How Do Goats Show Affection?
Goats are known for their cute and quirky personalities and dog-like attachments to their humans. Out of all the livestock animals, goats are often thought of as the most social when it comes to interacting with humans. That being said, goats are still animals, and it can be difficult to understand what they’re trying to communicate if you aren’t familiar with them.
So, how do goats show affection? Here are ten ways goats are known to show affection towards their human handlers:
- They will stare into your eyes
- The goat won’t be afraid to approach you
- They will asked to be pet by rubbing against you
- The goat will bleat or call when they see you
- The goat will follow you around
- They will want to play with you
- They will want to be around you as long as you are in their pen
- Their expression will perk up when they see you
- The goat will lick and groom you
- The goat will hop into your lap if you are sitting down
Since goats can’t physically talk to us, they have to use other methods to let us know what they are feeling. In this article, I’ll go more in depth into each of the above points so you can get a better understanding of how goats show affection and why they act as they do.
Goats Show Affection By Staring Into Your Eyes
We’ve all seen the movies where the star-crossed lovers look deeply into each other’s eyes before ending the movie with a romantic kiss. Well, did you know that many animals also show affection by looking into their human’s eyes? Dogs and goats both display this behavior as a sign of familiarity and trust.
Goats are able to recognize your face and your facial expressions; they will look at your eyes when you talk to try and grasp what you are trying to communicate. Likewise, if goat needs something but doesn’t know how to communicate it, they may stare directly at you until you get the hint.
Goats Show Affection By Being Confident in Approaching You
By nature, goats are prey animals. If there is an animal or an object that seems threatening to them, they will run away and distance themselves for protection and safety. If a goat is unwilling to approach you, it’s usually a sign that they do not trust you or humans in general. Goats that have had little human interaction or that have had a bad experience with a human will usually display this behavior.
That being said, a goat that does trust you and is comfortable with you will be willing and confident to approach you. They’ll walk right up to you and stand in front of you so that the two of you can further interact. If a goat is willing to approach you, it means that they see you as a friend rather than potential danger.
Goats Show Affection By Wanting to be Pet
Goats are similar to dogs in many ways; one way is that they beg for attention. Like dogs, goats will beg to be pet. They will do this by rubbing against you, standing in front of you, and following your hands. This, to me, shows that they crave that human interaction.
Many goats love to be scratched on their chest and on their underarms. Petting your goat is also a great time to check them for cuts, injuries, skin irritations, ticks, and fleas. If you find fleas on your goat, you’ll want to act fast to correct the problem. To learn how to treat fleas on goats, check out my article Do Goats Get Fleas? Essential Goat Care.
Goats Show Affection By Vocalizing When They See You
Another way goats show affection is by vocalizing when they see you. I had a goat once that would call to me every time I walked out of the house. Goats display this same behavior towards each other as well. If one goat is removed from the pen and then returned, another goat may bleat when it sees the goat returning.
Goats call to each other to each other to locate one another and identify each other. If a goat is calling to you, it usually means that the goat sees you and just wants to make sure it’s really you. One way you can give your goat peace of mind is by answering it back! Goats can recognize your voice, so talking back in response will let the goat know it’s you.
Goats are similar in sheep in that there are many reasons why they bleat. While bleating can be a sign of affection, it can also be a sign that your goat needs something or that the goat is distressed. To learn more about why certain farm animals bleat, check out my article Why Sheep Bleat: Essential Behavior Guide.
Goats Show Affection By Following You Around
If a goat is particularly fond of you, it may follow you around. Whether you’re cleaning out the pen or you’re simply taking a walk, a goat that likes you will follow you wherever you go. This is a sign that they want to be with you, and this behavior is very similar to that displayed by dogs and their owners.
Following you around can also be how a goat begs for attention and interaction. When I go into a goat pen, I always make sure to pet the goats that follow me around in order to appease them!
If you watch livestock animals, they tend to often follow one another in straight lines, nose to tail. The animal at the front of the line is usually the dominant or the alpha animal. They follow the lead animal because they trust the lead animal. If a goat is willing to follow you around, it’s a good sign that it trusts you.
