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Goats for training my new dog


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I have a year old bc that we just bought a few months ago that was started on sheep and a couple of goats. I saw her do some of the basics when we bought her. Come by, lie down and a few other things. She did lie down well but she seemed to go a bit too direct to the animals when they sent her out with come by. I should say now that I am new to this too. 

Anyhow, I am trying to figure out what to buy to train her on. We eventually are planning on using her on our hog farm, but in the meantime are thinking of buying goats to use for training her with. Possibly Nigerian dwarves that we can sell for meat (maybe milk them at some point) when we are done training her. However we are not dead set on these. We mainly just want to get an animal that we can at least get the animal cost back out later (or as close to it as possible...). Also, we have some blackberry bushes and brush along the fence lines that we thought we could potentially use the goats to clear up when not in use for training.

We have a family member that said they would be willing to help us out by providing four buckling (right word?)  Nigerian dwarves in a month or so when they are weaned.

Any suggestions? We are about an hour and a half east of Portland, OR. We get hot dry summers and usually cold and often times snowy winters. Just like everyone else money is a factor, not the only one, but definitely one of them.





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Hi and welcome!  It's nice to have an actual training question after a long drought.

I've been raising and training Border Collies for trials (and also practical work) since the early 90s.  I'm in the 'real' northern California just south of the Oregon border and our climate is similar to yours.  Goats could be a good training choice for your pup if they are not too obstinate or aggressive.  I'm hoping they would be wethered before you get them and not left as intact billys.  I am much more familiar with using larger meat goats such as Boers for dog work, though.  I'd be mindful if the dwarves were very small and likely to get injured by a rowdy youngster.  Your family member might have better advice about that.

In general, goats tend to be less 'flocky' than sheep and some can be more likely to stand off a dog.  One remarkable aspect of Border Collie herding instinct is the dog's ability to 'read' the stock and put pressure on them such that they 'flock up' and move as a unit.  Most breeds of sheep are very likely to behave like this which is one reason many of us prefer to start a young dog on sheep and build their foundation.  It's not always possible and lots of people successfully start dogs on goats, ducks/geese, or cattle.  I think the most important elements to consider will be whether the goat s will offer a reasonable training experience for your young dog, and whether you can provide a safe space in which to train the basics with no one getting hurt.  In terms of goat husbandry, some goats can be hard on fences (with hogs that may not be much of an issue for you!) and they do tend to climb up on things.  I've found that in general, people love 'em or they can't stand 'em.  The good news is, there's usually a brisk market for goats in case you decide to bail on them :-)

I know almost nothing about using Border Collies on hogs except that the dog needs to be very brave and under good command.  Maybe someone here with more experience on swine will chime in.

There are quite a few Border Collie handlers in the PNW and many who would be very likely to help you get started.  One of the most difficult things to do is start a green pup when you yourself aren't sure what you're doing.  These dogs readily learn good and bad habits and it's best to avoid problems from the start if you can.  You might check out two organizations in the PNW - Oregon Sheep Dog Society (OSDS) at http://www.osds.org

and Washington Association of Stockdog Handlers (WASH) at http://www.wastockdoghandlers.org

There are great, helpful people in both organizations.  Open field sheep and cowdog trials have been suspended for the most part since the CoVid outbreak but look likely to start up again.  The United States Border Collie Handlers Association is the governing body for those sanctioned trials - check them out at http://www.usbcha.com

The Mountain States Stockdog Association (MSSA) was founded in 2016 and sanctions mostly cattle but some sheep trials.  http://www.mountainstatesstockdog.com

I hope this helps - please keep posting and maybe we'll get some more advice/opinions here!  Photos are always enjoyed too!

Take care and good luck,


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