Goatlightenment: How Do I Get My Goats to Love Me?

Under chin scratchies are the bestest!

Under chin scratchies are the bestest!

Faithful Goat Berries reader Kim has a problem.

She is a new goat caretaker, but her goats won’t let her anywhere near them. Kim says they’ll let her get a little close while she’s feeding them, but then they run away. She’d love to be able to pet and even play with her goaties, but right now it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. So, fellow goat caretakers, Kim would love to know —

“Is it too soon or do I just have wild naughty boys?”

I have to admit, I’m a little at a loss since I’ve never been in this situation. I raised Pasqualina with a bottle, so obviously she got to know me from a very early age. Then with her daughter, Pinta, I practiced my own version of goat imprint training, which has made her fairly cuddle-seeking as well.

Something tells me that the imprinting advice holds true for older, wilder kids as well — less touching at first, of course, but simply spending as much time with them as possible and just getting them used to your presence. But maybe with stubborn little ones, a good bribe might be in order. I’m thinking the usual subjects like raisins, bananas/peels, and some say cookies although I’ve never given my girls those. All in moderation of course!

But again, as I’ve yet to have a truly difficult goat, I’d love to hear from those of you with experience on this:

How can Kim get her goats to love her?

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20 Responses to “Goatlightenment: How Do I Get My Goats to Love Me?”
  1. patti

    when my goats were really shy at first, I would put down the bowl of grain and pat them the entire time they were eating it …. if they got scared and ran away, it just meant that the goat that stayed around longer for petting got to eat longer too. Once they started being somewhat comfortable with me standing there and petting them, and seeing me as the source of food, I started giving them random cookies throughout the day. I use the apple & oat horse treat cookies, which my goats seem to view as just slightly less addictive than cocaine (LOL) and once they started to see that not only at mealtime, but pretty much anytime they saw me I might have a cookie or two, they switched from being shy to being my buddies. It doesn’t take long for the transformation πŸ™‚

    Great advice, Patti, thank you! I’ll have to find some of those cookies…sound good even for us hahaha πŸ˜‰


  2. 06.27.2011

    We have had several like this, that we had rescued. It takes a lot of time and patience for them to trust you and some never do. Sometimes if you can get a harness on them just to be able to sit with them that can help as long as they aren’t too traumatized in the first place. Then give them a treat, not their normal food choice, something special they will look forward too. Hope this helps, but some goats don’t ever trust humans.

    Thanks for the tips, Pam! Hopefully Kim’s boys will come around πŸ™‚


  3. michelle

    Some replies from Facebook:

    Via Kathleen – “Feeding,watering,cleaning and just plain time in with them.On their side of the fence,just being somewhat still so they can approach. And singing and talking with them. It’s also going to take the better part of a year to see progress.”

    Via Sue – “It does take a while (the better part of a year is about right Kathleen!!) but it works. We got our little doe(pygmy doe) when she was about 15 months old and she was shy with us. We just kept doing what Kathleen said above and it worked for us. Now Macy pulls on our pants leg for scratches and she comes running for a few raisins:-) Goats are the best!!!! oh and she doesn’t let the boys (2 pygmy wethers) boss her around!!! LOL”

    Thanks so much!


  4. 06.27.2011

    I had some goats in the past that were extremely skittish. I put them with my more friendly goats and constantly went out to sit and give the friendly goats treats when they clustered around me. The skittish goats would watch, and I believe they got a little upset that they were not getting treats. They could tell the others were enjoying it. Slowly, they began to take treats very rapidly and run away to eat them. They did not like to approach my hand. Over many months, of the 4 skittish ones, 3 became snugglers who would rub on my legs and enjoy their petting times. The remaining 1 became more tame, but still never really liked being touched. If I had not had the other friendly goats to “teach” the others, I would probably have put them all in a pretty small pen on a daily basis, even for several weeks, and gone in and sat with them in the pen every day. I would read books, in there, just sitting on a little stool and being in the pen with them, but not approaching. Then I would bring treats and set them out on the floor, over time, closer and closer to me. Then on my lap. Then by hand only. It takes time, time, time, and dedication, but I do believe that most goats can become very friendly unless they have come from situations of great abuse or neglect.

