Livestock Guardian Dog List Excerpts
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.
not injure it but needless to say, the rooster was not happy. When I
happening I would take the rooster away from him and tell him NO. Now
seen him trying to pick up the ducks and then about two days ago he
"playing" with a dead pigeon (I assume he killed it but I
am not sure). I
at a loss as to how to break this behavior and was wondering if any
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.
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
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
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.
- 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.
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,
went out over the lunch hour and purchased some bitter apple (and yet
another chew toy).
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
slightly larger flap of rabbit-cage wire (because it's sturdy) over
hinged at the top. The flap overlapped the wire on the side facing the
- 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
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.
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.