Goat behavior questions - our wether isn't very nice!

KaleIAm

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We have 2 Nigerian dwarf wethers. The "nice one," Doc (9.5 years old) is basically perfect. And the "mischievous one," Mullie (8.5 years old) who is my reason for posting.

We got our pet goats about 7.5 years ago, from a shelter. They weren't raised together, the shelter put them together right before we adopted them. Doc is extremely friendly and always has been - like a puppy dog really. Mullie had a hard start to life. He was thrown from the back of a truck onto a busy highway when he was a young goat. Someone saw it happen, took him to the shelter, he stayed there briefly and then came to us. He was very scared of us and we didn't push him to be social. Over the years he slowly has decided we are trustworthy. Within the last year he has even allowed full body petting.

Some of our issue is that Mullie has horns and Doc does not. Mullie is clearly the more dominant goat since he has become an adult. We have two hay racks for them, and if I put hay in Doc's first Mullie will be upset and head butt Doc in the belly. Other times I have no idea why Mullie chases Doc around head butting him in the belly. He can even lift poor Doc up off the ground or corner him.

Is this ok? Is this normal for goats?

The other issue is that in the last year Mullie has been scraping his horns on my inner thighs. He really digs the tip in and leaves 8 inch long bruises that last for 3 weeks. I believe he is doing it because he wants attention, but regardless it is unacceptable. Mullie even got upset with me because I fed a treat to Doc and so Mullie head butted me and knocked me over!!

How do you discipline a goat? Do you discipline a goat? He needs to know that I'm in charge and I don't know how to communicate that in goat language.

If it helps, I'm female. They have a huge year around grassy pasture they go into all day, and they get locked into a barn at night. They get timothy hay every evening. We let them out to eat blackberry bushes about once a week

Thank you for any advice. We don't really know much about goats. But this has to stop!
 

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messybun

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Alright. He has gotten way too pushy. If you are willing to try some weird techniques I think I can help. Just trust me lol. I call it dominance chasing (super creative name right) and I kind of figured it out from watching other goats. Go out and put a fist up to his head, if he puts his ears back or rears, even smacks it, push him back. I “hup hup” at them to mimic their own fighting noises. If he gets up high push or drag him off, never let him get high. YOU are boss goat. Chase him across the yard, anywhere. Follow him, if he rears or turns around give him a good shove or spray him with water. Anything to get him running again. Basically, you chase him. When he kind of turns to the side, not bouncy turning, he will have his head low (not about to charge low) and kind of small body language offer your fist again. Stay a foot or two away so he has to walk to your fist. If he is in any way aggressive get him running again. Eventually what will happen is this goat will walk over and tap the bottom of your fist with his nose very gently. You might have seen a goat gently tap the dominant one’s chin, that’s what you’re looking for. A sign of submission. Be VERY careful when waking away, some goats will charge as soon as your back is turned because they are mad at you. I have honestly had an extremely stubborn goat take over an hour of chasing and running. The thing is, you don’t have to run, just walk and let him run in front of you. If he gets tired and panting trust your instincts, you don’t want to harm him, but don’t just let him go because he is tired. Sometimes it will take you less than a minute to remind a goat who is in charge, sometimes it takes forever. Especially when you start, be prepared for a really long battle.
As far as nailing his buddy because of treats, he doesn’t have an older goat or anyone to keep him in check so he will keep getting worse because he can. Goats can be bullies. You, the boss goat, gets to help ( it’s not like you can all the time) train the bully to get over himself. Also, in the meantime, is there a way that the bullied goat can escape if he needs to? Sometimes when you tell a goat “no” or just start putting them in their proper place they will throw a temper tantrum and smack whatever they can. My goats will sometimes try and smack another goat, to which I would go over and shove them( thus restarting the entire dominance chase) now they will go over an smack a buried tire; I’m personally fine with that but you set your own boundaries.
 

messybun

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Oh, I just remembered, you can tip his horns with pool noodles and duct tape to help prevent injury for you and his world.
 