    Excellent Claire; thanks so much!


  5. 06.27.2011

    All of the above.

    Darla is a bottle baby and lived in my house for 7 weeks so I’m hard pressed to remove her from my butt most times but, as for the others, I find their innate curosity wins everytime. That and a well placed snack. πŸ˜‰

    And yes, there is nothing like a goodly goat snuzzle!


    Yes indeed! Thanks so much for sharing Mimi πŸ™‚


  6. michelle

    More FB responses!

    Via Tracy: “Wow this would break my heart…my goats were both bottle babies too so I’ll always be “maa” I would try treats like everyone else suggested as well as just sitting quietly in their pen with them…goats are naturally quite curious as we all know and eventually they will have to check her out”

    Via Nellie: “If this sounds to bizzare ignore it but here it goes , how about tape recording the goats when your not there, and then when you go down to see them rewind and play thier greetings but look right at them and mimick .”

    Love it! Keep ’em coming goat lovers! Thanks so much πŸ™‚


  7. 10.11.2012

    my goat is doing the same thing


    michelle Reply:

    I hope all is well between you and your goatie πŸ™‚


  8. lorin

    My two, seven month old little pygmy goats, Bonnie and Clyde, hate me I assume. :(. I have tried all methods, or a lot of them at least, and two and a half months of patience. They still refuse to eat from my hands or get closer than 5 feet away. PLEASE HELP!


    Chrissy Reply:

    I am a little behind on this, but I wanted to check to see if you’ve seen any improvement and if so, what you think helped you along?

    I have recently adopted 2 Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy cross does (1 is 6mo, 1 is 3mo) and they will not come near me and run when I get too close. If I have alfalfa in my hand then I can get them to eat it if I toss it to them, but they won’t take it from my hand. I talk to them, play them music and try to dedicate at least an hour a day to “Goat Time”, but I am not seeing much change. I’ve had them just over a month now.


    michelle Reply:

    I wish I had an update from the original poster, but I don’t! I think it just takes a lot of time and patience, Chrissy…keep at it, I’d say πŸ™‚


  9. michelle

    Posting this on the FB page so hopefully will get some responses, Lorin!


  10. 05.07.2015

    I just got 2 month old pygmy goats and they (sugar, spice) don’t like to go near me. sugar will come up to me but as soon as I put my hand out to pet her she runs away πŸ™ spice runs away as soon as i sit down and come into the pen. Sugar is always screaming and so does Spice. What do i do to get them to get used to me?


  11. 05.07.2015

    I am also new at goat care πŸ˜‰ :0


  12. 09.28.2015

    I have a goat that hates me and will run so fast i can’t catch her how can I get her to run up to me and love me


  13. Goat lover

    My 2 new pygmy goat wethers will let me rub them and will eat out of my hand, Ive had them for only three days and get up before school at 5:50 to feed them water them and rub them. I know its only early days but will they get more friendly? they are both 4months


  14. 09.11.2016

    I just got two male kids that r 3 months old. One is very friendly and has been social with people. My other kid is very timid and shy and been working with him. I need help with him to come to me and be able to touch him. Please help.


    michelle Reply:

    Awww I think the best you can do is keep showing him love. I had a pair of twins, one of whom was super friendly and the other VERY stand-offish. Basically just a lot of trying (and maybe treats)? And patience. Good luck!


  15. Goat newb

    I’m gonna try inserting corn syrup, sucrose, or plain sugar to get her addicted to my presence. Or at least the sugar, then ween her off.


  16. Bad Idea

    Wow, I was seriously considering getting a goat but after reading all the complications you guys are experiencing with getting your goats to bond with you, Im starting to think that maybe this is the worst idea I’ve ever had! Perhaps Ill have better luck with a pig πŸ™‚


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