Goats Act A Lot More Like Dogs Than We Thought

Goats are friends, not food

Goat

Goat

This is a goat.Holly Steinkraus/University of Wyoming

Look at this goat.

Don't you want to play fetch with this goat? A new study finds that maybe, just maybe, this goat wants to be your friend.

Even though goats were one of the first domesticated animals, we don't often treat them as companions, the way we treat dogs. But scientists at Queen Mary University of London observed goats performing specific doggy behaviors. The Guardian reports:

A study published in the journal Biological Letters gave goats a task that involved taking the lid off a box to receive a reward. When they set the task difficulty to “impossible”, the researchers’ goats gazed imploringly at nearby humans, in the same way that dogs do.

If you've ever had a dog, you know they rely on you for a lot. They wait at the door and stare at you when they need to go out, or look up at you if they want a treat. Horses look at humans to help them with impossible tasks too, according to one study. Cats don't do it as much according to another study. But what about the animals we breed for food?

"To date, no research on animals that have been domesticated for food and related products, rather than companionship, has been conducted" to see whether this looking behavior was unique to companion animals, or indicated a pattern across all domesticated animals, until this goat study came along.

The researchers started the study with 34 goats who'd been treated nicely by the staff at a goat sanctuary, but the goats' "history of positive long-term interactions with humans" could have influenced the goats' behavior, they write. "It would be intriguing to test both hypotheses by comparing the behaviour of tame non-domesticated goats with domestic ones."

Here's a video of the goats in action:

And if you're still in the mood to eat goat, here's more cute ones to change your mind.