The Goat Palace: Journal account for Nov. 17, 2017
Yesterday I introduced stationary targets to Thanzi and Trixie. I would have preferred working them individually, but they had a different idea. Since Trixie is so very timid, I don’t want to send her back out of the gate. I want her approaching me, not expecting that I will drive her away, so when both ladies ended up together in the far end, that’s what I decided to work with.
I had two very different targets for them. Both were dog toys, dumbbells with tennis balls at the two ends, but one was considerably larger than the other. I’ve had them for years. They’ve been stored very differently so even if they had a similar shape, they would have had a different scent. Thanzi got the larger of the two targets. She was fairly consistent about orienting to the dumbbell. When I clicked, I fed as usual so she had to back up to get the treat. That meant she had to come forward several steps to get to the dumbbell.
I made no attempt to draw Trixie in, but when she came near, I held her target out to her. I was pleased at how well she oriented to it, click and squeeze in a treat while Thanzi was still busy eating her piece of squash. I wasn’t always successful at having them take turns. I definitely need to tidy up the details of managing them together. I was pleased overall at how much more confident Trixie is becoming. She’s much more willing to approach and engage in the game.
We used our panels again to separate the boys. Galahad went first. I had Marla continue to work him from outside the pen. He did great. He went straight to the target and then moved away to get his treat, then back to the target. Marla moved it about, and he continued to orient to it. He’s going to have a very strong targeting behavior because of these early sessions. It should make it very easy to teach him to go to a stationary target hung on the wall.
I liked Galahad’s session so much, I decided to begin that way with Elyan. Taking me out of the picture is a good way to strengthen his targeting behavior. I was using a target that was new to him. He did a good job going to it, but with the wall between us he was not as good at getting his treat. It’s a new set up for him, so I need to work out this part of the process so it becomes a cleaner loop. Our learners always show us the missing elements that are needed to make the training better.
With Pellias, I began by working him on a lead. His session was interrupted by Elyan pushing his way through a weak spot in our panel system. When you’ve been small all your life, you know you can get through the narrowest spaces. So my session with Pellias abruptly changed to working two goats together. I quickly set up two platforms for them. We started out okay, but then little Elyan starting butting his brother away. I abruptly ended the session. In July I had begun to work them as a pair, but it was always at the end of sessions where they had both worked well individually on platforms.
After these sessions Marla and I continued to work on the construction. It’s amazing how much more there is still to be done. We finished the day by taking chairs in and sitting with the goats. Galahad stayed with Marla for a few minutes for a head rub, then went over to the jungle gym to lie down in the sun. Elyan and Pellias stayed longer. The surprise of the day was Thanzi and Trixie came over and for the first time stayed for the beginning overtures of a head rub. And that brings us to the theme of today’s July Goat Diaries which is about building relationships.
The July Goat Diaries: Clicker Training Day 3: Begin with Bliss
Clicker training provides a fast track into a relationship. Yes, E and P were used to being handled, but on their first day, they wanted nothing to do with me. Then the peanuts arrived and the clicker game began. Suddenly, I was the center of attention, but they could have remained aloof, wanting nothing more from me except the treats in my pocket.
Clicker training is about so much more than that. I was providing them with so many things goats want. Food yes. But I was also a source of enrichment. I provided them with games and puzzles. And I sat with them for cuddle time. I was becoming an important part of the things that created well being for goats. I was someone they liked, and just as important – I was liking them.
E’s 8:30 am Session Begin With Bliss
Sweet E began his first training session of the day with a cuddle.
If only he could purr! For someone who loves cats, this was a heavenly way to start the day!
Video Goat Diaries: E’s 1st platform session – Begin with Bliss To open this video use the following password: GoatDiariesDay 3 E Learns
Coming Next: Goat Diaries Day 3: Platform Training for E – Weeds and Behavior
Please Note: if you are new to the Goat Diaries, these are a series of articles that are best read in order. The first installment was posted on Oct. 2nd. I suggest you begin there: https://theclickercenterblog.com/2017/10/02/