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much of what looks impressive in clicker training is basically targeting in one form or another :-)
Sabine is spot-on when she says Koby is insecure about being away from the herd. I personally do not like to go from driving toward home to driving away from home. Driving away from home is too big a step and too difficult until he's already well-trained in less distracting situations. What we have done with our goats is take them several miles from home in the truck so we have fewer distractions. Removing distractions sets yourself up for success, and then as training progresses you can start adding distractions back in. The second time I ever took Sputnik out to drive single, I took him by himself. I think this is one reason single driving "took" so well with Sputnik. Neither Phil nor I has taken Finn out for a solo lesson, so he's always had Sputnik there as a distracting influence.

Weather permitting, I hope to take Finn out by himself a few times over the next few weeks so we can concentrate just on each other. I think Finn's problem might be similar to Koby's--he's not completely confident in Phil. The reason I think this is because at the beginning of our last drive, a loose dog suddenly appeared on the golf course and came bounding toward us. Both goats stopped, but Finn was by far the more nervous of the two and not only didn't want to keep walking toward the dog, but actually tried to turn and go the other way. I went to Finn's head to reassure him while Phil stayed at Finn's reins. My friend Jordan was driving Sputnik at the time, and because she did not know him and was not confident about her own driving skills, she did not ask him to go on. But she didn't have to go to his head either. Sputnik stood without anyone at his head while I faced down the dog and told it to go home. Looking at Sputnik, I'm pretty sure if his driver had given a firm command to "walk on" he would have had the confidence to do so. A short while later we encountered a dead cat in the middle of the road and Sputnik walked past within two feet of it and only gave it a quick sideways glance as he went by. Finn, on the other hand, wouldn't go near the cat and once Sputnik and I got too far ahead to provide him with a "security blanket," he tried to turn and run back to the truck. Phil had to lead him past the cat and I had to go back for them so Finn would keep going. Finn did great as long as he was behind Sputnik, or if he was headed back to the familiar territory of the truck. This tells me that Finn's confidence level is not where it should be, and that he's more in tune with what's around him than with Phil. I probably need to work with Phil on driving technique as well, because it's also quite possible we're dealing with a matter of conflicting or ill-timed aids. Nothing discourages an animal faster than confusion about what is being asked of him.

Now is definitely not the time to introduce Koby to a bit. A bit should heighten and lighten established communication, not enforce behavior that hasn't already been learned. For this reason I plan to drive Finn in a halter when we do our solo lessons. A halter is fine for single driving and it's much better for leading if you have to go to his head.

I don't agree with the driving manuals that say you should have someone at the goat's head to help teach him to drive. I think introducing a second person is confusing to the goat because his concentration is now split between two people. Since he can't concentrate on both at once, he will probably default to listening to the person at his head, so he's learning nothing about taking commands from behind. It can be helpful to have a second person to walk in front during particularly scary situations, but that person should usually not try to lead the goat or give him commands. He's only there to provide emotional support and a physical barrier between the goat and whatever is frightening him. When Phil and I go driving, one of us always walks behind and stays quiet. I think you'll be fine training Koby by yourself.
Unlike Sabine, I think there is a place in the trainer's toolbox for negative reinforcement. When I taught our goats to drive, I started by carrying a whip when leading so I could teach them to move away from a tap on the hindquarters. If a goat balked when being led away from home (Sputnik was particularly bad about this), I would reach the whip behind me and tap him on the hindquarters or hind leg to get him moving rather than pull on the halter. If a tap didn't get him moving, a swat did. Pulling on the halter is useless for a strong goat (as you've found out!), and it also reinforces the idea that "move forward" commands originate from the front. When driving, the move forward commands come from the back, and you need to introduce this when leading. I put the lead in my right hand and carry the whip in my left with the tip pointing toward the ground behind me when not in use. I rarely have to "swat" with the whip. Once the goat knows the "swat" is there, a light tap or even a tickle is usually all that's needed.

