Livestock Guardian Dog List Excerpts

Drasche in the show ring

Someone told me "NEVER BEAT YOUR LGD". How should I correct my LGD?

LGDs will remember harsh and abusive treatment forever. Working with an LGD takes mind over matter and often relies on keeping a cool head. Alpha dogs in the pack do not need to be brutal to punish underlings. Try using Alpha rolls, spitting or using lemon juice in their mouths, picking them up with feet upwards, time-outs to a shed or garage. Use Alpha techniques to make your dog respect you. Never let them sleep on your bed or barge through a door in front of you. Make them wait for your command. You might even eat in front of them, then feed them. Some obediance training is good even for the working dog.

How do I train my new puppy (or new older dog) to be a livestock guardian?

A 9 week old LGD should be placed with a couple of stock animals in a no-climb fenced area of their own only if you have a couple of goats who are very gentle and will not frighten or injure your puppy.

You may want to borrow a couple of animals to begin your introduction process from a friend or neighbor who may be willing to have you help them hand feed a bottle baby or two if you don't have appropriate adult goats. This would help the other producer out, and when your puppy is old enough to hold his own with larger stock, you can return the borrowed animals.

As you go along, when your pup begins to play or is too rough with the young baby stock, then get something tougher. Play this one by ear, because every dog's progress and abilities are different and each stock animal's temperament will be different as well. Put stock in with the pup just a "hair" tougher than he is. This is a subjective item, so watch carefully and make adjustments before things get out of hand. It will save you oodles of time later on if you are really observant and proactive now.

If your older goats are tolerant of your pup, you can take him out on a leash to walk among them each day and do your fence-line walks. Begin to test this by taking the pup in your arms to walk among the stock. Observe your goats reactions, and make
a qualified decision before you subject the pup to the goats. You may want to take special treats out for you goats so that you can establish a "pattern" of treats associated with the puppy in the minds of your stock so that this pup will always mean something pleasant to them. If you have to, put the pup in a front pack type of carrier while you feed your goats until he is just too big to haul around. This will obviously happen very fast, but it may begin to get you all going in the right direction.

After everyone is comfortable, and you know the puppy will not be threatened, take him out on feeding and stock work chores each day on a leash attached to your belt. If for some reason you can't put the pup in with a couple of your animals, and you can not procure a couple gentler animals from someone else, then put a puppy pen in where your pup can have nose- to-nose contact through fencing with the flock, but they can't get to him until he is big enough and confident enough to contend with the stock (this may take 6 or 8 months or more -- depending on the stock).

You will have to start the new pup with the livestock close enough to the house that you can supervise it and be available to stop undesireable behavior as soon as it starts. Once the pup no longer exhibits chase behavior, is large enough to be visually intimidating to coyotes and has learned to ALWAYS stay inside the fence, you are ready to move it to the new area. This can take up to 18 months.

Even if you can purchase an adult Livestock Guardian Dog, it will take several months to accustom it to the livestock and close supervision to be certain it will stay inside the fences. A fully-trained LGD is worth its weight in gold, and is almost NEVER available for purchase. If a dog works well, it's owner isn't going to want to sell it. So available adults include dogs that have already failed as livestock guardians, or rescued dogs that were formerly family pets but are now unwanted by their owners. Some of them make very good working dogs, but it takes a lot of work.

- Sandy Kempe

How do I train my new puppy to be a poultry guardian?

I was wondering if any of you have a LGD in with poultry and other animals.
My pup (10 months) started out carrying a rooster around the pasture. He did not injure it but needless to say, the rooster was not happy. When I saw this happening I would take the rooster away from him and tell him NO. Now I have seen him trying to pick up the ducks and then about two days ago he was "playing" with a dead pigeon (I assume he killed it but I am not sure). I am at a loss as to how to break this behavior and was wondering if any of you have any suggestions.

I use a pair of ASDs with my poultry flock. Sometimes a pup will pick up a bird - I not only take the bird away, but make a really BIG deal about it, yelling, showing the bird to the dog while repeating "Leave it!" (they already know that 'leave it' can mean a roll and scruff shake if ignored), and generally trying to convince the dog that his or her little world will come to an end if they do any unauthorized bird handling. However, I praise them if they break up two birds fighting - and encourage them to catch ALL the squirrels they want. Sahbaz will separate combative birds by charging in barking, swatting them with her front feet, then taking a tail or wingtip to drag one away if the message is not received. Gezme will do the charge and swat thing, or will pick up smaller birds, carry them a little ways, then set them down. Otherwise, birds are not messed with, although they may run around, fly around, lay eggs in doghouses, chase dogs (mother hens) or otherwise get underfoot. Current flock is 125 birds, of which about 100 are free range.


