Category: Goats

At Long Last

Now THIS is a picture I have been looking forward to taking! Joker and Jill – relaxed – munching on their hay … while in the background MayMay doing the same!

A while back the goats got moved into their woods full time. Not a bad spot to hang out in the fall. Now that the snow arrived they needed some ‘out and about’ time. I have mentioned my purchase of an electronic dog collar system. The aim being to curb the goats natural bravado and impishness around the other flerd members. I did not want them to be around Jill and Joker until those two had settled in. AND I have been searching for a way to train the goats to NOT do certain things.

Clicker training has been great for teaching any of the flerd to DO something. It allowed me to teach a vocabulary for tasks like; jumping up onto a bench, lifting a hoof, returning to a barn or coop, coming to me when I call ‘Here!’, waiting turns for bowls of grain (meds, supplements, etc.). It doesn’t build in ‘reprimands’. And there are just some behaviours that require a negative consequence to bring about change.

After months of research I came across the idea of the electronic dog collars. You can see that Dottie (above) has two collars on. One being the e-collar. It has three settings; beeping sound, buzzing vibration, light shock. I studiously watched the YouTube videos of Ty the Dog Guy. From him I learned I had two phases of training to work on. First I worked individually with the goats to train them to attend to my calling ‘Here!’. I would have their collar vibrate when I first called out. As soon as the goat turned to come to me I would stop the vibration. I had a food reward ready and lots of praise when they reached me. I did three sessions with them – the final one with both of them out for a walk with me around the lower paddock. They LOVE to play clicker games – and were quite keen to explore and to come when called. They also learned that putting collars on meant going out into the paddocks with me. Step one – a success.

I’ve been hesitant to go to the next step. I wanted the conditions to be just right. This afternoon when I realized I had a good two hours to putter in the back paddock – cleaning up and raking – I knew it was as good as it would get.

I needed to have BOTH goats out – have my eyes on them constantly – and yet have the donkeys, ducks and chickens around too. I needed to train them to stay away from the fencing around the duck ‘sun run’. And I needed to train them to avoid the pop door to the duck room. I knew that it only took one zap of the mesh electric fencing to teach them to avoid testing it. They’d respected that mesh fence line all summer up in the woods.

So … with my trusty remote in my pocket – able to control both collars – we had at it. MAN … I CAN’T BELIEVE I DIDN’T TRY THIS YEARS AGO! What a great tool! I only used the beeping and the vibration settings. Dottie was the first to try all the ‘no-go’ spots. One buzz – turned her right away. Her hackles went up – I could see she clearly felt it. And she totally associated that vibration with the fence line. Next – she stuck her head into the duck pop door – BUZZ – and out of there too. She decided to settle in to munch on some hay at a feeder.

All this time May had set herself up with a hay feeder tucked off to the side. She watched Dottie – and totally learned from her about the ‘no-go’ areas. In fact – the entire time we were out together MayMay was either right by my side, including right beside me while I drove the tractor back and forth to the compost bin – or deliberately away from the donkeys and the birds. It was a lesson for me to see that it was Dottie who pushes the limits.

I was relieved and very happy the second time I drove the tractor back from the compost bin. Ahead of me the goats scampered up the hill – doing their goatie wiggle and dancing along. They had come across the donkeys coming down the hill and both goats moved respectfully off to the other side to pass.

My intention is not to leave the goats out when I am not out there too. And definitely not out unless I have time to have eyes on them all. It is much healthier for the goats to be running up and down the hillside, and to be playing in the front paddock and through the larger woods and rock ledges. They just want to be where I am. How great that we seem to be heading back into that possibility. They can be out to ‘play’. AND they can have their own shelter and play area for solo time.

Now … time to help Joker and Jill give up on getting the duck’s food out of their ‘sun run’. Always something to work on around here! 😉

Meadow Hugs to you!