Baby Behavior
I've read the threads on here about goat aggression, but I'm a complete newbie, so I was wondering about some of the behavior of my babies.

First, Gandalf, my bottle baby,whose only 11 weeks old, always invades my space. He walks right beside me and sometimes right against my leg.  I usually will reach down and pet him on his side as we walk.  He doesn't try to push me, and when he does get in front, I just knee him out of the way.  He's never put his head against me, but he will jump up.  I'm trying to break that now.

Second, Dumbledore, my new Kiko, whose only 12 weeks old, like to rub his head against my leg.  He hasn't pushed me with his head or put his horns on me, but he does rub the top of his head.  He likes to jump up also, but he also loves to sit in my lap.

Are these behaviors I need to be concerned about or are these just baby behaviors?  To me, they are just sweet and loving... Heart Heart
Think about how these same behaviors will look when your babies are over 150 lbs. A baby walking right against your leg is no big deal, but a large goat doing the same thing could knock you right off the trail. A baby rubbing his head on your leg is kind of endearing, but will it be endearing when he outweighs you and has huge, sharp horns? This is a good age to start discouraging some these behaviors before they get big enough to put up a successful fight about it. When babies lean on our legs while walking, I bump them out of the way with a kick. I bump them every time they brush against me until they learn to give me space. As they get older, they may brush you harder as a way of testing whether you really mean what you say. In those cases I give a good, firm kick and I'll verbally reprimand them at the same time.

I don't let goats rub their heads on me, but if they offer their heads I will rub and scratch around their horns. They just aren't allowed to push into me or demand rubs. One thing to keep in mind with goats is that they are not dogs and they don't perceive our actions in the same way as dogs, nor do they beg for affection in the same way either. Our problem is that we often see them as dogs and perceive their actions in the same way as if our dog were doing the behavior. Goat herds and dog packs operate very differently, and goats are a lot more likely to view affection in a sexual/dominance light. Even wethered goats have this sexual/social structure hardwired into their brains and it makes them more likely to view our affectionate actions as an invitation for them to engage in a dominance game. When I pet and scratch my goats, I don't let them rub me back or lean on me in response. Allowing these subtle body cues is an invitation for them to up the ante and eventually start to challenge you or people with you. I treated our first goat too much like a dog and it came back to haunt me. He was a behavior management problem for the rest of his life. Our goats now are treated more like horses. We can be friends, but they are not allowed to do things I wouldn't let my horses do. We emphasize good manners and personal space (and by golly when they get to be 200+ lbs. with giant horns and you take them around kids, these things become super important!). I initiate affection and invite them into my space, but the goats are not allowed to demand affection or push into my space. Hopefully that makes sense.
Yes it does... no more walking against my leg or rubbing heads on my legs.  I don't want an unruly goat later in life, that is for sure.  I just wasn't sure at what age I should watch these behaviors. 

Another questions... we had Gandalf and Genevieve for two months before we added Dumbledore.  They are not very nice to him.  They push him around all the time.  Will he be okay?  He's older than Gandalf, but much smaller than him.
Now is a good age. I let my babies get away with a lot during the first 1-2 months, but after that it's time to start learning manners. I notice with my goat herd that the mothers follow a similar pattern. Little babies are allowed to climb on their moms, chew ears and beards, etc., but as they get bigger their moms start reprimanding them for these behaviors. Kind of like toddlers are allowed to pull the Tupperware out of the kitchen cabinets but kindergarteners get in trouble for doing the same thing. Wink

Make sure Dumbledore has access to his own food. I like to put hay down in several places so that no one gets chased away. It's possible he's staying smaller because he's not getting as much to eat and is being run around too much. He may need to be fed separately a couple times a day with some extra grain. Hopefully he'll be accepted by the others before too long.
I've been tying them while they eat their sweet feed. I read on Marc's site that he does this. I have an acre of shrub, grass, brush, briers, trees and other stuff. Mine don't even touch their hay. Dumble did head butt Genny today, so I think he's beginning to learn the ropes.
Genny had better be careful! At some point Dumbledore is going to outgrow her by a mile! I'm glad he's starting to push back.

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