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Two times their weight is a bit much. I wouldn't have them pull more than 1.5x their weight. If you're pulling a sled over hilly terrain, you might want to hitch two goats to that 300 lb. load if you want to go very far without a lot of rest stops. You won't need to train them to drive since you can lead them, but you'll need to train them to pull together as a team. If it's too much work to train two goats to pull as a team and you don't want to make two harnesses, you could have just one goat pull the load, but have another to switch out with him when the first one gets tired.
Joe, I hunted the Tioga unit during late bow one year. Holy frijoles! That is steep thick stuff!
I'll stick with Eastern Oregon. Kudos to those of you tackling that for bowhunting! If you get something down in the bottom of one of those canyons you might as well take a knife and fork with you. Harness goats just might be the answer.
Yes, Tioga is steep country. Problem there is that in order to find elk you pretty much need to be in the bottom. Everything accessible from a car is hit hard. I don't think they have a late season there anymore for deer and elk is now 3pt plus and no cows. Lots of big bulls in there. Lots of elk. Just hard to get to. We usually go there first weekend. Fire danger in the cascades limits access. Let's hope for a wet summer.
Wet summer? Such a dream. Wet anything here in Bend is unusual! But we can still hope.
I need some training advice please. Koby and I have been ground driving for months now and we seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut.  I think the issue is my lack of experience Rolleyes . He is engaging in some unhelpful behaviour and I don't know how to overcome it.  I wish I could get into his head! Here's a bit of background:

  1. I have a Hoegger's standard harness that fits Koby well (he was 2 yrs old in August). He has almost outgrown the driving bridle that came with it but it is still useable on the last hole.  I have a new driving bridle which can be used with or without a bit; it came with a mullen mouth ring snaffle. I haven't tried the bit yet.
  2. Koby knows all the basic commands - walk on, whoa, left, right, trot, back up, stand.  These were clicker-trained using a halter and lead and we have a couple of sessions a week (in harness but me leading him from the halter) to reinforce them.
  3. I have a wagon like Nanno's and a mini-horse easy entry cart but I feel we are not ready to hitch him to either (we were planning to start on the wagon, which he is used to following off lead when I pull it along). In any event I was not going to ask him to pull a person until he is 3 years old.
  4. I do not generally carry a driving whip.
  5. So far my style of training is to reward good behaviour until it is ingrained and generally ignore bad behaviour.
  6. It is largely up to me to train Koby on my own. I have never trained a goat (or horse) to drive. Overall he is a very quick learner when motivated; food is his greatest motivation. 
  7. At 198lbs he is very strong
  8. He can be a bit of a nervous nelly sometimes and generally doesn't like going out on the road with me alone. He seems to feel safer if there are others with us, such as another goat and/or my partner and his dog. I guess this is herd mentality - safety in numbers and all that.
  9. Koby is doing well with his noise de-sensitisation lessons e..g chainsaw and lawn mover running close by.

Training Challenges

Coming home: When ground driving along the road outside our property he always walks well in front of me on the way home, but he sometimes pulls. I can live with that because I can generally calm him down by turning him in a circle a few times. He soon remembers that turning means delays and more effort than walking calmly.

Going out: Sometimes he will walk well going down the road away from the house but unfortunately this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. He typically stops and refuses to move forward (I think separation from the herd is part of the issue because this is also a problem when I lead him down the road with just the halter).  Perhaps 30% of our walks does he walk out well away from the house and this is almost always with other people around.

The other thing he does is move forward OK but then he puts his head down very low and pulls wildly to the side of the road to eat whatever is growing theres. I tick him off verbally for this and try to resist his pulling but I'm rarely successful with the latter; he's just too strong.

How do I get Koby to walk happily in front of me generally - regardless of what direction we are travelling in (away or home)?  All the information I've read about this stage of training recommends having someone at the goat's head to help guide them along and understand what is required of them (i.e. walking in front of the driver rather than being lead from behind). Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of a helper. Is there any way around this or do you think this isn't really an issue?  Koby knows jolly well that I am behind him on the way home and he walks fine. Is this baulking behaviour on the way out more about leaving his herd? If so, what is the likelihood of his getting over leaving them?

The second challenge is how to stop Koby pulling like a train whenever he sees something he wants to eat - this seems to be just plain naughtiness; I think he knows he shouldn't be doing it and he only does it ground driving. I thought about introducing the bit on the bridle but I don't think either of us are ready for that; I don't want to ruin his mouth.

