Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland
#18
How does he take the food during the training? Is he slow to take it and slow to chew it, keeping it between his teeth for a few seconds?

Finn usually takes treats fairly slowly with just his lips and chews it kind of slowly as well unless he's really in the mood for the treat. If he's in the mood for it, he takes his food quickly like any other goat.  

What type of food are you using for training? How "full" is he when training? How big are the treats?

We usually use whole salted peanuts in the shell (usually Finn's preferred treat if he wants treats at all), or animal crackers which are about the same size as the peanuts only flatter. Sputnik usually prefers the animal crackers. Yesterday Finn wanted animal crackers even though he has rejected them for almost a year now. Go figure! I prefer animal crackers because they're cheaper and they have very little nutritional value. Both of our boys are overweight so this is something I have to consider when feeding goodies. Finn does really like some things like Cheetos and Pringles, but I don't want to encourage his appetite for those foods.

I have no real way to gauge how "full" Finn is when training. Our goats have all night access to hay, and during the daytime they roam over 40 acres of good pasture and brushy browse, so they are never hungry. Almost every goat except Finn keeps an empty "dessert stomach" though. Wink

Rubbing and scratching can be used as a reinforcer but keep in mind that touch is not always rewarding but can also be aversive when the individual is not on the mood for physical interaction and/or the scratching doesn't feel comfortable/another body is more itchy. You need to pay much more attention to the animals body signals when rewarding with touch.

Sputnik has taught me to be very aware of this. But I've never seen Finn decline a good rub or scratch. He seems to always be in the mood for physical contact.  

Verbal praise is a secondary reinforcer and the animal needs to learn to associate the praise with something good that follows. until then it's only noise.

All of our goats are conditioned to verbal praise from the time they are little babies. Finn's eyes and ears usually perk up when when someone verbally praises and fusses over him. 

"Indifference" to food can have several causes:

- animal is satiated
- food has no high value
- animal has stress and can't eat. I read a nice example a while back: when you sit down for dinner and your house catches on fire you won't finish dinner but put out the fire first.
- animal is frustrated with the training criteria - and therefore develops stress
- animal is frightened (again, stress) or really fearful
- physical issues: teeth, health

I'm pretty sure Sputnik would let the house burn down a little longer so he could grab another bite of food! Big Grin

I think the second cause--"food has no high value"-- fits Finn's attitude the best. Even in a totally stress-free, non-training time he's usually fairly indifferent to treats. All dozen goats will run over for handouts and Finn runs in with the rest, but then he won't take the food. He'll investigate and take a polite bite or two, but then he usually spits it out or scatters it onto the ground. He's always very hopeful that it will be something he likes, but he's usually disappointed. He's one of the pickiest goats in our herd, and I know it's nothing physical because he can strip an oak tree and crunch acorns with the best of them.  

Finn consistently likes grain, but I hesitate to use that for a treat. It's messy, sticky, difficult to handle, and it's too concentrated. Finn is overweight as it is and adding grain to his diet would not be good for him. He doesn't much care for alfalfa pellets or other healthier pelleted feeds. He likes the "good stuff" we feed to the milking mamas. The other problem with using grain is that I always bring some with us when we go driving to give Finn something special for doing a job he doesn't care for. Sputnik seems to enjoy pulling, but Finn dislikes it so the grain is something we reserve as a "special" treat for those times and I don't want to reduce its value by handing it out as an "everyday" treat.   

With goats I would also look at how your hands smell - I have several goats that will not take treats after I got a lot of saliva on my hand from feeding, especially when I train several goats at once and switch between goats.

We have dealt with this too. But for Finn it doesn't matter whether we feed from the hand, from a bucket, or on the floor. If he's not interested in taking a treat from the hand, switching to a bucket doesn't help.
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RE: Goat Diaries Blog by Alexandra Kurland - by Nanno - 03-23-2018, 09:40 AM

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