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How Do Goats Show Affection to Each Other and Humans? (7 Signs To Look For)

Boy playing with goat on the farm

Goats may not be pets as common as dogs or cats, but they’re actually very social animals and can show quite a lot of affection. Research also shows that they can communicate with humans just as well as dogs can.

If you’re unsure of whether your goat is showing you affection or not, you can observe your goat and look for any behaviors that they use as signs of affection. If your goat shows several of these behavioral signs, there’s a good chance that your goat is letting you know that it likes you.

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Possible Signs of Affection From Your Goat

There are seven common behaviors that goats display to communicate affection to other goats and people. We’ll go through each one in detail so you can know if these behaviors come from a place of affection.

1. Maintaining Eye Contact

If you catch your goat staring at you and making eye contact, it may be because they’re showing you a sign of affection.

Researchers call this behavior “human-directed visual orienting behavior,” which is a fancy way of saying that some animals will stare at you when they need your help. Dogs also display this behavior with their humans.

You might think that asking for help is just another way for goats to get what they want from you, such as food or treats. However, this type of behavior can actually indicate that your goat sees you as someone they can depend on and trust.

pregnant goat on grass
Image Credit: Ross Gordon Henry, Shutterstock

2. Not Afraid to Approach You

In the food chain, goats land as prey animals. Therefore, they have a strong instinct to run away or remain hidden from things that make them feel threatened. They have a knack for discerning what’s safe for them because they need this skill and instinct to survive.

If a goat trusts you, it’ll walk up to you confidently. Also, if a goat doesn’t mind being close to you, there’s a good chance that it believes that you’re safe and nonthreatening.

Therefore, the next time you’re with your goat, wait and see if it approaches you first. If your goat walks up to you to greet you, it’s a sign that it feels confident and secure around you.


3. Following You Around

Goats are herd animals and tend to follow each other around in groups. They’re also very social, so they enjoy being in the company of others.

Some goat breeds have a dominant female and dominant male, and the rest of the herd will follow these dominant goats.

A goat may mimic this behavior with you. Therefore, if a goat consistently follows you around, it may view you as a member of the herd.


4. Wanting To Play With You

Goats tend to be curious and playful. Younger goats, in particular, enjoy playing games with each other, such as engaging in a game of chase.

If a goat keeps wanting to play with you, it may believe that you’re fun. It wants to spend more time with you and keep you company.

woman taking picture with goats
Image Credit: Piqsels

5. Bleating When It Sees You

Goats use bleating and crying to communicate with each other. Research has shown that goats can express their feelings with different kinds of sounds.

If your goat consistently bleats when it sees you, it could be that it’s expressing that it likes you. However, goats also bleat when in distress. Therefore, make sure to look for other behaviors and signs that can help you determine the cause of the bleating.

If your goat bleats and shows any of the other behaviors in this list, it’s a good sign that the bleating is another sign of affection. Make sure to look for other factors that may cause bleating, such as hunger, thirst, and health conditions.


6. Asking To Be Pet

Most goats enjoy receiving pets. They particularly like pets on their heads, underarms, and chest. If you pet your goat, and it doesn’t run away from you, then you can take it as a sign that your goat likes you.

Some goats enjoy pets so much that they might take things a step further and demand pets from you. They’ll usually rub against you, similar to how cats weave around humans. They might also make eye contact with you and hope that you’ll take the hint and give them a couple of pets and scratches.


7. Trying To Groom You

Goats can start to groom themselves and each other when they begin to feel relaxed. If a goat tries to groom you by licking you, it can indicate that they’re feeling calm and comfortable around you.new goat divider

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know that goats can display signs of affection, here’s some additional information on the bonds that goats can form with their humans.

Do Goats Get Attached to Humans?

Yes, goats can form bonds and get attached to their owners. There’s evidence that proves that goats can be as smart and loving as dogs. In fact, goats may share the oldest bond with humans because they may have been one of the first animals that humans domesticated thousands of years ago.

Many smaller goat breeds, such as the pygmy goat, can even learn to become housebroken. It’s not the best idea to keep goats in the house when you’re away. However, they can enjoy staying indoors with their owners when their owners are at home.

How Do You Bond With Goats?

One of the best ways to bond with a goat is to start young. Bottle-feeding a kid leads to a higher chance of success in strengthening a bond with a goat.

You can also teach your goat to trust you by training it to come to you during mealtimes. Whenever it’s mealtime, make it very obvious with noticeable noises and exaggerated movements. These actions will help capture your goat’s attention.

The goal is for your goat to associate you with food. So, aside from meals, you can also occasionally give your goats a special treat that you know they like.

Although goats generally like getting pets, it’s important to pet them in ways that they enjoy. If you pet goats without much of a second thought, you might end up petting them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. So, instead of strengthening your bond, some petting can create distance between you and your goat.

Unlike dogs, goats don’t typically like pats on their back. They prefer getting scratches on their head and underarms. You can even pair a few pets with a treat so that your goat builds positive associations with petting.new goat divider

Wrapping Up

In general, goats are very social and eventually learn to enjoy the company of their humans. Since they can’t have verbal conversations with people, they’ll show signs of affection in other ways.

So, the next time you’re with your goat, take some time to be a little more observant with their behaviors. You might discover that your goat has been telling you all along that it likes you and enjoys spending time with you.


Featured Image Credit: Chubykin Arkady, Shutterstock

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