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I hand feed all of my goats at some point, but I especially hand-feed my packgoats. These are the ones I want to bond closely with and who I expect to follow me everywhere. However, I train them to take treats politely and not paw, jump up, or get in my face to get at them. And when I'm not feeding them treats, they are not allowed to beg for them. That said, all this training I do with my boys flies right out the window the second I walk outside with a bag of peanuts and start handing them out to the entire 15-goat herd! My big boys knock everyone else out of the way to be the first and only goats in line. But when I'm just working with the two of them I don't have this problem. Numbers and pecking order make a big difference to behavior and what you can expect in any given feeding situation!

One of my packgoats is naturally skittish about being touched. He loves treats and is incredibly intelligent but would rather not be petted or scratched. I call him my "autistic" goat because he often acts as though he's somewhere on the autism spectrum. I used treat training very successfully to teach him that it's ok to be petted, touched, scratched, brushed, etc. I've since done more with clicker training and it's gone very well and decreased his learning time. Treats are a great training tool if done correctly. You know your goats love you when they trot over to you when they hear your voice, and not just because they expect to be fed. You also know they're bonded to you if they follow you all around your property without a leash and will follow you away from home on a leash without being dragged.
 

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I agree with sitting in the goat pen drinking coffee. The goats and I listen to spotify on my phone lol. Sometimes country, sometimes pop, sometimes old rock.. they like it lol! They get curious and come up to you.
If you scratch them with your nails up and down alongside/ right next to their spines or take a stiff brush out there..once they figure out it feels good, they will let you brush or scratch them. Then, eventually, pet their heads ears and give hugs.
All my NDs were skittish at first. Now they are friendly.
The Lamanachas have been like puppy dogs from the beginning. They love attention.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
They will learn to trust you. Just keep going. One day at a time. As everything they are wild by nature. But they are clever and adapt quickly. You will see. As long as they stay healthy and strong.
I'm worried that I ruined their trust yesterday. It was hoove clipping time and I had to tie them up, which they did not enjoy.
 

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@Tanya I'm not really sure... I thought I was making progress but then some days it feels like they are scared of me. I usually spend 45-60 minutes with them a day...it is pretty cold where I live right now... I also try to read to them out loud so they just hear my voice.
This is such a good idea! I should start reading aloud to my new goats. It would improve my mind and maybe theirs, too. :D
 

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I'm worried that I ruined their trust yesterday. It was hoove clipping time and I had to tie them up, which they did not enjoy.
As long as you don't actually harm them, doing "traumatic" things like hoof trimming can build their trust in ways that coaxing and befriending never can. They learn that even when they are physically restrained and compromised, you don't hurt them and can therefore be trusted. Being both firm (no-nonsense) and gentle at the same time teaches them that you are a strong leader who can be relied on.
 

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I second what @Damfino says. When I started out wih dam raised kids, there was one who hated having his feet touched, let alone hooves trimmed. We practiced every single day, first I just touched each foot, then eventually I lifted each foot, slowly increasing how much I did, until I actually started to trim. The next thing was to touch his belly, which he also hated. After the touching I always praised him and "celebrated" that he survived it.
We did this while he was on a stand, having his grain. One day I forgot to touch his belly, and I realized he was waiting for it. He was looking at me, anticipating the touch and the celebration. That was a "touching" moment, and the first big sign of trust.
 

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Naughty! Usually when a goat tests the boundaries with me for the first time, I run toward him with stomping feet and I clap my hands and shout at him. It scares the pants off him and he leaves my space immediately. If he doesn't leave (or if he gives me the sideways head-toss or the stink-eye), I keep after him until he turns tail and runs (not walks!) away. Then I turn my back and go about my business. As long as he stays respectful, I don't mess with him again.

I have learned not to go after my goats to make friends after such an interaction. The goat is the one in trouble and he needs to be the one to seek forgiveness and friendship. If you go after him to tell him you still love him, he's likely to interpret it as aggression from you. He's probably still nervous (and possibly a little angry) from your previous encounter (which did not go at all as he expected!), so if you go after him while his emotions are high he'll feel cornered or pursued and is likely to turn on you again.

Long-winded explanation gleaned from watching goats interact with each other: When a subordinate goat challenges a dominant one, the dominant goat puts the subordinate one in his place, then he displays his superiority by turning and ignoring the upstart after he runs away. There is no follow-up interaction between goats after a challenge has been settled. I think this is where we humans often trip up. We feel bad so we go after the goat to try to make friends again, but since goats don't have "kiss and make up" vocabulary in their language, they misinterpret our gesture and they think we're coming after them to continue the fight. This actually gives legitimacy to the challenger's feeling of dominance. A dominant goat only continues chasing a subordinate one if he sees the subordinate goat as an actual threat to his position. Since standing down and running away didn't make you give up the chase, the goat believes you see him as serious contender for top place, and he basically has no choice but to engage in another fight to settle the matter.

If your goat approaches you after you've chased him off, and his hair is flat and his eyes are soft, it's a sign that you can reach out and make friends. If he comes up with his hackles raised, a saucy tilt to his head, and a challenge in his eye, chase him off again until he comes back with a nicer attitude. Let him know that there are no friendly interactions as long as he's trying to be boss. But if he's gentle, he gets treats and scratches and all kinds of nice things. If your goat is a little scared of you for a while after your angry outburst, that's ok. I'd rather win over a nervous goat any day than have to deal with an aggressive one.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
@Damfino Thank you for taking the time to write all that! I always appreciate your advice and experience. My goat reared up to head butt me and I didn't know what to do. This might sound awful and abusive, but I punched him and punched him, and he reared up again and so on. I did not know what else to do! It's not like I could put him in time out to teach him what he did was bad. I do not like hurting them. When the fighting stopped, I went over to apologize and stroke him.
 

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It's ok. At least you didn't run away from him! Hopefully he learned some respect from that well-earned beat-down.

I try not to engage with my goats physically if I can help it (although if they catch me by surprise I may have no choice!). They are bigger and stronger than me and if it came to a physical fight I would probably lose. If I have a goat that I know is aggressive, I carry a water pistol every time I go to the pen. Most goats HATE to be sprayed with water and once they know what the water pistol is for, they'll back off before I can even pull the trigger. If a normally docile goat catches me by surprise, I will do the stomp/clap/yell act to get him away from me, and if he keeps coming back for more I look around for sticks or pinecones or small rocks and I'll throw them at him until he runs away. If I can find a good stick about 2 feet long it's even better. I'll whack him with it, and when he turns to run away I'll whack his bottom few times for good measure until he's truly on the run. Then I'll walk away like he's not worth my time. The point is not to hurt the goat but to give him a good scare and make him feel small. He should be afraid to attack you. Once he gets in the habit of being your friend, he won't want to attack you any more. But for now it's good enough for him to be afraid of what might happen if he acts feral. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #38
My dominant Nigerian Dwarf isn't all that strong so I wasn't scared of getting hurt. He's also disbudded.
I'm glad there are ways around physically hurting him!
It's probably my fault because sometimes I do play with them and let them playfully head butt me. I should not have done that. I was sitting on the ground petting one of my goats and this goat was eating my jacket so I shoved his head away and that's when he reared up.
Sometimes they rub their heads on me. Is that a sign of affection, do they want scratched, or are they challenging me?
 
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