The initial purpose of the whip is to provide "back up" to your voice commands. As the goat progresses in his training, the whip provides a way to communicate by touch when voice commands are useless, such as what happened to us at the fair last fall when we had to drive in an indoor arena with horrific acoustics. Our goats were inexperienced and we'd worked so much off of voice and so little off of whip that we were unable to communicate effectively and our goats were confused. The whip can also be used to create a "personal space" barrier for a goat that likes to walk on your toes, push into you, or mob you for treats. If I were leading Koby and he dove toward a tasty plant, I would pull his head toward me while using the whip on his hindquarters to move him over. If his hindquarters move away from you, his head has to come toward you and your tug-of-war is over. Once he comes back to you, always reward. Once your goat learns that diving into the shrubbery without permission is an uncomfortable experience, he will be a lot less likely to try it.

Once again, Sabine is right on the money when she says to reward Koby by allowing him to eat that good stuff on your terms. We did this with an apple tree last fall. The goats wanted to eat the fallen apples on the road, but I drove them past. Later on we got back to the same spot and I stopped them before we got there so I could lead them over to the apples and let them eat. We don't want to be miserable ogres who never let our goats have fun, but we also don't want them running roughshod over our commands when we give them. I'm not one to ignore "bad" behavior because then how is the animal supposed to know it's "bad"? Some "bad" behaviors such as diving into the shrubbery are self-rewarding (and possibly far more rewarding than anything we could offer), so ignoring them gets you nowhere. You either have to remove that distraction until such time as your training is more powerful than the distraction (can certainly be done through positive-only training, but it takes a lot of time and requires a distraction-free area to work), or by making the distraction less appealing through negative reinforcement. I don't think either method is "wrong" or will mess up your goat. Much of training comes down to personal style and what works for you and for that particular animal.
Thanks Nanno!

I have always endeavoured to make our lessons fun, even out on the road. I know that if Koby doesn't enjoy the trip overall, he's not going to want to come out. Part of my attempts to elevate the enjoyment factor was bringing my partner and his dog, who Koby likes and feels safe with. On the way back to the house is where Koby gets to snack on my terms, whether we are ground driving or I am leading him from his head. When I mentioned ignoring bad behaviour, perhaps I should have said I don't punish bad behaviour. I definitely don't just let him pull me over to the side of the road where the grass is without trying to resist, but he is stronger than me. I will try your method - see below for my ideas. 

After considering all of the advice from yourself and Sabine, I think I will try a combination of (i) targeting; and (ii) confining our ground driving lessons, for the next few weeks at least, to the paddock from where the goats have just been moved. It's flat, the grass is low, it's not too far from the other goats and it's familiar territory for Koby. I see now that I need to upskill myself and gain more of Koby's confidence before attempting to take him back out on the road and all of the distractions that comes with that environment. I will stick with the driving halter for the foreseeable future.  Once we are both confident I might take him in the trailer somewhere quiet and see how he goes.  I will remove the dog from the equation, because in the paddock environment she just wants to play and is merely a distraction.

Thanks for all your help, I will keep you posted with progress as well as the other training challenges I will no doubt throw your way for advice!
I would venture out from the paddock again, as soon as you and Koby are more proficient. I have in former times also advertised to take the goat out with a trailer into unfamiliar terrain but this was under the aspect of "teaching" them to stick to the humans.

Looking back I realize now how cruel this is to the goat: not only out alone with the human but also out alone in unfamiliar territory. Of course, it will stick around. the human being the only (!) familiar element in all this. The underlying stress must be for some goats enormous.

I have similar problems with my ponies when I go out with one alone. Depending on the character, day and MY mental state (I suffer anxiety attacks with the ponies, interestingly not with the goats), we would come between 50 and 200 metres away from home before either my or the ponies anxiety would kick in.

Maybe feeling this anxious about nothing, this will just start from the smallest the pony does, like looking more intense at something or speeding up a little, made me more appriatice towards how the prey animals feel.

Anyhow: before I accepted that I cannot push the issue, our walks outside were a constant source of anxiety and frustration. After I accepted my and the pony's boundaries and worked within the distance from home in which we both still are comfortable to have fun with each other, both anxiety and frustration went away. AND ..... with every fun walk we could push the distance made a bit farther out.

I will turn around as soon as either I get the "knot in stomach" or the pony shows signs of stress/anxiety which can range from speeding up, freezing or pushing against me (depending on which pony, they all communicate their anxiety differently). Walk back to a distance at which we both feel fine again, stay there a bit, turn around again, ask to follow me again, turn around, if necessary. With this zigzag we can a) practise walking away from home and b) walking back towards home calmly and c) waiting in between calmly and d) eating on signal and e) stop eating on signal and many things in between.........
Thanks Sabine, your latest post makes me feel better (in particular, that there are others having such issues!).

