Goats are adorable companions that easily steal our hearts. But should they steal our homes too? Because bringing a goat into the house is like signing over the deed. There’s a time and place to bring goats into our homes, and usually, it’s when they need a little extra support. Often, we bring bottle babies indoors when they’re not nursing. And sometimes, we bring hypothermic kids inside to warm them up, for example.
But the goal is to return them either to their mother or to the outdoors when they’re healthy. In other words, we get them out the door asap. And that’s not only for the good of our household but also for the well-being of the goat.
In case you need a few more reasons to keep your goat outside, consider these:
Goats Eat Things They Shouldn’t
Normally, I’d say that the goat-eating-the-tin can allegory is way off (because goats are picky eaters). But when it comes to making the decision to eat non-food items in the house, the goat seems to excel. In fact, they’ll get into a lot of trouble by eating things that are extremely bad for them.
For example, I heard about a house goat that needed surgery to remove all of the “stuff” he had eaten. This goat gobbled hair ties, small plastic toys, balloons, and everything else under the sun. Needless to say, the surgery to remove these items from the goat’s rumen was insanely expensive. Unfortunately, the goat passed away the day after the surgery.
Aside from children’s toys and, undoubtedly, your favorite possessions, goats can also get into trouble with electrical appliances. You see, goats use their mouths for everything including feeling their environment. So putting an electrical cord in their mouths is an afterthought for them.
Even if your goat doesn’t get electrocuted, it may ruin your electrical cord. It may not seem like a big deal, but what if it’s the charger for your laptop, for example?
Ask me how I know about these things!
Good question: One of our bottle babies ruined a DVD player when he danced on it while it was playing.
The kicker? He was only one day old!
So take it from me, the trouble goats get into can be adorable … as long as it’s outdoors where it’s safe for them (and our household items).
They WILL Need to Be Evicted
You know how everyone wants Easter Bunnies in the springtime? Often, those cute bunnies are abandoned once they’re older, messier, and maybe not quite as cute as they once were.
I’m not saying you’re abandoning your house goat. But remember, that cute little kid (that you can hold in your arms today) will one day become much bigger.
And when that happens, bigger messes also happen.
The solution to those bigger messes, more destruction, and a sassy teenage goat, is to put it outside. This would be fine except for the fact that this goat has learned a lot of its life skills indoors, and not in the pasture with other goats.
Furthermore, your goat has come to know you as a part of its herd, most likely considers you its mother. So reintroducing that goat to the outdoors, fencing, and other goats could be a real challenge.
Once you relocate your goat to the pasture, it will scream and scream … and scream. And it’ll become the most unbelievable escape artist in the world.
Why? Because they want to get back to mommy—which is you.
In fact, when we were still fairly new to goats, I let my youngest daughter talk me into keeping several kids in the house one spring. When they were eventually put outside, they found every tiny crack and crevice in the fence and between the gate and the fence post, and they escaped from the pasture multiple times a day. If they couldn’t find us, they went straight for our 3-year-old apple trees and started nibbling on the bark. They wound up killing 6 or our 7 apple trees!
In other words, when goats aren’t raised in their natural environment, with a herd of goats, they develop bad manners, and maybe even social issues amongst their herd mates.
Goats in The House May Have Health Problems
Keeping goats in the house can lead to health problems for the goat. You see, goats are ruminants, and they need to eat nearly all day long. They walk around, eat until their rumens are full, then they go lay down. While they relax in the sun, they burp up their cud and chew everything a second time. Finally, they send their cud back down to their second stomach.
If goats aren’t able to go through this rather complicated process of digestion, they can develop health issues, go off feed, bloat when they do eat, or encounter a myriad of other digestive issues that may even lead to death.
In other words, their digestive system has a very specific, and delicate, process that must be adhered to for the goat to be happy and healthy.
So chew on this for a minute: Where, in your house, do you plan to put a hay feeder to meet these digestive demands?
Oh, and don’t forget the loose minerals they also need to have available free choice.
Goats Love to Play
Goats are known for their athletic antics, and just because they’re house goats, it doesn’t mean they won’t have the urge to kick up their hooves and expend some energy — like the one-day-old kid that ran across our living room, jumped on the couch, then on the sofa table, then on top of the DVD player, which was playing … and never worked properly again.
Moving, in general, is a part of being a goat. Remember, they walk all day, except when they lay down to chew their cud. I once refused to sell goats to a woman who planned to keep them in a dog crate on her back porch.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen city goats kept in small backyards that wind up obese from lack of exercise. Not to mention the fact that they’re overfed because they’re bored, start screaming, and are given more feed than they need (in hopes of keeping them quiet).
Housetraining Goats Isn’t What You Think
I won’t say that housetraining a goat is totally impossible, because I’ve witnessed my daughter successfully teach a goat to pee on a towel many times.
Pooping, on the other hand, I’m not so sure about. I’ve never heard of anyone teaching a goat to poop somewhere specific. Goats tend to just let the berries fly whenever the urge hits, and I can only imagine how difficult it would be to get that under control.
On the other hand, you can put a diaper on a goat for a short time to do a pet therapy visit, for example.