KaleIAm

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Alright. He has gotten way too pushy. If you are willing to try some weird techniques I think I can help. Just trust me lol. I call it dominance chasing (super creative name right) and I kind of figured it out from watching other goats. Go out and put a fist up to his head, if he puts his ears back or rears, even smacks it, push him back. I “hup hup” at them to mimic their own fighting noises. If he gets up high push or drag him off, never let him get high. YOU are boss goat. Chase him across the yard, anywhere. Follow him, if he rears or turns around give him a good shove or spray him with water. Anything to get him running again. Basically, you chase him. When he kind of turns to the side, not bouncy turning, he will have his head low (not about to charge low) and kind of small body language offer your fist again. Stay a foot or two away so he has to walk to your fist. If he is in any way aggressive get him running again. Eventually what will happen is this goat will walk over and tap the bottom of your fist with his nose very gently. You might have seen a goat gently tap the dominant one’s chin, that’s what you’re looking for. A sign of submission. Be VERY careful when waking away, some goats will charge as soon as your back is turned because they are mad at you. I have honestly had an extremely stubborn goat take over an hour of chasing and running. The thing is, you don’t have to run, just walk and let him run in front of you. If he gets tired and panting trust your instincts, you don’t want to harm him, but don’t just let him go because he is tired. Sometimes it will take you less than a minute to remind a goat who is in charge, sometimes it takes forever. Especially when you start, be prepared for a really long battle.
As far as nailing his buddy because of treats, he doesn’t have an older goat or anyone to keep him in check so he will keep getting worse because he can. Goats can be bullies. You, the boss goat, gets to help ( it’s not like you can all the time) train the bully to get over himself. Also, in the meantime, is there a way that the bullied goat can escape if he needs to? Sometimes when you tell a goat “no” or just start putting them in their proper place they will throw a temper tantrum and smack whatever they can. My goats will sometimes try and smack another goat, to which I would go over and shove them( thus restarting the entire dominance chase) now they will go over an smack a buried tire; I’m personally fine with that but you set your own boundaries.
Thank you so much!! I really appreciate your wonderful reply. I will start working with him over the long Thanksgiving weekend. I'm very ready to be the boss goat.

Doc, the bullied goat can usually run away, except when they are locked into the barn at night. The room is about 10x15. We have cougar in our area and a neighbor's goat was taken by one. They also spend a lot of time in the barn on rainy days, even though we open the doors. Mullie just corners Doc and abuses him. We'll try the pool noodle thing to soften the blows.
 

thistlebloom

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I would add to Messybuns advice that it's very important that you are clear to him in your expectation of what you want. Don't be wishy washy. Be the BOSS GOAT and when he complys back off and relax your body language. But be prepared to continue to show him how he is expected to behave.
 

messybun

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Thank you so much!! I really appreciate your wonderful reply. I will start working with him over the long Thanksgiving weekend. I'm very ready to be the boss goat.

Doc, the bullied goat can usually run away, except when they are locked into the barn at night. The room is about 10x15. We have cougar in our area and a neighbor's goat was taken by one. They also spend a lot of time in the barn on rainy days, even though we open the doors. Mullie just corners Doc and abuses him. We'll try the pool noodle thing to soften the blows.
You can also use some fence panels to make “stalls” or a divider section if he is too bad with doc.
 

KaleIAm

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I would add to Messybuns advice that it's very important that you are clear to him in your expectation of what you want. Don't be wishy washy. Be the BOSS GOAT and when he complys back off and relax your body language. But be prepared to continue to show him how he is expected to behave.
Ok, I am the BOSS GOAT! Thank you so much!

Does this mean I should ignore him when he bullies Doc? Since I won't be around to respond all the time?
 

KaleIAm

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You can also use some fence panels to make “stalls” or a divider section if he is too bad with doc.
That's a great idea for night time! For daytime that would probably give more corners and less room for escape for Doc. We just open the big barn doors right into their pasture in the morning. It might be worth it though. Or we could lock them out of the barn during the day. They do have another covered area they can go to in the rain. I'll discuss it with my partner and see what he thinks. Doc is getting older and we're worried he's going to get hurt.

Thanks so much!
 

KaleIAm

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You can also use some fence panels to make “stalls” or a divider section if he is too bad with doc.
My partner loved the idea of making a divider for the barn. We think that is when most of the belly head butting happens. Then Doc can eat and sleep in peace.

Are there any tutorials for securing pool noodles to horns? It is pretty hard to get Mullie tethered and we aren't confident in our ability to get the pool noodle on accurately. Even if we do, do goats usually scrape them off quickly?
 

messybun

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My partner loved the idea of making a divider for the barn. We think that is when most of the belly head butting happens. Then Doc can eat and sleep in peace.

Are there any tutorials for securing pool noodles to horns? It is pretty hard to get Mullie tethered and we aren't confident in our ability to get the pool noodle on accurately. Even if we do, do goats usually scrape them off quickly?
Cut the pool noodle to approximately a few inches longer than the horn, and squeeze it on. If it isn’t a tight squeeze then cut one side of it, and duct tape that sucker so it is really tight.
What I used to do with my panicky goats is once you get a rope around their neck you can also loop it under their belly to make a bit of a harness. You said they are small goats right? You can also pin him to the wall, just put a knee on him right behind the shoulder blade and push just enough to make it so he can’t move but enough he doesn’t have trouble breathing. Pin him against a stable wall, and while he has his “harness” on and you should be able to do what you need too. Also, if he starts jumping it flipping just kind of go with him for a moment, and then get him under control. I used to make the mistake of just dropping the line because I didn’t want to hurt them. They can fight the rope a bit, it’s fine. My personal choice is the thicker ropes that are soft and don’t have a metal bit on them. If they are full sized then it’s a different technique.
 
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