Can a Goat Be Housebroken?

By Jane Meggitt

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

While goats can make great pets, keeping them in the house isn't a good idea. For many pets, housebreaking refers primarily to teaching the animal to urinate and defecate outside. Although it might be possible to teach some goats to do this, with caprines it can also refer to breaking all sorts of things inside your home. Goats love to climb, and their little hooves can do a lot of damage. Then there's the horns....

Housebreaking

Keeping goats in the house isn't practical and probably not advisable, but it can be done if you're determined. As Goat World points out, much depends upon the owner's lifestyle. As ruminants, goats urinate and defecate more frequently than most conventional pets. According to Goat World, if someone worked consistently one on one with a goat, he might be able to train it to eliminate in a specific area rather than all over the place. Great Britain's Pygmy Goat Club is unequivocal: "Pygmy goats should not be kept as house pets."

Considerations

If you do want to keep a goat in the house, make sure it is dehorned. This must be done while the goat is still a kid. Male goats must be neutered, turning them into wethers. Unless you intend to breed goats, neuter the males whether you keep your pet inside or out. The billy goat's reputation for stinking is well-deserved. Intact male goats also become aggressive. Your best bet for a goat pet is a doe -- a female -- or a wether.

Feeding

In addition to pelleted goat chow, goats require good quality timothy or grass hay. Feeding hay in the house guarantees a mess. Since your goat needs an outside enclosed area for exercise, you could feed him hay in the enclosure to keep it out of the house. If your goat's small enough and your yard is set up for it, you could install an appropriately sized doggie door, allowing your pet access to the outdoors and his food. Fencing for goats must be tall enough so they can't climb out, with wire mesh so predators such as stray dogs can't attack them.

Training

Goats are smart and very curious. While housebreaking can take a long time and a lot of effort, teaching them to walk on a leash and perform basic tricks should be relatively easy.

Compromise

Rather than keep a goat inside most of the time, you might want to allow your pet inside when the weather is very cold or hot outdoors, so your goat can take advantage of heating and air-conditioning. You'll have to carefully goat-proof the area in which the goat stays, as they are active creatures for whom mischief is second nature.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.