However, diapers could cause some serious skin issues if left on for extended periods of time.
For example, we had a paralyzed llama that could not stand, so pee and poop wound wind up all over her back end, which caused a rash and ultimately the skin started to break down. (Normally llamas squat to pee so their skin gets zero urine exposure.)
So, it stands to reason that, eventually, any animal wearing a diaper for any longer than an hour or two would have some issues if their skin had wet pee and poop pressed against it. And I’ll be honest, the idea of putting a diaper on a goat long-term sounds cruel to me.
So while there are reasons to bring a goat into your home, it’s just not fair to the goat, or you, to keep it inside long-term. In fact, you’ll probably find that you enjoy your goat much more outdoors than you do in your kitchen, for example. In the end, everyone is happier and healthier living in their respective environments.
13 thoughts on “Should You Keep Pet Goats in The House?”
Have you been living in my home? We had bottle babies not by choice living in a dog crate in our kitchen. I finally decided enough is enough and now they are living in a nursery outside. Two of the doelings taught themselves to pee in the towels. The other two peed and pooped everywhere. All I did was feed babies and wash towels. One of the girls wants to be a lap goat. She is most content in my arms chilling. They definitely think I’m their momma. I completely agree they need to live outside but boy are they adorable.
Great article. Wish I’d taken the time to learn more before accepting a goat. Unfortunately have a situation now with an only house goat at one year old. She was given to us as a rescue and is completely attached to us. Our living situation put us on the road traveling for work and landed us in a cabin up north that allowed for house goating. Very minimalistic living. Now we have to move, and need to get her accustomed to being outside and eventually socialized with other goats. We love her very much and will do anything it takes within out abilities to make this right. Any suggestions? We were thinking about camping with her in the yard and then taking her to visit a small goat farm for meeting other goats through a fence. Would it be better to try and get a few babies and raise them with her (OUTSIDE this time)? We know this was a mistake for her and for us and feel really awful for it. Trying to make it right.
All of your ideas for helping her to adjust to goat life sounds good. There’s really no telling how she’ll react to other goats. They can be pretty mean to each other when they first meet because they have to establish a pecking order. It might be easier for her if you bring in some kids that are at least 2-3 months old that are the same breed (or same adult size) and have the same horn status (all should horns or not have horns so the playing ground is level). Either way you do it, be aware that there will probably be some head butting, and they will have to work that out themselves.
If I got a goat planning on keeping him in the house and not planning on having to socialize him with other goats, would it be okay for him to be a house pet? What if I gave him outside time and inside time? Would it harm the goat to keep him outside when I’m not home and inside when I am?
I’m wondering if you read the article and saw the photos of the things that were pulled out of the goat’s stomach. No, it is NOT okay to keep a goat as a house pet. It’s cruel and won’t end well for him or you. And he’ll destroy your house.
OK… Some things I agree with in this article, most I do not. So I am going to have to post some counter points, and it may be a bit long. You see we have a house goat. His name is Ash, and he is a Nigerian Dwarf, who is now about 16 weeks old.
First, all these thing CAN be true IF you are not dedicated to your animal, IF you don’t have the time and patients, IF the daily routine becomes old, or IF you just give up in frustration.
IF you keep up with things, a goat can be a great house pet, that is not to say it is easy, and it is not for everyone. A goat is like a cross between a puppy and a 3 year old child. Hyper and will get into things, they have to be watched, and trained.
Our household consists of myself, my wife, 3 boys, a Golden Retriever, a Husky, a Rabbit (indoor), a Chinchilla, and Ash the goat. We live fairly ruaral with about 5 acres, 2 of which is yard.
A goat would not do well in the city, they need room. At least suburban kind of room. It is better if you have bushes and grasses bordering your property that they can graze on.
A lot of people say 2 goats are an absolute must. It is not if you are dedicated, your family becomes the flock. They will look at you as the parent and flock leaders, especially if they are young and being bottle fed. Bottle feeding creates a real bond. We all take turns bottle feeding Ash to help with that bond. He could be weaned at this point, but we still give him a morning bottle, and probably will for a while yet.
Goats are picky eaters, but will eat things that are bad for them. In the case above, I don’t blame the goat, I blame the owner for not picking things up, and keeping things within reach of the goat. You need to make sure that hair ties, baloons, anything like that is out of reach. Just as you would if you had a todler in the house. Not doing that verges on negligence. Just pick up! Keep things out of reach, and keep an eye on the goat. They can then be trained to stay out of things. My kids leave things all over, and I have to remind them all the time to pick up so that Ash does not eat it and get sick or die. They are getting better at it.
I have a home based business, and my wife is a stay at home mom, so someone is here most of the time. That helps a lot. We don’t have much of a social life, so we have time to dedicate to family and animals. If you want a busy social life and be out every night, and have a goat, forget it. They will need constant attention, especcially when young.
Potty training? Yes, for the most part it is possible. We are still working on it, but are 80% there.
He is nearly 100% for urination. One of us will walk outside with him and he will urinate and deficate on command. We have not had a urination accident in the house in weeks. Defication is a little more dificult, but we are getting there.
