Camp Manners

Once at camp, the goats are usually left loose. Teaching them camp manners is simply teaching them what things they are not allowed to do or areas they are not allowed in.

If you have properly trained your goats to respond to the “NO” and “BACK” commands as talked about in “Barn Manners,” then most of your camp training will be easy.

Be prepared to reinforce the “NO” or “BACK” command if necessary. The squirt bottle is good, but you may not always have it when you need it. A well aimed pine cone or small rock will work just as well.

Rule Number One: Don’t ever chase a goat away from the scene of its crime. You can not catch it and the goat knows it. Just making it leave the areas is not a correction. In the goat’s way of thinking it won the confrontation and you may actually be teaching the goat to play games in which it tries to see how much stuff it can get out of the bag before dancing away just our of reach. To the goat this is fun, but to the humans in camp it leads to thoughts of goat murder. A correction is made by contact with the goat. Anything you squirt or throw that contacts the goats is the same as if you touched it. Be careful if you throw something to make sure it isn’t going to hurt the goat. Pain is not necessary only the verbal command and something to contact the goat and make it move away.

Rule Number Two: When teaching camp manners , NEVER feed a goat people food. Once a goat gets a piece of your bread or some of your potato chips you will be mobbed everytime you eat. It is annoying for guests when the goats are pushing and shoving them, hoping for a hand out and potentially dangerous for children. Save the people food for people. If you are eating and a goat steps up for a sniff or nibble of your lunch tell it “NO” or “BACK” and make the goat back off. Squirt it or push it back with your foot. Don’t pet or scratch your goat while you are eating. The goat will learn to go else where or at least keep its distance when you are eating. With a little thinking, you can adapt this training to include the whole cooking area. If you have an extra persistent goat (usually one that has been fed) then you may have to tie it while cooking and eating.

A little forethought on your part can stop a lot of problems before they happen. If you leave panniers with great smelling stuff in them laying around, out of your area of control, then don’t be surprised when the goats start poking into all of the bags pulling out clothes and food. Especially with new goats in camp always keep the food under your supervision. Do not allow any goat to sniff around any pannier bags. The bags should be an “off limits item” at camp. Using the command of “NO”, point at the goat and back it up with a squirt or pine cone if necessary. BE CONSISTENT, don’t let a new goat get away with any negative behavior without correction being made. Remember don’t chase a goat away.

At night the food should be pulled into a tree in a “bear proof” manner. If there are no bears in your area then put the food inside the tent, or tie the goats up.

As far as the tent is concerned, never allow any goats inside. Goats are one of the few animals that enjoy being inside and once in, they will charge in every time the door is open. If you are sleeping on the ground without a tent, then rely on the “BACK” command and a few well placed corrections to teach an acceptable zone around you so that you are not getting stepped on or peed on while you try to sleep.

Other training tips:

**Please feel free to print out these tips.**