Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland
Phil haltered Finn for this afternoon's walk and wasn't shunned. In fact, Finn had a marvelous time and ran to Phil with his tail wagging every time Phil called, and he jumped on logs and did all kinds of tricks during our walk. Phil worked on getting Finn to target for a while on the back patio and was having some success, but not great. Phil sees how quickly Sputnik catches on and he wants to push Finn to do the same things, but Finn isn't the same type of learner and, as you have pointed out Sabine, he needs more and smaller steps to stay interested in the activity.

I discovered with Sputnik this morning that it's harder for a goat to find an object on the ground than to find one held above his head. Horses and dogs are more tuned to the ground while goats, being browsers, are more aware of what's above them. It took Sputnik several tries to find the target when I held it on the ground. I had to lower it by increments until he knew to even try looking for it below his nose. Phil didn't see that lesson I had with Sputnik, so he took the target and plunked it right on the ground in front of Finn and tried to get him to find it. It didn't work and Phil wasn't taking enough small steps to make it happen. At least Finn is not easily frustrated like Sputnik can be. He just stood there and looked at Phil and chewed his cud. He was perfectly content to stand there all day and watch Phil fiddle around with that silly stick. I encouraged Phil to raise the target and eventually he did get Finn to take notice, but it wasn't going as quickly as Phil liked. I took over for a bit and was able to get Finn to touch the target on the floor and even stand up on his hind legs and touch it--a movement that had eluded Phil too. So Finn definitely has it in him, but Phil needs to learn how to be patient. Phil also needs to keep in mind that clicker training is completely new to Finn, so he's learning more than one thing at once right now. Sputnik knows what that click means so he's able to connect the dots much quicker.

Sputnik is also way more food motivated than Finn. Finn is a picky treat-taker. Usually he doesn't want anything but peanuts. Today he wouldn't touch the peanuts. Instead he wanted animal crackers, which usually he's pretty uninterested in. It would be nice if we could find a treat Finn really loves. Even when I'm feeding "junk food" off the back porch to all the goats, Finn will crowd around and push everyone out of the way, but when it comes to actually eating things like popcorn, potato chips, bread, crackers, or cookies Finn spits them back out more often than he eats them. I don't even know why he bothers to race over as energetically as he does--pure curiosity I suppose. Sputnik inhales practically anything I shove at his face, so training him to work for it is very easy.

Sabine, what does one do with a goat that is fairly indifferent to food treats? I feel like that is one of the biggest parts of Finn's low interest in learning new things--if food is "just ok," there's not much in it for him. Today I encouraged Phil to verbally praise Finn and rub him in addition to food treats because Finn seems to respond as well to those things as to food, and maybe the "three-pronged approach" to reward might make more of an impact. I tend to give lots of verbal praise, and with any animal but Sputnik I usually rub them a lot too. Phil does less of this and Finn is learning better from me, so maybe the verbal and physical praise helps. Of course, in the middle of one of my lessons with Finn today he got bored and laid down on my feet, so while he might do a bit better for me, I'm still not overly impressed with his enthusiasm for training.

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RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - by Nanno - 03-22-2018, 09:03 PM

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