At night Ash sleeps in a dog kennel in our bedroom. I take him outside for one last bathroom trip about 11PM. Unfortinatly he cannot seem to hold his poo until I get up around 5:30AM or so, and he has usually gone already. He has a dog bed in the kennel, and we put a clean towel down over it each night. So we just pull the towel out, take it outside and shake it out, and put it in the dirty laundry. Any berries left over just get sucked up with a dustbuster. The bed gets washed once a week.
The issue is getting him outside in the morning. He tries, he runs for the door, but sometimes he lets loose before he gets there. No big deal, a broom and a dustpan make quick work of it. Goat poop does not smell! As long as it cleaned up right away, and not left to pile up, there is no odor, and is a whole lot easier to clean than dog poo.
Play is a must. We set up chairs in kitchen for him to jump on and across. They are wooden kitchen chairs, we are simple people, so we don’t care that everything is perfect in our house. It gives him a play area inside, and is easily moved. He also like to run and jump off the couch, and run around the kitchen island with the boys.
For training, we are using a dog training collar. We tried the watter spray bottle, but that lost it’s effect soon. If we catch him in the act of being realy bad, he gets a little shock. For just corrersion to listen to commands the collar has a vibrate mode which works. Positive reinforcement is the best, but sometimes limits have to be set.
He no longer jumps on the table, kitchen sink, or island. He responds quickly to the “NO” command. Comes on command, and listens most of the time.
He is outside for most afternoons to graze and wander the yard, but tries to sneak back in if someone goes out, or comes inside. He will stay in our yard for the most part, only having wandered to the neigbors a couple of times. I have seen him begin to wander that way, and he came back immediatly when called.
Feeding is a non issue as well. A cup of grains in the morning. A cooler that is filled with hay that sits next to the dogs food bowls, it always has hay in it. A small dish with minerals. He also gets hay pellets, plus what he grazes on outside.
Evenings he will sit with us on the couch, cuddle up to one of us, and chew his cud (which can kind of stink). He loves the attention, and loves to be petted and picked up. He is about 30lbs. now, but the boys carry him around, and he loves it.
IF YOU DO YOUR PART having a goat as a house pet is totally worth the work and time. The love they give and the inteligence behind there eyes is on par or even more than a dog. It is a lot of work and dedication, a lot of “ASH, NO!”, but the rewards are all worth it. I can’t imagine the house without him in it now. We have become his flock, and he has become a part of the family.
If you have the time, space, and dedication, it is well worth it. If you tend to give up on things easily, or tire of routine, or can’t be with your goat most of the time at least when young, DON’T DO IT!
In 20 years, I have never known anyone to keep a goat in the house long term. It always winds up problematic. Just because nothing bad has happened in a couple of months doesn’t mean that this is a good idea. Having a solid dog collar on a goat like that could wind up as a hanging or choking hazard. I only use breakaway collars on my goats, and I DO find them hanging on gates or fences and in trees when they did their job and broke when the collar got stuck on something. Also, running on that slippery floor could result in a torn ligament. I can’t possibly list all of the potential problems, but things will get more challenging for you as time goes on.
I will check back with you in a year or so then. Let you know how it all worked out.
Happy new year from my family and Ash! All is still going well with our “House Goat”.
Can I bring my 2 goats inside during the night when the storm hits ..20 below wind chill they have proper warm shelter.. but I’m afraid the wind chill will be to cold for them..
Since your goats should NOT be in the wind, the wind chill is irrelevant. Goats have a thick coat of cashmere, so they can handle temperatures down to about -20 — that’s the temperature that my goats have survived, not the wind chill, which was probably 20 degrees colder, but my goats are in the barn, so they are not exposed to the wind. Here is an article about goats in winter —
Bringing goats into a toasty house that’s 70 degrees from a place of sub-zero and then putting them back out into the cold when it gets to 0 or so is a big shock to their system and will do more to stress them than leaving them in the barn. If the TEMPERATURE gets much below -20 F, you could do something to raise the temperature up to a balmy -10 F or so, such as putting them in a garage that is attached to your house, which will probably be about 10 degrees warmer because it’s attached to your house. Giving them a little hut to cuddle up in can also be helpful, such as a plastic dog crate that has had the door removed (so they don’t get trapped inside accidentally). But don’t leave it in there long term because they will poop and pee in it and jump on it and break it.
What is your experience in reintroducing little goat back outside. We had one that we got back up to proper body temp and is feeding from the bottle like a champ.
I tried to put her outside today with mom and 2 siblings but she got thrown around too much and finally came running out to me.
So …. She is back in my shower.
How do I successfully get her outside. She is 9 days old and has been inside for 7 days today.
For that reason, I try not to keep them inside any longer than absolutely necessary. We had the same experience as you multiple times before we learned that lesson. I really hate to have only one bottle baby for this reason. Once you are in the situation, you need to think of the most mellow goat you have and pen the kid with that goat, which should be a doe or a wether. Maybe you have another doe with a kid or two or three? The kid won’t be happy because it thinks you’re mom, and it wants to live with you, so it will cry when you leave it, but at this point, you just need to find a companion for the kid that won’t beat it up. The longer you keep it in the house, the harder this will get.