Anatolians as LGDs and training problems

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
6,924
Reaction score
23,827
Points
693
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
This is the story of our adventures with our Anatolians. We have had Anatolian livestock guardians for 10 years. We did not start with Anatolians. We came to ownership of them after almost 20 years' experience with Great Pyrenees. Our Pyrs were excellent guardians. Their only drawback (which we eventually learned was representative of the breed) was their ability to escape from any type of fencing.

Subsequent years of observation of the way Pyrenees guard compared to the way in which Anatolians guard helped me understand why Pyrs are roamers. Pyrenees establish a “safe zone” around their protected area. They drive out any predators that wander within that corridor BUT their self-established ”safe zone” can be up to a mile in circumference on the outside of your property. While they are patrolling their “safe zone” they are not with the flock in your fenced pasture. This is not a training difference, it is a difference in 1,000 years of selective breeding by Transhumance Basque shepherds who travelled with flocks, shepherds, families, and dogs.

After the death of our last Pyr from cancer, we had decided not to get another Pyrenees. I was resolute about keeping our dogs behind fences. Instead we would lock the sheep in the barn at night. Two years later we had replaced 10 sheep flocks due to coyote kills. The absence of a LGD meant the coyotes could kill brazenly during the day. We definitely needed another LGD but NOT a Pyr.

The internet has made it easier to find and investigate different LGD breeds than when we got our first dog in 1990. I made a list of LGD breeds to investigate. Anatolians were at the bottom because of their reputation for viciousness. After dealing with Pyrenees’ coats in our thick brush, I eliminated all breeds with long hair. Anything advertised as a “rare” breed was eliminated. I wanted a purebred dog from a working background. I wanted to talk to people that had those breeds about pros and cons. After a week of calls, I was left with Anatolians. I knew a couple of goat breeders out of state that had Anatolians, so I called them for their perspective on the breed. I was referred to several breeders with working dogs. They were circumspect on my questions about Anatolians’ reputation for aggressiveness. They might have puppies “next year”. No one had any adult dogs. I needed immediate protection. As I continued my search across the country, one name kept cropping up as a resource - Erick Conard. I was told he was the Anatolian go-to for information about the breed. When I pulled up his website, I was amazed! There was a wealth of articles from him and others about Anatolians. Without much hope I called Erick. We spoke for hours about my Anatolian fears - too aggressive, other dogs, small grandchildren always visiting, horses, friends who came over, etc. Would an Anatolian be good natured enough to put up with small children without being raised with them, strict enough with strangers but not so aggressive that they would bite without provocation, able to protect 6 acres, and not kill our current dogs? Yes, said Erick, yes, yes, and probably not.

Erick said that most Anatolians did not try to leave the property unless they were chasing off predators that would not respect their threats. Anatolians tend to remain close to their flocks to protect them. In Turkey the sheep are led out in the morning by the shepherds with the dogs, returning to the village at night.

I called Erick many times over the next weeks for reassurance about Anatolian temperament. He reassured me that while earlier imported Anatolians were more aggressive, today's Anatolians when raised properly were not savage. Erick told me that he might have an 18-month-old female Anatolian for sale. He had kept her and her sister while he decided which one to use in his breeding program. One of them would be available. The price gave me pause. DH was adamant - we would buy the dog. This dog was trained and ready to work. Considering what we were paying to replace our sheep every few months DH said this dog was worth any cost. We would have to drive to Texas to bring the dog back. Erick said the travel time spent bonding was invaluable with Anatolians.

Lucky hit Ranch was surrounded by 8’ fences containing many large barking dogs. Our fences were only 5' tall - my worries returned. When Erick escorted us inside the gate, the dogs did not immediately rush to smell us. Instead, they stood about 6 feet away, staring at us. One or two of the larger ones stood or sat next to Erick’s side. The barking had immediately stopped when Erick arrived. The dogs seemed to be assessing our potential for harm. The absolute silence was more intimidating than the ferocious barking had been.

Erick told us that Anatolians are different from other guardian dog breeds. Both sexes are very dominant. Adult males cannot be kept together. Females of different ages can live together but if one takes a dislike to another they will have to be permanently separated. Young dogs could stay together for about 2 years, but after that even pups from the same litter would eventually fight. Erick had to separate most of his dogs by 2 years old. Anatolians will fight for dominance resulting in nasty puncture wounds, vet bills, and occasional death. If we wanted to keep 2 Anatolians, we would have to have a male and female. Even then, they might mix it up occasionally since some females tended to be as dominant as males. Spaying and neutering would not make any difference.