Goats Show Affection By Wanting to Play With You
Goats love to play, even as adults! They love to run, climb, and jump around. Some even play hide-n-seek and tag with each other! This is one reason many people love goats; they’re always entertaining! A goat can show affection by wanting to play with you.
A goat that wants to play with you may run around you or quickly run away from you and come back. If you want to indulge them, you can chase them, then run the other way quickly. They goat will probably come running after you. You can also hide and jump out when the goat approaches, and the goat will probably run away quickly then come back for more!
Goats Show Affection By Wanting to Be Around You
When in a herd, goats will do everything together. They graze and browse together, they cuddle and sleep together, and they run and play together. As prey animals, being in a group of other animals provides both security and protection. More animals means more eyes and ears looking and listening for danger. Predators are often less willing to attack a close group of animals; instead, they’ll go for the goat that has strayed off.
If a goat simply wants to be around you, it means that a goat is comfortable around you and sees you as a friend, like they see the goats in their herd. They feel safe around you and your presence gives them security.
Goats Show Affection By Perking Up When They See You
If you want to know what a goat is thinking, look at their facial expression! Animals can be very expressive in their face and their eyes. When it comes to showing affection, a goat’s expression will change. Their ears will prick forward and towards you, showing that they are listening and watching you. They’ll also stare in your direction, as I mentioned in the first point!
A goat’s face muscles will relax when they are around you if they are fond of you. A goat that isn’t sure about humans will be more tense, locking their jaw and tightening their nostrils. A relaxed goat will have a relaxed jaw and relaxed nostrils.
Goats Show Affection By Licking You
One way goats show affection is by licking. While they may lick because your skin is salty or because of mineral deficiencies, goats will also lick as a sign of familiarity and security. Goats will often lick and nibble at each other, reaching scratchy spots for one another. If a goat demonstrates this behavior with you, it’s a sign that they consider you as a friend.
If a goat licks excessively, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition. If this is the case, watch your goat to see if they are displaying any other unusual behaviors, then report it to a vet.
Goats Show Affection By Wanting to Sit In Your Lap
Goats do in fact think that they are lap animals. If you decide to take a rest and pop a squat for a few minutes, an affectionate goats won’t think twice about climbing into your lap. Much like a dog, being held can be comforting to a goat, plus, you make provide them a comfortable place to lay down. I’ve see goats fall asleep in people’s laps!
How Do You Get a Goat to Like You?
So, now that we’ve covered how goat’s show affection, let’s talk about how you can get a goat to like you and trust you. When you first get a goat, the goat may initially be unsure of you since they haven’t had time to learn whether you’re a friend or foe. Here are some steps you can take to help your goat see you as a friend rather than a potential predator:
Develop a Routine With Your Goats
All animals learn by repetition; the more they do something or see something, the more they will develop trust and familiarity. Likewise, if you want your goat to start to learn that you’re their friend, repeatedly seeing them on a daily basis can help build that trust.
Another thing that routine does is that it teaches your animals to look forward to a specific time and anticipate the events of the day. By sticking with a daily routine, your goats will start to anticipate when you see them, and they’ll be able to correlate it with feeding time or pets and scratches.
Feed Your Goats
The way to an animal’s heart is through food. After working with many different types of livestock and poultry animals, I can tell you that animals can easily recognize the person who feeds them. Most livestock animals are food-driven, meaning that using food is a great teaching technique for them.
Feeding your goats treats or snacks can help them associate you with something positive. All that being said, giving treats to your goats too frequently can cause them to become pushy and aggressive, so this is something to keep in mind. Giving a few snacks here and there shouldn’t cause too much of a problem.
Spend Time With Your Goats
You don’t get to know someone by never spending time with them. In order to develop a trusting and secure relationship, you have to spend time together; the same goes for animals. If you’re looking to teach your goats to trust you, the best thing you can do is spend time with them. Within the time you spend with your goats, they can learn to start to see you as a friend and as a member of their herd. Pretty soon, you’ll have goats running up to you wanting to sit in your lap!
I have many articles dedicated to goat care! If you’re looking for more reading material, check out my article Do Goats Get Cold? Winter Goat Care Guide.