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Flighty boy - Printable Version

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Flighty boy - Stringinit - 12-13-2019

I was hoping for some insight on this boy I have had since August. 

I purchased 2 well bred 3 month old Alpine bucklings in August. I picked them up with the both of them being freshly banded. I was told to keep an eye on their testicles to look for signs of irritation and or infection. One of my boys, Topo is his name, started to look like he was having some issues with his band. I had some antibacterial spray I was going to apply to their banded areas. 

So at this point I have had these boys for 2-3 weeks and had gained both of their trust. I was able to grab my boy Able and spray his infected area just fine, Topo was up next. He had other ideas and would not let my approach his rearend at all. A few days had passed it's hot out and there lots of flies. So I grabbed him and swiftly applied some anti bacterial spray as he bellowed and cried out. The whole interaction lasted maybe 10-15 seconds. 

Since then I have not been able to even touch Topo at all. I literally spend hours a week with my goats. I go out in the morning feed time and drink coffee and just hang with the goats giving each goat their personal time with me. 5 of the 6 goats love me except Topo. I treat him and greet him just like all the others, minus the petting. 

Topo is very responsive to his name, comes running to the fence when I get home from work. I reach up and grab a few apples and slice them up for some treats and he happily eats out of my hand. But as soon as I enter their enclosure he becomes a different goat. He's very flighty and always keeps his distance. Meanwhile Able is getting lots of attention as I grab his feet, give him big hugs and just show them I'm happy to see them. 

Its been almost 5 months and I have gained no ground with Topo. I am worried about him teaching Able bad habits. I am considering throwing in the towel with Topo. I would have by now, but he has great conformation and breeding. 

Can anyone recommend any ideas? Is this a trait that he will always have? 

He is going to be a packer and this flighty attitude must be corrected. 

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks


RE: Flighty boy - Nanno - 12-13-2019

Poor little buddy! Goats are funny about things. Some hold deep grudges and others do not. Can you get a leash on Topo when you're feeding him? For future reference, one thing I've found is that goats are much less upset about unpleasant procedures if they are physically restrained by something besides me when I work on them. Putting them on a stanchion or tying them to a stout fencepost helps keep them still without making them feel as though they're being trapped by me personally. It also prevents them from running away immediately afterwards. Then I can love, scratch, pet, and feed treats until they settle down and forget the unpleasantness.

That said, some goats do have a very long memory for past "wrongs". My goat Sputnik is one of them. I've never had any other goat hold a serious, long-standing grudge over having his ears tattooed. It took me a long time before I could catch Sputnik or put my hands on him again. One thing I did was I spent a lot of one-on-one time with him. He didn't want me to touch him (he was actually born not liking to be touched but the tattooing made it much worse). Instead of touching him, I used treats to get his attention and win his trust. I really had to retrain myself because petting animals is instinctive for me, but it always put Sputnik in a bad mood so I had to remind myself not to use touch as a reward. I had to use food rewards to get him to accept touch. Releasing from touch was also a type of reward. While he was tied up, I would put a hand on him and as soon as he stopped jumping around and stood still I removed my hand and gave a treat. He eventually learned to love being saddled and to tolerate all kinds of touch.

Hopefully Topo was not born with an innate fear of being touched like Sputnik. That's hard to work with (but obviously still possible). Hopefully Topo is more like my little doe Sadie. Poor Sadie had a terrible scur that was curling back into her head and it had to be removed last August when she was over a year old. It was very painful and a long recovery process. She was terrified of me for several months. For a few weeks I couldn't even get within 50 feet of her. Phil had to catch her for me. It took time, but eventually I was able to scratch her butt as long as she was occupied with food or there was another goat blocking her view of me. She loved butt scratches but for a long time she would dart away if she realized it was me that was itching her. It's only now in the last 2-3 weeks that she's finally forgiven me and lets me pet her, feed treats, etc. She still doesn't let me touch her head, but at least she doesn't dart away at the sight of me any longer.

The good news is that Topo's behavior should not rub off on Abe. If anything, it's usually the other way around. Abe's trust in you will help Topo overcome his fear. Teach both of your boys to stand tied while you brush, mess with feet, etc. I find that I have better control when I tie with a halter rather than by the collar. With a deeply mistrustful goat like Topo, using a halter can prevent him from horning you. I don't like to smack a goat for horning me out of fear. I'd rather just prevent the behavior until he gets over his fear. I teach all my young goats to look forward to haltering by giving them a treat as soon as the buckle is fastened. Once Topo is securely tied, calmly brush him and pick up his feet in a gentle but no-nonsense way. If he kicks, bucks, tries to lay down, etc., go with him and reassure him, but don't let go of the foot until he stands still. If he stands for even a second, put the foot down and give him a treat. He needs to know you are a gentle leader who takes charge but is worthy of his confidence and trust.

Let us know your progress and if there are any other questions. I've found that even the most difficult goat can be worked with if you apply the right technique. Make sure you are always bold and confident in the way you move around your goats. If you tiptoe around them like you're timid, this can make a goat aggressive toward you or fearful of you. Best of luck, and keep us posted!


RE: Flighty boy - Sanhestar - 12-14-2019

I have had great success in using clicker training with several shy/flighty goats in the last years.

Here's the link to story of Freddie, who started this journey with me

https://www.packgoatcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?tid=1287&highlight=freddie


RE: Flighty boy - Stringinit - 12-14-2019

Thank you for your advice Nanno and Sanhestar. Topo may not be as bad off as I thought. I will start using your techniques right away and will post updates on his progress.

Thanks again


RE: Flighty boy - Nanno - 12-14-2019

I have to second the clicker training recommendation! I don't like using a clicker. I just click with my tongue so I don't have to have anything in my hands. It works really well for getting skittish goats to settle down and be friendly. I started using clicker training on Sputnik a couple of years ago and it's my go-to for introducing him to new commands now. He learned this cool trick last year:
https://vimeo.com/308955755

He's also learned that it's ok for me to pet and brush him. I try to pet him often so he stays desensitized to it. He tends to get skittish about touch again if I don't pet him regularly. I take him to a lot of public events where lots of people pet him, hug him, and press in close on all sides so he needs to be able to hold still and ignore the stimulation. He improves all the time and is still getting better.

I think you'll do fine with Topo if you work with him one-on-one 2-3 times a week for a while.


RE: Flighty boy - Sanhestar - 12-14-2019

I made a short instructional video on how to train a "collar grab" with a skittish goat for a friend earlier this year. The video was staged - using Freddie - as Freddie already knows this behaviour. I wanted to show my friend with a very shy goat the possible steps in teaching a goat to allow touch.

Comments are in German but I can provide you with translations, if you are interested.

https://youtu.be/IzfHz0gkLLM