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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About 3 weeks before Christmas some one cut the fence in my weathers yard. My 2,2 year olds got down on the highway. ( I know that I was gone less than 20 min, and my dogs were not barking when I got in the truck. ) Now though both of my boys are scared of people. Anyone that comes to the house even people we have hiked with, and the boys go run and hide. If I am outside they try to hide behind me. I end up with a goat looking out from under each arm.
I have them in the front yard, I told my hubby that I was not going to put them back in their yard until spring. The boys have been in the front yard many times, and sometimes for days at a time. It is not a new place for them. Is there anything I can do to help them get over this? They haven't been mean, or agressive even out of fear, they just hide. I thought that maybe if I brought their little buddy Daffy, (he's 8 months old) from the girls yard that they would settle down. They just try to keep him from going to the gate and greeting people. I haven't taken them out since the snow got deep, and the temps got so cold. It is supposed to get a bit warm this week, so I thought I'd take them shopping with me. The store is about 4 blocks from us, and the owner loves to see the boys, she had a ring put on the building for their lead, and they can see me while I pick up my things. She always has a treat for them, and they really like her. I'm just worried about this hiding thing, and trying to figure out how to help them get over it.

Thanks for any help you can offer
Joyce W
 

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How do YOU react, when they hide behind you?

Do you try to comfort them or do you ignore it?

With animals it`s often tricky when we comfort them during a frightening episode that they take that comfort as a reinforcement that being afraid is what you want.

They have experienced a trauma, do you know what happened when they got to the highway (have they been chased away, yelled at, etc.)?

I would have them lots of visitors that act completely normal around them - you included and give them time to let their natural curiosity overcome the fear. Treats will surely help.
 

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Sabine's right, you need to get your friends to come over one at a time and bring the goats up to have a treat. Don"t make a big deal of it, just put a lead on one, let him have his treat and go back to doing whatever he was doing. Sounds like they are reacting to some serious trauma and need some time and confidence building.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks,
I have been ignoring them hiding behind me when people come over. I have been having people over a couple times a day, and we stay out with them.
I think that when the idiots cut my fence that the boys were hurt. I know they were very frightened. When I called them to me, instead of coming back with the look of oops we were cought, they came running with that save me look.
I have been worried because the only time they act any different is when there are other people involved. The rest of the time they are their normal cuddely selves. I just want to help them get over this so they can go back to having a full wonderful life. Before this they acted like the world loved them.
Do you think taking them for a walk around town would help? The store keeper loves them, and always has a treat for them when we leave the store. I was thinking of going to the store today for a few things. I think they need to get out. The only way to the store is to walk on the sidewalk next to the highway they were on. I don't want to add to the trauma.
Thanks again
Joyce W
 

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Its been well over a month so I'd think they should be calming down a little by now. As everyone posted above, something pretty serious happened to your goats. I would suspect an ethnic group trying to get some holiday meat or an upset neighbor who didn't like them around. You didn't mention any injuries so I'm assuming you didn't see anything physically wrong with them.

Here's what I would do. I would tie them to the outside of the fence "one at a time". Then when someone came over I would casually walk over to the goat while we were chatting. As Caroline said above, don't make a big deal out of it. Walk right up to the goat but ignore it. Once it seems to have calmed down and be OK with everyone standing there (even if it takes 20 minutes), then I'd finally acknowledge the goat and give it a treat that it really liked and pet it. Mine are partial to salted peanuts in the shell. If it jumps away or acts scared I would stop and go back to chatting. Once it calmed down I would repeat the treat and petting. If the goat calms enough to be really looking and nuzzling for a treat then let your friend feed it.

I think its important for people to understand the reasoning behind any training so here it is. Sabine touched on it in her post. If you pet or give your goat a treat when it is acting scared you are basically rewarding the goat for doing the behavior you don't like. You need to ignore the bad behavior and reward the good behavior. (This does not work for aggressive goats!) By standing there calmly talking while ignoring he goat you are giving it time to calm down and think. Basically letting the goat transition from the "flight" side of its brain and into the calmer "thinking" side. Once it starts thinking, it will realize nothing bad is happening. Casually acknowledging it and giving it a treat makes it start feeling better about having some company. By ignoring it if it get scared again, you keep re-enforcing the fact that nothing bad is going to happen and there is no reason to be nervous. I'd spend about 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

Its important to do this with only one goat at a time because they will feed off of each others nervousness and this exercise will take a lot longer, IF it would work at all. I have mixed feelings on the walk. One one hand it may help to force them to accept people and noise again but on the other hand, you KNOW they will be scared and I generally try to avoid training situations that induce the behavior I'm trying to correct. (Again, agressive goats are an exception.) Either would probably work but I guess I lean toward the easy approach where you can build their confidence a step at a time. Once they are fine with visitors and even come looking to them for treats then I'd start taking them for short walks again and build off of that. Just remember not to cuddle them when they act up. It doesn't help in the long run.

Honestly, if its done correctly it should only take a few days. It they had never been friendly then it would take a lot longer. In your case they were always friendly before and just need a confidence boost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
They are both doing much better. I have even had them out for a couple short hikes. Nothing much more than crossing the road and heading straight up to the hills. I've had several people over, and they are all greated at the gate. They are still not to sure of the propane man, but only when he is filling the tank. After that they are asking him for pets. I think today we will go for a bit of a walk. I want to take another look at some property I am thinking of buying, and think the goats should get to go see where they may be living. There is lots of sage brush for them to explore and cedar trees, juniper and pinion. My 12 year old is thinking that the 30 acres will be a great playground for him and the goats.
In a couple weeks we are going to go on an adventure to the lake to do some fishing, shooting and just play around. We're going to take the boys with us so they can experience the lake. That should be an experience for them. We're also going to take our yearling weather. He loves the water so it should be fun for everyone. I think that if I just keep working with them they are going to get over the issue very well. The store that I used to take the goats to closed, so there won't be any more walks to the store for them. They used to like to see Lucy, she always had a treat for them. I also think they liked to carry my groceries home for me. Anyway, they liked going, maybe it was all the attention they got along the way.
Thanks for asking about my boys.
Joyce
Eureka UT
 
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