Can Dogs and Goats Like Each Other?
Dogs can be useful in many ways around a farm besides just keeping you company. Whether you are interested in training your dog to be a guardian to protect your livestock or you just want your animals to get along when they’re together, this article will help you determine whether your dog can get along with your goats.
Do goats and dogs get along? As prey animals, goats have a tendency to be afraid of dogs, especially if a dog were to bark or run after them. However, when introduced correctly, often at a young age, both goats and dogs can get along well. Trained dogs can also act as livestock guardians to protect your goats from predators.
With all that said, if you want your dogs and goats to co-exist in harmony, you have to be intentional about training and familiarizing your animals with each other. In the sections below, I will cover how to properly introduce your animals and the best training practices you can use to integrate your dog and goats.
Most Goats Will Initially Be Afraid of Dogs
Before you introduce your two pets, it’s important to understand the nature of each animal and how this may cause them to react. Goats and dogs are two distinctly different animals, so they will handle each situation in a way unique to the characteristics of their species. Here’s what you need to know about goats and dogs:
Goats Are Prey Animals
Goats are prey animals, which means that it is in their nature to always be considering the danger of a situation. Because of this nature, goats will live in groups for extra protection and security. They are often on high alert, listening and watching for anything that may seem out of the ordinary. Another characteristic they have is that they will usually flee and run away from anything that could be dangerous. Facing a threat causes a goat’s heart rate to increase and adrenaline to pump through their body so they can act fast and get away before the predators strikes.
As prey animals, you can’t rely on goats to be protective of one another or other animals. To learn more, check out my article Do Goats Protect Chickens? What You Need to Know.
Dogs Are Predator Animals
Dogs, on the other hand, are predators. This means that it is in their nature to always hunting and chasing. Like goats, dogs are often on high alert, but for different reasons. Dogs are always watching or looking for something that could be a target, like a small, fast-moving animal. While the instinct of a goat is to flee, the instinct of a dog is to chase. While a goat gets adrenaline to run away from predators, dogs get adrenaline to chase after prey.
With all this said, you can see that goats and dogs have totally different initial instincts. If you don’t educate yourself, this can make it difficult to integrate the two animals. Knowing how the animals tend to react can also help you understand the way you should approach training; for the goats, you’ll need to show them that the dog isn’t a threat, and for the dog, you’ll need to show it that the goats aren’t toys to be played with.
Best Practices for Training Goats and Dogs to Accept One Another
Dogs and goats have been living together and interacting with one another probably since both animals were domesticated. This means that there has been plenty of time for people to figure out the best ways to get the two animals to accept one another.
Some of the best practices for training goats and dogs to accept one another includes:
- introducing dogs and goats to each other at a young age, if possible
- first introducing them through a fence barrier
- in the beginning, keeping your dog on a leash when they’re around the goats
- having a routine to familiarize the dogs and goats to one another
These are easy steps to progress through as your animals get comfortable with one another. To get a more in-depth look at each step, keep reading.
For the Best Results, Introduce Dogs and Goats to Each Other at a Young Age
If you’ve ever raised an animal, or a human for that matter, then you know how pliable younger animals tend to be compared to older and mature animals. What animals experience in their first few months of life will greatly impact how they react in certain situations for the rest of their lives. It’s also easier to control them when they’re smaller compared to when they are larger and heavier!
For these reasons, it’s best to introduce dogs and goats to each other when both are young. If a young goat learns that dogs aren’t dangerous, they won’t be afraid of them when they are older. Likewise, if a puppy sees that goats aren’t meant to be chased, then they’ll be less likely to chase them when they are older.
Introduce Your Dogs and Goats Through the Fence
Whether you’re introducing a puppy or a mature adult dog to your goats, it’s always best to first introduce them through a fence. This way, there’s a barrier between the animals so if any animal does feel like doing something naughty, they can’t get away with much. This will also give the animals an opportunity to see each other and observe. They may even stick their noses through the fence and sniff each other.
In the Beginning, Keep Your Dog on a Leash Around Your Goats
When it’s time to actually introduce your dog to your goats inside the goat pen, keep your dog on a leash. Once the dog learns it can chase the goats once, it will be difficult to train them otherwise. One incident with a dog can make your goats fearful of it for good. Keeping your dog on a leash will enable you to control your dog while still giving them the freedom to be closer to the goats without a barrier between them.
