not apply" is not a true statement
  6. liz

    liz Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Shelocta PA
    I'd say the fact that you are not with her as much as you had been as well as the move to the new place sort of displaced her attitude! I agree that she is showing the signs of a doe who is trying to be herd queen....each of mine have a place in the herd and each will do the "growling" glaring and rearing up to the goat below them. Yes, I agree that even animals can show the emotions that we people have....My oldest doe is not herd queen but she will show me she isn't happy when another is getting my attention.

    You did well with providing her with herdmates, but after so long of being a single goat, even with a horse as a buddy, she's confused as to where her place is within the herd you created for her. Also, having her bred this fall may or may not solve the problem. A spray bottle or a squirt gun does help with some, reinforcing good behavior and ignoring the bad may be something to try too.
  7. DebMc

    DebMc Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    I'm sorry but I have to disagree with you, Stacey. Jealousy is a human emotion right up there with hate. Animals do feel emotion but not the same as we do - a statement supported by a pleuthora of studies and published articles on animal behavior. Why is this an issue? Google: "Anthropomorphism" for starters.

    Applying human characteristics to animals tends to alter our perception and expectations of them in ways that can be harmful to the animals and our relationship w/them. Being different species, they think and see things very differently than we, humans, do. Their behavior is in part guided by instinct and, unlike humans, animals are not capable of rationalizing situations, relationships, etc. Failure to recognize these differences can lead to huge problems.

    I elect to take a non-confrontational leadership role with all my critters, and to utilize positive training methods as opposed to physical force or other aversive measures. I've been raising and training animals of all kinds for nearly 50 years and this is the choice I've made.

    I'm sorry if my difference in opinion and practice offends you. That was not my intent. I was simply sharing information that I thought might be helpful to the person who started this thread.

    Deb Mc
  8. citylights

    citylights Member

    Jul 3, 2009
    Southern California
    Jane -- that sounds hormonal to me. My first doe became cystic as she got older and she became very aggressive towards people (she was a bottle baby) with the snorting and blubbering. She would drive my poor husband nuts, chasing him around. She really didn't bond to other goats, so she never really bugged them but would after any human she could. She never tried to butt them or rear up, but she would snort and spit like crazy. My vet thought that it eventually became a learned behavior b/c even if we got her hormones in control, we could never break her of it.
  9. cricket

    cricket New Member

    Apr 24, 2010
    Thanks so much everyone. I really do love her and want to improve our relationship. It seems you all agree that hormones are likely playing a role - how can I improve that for her...have her bred in the fall ? Any chance of that making her behaviour worse ?

    I do believe she is confused and feeling displaced, lonely and sad. As far as jealousy goes, she would never let me spend some alone time with anyone else without coming and taking over the attention (which I have allowed to become normal behaviour for her) so if animals do indeed exhibit a form of jealousy then yes I would say she is.

    I think I will try "putting her to the ground" maybe I will get a miraculous response, maybe I wont but it cant hurt. The spray bottle - do I really put vinegar in it ?? I personally wouldnt want that squirted in my eyes. I might try Staceys good bonk on the head instead !

    Thanks Deb Mc, I too am a positive behaviour rewarder but she doesnt give me the chance to ask her for something positive, she has already reared and challenged me. I have friends who clicker train, I may ask them for help once I get the immediate rudeness in check a bit better.

    I will keep you posted, thanks again

    Stacey how do I get a profile pic up, sorry I am not the best computer genius :GAAH:
  10. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007

  11. Stacey, I agree 100%. I have had a goat cry. I kid you not, the tears were running as we left the driveway. I felt awful. As for Jealousy, human or not dogs and many animals have this. Not to mention love and I have seen love between my goats and animals like no other. I agaree these goats are more like people then most think and do carry emotion. It may be on a different level and perhaps without the same understanding but it is there. All things with soul have emotions and feelings to some digree.

    Cricket...Welcome to the group! :dance: :wahoo: Glad you found us.

    Sounds like you have some good advise.
  12. DebMc

    DebMc Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    It sounds to me like she is being possessive and, perhaps, resource guarding you. The best way to counter that is to get up and leave when she does this. She'll quickly learn that guarding and horning in uninvited = resource goes away.

    I'm curious - what is the point of doing this? :chin: Do goats lay on each other to assert dominance? Do you think your doe thinks you're another goat? :whatgoat:

    The focus of positive training is to enhance your animal's trust and willingess through effective communication using positive reinforcement and other pain-free methods. Rolling, hitting, slapping, kicking, pulling hair, choke chains, etc, are all aversive and, therefore, not part of positive training. Physical punishment fails to communicate what it is you want your pet to do. At best, it only suppresses the behavior, and conditions the animal to be fearful (of painful punishment), which promotes stress and anxiety.

    Aversive training = relationship built on fear, whereas positive training = relationship based on trust and effective communication.

    Four on the "floor" would be a good place to start in teaching manners. When you see her just standing there with all four hooves planted squarely on the ground, click and treat (C/T), and tell her "good goat!". When she's moving about and stops, C/T and tell her "good goat!" as soon as all four are stationary on the floor. Do not offer any other opportunity for her to earn treats. Be consistent and before long she'll be offering this behavior. Once she does, assign the cue you want to use (e.g. "floor") and start cuing her to do it. Only say the cue once, do NOTrepeat. Let her process the informaion. C/T when she does it. If you don't have a clicker, you can always use a verbal marker (e.g. "good") instead or just click your tongue.

    As soon as she learns four on the "floor", I'd teach her go to "place" and only allow her to earn treats there in that spot and that spot alone. If she offers "floor" or any other learned or other attention seeking behavior elsewhere, ignore her and walk away. She'll catch on really quick, you'll see.

    "Place" is easy to teach. Use a treat to lure her to the "place" you designate (e.g. cable spool, her stall). As soon as she's there with "four on the floor," C/T and throw a party (gobs of treats and verbal praise). Repeat this exercise until she offers the behavior on her own, then assign the cue (e.g. place) and C/T when she does it.

    Keep training sessions short, just a few minutes a day. Be consistent. And in no time your doe will be running to her "place" for attention instead of confronting and guarding you. Once she has a newly learned behavior down fast, you can phase out the clicker and replace it with a verbal marker (e.g. good). Likewise, you can phase out the treats and only give randomly.

    Another fun training tool for goats is targeting. One of my res does is very,very timid and targeting is the only thing that brings her out of her shell. She :love: it! As soon as I pull out our targeting wand, all 5 goats go running to their "place". If interested, a good book to get you started would be, "Right on Target!: Taking Dog Training to a New Level" by Mandy Book and Cheryl Smith.

    Happy training. Hope this helps.

    Deb Mc