Ever heard the expression “stubborn old goat”! Well, that's the problem with herding goats--they are stubborn! Unlike sheep that tend to group together in a flock, making it easier to herd them all together, goats tend to go in every direction, independent of each other. They also fight back, are not easily intimidated, and can go straight up as well as side to side! This makes herding goats with a dog or any other method, extremely challenging. Although having a dog to gather and direct a herd of livestock, including goats, can be extremely useful for farmers who need to bring goats in to provide medical treatment or other handling, not just any dog will do. An experienced herding dog, that is not easily intimidated, will be required to have success herding goats. If you have a lot of goats in an area with difficult terrain, a dog may be required to bring them in, but only a very experienced dog will be up to accomplishing the task and not getting herded themselves by some wily goats!
Herding goats is a complex behavior that involves a dog listening to a handler's directions so that the dog understands what the farmer wants to accomplish and where the goats are needed, and requires the dog to interact with, direct, and anticipate the goats' movements. In addition to paying attention to the handler, the dog needs to pay attention to the goats, directing them, staying away from sharp horns and hoofs, and dealing with an animal that is extremely agile and not often cooperative in being gathered and herded.
Only dogs with very strong herding aptitude are able to herd goats, usually Australian Shepherds and Border Collies are used, although some other herding breeds may be successful if they have the right abilities. A mature and experienced herding dog is required to deal with goats; inexperienced, young dogs could easily be injured or overwhelmed with the task. An experienced goat herding dog will gather goats in a group when directed, and then go to the right or left of the group to herd and direct them towards the goal, usually an enclosure that the handler indicates. This work will save a goat farmer lots of time and allow the goats to get feed, medical treatment and care they require. ut, because goats can be difficult to handle, a lot of experience and training is required by the dog, and assistance in having an efficient handling system setup and additional help directing goats may be required.
Dogs that work with goats will need to be of a strong herding disposition and have no physical limitations. Goat herding dogs will need to be problem solvers, and not timid, as goats can be aggressive to work with. Prior to work with goats, herding dogs should have previous experience with sheep or cattle so they have a strong grasp of herding commands and how to work with livestock. Dogs should know basic obedience commands such as 'come', 'sit', and 'stay' prior to beginning herding work. Herding dogs are often initially taught control around livestock with the use of a long lead line. Having another experienced herding dog to assist with modeling behavior is an asset.