Have a Routine For Familiarizing Your Dog and Goats
One of the most effective ways to train any animal is through routine. Animals thrive off of routine, and you can use this to help familiarize your animals to each other. Have a specific time each day you go out and tether your dog on the other side of the goat fence or bring them into the goat pen. This will get the animals used to seeing each other and interacting. The more they’re around each other, the more confident and comfortable the animals will start to feel around each other.
Other Training Methods to Use When Introducing Your Dog to Goats
There are other effective alternative methods you can use to train your dogs and goats to accept each other. Two other popular methods for training dogs specifically to accept goats include clicker training and shock collar training. Both of these methods are used for dog training and are known to be effective. To learn more about each training method, keep reading!
Using Clicker Training to Teach Your Dog to Accept Goats
Clicker training is also called positive reinforcement training. The essence of clicker training is that every time your dog responds correctly, you’ll make a click sound and give them a treat. The dog will start to associate the click with a reward, which will help them see the click as a positive reinforcement to their behavior.
Since dogs are food-driven, clicker training can be very effective. Before you start using clicker training, it’s important to research it and understand exactly how it works. You need to know what behaviors to looks for, when to click the clicker, and how to get your dog to first understand what the clicker means. Click here to read an article about clicker training your dog.
Using a Shock Collar to Teach Your Dog to Accept Goats
Using a shock collar is another way you can teach your dog to accept goats. While this method may be more controversial, many dog owners successfully train their dogs using shock collars. A shock collar works much like a clicker in clicker training, but instead of “marking” the good behavior with a click, you’re “marking” the bad behavior with a warning beep or a shock. This will tell you dog what behavior is unacceptable.
A shock collar is often controlled by a separate remote that the dog handler carries. Before ever shocking the dog, you should ALWAYS give the warning beep. If the dog doesn’t respond to the beep, then you do the shock. This way, you’re teaching the dog to be responsive at the beep instead of waiting for the shock.
As with clicker training, understanding dog behavior and exactly when and how to use a shock collar is vital to your success in training your dog. To learn more about training with a shock collar, click here.
Will a Dog Kill a Goat?
Even though goats can weigh as much as 300 lbs and be bigger than your dog, a dog can still take a goat down. Unfortunately, domesticated dogs can be one of the biggest predators to goats since people often don’t think a family dog will kill their goats. For this reason, even if you don’t have a dog, it’s important to make sure you have adequate fencing not only to keep your goats in but also to keep wandering dogs and predators out.
The best type of fencing to use for goats is a woven wired fence that will keep animals from crawling through. The fence should be at least 4 ft tall to deter predators from climbing over and to keep your goats from jumping out. Lastly, I always recommend digging your fence at least a foot into the ground to deter predators that would rather dig their way under. A secured fence can work wonders when it comes to keeping your goats safe.
Will Goats Charge at a Dog?
As predator animals, it isn’t surprising that dogs may have an instinct to attack or chase a goat; but what about goats? Will a goat ever charge at a dog? As flight animals, most goats will flee from dogs, even to the point of exhaustion; however, a ram or a more dominant wether or ewe may feel inclined to charge at a dog.
Unfortunately, rarely does being charged at by a goat deter a dog from still going after them. They may even see the charge as play. In this situation, both your dog and your goats could end up getting hurt. At this point, the best thing to do is remove the dog and start your training back at the basics to ensure they have an understanding of the behavior you’d rather see from them.
Can Your Dog Be Used as a Livestock Guardian for Your Goats?
Although it may be a dog’s natural instinct to hunt or chase goats, dogs can also make great protectors for your small livestock. When trained properly, the dog can view your goats as part of their family and will do everything they can to protect them. Livestock guardian dogs have been known to fight off coyotes, wildcats, bears, and many other kinds of predators that pose a threat to your goats.
The best dog breeds to use as livestock guardians include Great Pyrenees, Mastiffs, Anatolian Shepherds, Sheepdogs, Collies, and Karakachans. These dog breeds were designed to live outdoors in the elements alongside your livestock; these breeds are also loyal and protective.
Did you know that you can use other animals to guard your livestock besides dogs? To learn more, check out my article What Are the Best Livestock Guardian Animals?
Did you know that you can train your dog to get along with your poultry? Check out my article Do Ducks and Dogs Get Along With Each Other?