Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland
Yesterday and this morning Phil and I worked on targeting with Finn and Sputnik. Phil was working with Finn on the Patio and Sputnik was hanging his head over the gate, so I worked with Sputnik on the target from across the fence. He was a champ and he didn't even try to touch it with his mouth--only his nose. I asked for a harder reach by holding the target behind him. He didn't want to take his feet off the edge of the patio though, so he practically turned himself inside-out to stretch his neck upside-down and backwards so he could get his nose into position without moving his toes. He succeeded, but I wanted him to move his feet. So I held the target just a little further back and a little higher up. That was it. Sputnik wasn't having it. He grabbed the stick in his mouth and moved the target closer so he could touch it without changing position. What a funny goat! It wasn't what I was going for but I had to applaud his cleverness. And he did still touch the target so he got a click and a treat.

Finn is a little slower on the targets but I think that's because he's not yet associating the click with a behavior well-done. Sputnik knows exactly what the click means since I've been using it for his "come" lessons since last summer. But I think he's beginning to understand and once he does things will come easier for him. I practiced targets with Finn in the morning and Phil did them in the afternoon. By afternoon, Finn tried using his mouth on the stick to lower the target for himself just like Sputnik had done. It was a one-time thing yesterday, but this morning when I worked with Finn he tried that trick several times when he thought I was holding the target too far away. He'd grab the stick in his mouth and try to move the target toward him, whether by pulling the stick downward or sideways. I'm going to have to watch it with Finn. His lazy streak makes it easy for him to train us instead of the other way around, and he'll figure out how to get treats out of us for putting in as little effort as possible.

Sputnik is great with the target and I'll bet I can teach him to fetch before long. But his biggest problem is leading. He's great on a leash--no problems there. But when I reach out to take hold of his collar directly he pulls like a freight train and tries to get away from me. I think it goes back to the old "don't touch my skin" problem. I've generally avoided this whole fiasco by using a leash when we want to go anywhere. But sometimes around home I need to take his collar to guide him around a gate or something and I need to be able to do this without getting dragged off my feet. So this morning I started by giving a click and treat just for standing still while I touched his collar. We got that down after about two tries. So then we had to take a step without hauling off. He hauled off a few times, but I rewarded for little obediences and it didn't take long for him to start getting it. I took a couple of breaks in there, but soon I was able to walk him around the patio by the collar without being dragged. I think if I spend a little time on this each day it won't be long before we can apply it to the Great Outdoors. Sputnik may never love being touched, but I know he can learn to control his instinct to flee from it.

Contrast to Finn to stood groaning in pleasure with his eyes closed while I scratched and rubbed him all over from head to tail. This is what Finn likes--stand still and let the humans do everything for you. If Finn were a person, he would be the guy lying on a couch surrounded by beautiful women fanning him with palm branches and dropping grapes in his mouth.

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RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - by Nanno - 03-22-2018, 10:38 AM

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