Slow but sure...Chicken Introduction to Adult Dogs

Well folks, I finally did it. We now have 3 young pullets (about 2 months old). I have been introducing them to two adult ASDs who have never experienced birds before (except the sparrows that they catch ...and sometimes eat!) So this has been quite an experience.

At first we had them in a 3' x 3' rabbit cage. We started by putting it about 2' outside the fence of a yard the dogs are in and showing the dogs the birds right off and telling them how they are our new friends. The first reaction was a lot of drool "oooh you brought us tasty treats! Thanks!" Both were downed beforehand and needed lots of reminders to stay that way. Drache snapped at them twice and was popped on the nose for his troubles. Over the next few days, every once in awhile, the dogs would run and pounce at the birds and get scolded. Every morning and evening I take them out of their cage and let the dogs sniff them while I make a fuss over them. The dogs were also taken on a leash to sniff the cage every so often. After about 4 days the dogs calmed down a lot. A few days later I even moved the cage so it butted up against the fence. In a few days we could even feed Drache in the yard where the chickens were and he left them alone (in their cage). He was in the yard with them a number of times with no problems. But one night he was caught digging at the cage (a little over a week into it). The chickens were all freaked. He was in big trouble. Gerry tossed him in the yard with major verbal correction! I gave him the "don't let me catch you doing that again" lecture and spit in his mouth. It seemed to sink in quite well. Drache was eating their leftover scratch the other day and gently sniffing the cage. No drool. I don't know what happened that one night. But while Drache is stubborn, Kirsche is sneaky, and she is the one I am more worried about. I pushed the cage right up against their fence so they can even touch it (the fence is vertical wrought iron) after about 1 1/2 weeks. After about 3 weeks we put the cage in their yard. We had to exchange one hen because it started crowing :-) We got a little Rhode Island Red a bit younger than the rest and it had to go in another cage for awhile (or they would peck it.)

Anyway we are making progress, slow but sure. Eventually we are hoping we can even let them out together. But I am sure it will take quite awhile. I am not sure we won't have casualties, but I am hoping that with close supervision they will eventually decide the chickens are part of their flock.

They are now moved into a larger coup down in the lower yard. The dogs and they spent this weekend and today together with no problems. Even last night I accidentally let one out and the dogs didn't even chase it! What a relief.

I am already seeing many of what I think of as flock acceptance behaviors, the dropped head and ears, the soft walk, blatantly ignoring/looking away from them, and placing themselves in downed "dog statue" guarding positions where they can see the birds, and they are no longer focusing on the birds, but looking outward for threats. I think there is hope, but the next ASD I own will be started with fowl as a pup!

Thanks to all for so much information about livestock introduction. I think we actually have a decent chance at succeding due to all your wonderful suggestions. An especial thanks to Jennifer Floyd, Janice Frasche, and Jenny Ryan (Ratites, etc.) who gave me a lot of great suggestions, but better yet, living proof that ASDs can be good fowl guardians.

And now I can add chickens to my signature file... Camilla - a white leghorn Jon calls "White One", a light red one (odd breed that I can't remember) we call "Lucy" and her little friend "Red" the Rhode Island Red.

Julie Adams

I don't want a vicious dog, but still want my LGD to be protective. What should I do when strangers come over?

My question is, after you acknowledge a stranger and tell the dog
it is allright, how can you get her to stop barking without
giving them the impression that guarding is not good.

There are two issues here: one is announcing strangers (step one in the guarding process); the other is acknowledging you as Alpha.

In my guardian pairs, the mentor or alpha dog always decides WHAT to bark at, and WHEN to bark. The other dog(s) get knocked to the ground if they usurp the Alpha's rights. Rather than resent this, they learn quickly and respect the Alpha's rights.

Once the stranger has been announced, and you tell her "thank you" (mild praise for the announcement), and introductions have taken place, your next command to your dog is "enough!" This is the time for her to acknowlege your role as Alpha - which she won't of course, since you haven't established that. If she continues to rumble and bark, force her into a quick sit - right hand on collar, pulling up, left hand behind stifles (the bend of the hind legs) pressing inward. Quickly straddle her with one hand on her collar at her throat, the other holding her muzzle with mouth closed. Growl "Enoooouuuughh!" at her. Hold her securely if she struggles - and she will - with your legs and hands. If you feel her getting the better of you, move your hand from her throat to her chest and raise her up so her front legs are off the ground, but her body is still supported by yours. Do not release her until she calms down and stops rumbling. One owner reported the first such struggle took a half hour! But subsequent ones were much shorter, eventually became token resistance then stopped completely.

