The Steps of Goat Aggression
Thanks for the comments on gloves and tools.  I've never paid attention to whether my goats act differently when I'm wearing gloves (starting to be that time of year)  or if I have tools.  It'll be interesting to observe how they act.
Hi GoatTracksThanks so much for this article.  I have 2 goats Rosie is a Boer, very sweet.  My 5yr old Nigerian dwarf/Pygmy recently started charging me.  He did not appear hurt and I was surprised since he’d not done this before.  I always keep spray bottles of water within reach to correct him but he is usually very docile. So I was looking for reasons why he would suddenly start this type of behavior with me.  I love them both, they are my kids and I don’t want to have to find a new home for them.  But he can hurt me so I need to put a stop to this behavior.  Your article was very helpful. Just a goat being a goat- nothing inherently wrong with him.  Good to know! Thanks again!
Wow oh wow, what a great thread. I am learning so much by trawling through the forum and seeing what I can dig up.

It seems like I need to be really aware of goat behaviour right from getting them home as kids and stomp on any undesirable habits/challenges immediately.
It all seems so much more complex than I thought! I don't want to end up raising two little jerks.

Anyone have any additional pointers around bottle feeding etiquette for young kids? Should I be establishing rules and expectations of behaviour around that whole process?
Being aware of goat behavior, watching their body language, and the little signs of disrespect is definitely important right from the beginning. You have an advantage because you've spent your life around horses, so watching an animal's body language should come naturally to you at this point. I tend to be subconsciously aware of what my goats are up to, but a lot of folks just starting out with goats are not aware that their goat is challenging them until suddenly one day it rears up and gets in their face. They never noticed the little mini-aggressions like the shoulder-brushes, horn taps, "playful" head pushes, sideways looks, and raised hackles. Sometimes these behaviors can seem cute and funny so they aren't taken seriously until the goat becomes downright pushy and annoying, and by then it's too late to make minor corrections. Full-on attitude adjustments are difficult for both you and the goat, and he often doesn't understand why he's being punished for behavior that was ignored for weeks or months prior. From his point of view, it was ok for him to disrespect you by bumping you with his shoulder or horn as he walked by, so he got used to the idea that he was in charge and the humans would move. So now when he rears up or butts to get you out of his way, he doesn't understand why you're suddenly upset by this. He expects you to move out of his space like you've always done!

It seems like a lot of folks want to treat their goats like dogs and play with them like puppies. But goats don't play like dogs or humans (both predator species). When goats play with other goats, there is nearly always an element of dominance involved. Play is one of the primary ways goats establish and confirm their place in the herd. And when goats play rough, it's definitely not suitable for human involvement! You don't want them thinking they can interact with you the way they interact with each other. When we "play" with our goats it means we teach them tricks and useful commands. They enjoy this interaction, but because it's nothing like "goat play" they don't associate it with dominance. "Play" with humans should reinforce the idea that we tell the goat where to place his body--not the other way around!

With bottle kids it's important to establish that they don't climb or jump on you when there's food involved. It's cute, but it's a big no-no. As they grow it can be easier to feed them from the other side of a fence. We allow our little babies to climb and jump on us when they're small and still trying to figure us out, but never when there's food involved. They're allowed to jump and climb on us from curiosity, not because they're greedy and demanding. As they get bigger, we start to discourage this behavior by pushing them back down or lifting a knee. Pretty soon they get the idea that we don't like them jumping on us any more. The mamas and other big goats are usually telling them the same thing about that age, so they soon realize that they're too big to act like little babies and they stop jumping up for attention.

If you stop the little minor challenges when they're small, and if you stay consistent with that process as they grow then your goats are unlikely to ever need drastic correction. We've never had to get after Finn and Sputnik very hard. A stern "No!", some hand-clapping and stomping in their direction, or maybe just a warning bump with a knee is about the most we've had to do to remind them that they can't horn into our space. Finn got a little uppity once or twice after our old goat, Cuzco, died last year, but the most correction I had to mete out was when I threw pinecones at him and yelled "NO!" as he circled around me and gave me the hairy eyeball. I think I had to do that twice before Finn decided that trying to boss me around wasn't worth it.
The hairy eyeball, what a great term, had me chortling. Very descriptive.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thorough response Nanno. I appreciate it more than you can know. From your post I now have a starting point with my bottle babies. I just want to get it as right (as I can lol) from the start with them so that I have no big issues to sort out later. be

I feel encouraged that you think my horse knowledge will translate reasonably well into my goat handling. I had the same worries when I moved from riding to driving horses a few years ago and was told that I shouldn't start my own driving horses as it was so different to starting riding horses, I was told I was mad for even thinking I could do such a thing etc etc. It ended up that the first horse I ever drove was one I trained myself from an unhandled reject that we had to herd onto the horse float to collect. He ended up a little dream of a pony and a very quiet drive- I got three others (2x minis and a welshie) going as pairs and singles after him over the years and never looked back. I was careful and measured in all that I did and although not originally a carriage driver, I did have a skills base from which to draw on- even though I was told I shouldn't/couldn't.

I think horse people can so quick to tell others what they *can't* achieve and it makes me so happy that the goat world does not seem that way at all, it seems the total opposite. The forum seems so encouraging and supportive and truly willing to share their knowledge to others less experienced than themselves. Very impressive community indeed!
Aw, thank you. I'm glad you like this forum. I think it's easy for horse people to get a little hoity-toity, but there's also an element of danger involved and I think some folks are nervous to tell people to go ahead and try things. Like you, I also expanded from riding my horses to also driving them. I had two horses and needed them to make some kind of income, so the only thing that came to mind was running a carriage business in my little town's historical district. I didn't have anyone to teach me how to drive, so I bought a book and taught myself. I bought used harnesses and a little used wagonette and started my horses pulling logs around the pasture. My mare, Easter, was 16 years old and dead broke. I'd raised her from birth and she would try anything for me so I felt confident that with her on my team I could do it. My other horse was Easter's not-quite-3-year-old colt, Jet. He was a wild child with way too much energy and wasn't even broke to ride when I started him pulling the carriage, but since he was hitched to Easter I felt he couldn't get too far out of line. It worked out and I ran that business for two years. I was lucky because there was no one around to tell me I couldn't. I'd have loved to have taken some driving lessons before I started, but that wasn't an option, so I relied on my trusty book, "A Teamster's View" by Steve Bowers. It's amazing what you can do if you set your mind to it.

I'm sure you'll do fine with your goats. They're different from dogs or horses, but in a good way once you understand them. I had a much easier time figuring out goat body language from all the years working with horses. It's taken my husband a lot longer to figure them out, but he's got a pretty good handle on it now. We're still working on his timing when he drives the goats, but he gets better all the time.
Does anyone have a suggestion as to what I can do for my very agreeable 2 year old Nigerian Dwarf goat. He broke my thumb last month and tried to ram me again this morning. He’s stronger then me. Maybe a bucket of water? I’m at a loss. There are 4 other goats besides him. Thank y’all
I'm sorry you're having trouble with your goat! Is he an intact buck or a wether?

A bucket of water may help. What else can you describe about his behavior? How does he act with the other goats? Does he ram the gate or fence when you come near the pen? Does he have horns? Have any people ever roughhoused with him like they would with a dog? Are there females goats around? Was he bottle raised? When did you first notice him becoming pushy or aggressive?

Sorry for all the questions, but aggression can arise from a variety of things and it's often helpful to know why.

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