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.
I don't understand how to train my pup to herd. I tried and tried but it doesn't seem to work. I need her to herd for me to I can put my goats away at night easier instead of pulling them in with a lead. If anyone can help me that would be great.
Hello Sam, It sounds like you would benefit from going to a herding workshop with your dog. Look online within a couple hours drive of you and see if there are any herding workshops, classes, or trials where you can connect with others who have experience in this area. Google "Herding workshop (your state)" then look into the websites that pop up and see if any of them are during the next month and within driving distance of you. For example: https://www.facebook.com/NGABHDA/ https://www.stockdog.com/old/training/trainers.htm A good place to start would be to get pup evaluated for herding instinct - herding is instinct based then the dog is taught control of that instinct and responsiveness to directions, and not all dogs inherit a natural drive or fetch instinct - the level of drive in a dog will determine how hard or easy that dog is to train for a job. Middle of the road dogs tend to be the easiest to train for many people. Also, check out the video series from the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYODEanyncY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtTXz7E2cMs When you are confused, something visual is definitely what I would recommend when it comes to herding. Whether that is a good video series or through a workshop with a trainer who has livestock who are used to be worked that your dog can learn on first. Goats can be harder to learn on for some dogs. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?