Erick has bred and studied Anatolians for 40 years. The first Anatolians were very aggressive, just as my research in the 80’s had told me. In our American society Erick wanted dogs that would defend the flock against animal predators, but only scare off human ones. Half of the Anatolian’s ability comes from size and power, the other half from agility. Erick has been breeding for over 40 years toward the perfect flock guardian. His ideal Anatolian is a dog large enough to take on a big predator (or possibly several mid-size ones), agile enough to run, twist, and fight with cougars, coyotes, and bears while avoiding injury, stay with the flock, and be devoted and affectionate to the owner. Believing that some breeders were breeding dogs too big to work well, Erick aimed for a dog around 135-160 lbs. for males and 110-135 lbs. for females. This gave them the necessary size without losing their agility. Anatolian conformation is an important part of their ability to do their job. An Anatolian in attack mode charges the predator knocking it off its feet with his chest and shoulders. As the predator falls the Anatolian then grabs it by the throat, neck, or spine and kills it. An Anatolian with a weak front structure would be at a disadvantage. The Anatolian's has a bite pressure is greater than most other dogs. Since their movements around the flock are usually slow and calm it is incredible to see how fast they can move when after a predator. Barking is for warnings. When going after a predator that has ignored their warnings the Anatolian charges silently.

While Erick was telling me about the dogs and showing me around we had left DH behind. Coming back from the short tour Erick was stunned to see DH sitting quietly on a haybale surrounded by Anatolians. Two had their heads resting on his shoulders, while 3 others had their heads in his lap as he petted them. Apparently, they were rarely that friendly with strangers. Erick told me later that was when he decided to sell us a dog. LOL

Next - our trip home with Harika
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
6,924
Reaction score
23,827
Points
693
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
Harika -
“Beautiful, Perfect, Wonderful, Amazing” - that is what her name means in Turkish. She was a large cream bitch with reddish coloring around her eyes, muzzle and ears. She was certainly large enough to survive coyote attacks since she weighed about 80 lbs. and hadn’t finished growing. She seemed friendly but reserved with us. Erick assured us that she would bond to us on the way back. He had told me not to bring a crate to transport her home. He said she would ride better in the cargo area of our SUV. Looking at the 80 lb. Harika as she cavorted around Erick, I was suddenly struck by a vision of her not only refusing to enter the car with strangers but defending her right not to do so with those shiny white fangs. Not for the first time, I wondered if I was slightly deranged to buy an Anatolian.

We parted with plans to meet first thing in the morning to get to know the dog. We also needed to train the dog to get into the car, something we had not considered. Our house dogs tended to sneak into any open vehicle on the off chance we would take them for a ride! We went to the local Walmart for the brand of dog food Erick fed and a new collar. The collar I had brought was not going to work. Apparently, Anatolians have loose skin with a thick mane covering their necks enabling them to twist in the bite of an enemy. They can actually turn within their own skin and grab their attacker by the throat, a very useful skill in a guardian dog, when called on to fight wolves in their native Turkey. This loose skin mane is also useful in slipping out of collars. We were instructed to get a choke chain which we would put on when walking her and remove immediately afterwards. We found a choke chain (almost the largest they had) and the dog food. Worried about those shiny white fangs I considered purchasing a muzzle, but Walmart did not carry muzzles large enough to fit her. I decided to trust Erick.

In the morning we returned to Erick’s ranch to begin the bonding process. After completing all the paperwork and collecting a gallon of local water for Harika’s journey home, we began the car training. With Erick, Marv and I proceeded to push/pull/lift Harika into and out of the car several times in the driveway. Finally, as we stood panting and wiping sweat from our faces, Erick pronounced himself satisfied with our progress. We all piled into the car and set off around the neighborhood. Harika panted and drooled, which Erick said was normal since Anatolians don’t adjust to new situations well. In spite of the chilly day, he advised us to aim the A/C straight at her on the way home since she would drool and overheat from stress. I silently congratulated myself on bringing a heavy jacket. After a few blocks, Erick told DH to pull over. We unloaded Harika. Erick handed the leash to me and directed me to walk her a little way down the path into the brush. Willingly Harika investigated the path as we walked. Then DH got a turn. We reloaded Harika (push/pull/lift/sweat/drool) and drove another few blocks where we repeated the process. After a couple hours of this, we returned to Erick’s ranch where we said our goodbyes and started our journey home with instructions to call Erick with daily progress reports. Harika panted and drooled. I put on my jacket.

