Merck Manual

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Behavioral Problems of Goats


Gary M. Landsberg

, BSc, DVM, MRCVS, DACVB, DECAWBM, North Toronto Veterinary Behaviour Specialty Clinic;

Sagi Denenberg

, DVM, DACVB, Dip. ECAWBM (Behaviour), MACVSc (Behaviour), North Toronto Veterinary Behaviour Specialty Clinic

Last full review/revision May 2014 | Content last modified May 2014

Behavioral problems are not commonly reported in goats, perhaps because adult males are expected to charge people if their turf is traversed. Behavioral problems may actually be more rare (as opposed to less frequently reported) in this group, because their maintenance conditions more closely mimic those in a free-ranging situation. Domestication may have had less of an impact on the social patterns of goats than is true for other species.


Goats that abort late in pregnancy or those that have a second pregnancy subsequent to nursing can self-suckle. The latter situation may be illuminating, because the behavior did not occur when the nanny was nursing. Treatment involves behavioral and environmental enrichment, social companionship that is stable before pregnancy, and possibly some antianxiety medications.

Stereotypic Behaviors:

Stereotypic behaviors in goats are similar to those in sheep (see Stereotypic Behaviors). Goats separated from a group may develop competitive “rearing” or elevation.

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