Teaching A Goat To Lead

You say you don’t show your goats, so why go to the trouble to teach them to lead? Every animal needs to learn to walk on a lead whether to show or not. It’s much easier to move individual animals from one lot / paddock / pen to another if it walks quietly – not fighting you every step of the way. It’s easier to put an animal on a trailer or truck when you sell it if you’re not pulling and tugging, or worse lifting and carrying it. And if the animal needs medical attention, your vet will greatly appreciate having a well-trained, compliant animal to treat.

The pinch collars are great in controlling your animal. Once you have them walking, then you can change to a show lead. We have started showing with the pinch collar and have not seen any drawbacks. The goats know what the collar is for, and normally they behave.

We start by putting the goat on the grooming / fitting stand for a few minutes at a time. This has the added benefit of making it feel comfortable holding its head high. While on the stand, we brush, pet, and talk to the goat.

Once the animal learns we’re not going to torture it, we put a lead on the goat and tie it to a gate or fence. Never, ever leave a tied goat unattended; this is a sure-fire way of finding a goat with a broken neck or hung. While tied, again we brush them, getting them accustomed to being handled. We rub our hands along their backs, up and down their legs, and tickle their bellies. We also gently stroke the neck near the shoulders; this has a very calming effect on the goat.

Now it’s time for the goat to learn to walk. We purchased dog pinch collars. The little kids get small pinch dog chain collars while the big goats get heavy duty ones. These collars are designed for safety with rounded prong tips. These collars are adjustable by adding or removing links. To determine the size you need, measure the goat’s neck and add 3 inches.

With smaller goats, babies up to about a year old, we put two pans of food on the ground about 30 feet apart. We walk (pull and tug) the goat to the first pan of food. We allow it to eat for a couple seconds then take the food away and walk the goat to the second pan. Again the goat is allowed to nibble for a couple seconds then back to the first pan. After a few trips, we take a longer route from one pan to the other. The key is not to force the goat to go between the pans but to get them to want the reward. If we have new animals to show, we will start about two weeks before the show with the above routine, and walk the animals several times a day for about 15 minutes, allowing them to eat a little each time they get back to the pan. After a couple of days, the get easier to walk. The younger the kid, the shorter the attention span; more frequent, shorter sessions may be in order.

Remember it is easier on both you and the goat if the pinch collar is not digging into the animal, so we (almost) never force the goat but work to get it to walking with its shoulder next to our legs with its head in front of our knees. When training for a show, and after the goat has mastered the art of walking, we will walk several yards then stop the goat and “set it up” so it is standing “square.” We get the goat accustomed to having others check their bite or inspect udders. The few minutes we spend with these activities at home pay off by having a goat not get startled in the show ring.

The pinch collars are great in controlling your animal. Once you have them walking, then you can change to a show lead. We have started showing with the pinch collar and have not seen any drawbacks. The goats know what the collar is for, and normally they behave.


There are other techniques we’ve tried with limited success.

For a while we tried using a plain chain, often called a choke chain. The goats would choke themselves, falling to the ground gagging….confident they were dying. We used this chain both where it would tighten with resistance from the animal and also where it wouldn’t tighten. Either way we would have a goat with it’s tongue hanging out its mouth turning blue. Using this chain (we have different weight chains for different size goats) also required keeping the chain between the horns and fairly tight or the goats would duck its head and escape. We never tried this method with a polled goat.

Another technique is to put a long leash / rope on the goat allowing it to run from you with you following. This is somewhat easier than dragging the goat behind you if you are in good shape and can keep up with the goat. Once the goat get used to you tagging along behind, gradually shorten the lead until the goat walks beside you.

Yet another technique is to use a large trained goat and let it teach a smaller one to lead by attaching the two together. To us, this is the least effective method of training. If you try this technique, don’t ever leave the animals alone while tethered; they will get into all sorts of trouble that could lead to injury or death.

Once a goat is broken to lead, it does not forget. Teach them when they are young, and control them then they are old.


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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168


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