As we drove along through eastern Texas, we discussed what we had learned from Erick about Anatolians. As usual we were drinking coffee, and as usual, a familiar need eventually arose. DH pulled over at a truck stop to gas the car and use the facilities. As I got out, it occurred to me to wonder if Harika would let us back in. It might become her car in our absence. We were quite a few hours from Erick's place, he would not be happy to come and make Harika let us in our car. We would be Anatolian ownership failures after only a few hours! DH agreed to wait in the car while I used the facilities, then I waited while he went in. Then I went back in to refill the thermos. This was going to take better planning. At our next stop, we were getting hungry, but again the possibility of a suddenly possessive dog reared its head. We also needed to remove Harika from the car so she could potty. After putting on the collar we pushed/pulled her out. Out was easier since it didn’t require lifting. DH walked her while I used the restroom and purchased some fast food. Then I walked her while DH used the facilities and topped off the tank. Harika, as Erick predicted, did not potty. Neither did she drink any of the water we had brought. Back in the car – push/pull/lift/sweat – after we got her in the car we rested a few minutes before congratulating each other on our success. We ate and drove off to try to make another few hundred miles before repeating the whole process.

Toward evening we began to look for a motel. Luckily Texans like their dogs as well as they like their guns. Most motels happily allow dogs. After DH registered, we pushed/pulled unloaded Harika. As we took our stuff to our room, I realized that she had never been housebroken. Uh-oh. I shouldn’t have worried. Amazingly, Harika walked calmly into the motel room and lay down on the floor as if she was an experienced world traveler. She did not potty when we walked her, but we were getting used to that. She did not drink or eat anything, even though Erick had sent some of his duck eggs with us for her dinner. Erick had warned us that she probably would not eat or drink until we were home. (Note: This behavior is not unusual in livestock guardian dogs. One of our Pyrs got “rescued” by someone who found her wandering after a big storm. The kindly rescuer locked Poppy in her garage while she tried to locate her owner. Poppy refused all food and drink and refused to potty. When we located the rescuer 3 days later, and she brought Poppy home Poppy tore the leash out of her hands and made a beeline for the field. You could almost hear her sigh of relief. It seems to be a peculiarity of LGDs not to potty in strange places or accept food and drink from strangers.) Although Harika was proving to be a better traveler than we had expected, we ordered room service.

In the morning we took turns putting our belongings in the car and getting breakfast. Then it was time for push/pull/lift/sweat. Was it my imagination or was she getting more cooperative? Maybe we were just getting more used to it. On with the A/C and my jacket, Harika panted and drooled, and down the road we drove.

The next two days followed the same pattern. While Harika panted and drooled, we talked to her and each other, letting her get used to our voices. Often, we would reach back and rub her soft furry ears (not hard to reach since she took up most of the cargo area). On the second day, Harika crept forward in the cargo area of the SUV and laid her head on DH’s shoulder as he drove. She kept it there for the rest of the journey – still panting and drooling. On the third day, Harika peed at a rest stop. Eureka! Both of these occurrences were reported to Erick immediately. Encouraged by this, we offered Harika one of the dog treats we had gotten at Walmart. She took it politely, then dropped it to one side of her bed where it lay for the rest of the trip.

The easy part was over . . . .
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
34,083
Reaction score
103,231
Points
873
Location
East Texas
I wish I had read this before I got Buford. He was just an almost 4 month old puppy, the man put him in my back seat. He was already so big that he took up the whole seat. He fear pooped, glad I covered the seat and even more glad I had plastic grocery bags. I pulled over and had to reach under his tail to scoop the poop. He growled menacingly. That friendly puppy had disappeared, replaced by a puppy that hated me. When I stopped at a filling station trash can to get rid of the stinky bag, I petted him and talked to him. He growled even more fiercely. For a fleeting moment I considered taking him back!

It was December and I ran the AC for his fear based panting and drooling. I had on a coat. When my fingers were numb, I switched the heat on to thaw them out, then back to the AC. It was only a 3 hour drive home.

When we moved from Livingston to Lindale, we made a special trip for Paris and Trip our Great Pyrenees. BJ took Paris in his truck, leash tied to the passenger side door to keep her out of his lap. I took Trip, still a small puppy, also tied to the door to keep him out of my lap. It was 32 degrees, pouring rain, and both of us had to run the AC for the dogs. Miserable trip for us!

When I got Buford home, I clipped a leash on the collar I had the forethought to bring, and he growled a warning. He refused to get out. No amount of sweet talk and gentle tugs could budge him. His growling escalated.

We had a Come To Jesus Meeting. I dragged him out, fighting all the way. His growling got worse but turned into a strangled scream. I dragged him into the pen I had for him, next to the sheep. I gave him a little slack on the leash so he could breathe and petted him, talked calmly to him until he calmed down. I brought him water and food. Growling again, he was food aggressive.

