Training your Pack Goat Kid
This article’s intent will be to teach you everything you need to know about training your pack goat in their first year. It will start from when you get them home and they are still bottle feeding and finish with training them on the trail when they are yearlings. I have done a YouTube video on some of this already and you can find that here. In that video I speak a lot about the most important thing which is bonding. A bonded, bottle fed pack goat that has been showered with love and consistent boundaries will be a breeze on the trail. Most of that is accomplished in their first year. Pack goat training is very easy when you follow a few simple rules.
No Contact Rule
Number one rule of training your pack goat is you never, never, ever strike, hit, punch, kick, or slap your pack goat. You have to remember, in the “world of pack goat” they see you as a goat. Hitting shows a goat it’s OK to interact with humans in a similar way. An up and coming aggressive goat will see that as an open door to interact with humans in the same way. It will often not be with you, but it will be with other humans, usually new humans or infrequent visitors who are smaller in size. Once this shows up you have an immediate problem that is most of the time correctable, but sometimes not. Here is a video showing you how to correct this.
How to Correct
Avoid the whole thing as physical violence teaches a goat to mistrust you and that has negative implications as well. There are really only three forms of correction that work. A squirt bottle, something thrown at them, or yelling. All three of these startle a goat or make them uncomfortable. The only other corrective tool I use is my walking stick and I use it to put in their face as something “bothersome” much like when your friend in grade school would stick his finger in your face and it “bugged” you. It is a great corrective tool on the trail and I will go into depth about it later on in this article.
After all the bonding has taken place and they are weaned, this is your first opportunity to lead train them. Tie them on a short leash while you go get them some grain, food, or treat they love. They will learn when they pull on their leash it doesn’t move an it’s not worth fighting it. Then when you lead them and one doesn’t get it right away and tries to stop, you just keep steady pressure on him. He will “come along” and now knows you aren’t going to wait for him. Stubborn ones learn quick as they get “drug” instead of led.
The other lesson that is necessary at this time is not to use their horns on you ever. They love to “lean” into at this age and you want to correct it simply by pushing them to the side (on their neck) and say “NO.” The same with when they jump on you, you push them down (by the body) and say “NO.” The reason you never push on their head is that is a very “goat” thing to do and it’s confusing for them as that is what they do with one another. It won’t be very fun for you when your 250 pound pack goat wants to lean in on you with his horns.
Another great opportunity to learn is when you are entering their area in the pasture. As you approach you pick the squirt bottle off the fence post (there should always be one there). As you approach say “back”, if they don’t back off so you can come through then they get squirted. This way they will learn fast what “back” means. Don’t let them bum rush you as you come into their area as again when they are 200+ that can be a big deal at feeding time.
On Trail Training
On the trail the main thing for the babies to know is the command “GOATS” means we are heading out, follow me. And when you are training your pack goat kid to follow he will naturally try to be at the front near you and you do not want that. His rightful place is at the back as a young packer. I use my walking stick to push him to the side and pester his face with the end of it till the adults step up. Once an adult passes him they will make sure he is shuffled to the back. He will try many times and you just need to continue to correct this behavior.
Some goats will use the “end around” once they learn the stick game and you can no longer reach them. This is when I throw something at them, small stick, pebble, anything really. Your goal is to correct through startling them…not hurting them. I use something thrown when I don’t have my squirt bottle. You need the “long arm of the law.” This is also a great time to teach them to jump in the back of the truck or load into the trailer. Use the one foot up way that I teach you in this video.
Training Pack Goat Kids as You Go
Training your pack goat kid is a “learn as you go” strategy for them and you. Much of this they will learn with just your interaction and getting them on the trail. So I hope that is helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments. I will keep this article organic so please ask those questions and I will add those answers to this article making it more complete and include things I may have forgotten.