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Hi All,
We have a 3 y.o. wether, new to us, who eats as if every moment is his last. He eats frantically. We offer plenty of food, alfalfa and minerals. He is in good shape & has a shiny coat (now) He was a bit thin and scruffy when he arrived. Even when browsing he attacks the grass, bark, weeds with a vengence.

We hope to train him by walking thru neighborhoods and then on trails. What do you do to curb 'snacking' while hiking?

Thanks for you comments, help
Beth
 

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wow, hit the wrong button - all gone.

OK, nex try:

as goats need a large diversity in their food his behaviour is natural. Your basic food (and the food he got in his past) may have been too "uniform" to fullfil his need for browse (I see it with our goats all the time: they stay on a pasture for 3 or 4 days and already the grass/browse is greener on the other side of the fence).

If you continue to give him access to the food he needs his craving will get less over time.

For the first weeks of training I would take him out to be trained only after he was able to snack on weeds, brush, etc. for about 15-20 min. It's hard to fight a craving when you're hungry.

Next should be a firm rule of "no eating while on lead". You might want to think about using a halter to have better control over the head and maybe walking him at a slightly brisker pace as usual - less chance for him to put his head down.

Then I would make stops for browsing - I adopted a rule from Icelandic distance riders: one break of 10 minutes every hour - and start the break with a clear command that NOW eating is allowed (f.e. break off a branch and give it to him).
 

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Great question.... and great response!

I really like your 3 step training process and that the final step still allows them "appropriate munch time".

I have one that needs training for this problem too. He is fine on the trail but horrible about it while on lead to the trails.
 

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Humans and animals that go through a starving phase seldom are as relaxed about their calorie intake again.

Sabine is right, make sure you hike him after he has eaten, I always do this with my goats because a hungry goat might snarf every green thing in sight which could lead to a poisoning. I'd rather them have a bit of food in their bellies so they think they can make it to the next water break.

I use the word, "Snackies!" when they are going to be able to eat while I rest, snack or get a drink. They will be hiking calmly along and I'll point to some willow or some such thing, say, "snackies gang" and they immediatly start to eat even if I'm still walking toward a log or something to sit down on. They've just learned it my ways.

If you are hiking in an area of poison plants I'd get a muzzle for this chap, he could be his own worst enemy. The other thing would be to keep him on lead, on a halter like Sabine says so he learns when it is ok and when it is not. All of mine snack while hiking, but not to excess, just a nibble here or there while we walk, occasionaly pausing and then trotting to catch up after a particularly good morsel. This is normal, horking everything in sight is a bit overkill. Poor lad, I hope he soon learns that he won't be hungry like that again.

Charlie Goggin
Lightfoot Packgoats
 
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