I am very excited to report that today Koby and I had a very successful lesson with mats. We did it entirely off lead; it was too hot for Koby to wear his harness so we worked in a shady yard. Interestingly it was a fair distance away from the other goats where he couldn't see them. I put down three square mats - the small mats that fit together like a jigsaw - and targeted Koby on my hand away from the mats. Then I asked him to follow me to each mat and rewarded him we he stepped on it. Within 10 minutes he was walking across all three mats upon command, a total distance of about 10 metres. I was so proud of him Smile
click & treat!
Btw - I did some basic loading training (into a van) with Cisco yesterday and was thinking of you when he started to snatch two bites from the hedge around my property.

To get him in position for loading into the van we had to move very close to the edge of the property which borders on the main street running through our village. Depending in the time of day there is signifikant traffic. He is used to cars going by but yesterday we had snow in the early morning and when I started training in the late morning, the snow was starting to melt on the street, causing the car tires to make a sissling/hissing sound which disturbed him to no small amount.

He did his best to keep his cool but I saw his thigh muscle tremble and him getting tense. So I asked him to come back towards the barn with me. He could not respond immediately, took a short sniff to the hedge (nothing fancy on it because of frost, wind and all leaves blown off), took two bites of really pitifull twigs and then followed me back into the property.

This made it again much more clearer that what we might often perceive as nastiness could in fact be an attempt to calm down by doing some "comfort eating" - we humans do this, too, I think :-)

This also corresponds with something I whitnessed on New Year when all around us the fireworks were going off like crazy: some of the goats started chewing cud while their eyes and pupils were as wide as possible (stress, anxiety). They also didn't chew in that relaxed, chilled manner they do when they lay down but much more frenzied.
There is a great deal of difference between an animal who is "nerve eating" and one that is simply ignoring you and doing his own thing. I should hope this difference is obvious to anyone attempting to train. Feeding horses to help them calm down in stressful situations such as trailer loading has fallen out of favor with the rise of "horse whisperer" style training, but I think this is a huge mistake. Eating does help a nervous animal calm down. But even a nervous animal should not drag you around or run over top of you to feed his nerves. A goat that does this is merely annoying, but when a horse does this he could seriously injure you! Self-control must be taught so that nerves and instinct don't override safety and good manners. And as a trainer, it is your responsibility to know when your animal is being nervous and when he's just being rude.  

From reading about your experience with anxiety attacks and anxious ponies, Sabine, I can't help but think that your own nerves are the biggest reason your ponies are not comfortable leaving home. I have never had an anxiety attack myself. I was raised with a great deal of self-confidence and taught from a young age that I don't need to be afraid of things but to figure them out instead. I do my best to train our animals to be the same way. Our emotions translate enormously to our animals, and if we are timid when we train, our animals will be timid as well. In my years of training horses and riders, I've come to learn that anxious people nearly always assume their animals are anxious too and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Also, if we're constantly afraid of traumatizing our animals, we're going to be hesitant and ineffective in our training methods. Training takes confidence, and sometimes it even takes being brave for our animals when we ourselves are tempted to be frightened too--like when me and my horse encountered our first bear. 

I see nothing cruel about taking your goat out and training him away from home unless he is completely unbonded to you and doesn't trust you at all. If you stay home, you have to separate him from the herd which he can still see. Separating the herd is one of the more stressful things you can do to a goat. But once you remove him completely, he immediately forgets about them and forms a new "herd" with just you and whoever else happens to be there. If you keep him home, he's going to look for the others, call to them, and try to get back to them or get them to come to him--not because he doesn't want to be with you, but because his instinct tells him that you should all be together. If they're not there then in his mind they become irrelevant and he no longer thinks about them or is upset or distracted by them. If it were more stressful to work away from home, then of course I would never suggest it as an intermediate step in the training process. You can't train an animal that is upset. You can work on calming him down, but you can't teach him anything. Since training an animal to willingly leave his buddies at home is one of the MOST difficult things you'll ever teach him, I never recommend trying it until his training is very well established.
All I know is, what I was doing with Koby wasn't working. I'm grateful for all suggestions from those with more experience than I and will see what works for us Smile
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