Researchers recently asserted that goats can bond to humans as closely and as lovingly as dogs.
And, why not? They’ve been domesticated for over 10,000 years (goats were one of the earliest species to be domesticated). In all that time, goats have probably learned a thing or two about humans.
One of the things goats have a handle on is to look imploringly at their owners they want something. Dogs do this too, you may have noticed.
Dr. Christian Nawroth, one of the Queen Mary University of London scientists conducting the research, said, “Goats gaze at humans in the same way as dogs do when asking for a treat that is out of reach.”
Wolves do not have the same gaze because they don’t live with humans (also maybe treats are never out of reach for them).
The researchers were also able to teach goats how to open sealed boxes using levers. This is the same task given to apes to measure their intelligence. Even several years later, the goats can still perform the assignment without prompts.
For centuries, goats have been thought to have the intelligence of sheep–not a compliment. But Dr. Alan McElligott of Queen Mary’s Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology and co-author of the study says this assertion isn’t true. “You can’t work with a sheep on its own.”
Apparently, sheep need the comfort of a flock. Goats are happy to be on their own or with their human buddy.
The study with the goats was conducted at Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Kent, England, and the stated aim was to improve the goats’ welfare. Back to Dr. McElligott: “If we can show that they are more intelligent, then hopefully we can bring in better guidelines for their care.”
The doctors also said that the surface of goat behavior has barely been scratched, whereas dog behavior has been intensively researched. So, stay tuned; more goat reports are expected.