Training To Tie

Goats frequently need to stand tied -- for hoof trimming, vet care, milking, or just to get them out of the way for a few minutes while you repair a fence... (My goats tear down a fence? Never! HA!)

Training your goats to stand tied is quickly and easily done, and the sooner, the better.


Equipment

To train a goat to stand tied you will need:

  • a goat (if you don't have one, why are you reading this?)
  • a sturdy, well-anchored post (a corner- or gate-post in a chain link fence works really well for this, but don't use the posts on a portable kennel -- unless you want to repair fence...)
  • a flat, buckle-type dog collar (NOT a "clip" or "safety" collar)
  • a 6-foot nylon dog leash (5/8" or 1" wide) with a swivel snap on the end OR a 10-foot dog tie-out cable with swivel snaps on both ends, the plastic-coated metal cable kind NOT the chain-style. The cable method is for a large or adult goat, especially a buck.


Method

Put the collar on the goat loose enough that you can get two or three fingers under the collar when it is buckled UNLESS the goat is a LaMancha (with "no ears").

For a LaMancha, fit the collar flat against the neck and just loose enough that the goat can still swallow.

If the collar can't come off the head past the ears, you've got it right.

Take the leash and drop a loop through the handle to make a "noose." Place the noose over the goat's head and lay it on the goat's neck between the ears and the collar.

Then thread the snap end of the leash through the ring on the collar.

Now get the goat near enough to your sturdy post to wrap the snap-end of the leash around the post and clip it back on the leash itself.

Snug this loop up tight around the post, and high enough on the post that the slack doesn't lie on the ground.

If you are using a bare post, attach a ring to the post to thread the leash through. That way the leash can't slip down the post.

On a chain link fence, just thread the leash through a hole in the mesh as high as the goat's head.

NOTE: If you are using a tie-out cable for this, make the "noose" on one end by wrapping it ONCE around the goat's neck (above the collar) and clipping the snap to BOTH the line itself AND the ring on the goat's collar.

Attach the other end to the post in such a way as to only leave about 4 feet of slack. Keep the slack from touching the ground. A good way to do this is to wrap the cable around and around the post to use up the extra footage, then clip the line back on itself.

Pet the goat for a moment, then quietly step away out of the circle of ground that the goat now can move in.

Now you wait.

What Are YOu Waiting For?

In a minute or two, or immediately, or never, the goat is going to try to move away from the post.

It will hit the end of the slack and the noose will tighten until the collar starts being pulled also. This will NOT choke the goat.

The noose is to take some of the pressure off the collar and to act as a backup in case the collar comes off or breaks. You do NOT want to let the goat learn that she can get loose by pulling hard enough. Your goal is to teach her that she CAN'T get loose, no matter what she does.

As soon as the pressure hits the goat's neck the goat will show you her true temperament. Will she fight it? If so, how much? Or will a spark of intelligence show when the goat waits to see what happens next?


Training to Tie Now Begins

Depending upon the goat's reaction, let her do whatever she's going to do. Some goats are fighters and will try to kill the post, or you, or both. (This is why you stay out of range.)

Some are drama queens and will scream bloody murder, gag, roll their eyes, and do their best "I'm dying" act.

Some goats actually have a brain and quickly bow to their fate, maybe shooting you a dirty look and a baaa of complaint.

Talk quietly to the goat, but don't get involved in the antics unless she does something that will truly hurt herself -- gets a foot tied in the slack, breaks the collar and really is choking herself on the leash, or whatever.

If anything like that happens, step in, fix the problem, and then step away again to let the training continue.

Do NOT let the goat get out of the training to tie lesson by having a near-wreck. "Un-wreck" the goat and then go back to the training-to-tie mode.

I'm Rattled and I want to Stop!

The more violent the reaction, the more you are going to think you made a mistake and that I am full of goat berries. Hang on, the goat is not nearly as upset as she's pretending to be (if awards were given in the animal world for great acting, goats would win every time).

Be patient (and calm) and wait for the goat to give up the hysteria act. In a moment or two the goat will get tired, bored, or distracted and stop with the drama.

Wait another moment (I call it "beat, beat, beat" in my head), then step in and give her a pat and tell her she's doing well.

If the hysteria starts again, just back out of her circle and wait.

If she stands still, but gives a bleat of complaint, pat her, wait another moment, then step away quietly.


Rattle, Rinse, Repeat

Do the same thing you just did. Wait to see what the new reaction will be -- more violence, more Academy Award attempt, or is she starting to think?

As soon as she is calm and beginning to realize that anything but standing quietly will get her nothing, step in and pet her again.

Let the petting also be touching her all over, picking up feet, feeling her udder, or whatever you can think of that she might not want you to do.

You are trying to evoke the violent reaction so that you can step back and let her fight with (and lose to) a fencepost.

Her reward is nice attention from you when she does it right (stands calmly when you're away and lets you touch her all over when you're back).

Keep doing this several more times, for up to about 20 minutes.

End the training-to-tie session when the goat is standing quietly and has been for a minute or more.

Then step up, release the noose from the collar and take her back to her pen. This is called "ending on a good note." (A little grain in her pan wouldn't hurt, either!)


Play it Again, Sam

After your first successful training to tie session, do it again. Leave the leash or cable on the fencepost for later use. Wait until the next day, then get your goat out and have another go at it.

If your goat is normal (meaning stupid as goats are) you will have a repeat of the first training to tie session, death act and all. Or, if you are lucky, your goat has figured you out and just stands there sweetly.

Either way, just do a repeat until both you and the goat are bored with the whole thing. Then put her away.

Another training-to-tie lesson the next day, and you're done.

Brush up the training once in a while (or just use the training regularly when brushing, washing, trimming feet, giving shots, or milking) and you will have a well-behaved goat that stands tied beautifully.

Now if you want to tether and/or stake out your goat, she's good to go!


› Training to Tie