@Ridgetop told me to introduce Sheba first, then Sentry, then both, which I did the next day. That went well. They both cowed him down, making sure he knew his place in the pack-at the bottom of the social order. @Ridgetop was a great help and wealth of knowledge.
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
6,924
Reaction score
23,827
Points
693
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
So glad you are sharing your experiences. Keep them coming, everyone. Everything everyone experiences is knowledge for anyone who is considering getting an Anatolian or has one. Incredible dogs but also different to handle. Remember that when all this took place I had never had an Anatolian. After our years with Pyrs I kept waiting for Harika to escape and run off, as well as any hidden vicious behavior to show up.

Home at last -
Our arrival home was the cause of great relief and even greater worry. Would Harika stay within our fences or leap over them and be off? Would Harika get along with our own dogs, or instantly slay them? Would one Anatolian be able to protect our sheep from the ruthless predator that had now killed two heavily pregnant ewes and two lambs. The financial loss was large since the death of the ewes had also cost us the twin lambs each had been carrying. The cost of Harika was huge, and included the cost of our trip to Texas to bring her home. Would it be worth it? Time would tell.

We introduced Harika to our three dogs with everyone on a leash. She inspected each of them in turn. Since she did not immediately tear out their throats, we were relieved but it was too early to let our guard down. We introduced her to the sheep in the barn. Until we had taught her the boundaries of her new territory, we had to keep her on a leash. Erick told us to walk her around the perimeter of the property morning and evening. Easier said than done – remember the reason for the sheep in the first place? The slope of the back acreage was almost 60 degrees down and up. Heroically, DH took Harika around the boundary fence every morning. Over the next week we continued to introduce the dogs to each other on leash.

After the first two weeks the dogs seemed to get along and were allowed off leash with each other. The sheep were still locked up in the barn since one was getting ready to lamb and another had just finished lambing. Only the ram was allowed out on the field. Since he stuck close to the mule, who doesn’t like dogs, Harika was unable to bond with him.

Now that Harika had met our other dogs, it was time to introduce her to our small grandchildren. Their ages ranged from 5 years to 6 months old. Harika needed to accept them as family and learn that they were to be protected too. Any coyote or cougar wily enough to strike our sheep in broad daylight would be capable of snatching one of our grandbabies. Our grandchildren had not been allowed to leave the patio in over a year.

We started in the yard with Harika on her lead. As she approached our daughter, DD1, held the baby in her arms. Harika lay down on the driveway. This was interesting. Erick had said that Anatolians learn to approach new mothers by laying down a small distance away. They are not supposed to approach the baby until allowed by the mother. Was this what was happening or was she just worried at the size of these small humans? It was time to find out. DD1 held 6-month-old DGD1 near Harika who looked extremely worried and uncertain. As we talked encouragingly to Harika, DD1 stroked her and allowed DGD1 to touch the dog. Five-year-old DGS1, who learned to walk holding onto the fur of our last Pyrenees, was quick to pet Harika and talk to her. DGS2, three years old, was less certain. Hesitantly he held back but was urged forward by his mother and us. As we all petted Harika and talked to her in soothing tones, the tension went out of her body. She still wasn’t sure what these small creatures were but was willing to accept them as non-threatening members of our pack. Over the next months we relaxed into a routine. The dogs seemed to get along. Harika liked the grandchildren and was introduced to each member of the family.

I accompanied the children out to the play area when they came over to make sure that Harika was comfortable with them, and they were kind to her. The children soon accepted her as part of the surroundings at our house, like the other dogs, the horses, and sheep. Harika, however, was still not used to small children, which became apparent suddenly one day while DGS1 and DGS2 were playing outside. DGS1 was chasing a shrieking DGS2 from one end of the 100’ long patio to the other. As the boys reached the end of the patio, they reversed direction and chased each other back, still shrieking. Suddenly, Harika bounded past where I sat, running as fast as she could after them. Surprised, I jumped up in case she thought they were an enemy. I needn’t have worried. As they reached the end of the patio and turned to run back Harika charged past them to confront whatever danger they were running from. The boys, oblivious to the giant dog, ran shrieking the other way. Harika, realizing the danger had gotten past her somehow, and was now threatening the children behind her, wheeled around and charged back after them. Again, the children changed direction and the mythical danger escaped Harika. Harika was now very worried and began barking frantically, trying to corral the children away from the invisible predator that they could obviously see but she could not find. Taking pity on the poor young dog, I praised her and herded the children into the house where they made a beeline for Grandma’s bed and the privilege of jumping on it. Harika was left outside.

