Polite Goats

Polite. Goats. Two words you don’t expect to see together. But my boys are.

I’d never had goats before I got these twin brothers six years ago. However, I’d heard enough stories about goat antics to expect trouble, and when they arrived I could see the mischief in their two-month old eyes. I knew that I’d have to do some training. It turns out that of all of the animals that I’ve worked with (horses, dogs, fish, chickens, rabbits) that goats have been the most unmitigated joy to train. They are eternally optimistic and believe that whatever is happening will turn out to be excellent. I try my best to fulfill their world view for them.

Pip and Caper never fail to greet me with great enthusiasm. However, you can imagine that it is not a good idea to open a door when a 100-pound goat is standing on it.



I taught the goats to get down when I say off, and to back up on the word back, or a finger wiggle.

goats back


The goats love treats, and I love giving them – they are such happy, smiling, tail-wagging, appreciative animals! But goats tell each other what’s what by charging into each other, and they show off with head butts. I needed to give them an alternative way to communicate with me, so I gave them stumps. Pip and Caper jump up on them when I say Go, go! which is great, because instead of running into me, they hurry onto their stations.

to stumps


I assigned a stump to each goat. That way there’s less (although there is still some) jostling for position.

on stumps


After the treats are dispensed (in this case, peanuts) I give the universal all done signal.

all done

These truly are polite goats. Somehow, though, their good manners don’t seem to put a crimp in the chaos they cause or the trouble that they get into. Which is fine by me. I wouldn’t want them to lose an ounce of their joie de vivre

I’ve written about my training techniques on my website, The Cooperative Horse. I also have several videos showing snippets of training on my YouTube channel. More will be coming this fall!

(Note: These are new stumps. The old ones rotted away. Caper now has a lower stump to accommodate his gimpy foreleg.)

(Also note that the “goat berries” on the ground all appeared in one day. That entire area had been swept clean the day before. My goats are polite, but they’re not tidy. Goats require a lot of care and manure management.)


  1. Brilliant blog, you are so cleaver with the Boys. They always bring a smile to my day. I watched you changing the logs the other day with the help of the girls looking for any goodies. :)
    Boy are we are envying your weather, we have had the wettest July/Aug I can remember. This weekend was a Bank Holiday and it rained for 4 days!!!. All the garden is now boggy. Do you cover your outside runs if you get continuous rain or do you not get that problem ??

  2. What a wonderful post Terry: The “learning tales/tails” of Pip and Caper are a perfect way to start the new school year!

  3. “They are eternally optimistic and believe that whatever is happening will turn out to be excellent.”

    Now there is a life lesson for all of us.

  4. I agree with Tracy!
    Great post and pictures. They seem to be hanging on your every word.

  5. I see that the chickens wanted treats too in the last two pictures. ;)

  6. Love Owly & Beatrix doing the photobombs!! They knew the blog was not about chickens this time!!

  7. Sorry Terry, message off blog.

    Really feeling for you guys in California. Weather is so unfair we have had heavy rain and floods on and off for over 18 months, I wish I good push the jet stream for you. Hang in there, hopefully it must rain soon.

  8. I love the goat boys. I have afew stumps in the chicken run that have rotted. I am on the hunt for new ones.

  9. Love this post, Terry! My goat ladies are very clever too, and they each know their names and a few commands. I will have to check out your other website – – maybe these ol’ girls can learn a few new tricks.

    ….and yes, the goat berries are never-ending! It’s a tough thing for a horse person to get used to, ha ha! It seems impossible to ever get them all swept up. :)

  10. Pip and Caper are too cute politely waiting on their stumps waiting for a treat. May I ask what it is you have on the coop/ barns floors? Hay? Although it looks extra fine in the goats stall. I have been using wood shavings. The new coop is about done and trying to decide on what I want to put down on the floor for winter. Well, I really want hemp but the cost + shipping is holding me back. My coop is 6 x 8 and I will only have 5 birds this winter as 3 of my chicks turned out to be roo’s. Sigh………the township says they have to go.

    And Hooray!!!!!!!!!!! I am finally able to view all 4 cam’s!

  11. My goats seem to know only a few tricks– they eat, butt heads, and drop berries. Although Buffy the Milk Producer did trick me into feeding one of her babies with a bottle while the other two nursed. I definitely got played by that one. Maybe they are training me…

  12. Always so glad to see an update on the boys. They are so joyful, and clearly love you to the moon!