Can goats learn their names?

What could be taught to goats? Oh my goodness, all sorts of things. Like a dog, you can teach a goat to heel, to back up on orders, and to come when you are called. You may teach a goat to pull a waggon or cart and carry a pack on an overnight walk, as well as teach it good manners while camping.

You may also teach goats to do all sorts of tricks and tricks. Only your own imagination prevents you from training a goat. I’ve seen goats perform at a small circus in Northern WI, and MAN!! The stuff they were doing, and you might say they enjoyed doing it.

It is possible to teach goats to stand on platforms (think circus ponies), to leap through hoops (covered and open), to move on their hind legs, to pull ropes on pulleys to get treats out of containers, to wear clothing, hats and sunglasses, to bow, to kiss you, to turn in a circle, to shake their heads yes and no, to play a toy piano and much more… The best part is that most goats learn very easily, for a treat that is, and will forever remember the trick (if you practise now and then).

So catch a goat, with a trick prop or without it, and start practising. Post a list and let us know how it works and what strategies are best for you. Send photos by email, or post them to the Yahoo Groups website in the photo section. Have fun and be safe. But a warning: goats are smart enough to make you think they’re not getting it! Be patient, be fair and have fun!!!!

Using a cue stick is one of the easiest ways to teach an animal to perform tricks. A cue stick is a stick which has a tip on it of some kind. Like a Wand of Sorcery. It’s a black wand with a white tip, maybe. The principle is for the animal to concentrate on the tip so that you can guide it to a region of desire. You want the animal to touch the wand’s handle. With a goat, you want the goat to brush its nose at the tip of the wand. This will assist in many kinds of goat training, but it’s almost a must in trick training. You can use your finger, but you can step back away from the animal and the object of interest using the cue stick and enhance the look of the trick for onlookers.

It should be easy to teach a goat to touch the end of a wand… goats are so nosy. You say “touch” when they touch the tip of the wand and then say “goooood” when they touch it, or if you use a clicker, press, and give the goat a treat. Some wands may be able to hang onto the end of a treat. You may want to set a treat on the end of the wand every now and then and let the goat find it there, making the tip more interesting for the goat.

You teach “targeting” by using your cue stick. He is “targeting” in an environment as the goat reaches the end of the handle. To teach a wide variety of tricks to your goat, you can now move the stick to various props and areas. Uh, ie. “touch”touch”open the door”open the door. It will force the door open as the goat “targets” the cue stick on the door (unless you forgot to unlatch the door). Soon, you will be able to say “open the door” and not use the goat’s cue stick to respond.

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When training a goat, how much or how big of a treat do you use? What are you going to use? Well, each and every trainer is different, and every goat is different, too. What is it that your goat likes to feed on? I prefer to use either slices of carrot, tiny bits of dog biscuit, or cheerios while training my goats. The size I like is just a tiny part of the button size. You just want enough to fill the goat with something, but not enough to fill the goat up or take too long for it to eat. The treat is not dinner, but a gift. Another treat that is easy to tear into small pieces that goats really like is pieces of bread.

LEARNING to model the actions of your animals

If you feed your animals, regardless of the species, most individual animals will be standing there waiting for you in the same place every day at the same time. If you give an animal a treat from your hand at the same place every day, it will learn at that time to be there.

So, if you offer the same care, but with a change in behaviour (big talk about asking the animal to do only a slight variance of time for the treatment), you shape the behaviour of the animals. This can be transformed into a job that is important, such as keeping the animals’ feet for trimming, or something we call a trick that amuses us.

So if you have a goat with a pedestal, if you have a goat with a pedestal, and you have a few treats in your pocket, you can teach the animal some habits that it can learn by cue or order easily. Deron and I use “pedestal” to start with the term you would use to get up on the pedestal (our pedestal is a piece of fat fire wood). Give your order or cue and have the goat with a treat in your hand on one side of the pedestal and you on the other and place your hand over the pedestal. Shift your hand while the goat goes to eat the treat from your hand, so that the goat has to place his front feet on the pedestal. Give the treat and say “good” when it does. Let the goat do as it pleases, but in the field, keep it. Repeat now. Some goats will hop on the pedestal right up there, some won’t. If not, let the goat just put her front feet up, one after the other, for three rounds.

Place your hand away from the goat on the fourth round so that it has to move up for the treat on the pedestal with all four feet. Treat, and offer verbal encouragement the moment it does, and let it do what it wants. Repeat 3 times.
Keep the goat in place on the fourth time by touching it or getting a bigger treat so that it takes longer to eat or standing in front of the goat petting it, not long, just about 5 seconds, now get another treat quickly and say “off” as you hold your hand off to the side of the pedestal so that the goat will have to get all the way off the pedestal to get the treat. Reward and praise as it hits the ground with the fourth foot. Repeat three times….but don’t handle the animal if it gets off until you give it an order.

Give the goat a fuss and let it go about its business.
It should take between 10 -15 minutes for all of this. Later in the day, repeat.
Your animal would be happy to ‘preform for you’ the next day, if not before. It will not know the orders at this stage, but it will know the game. For a couple of days, repeat only this. Your goat can learn the commands fairly easily, as well as cue off nearby body movements and props.
You can teach your goat from here to turn on the pedestal in a circle (“go round”), to “bow” or a variety of little “tricks”.

When the animal has learned to understand, the next action, including and not limited to pushing a cart or waggon, would be easy to teach. The cornerstone in all schooling is continuing to learn. You have to start very small and work up to the bigger requests, but after the animal has mastered that first little thing, such as placing its front feet up on the pedestal, the larger request comes fast.

Once the pedestal is taught to dismount or ‘down’, the term would work with other objects from which you want them off.

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