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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I have two 9 month old Anglo Nubians - one is a doe and the other a wether. They were both bottle fed and are beautifully natured. However, the past couple of months the wether has been pushing his luck. He started off gently head butting kids (human ones!) but to the point now where if it takes them off guard he will actually push them, but still not hard enough to hurt them. Occasionally he will have his hackles up when he does so. He has always been nippy but now actually bites and it hurts. He doesn't do it aggressively just usually when you sit with them to pet them and they come over for strokes they both like to try and chew coat toggles etc but he always moves onto hands. The past week or two I have given him a firm NO when he does so and he does not like it! He will walk backwards and gently headbutt me. I have started with a spray bottle when he is acting up and it does work as he hates it, however I am concerned as this doesn't seem to be usual wether behaviour. I have checked his bits and he has a scrotal sack but it is completely flat and I can't feel anything left in there. His urine definitely smells stronger than hers but he doesn't urinate on himself and doesn't have the usual bucky smell. However, is there any chance anything at all has been left behind or is he just a naughty teenager? It's a shame because for the majority of the time he's such a goofy, fun goat but I can't trust him around children at the moment just incase he steps up a gear and actually hurts them. Thank you!
 

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It's unlikely he still has any "manhood" left that is causing his behavior. This sort of attitude is actually not uncommon with wethers (I've had several that liked to push the boundaries when they got about the age yours is). I just wrote a pretty long piece of training advice on another thread which I'll copy here.
 

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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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Oh, and spray bottles do work very well to correct aggressive behavior. I encourage you to keep it on you at all times while you work through this phase. Hopefully he's a quick learner and you won't have to arm yourself too long. Make sure you always have the spray bottle when the kids are in the pen and let your wether know he's NOT to mess with children under any circumstance! He should not push the other goat away when you're doling out scratches and treats either. If he hogs for attention, make him get away until he can approach respectfully and without pushing the other goat or your kids or anyone else out of the way. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you so much, that's really helpful advice!
What do you recommend as far as when he is trying it on with children...do I arm them with the spray bottle or is it ok for me to do it?

Him and the doe often headbutt each other and jump around, they usually do it when they're all hyped up but sometimes both of them have their hackles raised, and sometimes the doe instigates it. Is this all part of the same "teenager" phase when the hackles are raised? They adore each other the majority of the time although he does like to barge her out of the way when she is getting too much attention (which I will put a stop to as per your advice!)
 

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Welcome to the forum :)
It's so great to "meet" goat lovers from across the pond. Can you post pictures of your herd when you get a chance. @Damfino is amazing at training her goats and gave you great advice.

This is one of the nicest communities of goat lovers to be found. We love sharing the ups and downs of our goats and I'm sure you'll love joining in too :)
 

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Thank you so much, that's really helpful advice!
What do you recommend as far as when he is trying it on with children...do I arm them with the spray bottle or is it ok for me to do it?

Him and the doe often headbutt each other and jump around, they usually do it when they're all hyped up but sometimes both of them have their hackles raised, and sometimes the doe instigates it. Is this all part of the same "teenager" phase when the hackles are raised? They adore each other the majority of the time although he does like to barge her out of the way when she is getting too much attention (which I will put a stop to as per your advice!)
I'm not usually in favor of giving kids the spray bottle unless they are really good animal trainers. There's a lot to be said for timing, and kids are more likely to miss subtle signs of aggression and then over-react or be inconsistent when they finally do notice. Goats understand the concept of the "boss" protecting her kids. No one messes with my herd queen's babies. In fact, my herd queen tends to make sure no one messes with anyone's babies. So if you verbally reprimand and spray your goat in the face when he acts pushy around your kids, he'll get it.

I don't allow my goats to roughhouse each other around people. If they start butting heads and caprioling around me, I clap my hands, and shoo them out of my space. I love watching them play, but I don't want to be in the middle of it. I've noticed in my goat herd, the youngsters learn to take their games away from the big goats because if they get rowdy near the boss, they get whacked. They can be as rough-and-tumble as they like as long as they're not near people. When they're near people they need to be calm and gentle.
 

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Thank you so much, that's really helpful advice!
What do you recommend as far as when he is trying it on with children...do I arm them with the spray bottle or is it ok for me to do it?

Him and the doe often headbutt each other and jump around, they usually do it when they're all hyped up but sometimes both of them have their hackles raised, and sometimes the doe instigates it. Is this all part of the same "teenager" phase when the hackles are raised? They adore each other the majority of the time although he does like to barge her out of the way when she is getting too much attention (which I will put a stop to as per your advice!)
Hi, Iam a new goat mummy, have two 9month old Pygmy kids, one wether one doeling, after reading your link, and the advice you have been given, Iam trying it on my wether, he has only last couple of weeks started to head butt me, can be bit painful, he does seem better with me since I've started with water squirted and I nudge him out the way now and then too.
As you have wether and doe, do you find your doe gets bullied a bit now they are getting older, Iam hoping that I've not made mistake in getting one of each, and not two of same sex, my doe is so sweet and she is on her guard with my wether, they do play together, but I think I might try the water squirt on him, when he starts to boss my doe, especially when they eat their hay, I've now made two wall mounted hay racks which is better, good luck with your babies.
 
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