Raising farm and domestic animals on the same farm is sometimes tricky.
We want our animals to be healthy, happy, and comfortable.
Sometimes, it’s hard to find harmony when livestock and companion animals are wary of each other.
Goats and dogs are capable of getting along and even befriending one another. This is, however, a best-case scenario. If you don’t introduce them correctly, they will be more likely to be at odds and possibly even behave aggressively toward one another.
Looking to foster a positive relationship between your livestock and your pets?
We’re here to help.
Keep reading to understand the challenges you’ll face and to learn best practices for keeping all your animals safe and healthy throughout this process.
Goats and Dogs: Safety Concerns
Dogs are smart animals.
They can learn whatever you are willing to teach them.
But patience is important, and safety is too.
Dogs have an instinct to chase and, sometimes, to hunt.
This makes goats fearful because they are prey animals.
Their instinct is to run from predators like dogs and wild animals.
This presents a distinct conflict backyard farm owners like yourself need to be ready to combat.
Adequate training for your dogs is crucial here.
Preventing harm to livestock is rule number one.
You have to keep your goats safe.
Until your dog is ready to overcome their instinct to chase, they shouldn’t be kept around prey animals like goats and small pets.
Livestock Guardian Dogs
If your dog shows aggression around people, it is likely to do the same with your goats and sheep.
Conversely, though, some dogs take up the role of livestock guardians.
This, of course, takes training, time, and patience.
But it is a possibility for your dog, especially if you get a breed such as an Anatolian Shepherd or a Maremma Sheepdog.
These pups, in particular, are perfect for the position of livestock guardian dogs.
They aren’t dangerous to humans or livestock as long as they are trained well.
Training Dogs To Get Along With Goats
You’ve likely heard of the clicker in clicker training, other types of positive reinforcement training, shock collar training, and other methods by which people train their pets.
The precise method you use here is up to you.
But we recommend you use some form of positive reinforcement training because this is safest for your dog and cultivates a healthy relationship between you and your pet.
For those who don’t have experience with this training method, it simply means you choose to reinforce good behavior rather than punish bad behavior.
This has been proven more effective than other methods for obedience training.
We often teach our dogs to sit, stay, and speak using positive reinforcement.
But if you want your dog not just to do as you say but to be safe around herd animals like goats, you will need to implement some specific commands.
Important Commands for Livestock Guardian Dogs
Some of the recommended commands you would likely teach your dog even if you didn’t have goats to worry about.
For example, sit, stay, and come are all things you’ll want to teach your dog before letting them around livestock.
But there are a few others we recommend as well.
- Leave it
These commands are all especially important when predator animals like coyotes are near your dog or when your dog is near a prey animal such as a goat.
The first three we’ve listed are commands to use when your dog behaves aggressively toward your goats.
If you get a good dog breed, you won’t likely have much of an issue with aggression and chasing.
But for livestock protection, play it safe.
Teach your pet to obey when you want them to get away from a goat, goat feed, or potential predators.
All three commands are instruments for keeping your dog AND your goats safe.
The final command, “quiet,” is arguably just as necessary.
We talked before about the instinct your goats have to flee from predators.
Even if your animals have mostly grown comfortable with each other, those instincts still exist in them.
Loud barking and whining from your dog will likely scare your goats and make them feel unsafe.
Teaching livestock guardian dogs and other dogs who will be allowed near your goats to quiet down will be important for maintaining your goats’ comfort and happiness.
Other Tips for Keeping Goats and Dogs
One tip is to train your dogs and introduce them to your other animals while they are young.
Your goats are likely less frightened if they meet the dogs as kids.
Your dogs are less likely to show aggression toward the goats if they have known them since they were puppies.
Of course, a very young pup won’t be ready to meet a newborn baby goat.
Their natural instincts to chase and play could make them a danger to the kid.
With some preliminary obedience training out of the way, introduce your puppy to the goats.
Supervise carefully, and don’t wait for your goats to be terrified before moving your puppy.
The goal is to create a positive association with your puppy so your goats will know the dog is not a threat.
Aside from intervening before their fear gets too much, one way to create this positive association is to feed your goats a favorite of theirs right before you bring the puppy in.
This teaches them to connect the positive emotion of receiving a fun snack with the experience of interacting with your dog.
Starting this as soon as your dog is ready to be safe is key to fostering a strong, positive relationship with your animals.
The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for your animals to feel comfortable and safe around one another.
Remain patient, flexible, and optimistic.
You’ve got this, and it will all be worth the work!