The major mistake most owners make is to continue to "reassure" and praise the dog when it is barking or growling. The reason I use "thank you" as my mild praise is that it's specific to that situation - announcing visitors - and does not constitute approval of further behavior. When the dog pays attention to the "enough!" command, no praise follows - the "enough!" is a bark of correction on your part.

Good luck.

- Catherine de la Cruz

I heard a 'dangle stick' will keep my young dog from chasing and playing with the stock.

A dangle stick is a stick(metal/wood) that is suspended from the coller of the dog. When the dog moves, the stick interfers with his front feet. A dangle stick is generally used as a training tool for puppies and young adults. It is NOT a method of choice as the young dogs bones are still growing and forming and the use of a devise that hinders movement as well as constantly assults growing bones. This can result in long term damage to the front end structure of the dog. Puppies and young adults play. It is a stage that they go through. More supervision is needed during these periods of the puppies working life. If more constant supervision is not available, then the puppy/young dog should be moved to a pen ajacent to the livestock so it cannot directly play/hurt the animals and only be put in with the stock when the shepherd is there to supervise and correct the pup.

Rosemarie Szostak

Every young dog MUST be expected to play, to burn off excess energy, to exercise those muscles and developing bodies in order to grow true and strong as they work on becoming the great/poweful protectors all are meant to be.

Early morning with a burst of enthusiastic energy for a new day on a good night's sleep . . . we can ALWAYS expect the propensity for play and/or chase behavior. Feed the dog first, and then do your stock chores. If she hasn't settled after eating, take her out, let her stretch her legs, play with her yourself (hard) or take your fence-line walks on leash and then do your stock chores. Every young dog must play, so be a part of that play time instead of the stock. You can teach her to play '"easy" (soft mouth, feet on the ground, no jumping, etc.) while you are at it. Take the time to squelch this normal activity into something productive.

Early evening is also "the" other key play chase time. Most owners can almost clock these occurrences. Again, feed the dog first, and take her out from where she might want to play/chase with stock. She will grow up and out of these play/chase times just like every other great working LGD has grown out of it with their owner's understanding, diversionary tactics and productive observation.

- Sandy Kempe

How do I keep my dog from chewing on my lamb/table/hoses/etc.?

Remember that puppies do go through a teething period until almost a year old. Provide safe chew toys for pup or young dog. One thing that helps you find out what is going on is to use a baby monitor. Its best to start controling the interactions between dog and stock to let the dog know it's behavior is not ok. Use alpha rolls and scorn to correct the dog when you catch him chewing and then stuff the chew toy in its mouth. When it chews the toy, praise him. Bitter apple, Wonderdust, or Ben Gay Original Formula ointment smeared on the object or lambs ears and hocks every few days will go a long way after you feel you can leave them alone for periods of time.

Kara, at three months, chewed on one of the lambs' ears yesterday. When I fed in
the morning before work I thought that I had seen some slight evidence, so I
went out over the lunch hour and purchased some bitter apple (and yet
another chew toy).

David Coplen

What you can do to help yourself and your puppy right now is to limit her access to the smaller lambs, and only put her in with a little tougher and livelier adult animal. She needs to learn a lesson or two. One of the previous discussions on this list was not putting anything under 20 pounds with a puppy. I had to agree with that statement, as the smaller animals do tend to be become play objects more than larger stock.

Also there was some discussion about the original Ben Gay mixed in with Vaseline being applied to ears, hocks and tails to prevent mouthing and teething. Another item that works very well is Wonder Dust. It tastes terrible and you can buy it at feed stores. It is a stock product that is used on docked tails, etc.

You are very lucky that Kara is so sensitive and responds so well to verbal correction. This weekend, put in the lamb that she was chewing on to set her up. Put her in a small enough area that you can move in and make a very swift and firm correction. If yelling at her "NO, leave it!" stops her in her tracks, that is all that you may have to do several times for her to get the picture. If that does not work, take her by the scruff of the neck and put her on the ground along with the verbal correction. Most pups are so shocked by this correction, they really aren't too anxious to do again what caused them to get into trouble.