Looking forward to your ideas and advice - thanks.
If you want to stick to clicker-training, here is what you can do:

introduce target-training. Maybe you need to start with a hand-held target (ball on a stick) to explain to Koby the general idea that he is supposed to move TOWARDS an object.

As goats pick up rather fast what's wanted, you can then switch to ground targets. For horses, we use small rubber mats or small wood plates - it needs to be something that is different from the ground around and the animal can identity by stepping on it.

Make walking to the mat a highly reinforced behaviour: many, many, many good things happen on a mat: food, resting, scratching, attention, etc.

Mat training will serve two purposes: you can explain the idea of walking ahead of you towards a mat, can lay mats in a single file, a circle, a zigzag pattern, whatever you like.

Second purpose is to teach self-controll because going to the mat is only allowed (this is a rule you have to teach) in a controlled manner, no rushing.

Pulling towards the side of the road: can also be taught with targeting. Offer a target he has to walk towards before he is allowed to eat. Use the eating as a reward that is always available but make rules about access to it.

IT IS NOT NAUGHTINESS! Eating is calming, eating is necessary for survival. Learn to read when he is pulling to the side and look at what situation triggers the behaviour. It might be that he is overwhelmed with a certain request you made, like f.e. going away or walking home slowly and he has to do something to calm himself down again. Avoid the trigger, teach an alternative behaviour (see targeting). Build duration slowly.

And yes, the baulking is stress about leaving the herd. A single goat in predator country is a dead goat. He has to overcome instinctual fear of being eaten to go out with you so that is a hughe thing you are asking of him.

Make it worth his while. Reinforce highly every step he makes willingly. Build duration. Accept the points at which he freezes. He might see, hear, smell things you don't. Teach him an alternative behaviour to freezing. Again: targeting. Here an hand-target (putting his nose to your hand) is one of the moste helpful things you can teach. If you do this often enough this task can become like a safety blanket in stressfull situations: it's easy to do, it will always be reinforced, it will become familiar and therefore reassuring.

When both of you have some experience with mat and target training, find real world targets. Look for things that stand out on your route: trees, rocks, gulleys, whatever. Make a game out of it: we walk to this...... and then you click and treat.

You can also start with counting steps loudly. First you might only get to "one, two - click and treat" willing, fluid steps. But animals understand the concept of "adding one more" and you will soon get to ten, then fifteen and more steps (you can skip the adding one after you get above twenty, then you can try moving in steps of five). The longest count has been recorded with pigeons who will pick an object 300 (!) times before they get a treat. Think about getting 300 steps without reinforcement (this will not be achieved in a matter of days, of course) walking without baulking, without pulling to the side. This will be a great game you two can play every time you go out.

Look at this link on how to build duration into any behaviour
and some more on building duration

if you check out that site you will find several other explanations about f.e. targeting, etc.

Targeting could also solve your problem of Koby rushing ahead on the way home. You would start with him walking next to you, keeping his nose/head at a certain position. Then shift the criteria to him keeping his shoulder at a certain position next to you. Then his hip, then his tail, then he has to keep the same distance in front of you.

As soon as you work with the cart, the target behaviour will be to stay between the shafts.

As always: start small, reinforce often, look for signs that you do not reinforce enough (I would hazard the guess that these are the times when he dashes towards food on the side :-) )

this is a fun video of a mini pony learning to pull a cart with clicker training. You can see mats involved as markers on the ground, targeting between the shafts, moving towards a hand-target

and another mini, this video shows more about the basic work, including mats and hand targets
Sabine, thank you for all this information, it is really helpful. Koby is actually already quite good at target training; I started him out on targets when I first got the clicker and he targets on my hand when a car goes past that frightens him. I didn't think of using targeting to help overcome these challenges though. I really like the idea of the mats and I already have some of the small square rubber mats so I will give those a try.

This afternoon I asked Koby to tow around some makeshift shafts and he did brilliantly. I clicked and rewarded him when he sniffed each shaft and then walked him through them laid parallel on the ground. More rewards. Then I hitched them one at a time to his harness using the clicker. He only jumped twice, and not very far. Soon he was towing them all over the garden with me leading him, quite unconcerned. He is very good in the training area where he's not far from the other goats.
I love that Eggo pony in the video, and also the next one by the same lady teaching a horse to put its head in the halter. I'm going to try that with Koby too Smile
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