If you go through this type of setting up of Kara several times Friday, Saturday and Sunday in order to establish in her mind why she is being corrected. If she will be safe with the larger stock, you may want to try her again in with the tougher animals on Sunday with lots of observation before you go back to work on Monday.

She promptly shrank herself down and oozed through one of the
6" by 6" squares on the stock panel. "See Dad! I'm with my sheep

Just like you wanted me to be."

These dogs really do want to be among their stock with a passion don't they? That's a very good sign Kara has become quite bonded. I think it was Catherine de la Cruz who talked about "shape shifters" awhile ago. It was a very funny thread with everyone relaying the unbelievably small holes through which their pups had magically squeezed their bodies. So, this is also a very common occurrence in the young LGD.

As far as I can tell, this behavior is to be expected but not tolerated.
Any advice is welcome.

You are exactly right. Every young pup must be expected to make mistakes. Each new owner seems to go through one form or another of play/chase activity. It's all a part of growing up and learning. If you think about it, if your girl was a house pet, you would be constantly correcting her while you lived with her for trying to teeth on the couch, a rug, the leg of a chair, your hands, your clothing, etc. Because she is with stock, the object of her normal teething and testing will naturally tend to gravitate to her buddies. Kara just needs some guidance.

Hang in there, your efforts now will pay off handsomely.

Sandy Kempe

My LGD doesn't want to stay with the stock. What should I do?

The dog may or may not yet be bonded to the stock. If it is a puppy or young adult, this lack of interest can occur and it should not cause undue alarm. In this case, it is important that the puppy/teenager cannot leave the pen or pasture. At some point during its teenage years, it should begin to identify with the pasture and show willingness to keep predators away from his territory. With time it will begin to identify with the stock. Guarding/protecting instinct requires time. The amount of time can be breed specific. If the puppy has not bonded to the livestock and has reached two to three years of age, the dog is not suitable as a working animal.

Rosemarie Szostak

Do NOT bring a pup or new dog in the house with you. You may interrupt the bonding process with the livestock. Bonding with you and your family can happen, but the bonding with livestock should happen first. Letting your dog play with your children or other dogs may disrupt the bonding process.

My new 12 month old LGD barks constantly, what should I do?
There are several training methods to stop control barking that might work. All involve you being there in person so that the habit of barking does not get ingrained. Barking constantly is fairly typical in some breeds as part of their guarding instinct, especially during their "teenage" period. The key is too teach them what is acceptable barking and what is not. With all these it is important for you to check out what they are barking at beforehand if you want them to still warn you of real threats.

Listen to their barks to see if they have different barks for different things. My dogs have "tattling" barks which indicate that something is out of place. I have heard them use it for anything from an escaped dog to a loose horse to a child who is out of their yard (which the dogs think of as their "pen"). They have a "hey you!" bark for friends and greetings. There is a "back off, guardian dog at work here" bark, as well as a "don't come near this fence or you are dead meat" bark. My dogs don't do the neurotic lonely bark (which is often repeated in a regular fashion, and slightly high pitched, but that is the MOST irritating bark I have heard neighbor's dogs do. Again, different barks might need different responses on your part. All barks are not created equal.

Even if there is something unusual, I let my dogs know verbally if they have barked long enough. I used Alpha rolls and scorn when they ignored me at first. But it only took a few times and they started listening to me. When they had learned "enough!", and started listening to me, they learned which things were barkable and which were not, and how long is appropriate.

Here are some possible solutions. Remember that each dog is different. Using a harsh punishment on a sensitive dog is not good for the dog and I would never suggest violence. I always try verbally commanding first.

1) Put some coins in a can and tape them in. If the dog ignors your verbal command, throw the can at the ground _next_to_ (not _at_) the dog. They aren't supposed to like the sharp metalic sounds.

2) Water: Use a squirt bottle with water and squirt the dog in the face if it ignors your verbal command, a supersquirter watergun for distance, a hose, a sprinkler set up in the pasture in a place that will nail the dog, or water balloons.

3) If the alpha roll is difficult for you or you don't know how to do it, a quick squirt in the mouth with lemon juice or spitting in their mouth is supposed to work well and I have used it for a serious offense at my house.

4) Anti-bark collars are available in either sonic, electric, or citronella spray varieties. Use one that can be set so that the dog can bark a bit without being corrected. Many LGDs don't respond as well to the electric shock or the sonic collars. Some have noted excellent results with the citronella collars.

My LGD keeps escaping, how do I keep him inside?

1) Solid fencing
2) Electric Fencing
3) Invisible Fencing
4) Overhang Fencing

We tryed a lot of things!!!!! One thing first is to make sure there is nothing that he is climbing on to make the fence jump easier. Clear anything away from the fence that might be used as a step-stool.

We have a 5' chainlink fence, higher in some spots, lower in others. First we wired up hot wire and Kirsche learned to take the shock until she pulled it down and grounded it!!! If you do use that, go for the most serious electric "twig burner" type. Seriously, I have heard of a lot of dogs that will choose to take a shock if they really want out. The invisible fence worked for awhile, but we wimped out on setting it to max right off the bat. She was really good at working the prongs loose and then testing whether it shocked her or not. Still she decided to take it every so often. Finally we gave up on that when we witnessed her dashing through, yelping the whole way, chasing after a stray dog. And then it shocked the neigbor who was kind enough to bring her home. What finally worked was putting barb arms (the angled things that usually hold barb wire) on each post, and cutting heavy rectangular mesh wire to go over instead of the barb wire. We wired it to the barbs and also to each link of the chain link fence. Very painful and time-consuming to do, so we are slowly enclosing our yards with it. It works like the fencing they use at the wild animal park to contain the cheetahs. It does work to contain my little cheetah as long as no one leaves the doors open and she gets into another yard......argh!!

She spent lots of time on a long chain between fencing failures. We are sure glad to have found something that works!

Never punish your dog for returning. A surprise spray with a water hose when the dog jumps over the fence can work wonders.
Training your dog to come to a horn honk of your car may save hours of searching. Always reward and praise a dog for returning.

I want my LGD to be able to go from pasture to pasture without learning to jump a fence. Any suggestions?

I cut a "port-hole" about 2' x 2' in the fence wire, then hung a slightly larger flap of rabbit-cage wire (because it's sturdy) over it, hinged at the top. The flap overlapped the wire on the side facing the goats.
- Catherine de La Cruz

Eureka!!!!! Hip Hip Hoorah!!!!! Yippitty Do Dah, Yippitty Day!!!! Here comes Mighty Mouse (aka: Catherine) to save the
day!!!!!!!!!! It worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can you tell that I am excited about this!!!

We chose a corner in the goat barn, so that we already had two sides of what we needed for our square dog-feeding pen. The third side was made with a wooden pallet, and the fourth, front side was made with a cattle panel. We cut a hole in the panel, about 3 feet by 3 feet, and two feet off the ground. Thus, the Pyrs could easily jump through the hole into the pen. Then I took a leftover piece of field fencing ( what we used to fence the pasture) and cut it to fit the hole. (It was a little smaller than the hole) I attached the wire at the top loosely so that it would swing. I pushed both dogs into the pen(they weren't sure WHY I wanted them to go in there!!), which was quite a feat, since I'm 6 months pregnant!!!<g>. They ate and then pushed the suspended wire out of the way (like a doggie door) and jumped right through! I was so excited! I told the dogs how wonderful they were! Next, I went in through the hole and set the dogfood as close to the cattle panel as possible, yet not in reach of goats sticking necks through the panel. The goats could see and smell the food, and they tried and tried to get in. Even when they put there head in the hole, and pushed the swinging wire, they couldn't understand that they could get through. The swinging wire kept bonking them in the head. They finally gave up!! I couldn't believe it!!!! Such joy and satisfaction for a job well done. Thanks to all of you who sent me ideas on this problem! Thanks to Catherine for her solution.

Ariane and Alan McDonald

We made our ramps about 18" wide and about 8' long and put small slats of lath across them about 12" apart for traction. Then we made another for the other side of the fence and drilled 2 holes in the top of eachand wired them together over the fence. It makes an A frame similar to one used in agility. We did find it necessary to use bales of straw underneath them to keep the ewes and lambs from scratching their backs and breaking them. Our Max uses them all the time and loves them. She used to climb the gates because she just had to check on all of her sheep. When she hurt her legs we looked around for an easy way to solve the problem. We went through several models and are happy with these. Sometimes we used fence posts to stabilize them, but really the straw works better in keeping the ewes from scratching. The top fastening could use improving as we occasionally need to rewire them.

Some lambs have learned to scramble up and down the ramps but go back into their own pasture when they are fed. It hasn't been a large problem for us. Last year and the year before, they did not go over. Probably depends on the breed, it has been mentioned that this would not work for goats.

Roni Rospert

How do I keep the ants out of my LGDs food?

Put the food bowl in a larger pan with water. Use weights or rocks to space it and keep the dog from pushing the bowl to the edge of the larger pan.