Inside, the boys were having a grand time jumping on the bed, then getting off and running back and forth between their nursery and my bedroom, still shrieking. They were getting a bit too excited in the house so I went back to calm them down. While I was in the bedroom area, Harika continued barking incessantly on the patio. She could not only hear the boys screaming (obviously in terror) in the house but could see them running back and forth through the bedroom window. By now she was almost hysterical with fear that the unknown predator was attacking her small charges inside the house. Suddenly, she was gone from the window. As I ordered the children to calm down, I heard a rushing sound of claws sliding on our tile floors. One of the family members, chatting in the family room, had opened the kitchen door to see what the dog was making such a fuss about. Harika had charged past him into the house on protection detail. As I stepped into the long hallway that ran the length of the house, Harika came toward me at a dead run, head down and snarling, tail up in Anatolian attack mode. Startled I automatically yelled “Stay!” holding my hand out in the hand signal. Harika, slipping and sliding on the tile floor, skidded to a stop at my feet, just as the two troublemakers she was trying to protect burst from the bedroom, cannoning into her. As I grabbed the little demons and commanded them to be quiet, she slipped past me and systematically went over every inch of both bedrooms. It was obvious she was determined to find and kill whatever was terrorizing the children! I explained to the little boys that their screams were upsetting the dog and sent them for a five-minute cool down on the couch. Harika, still fruitlessly hunting for the intruder was upset. I consoled her and praised her. I was amazed at her attempts to protect the children whom she barely knew.

After that episode, whenever the children came over (which is often since they live a mile away and we are the designated babysitters) I would take Rika to watch them as they played. At first, every shout was cause for alarm. Rabbits and birds were chased away. Gradually she differentiated between shouts of pleasure and shouts of fear or pain. The children wanted to play in the gully – it seemed a great and unknown place to five- and three-year-old boys. I told them that they could play in the small field if they took Harika. We would walk out together, and I would send Harika into the field with them. Occasionally I would watch from a distance. Harika would first investigate every corner of the field, then find a spot higher up where she could keep an eye on the boys and the perimeter. She would lay there like a lioness, alert for danger, while the children scrambled around in the brush. If she saw or sensed anything she wasn’t comfortable with she would race past the children, and investigate, always staying between any possible danger and her charges. She was amazing. A dog raised without small children around who became protective and gentle with children that didn’t even live with her. The baby could crawl over her without a whimper. She loved the grandchildren and showed it in her greetings when they arrived.

There was no need to confine them to the patio play area with her around. As long as they had Harika with them, they could wander anywhere they wanted and be safe. This would not be the last time I was grateful for the training Erick put into his dogs.

Protection of the family was at the bottom of my list when getting our LGD. Our Pyrs had barked but were friendly to strangers. We had 2 Weimaraners and a mini Dachshund for protection inside the house. Now we were about to see how terrifying an Anatolian in full protection mode could become.

After a month we had become used to Harika. She was sweet with the family. She had appointed herself protector of the small grandchildren. Friends and relatives could come n the property when we were with them to introduce them to Harika. Her loud barking at night reassured us she was working at repelling predators. Our Anatolian adventure was a success.

One night the family sat watching a television program around 8:00 pm. The three big dogs started barking outside. This was not unusual since the neighbors often walked their two borzois down the road around this time of night. The barking would stop as soon as they passed by. This night it continued and escalated. Our teenaged daughter, went outside to check on the situation. She came back in almost immediately and said there was a man crouched in the bushes outside the fence. We live on a private road at the top of a steep hill in a fire area. Men in the bushes are not good. I went outside to investigate. The man was there seemingly not afraid of the three large dogs protecting their property. This was strange since they looked, and sounded, serious about backing up their threats with action. I told the man to leave but he informed me he was “just making friends” with the dogs through the fence. Judging by three sets of bared fangs, he was either insane or intoxicated. It turned out to be both. When I got closer, he said he was our neighbor and had the right to be on our private road. I recognized him then as the neighbor’s adult son. We knew he had had problems with substance abuse in the past. Later the parents told me that he alo had mental problems. This time he was drunk, and on drugs as well. The dogs were getting more and more hysterical as he lurched closer to me explaining how we were bad owners for not taking our dogs for a walk every day on a leash like his parents did. Apparently, running free on a fenced 6-acre piece of land was not enough exercise. That the dogs barked at his parents and their dogs until they had passed our house also upset him and he had come down to “make friends and teach them not to bark”. By now I had been joined by DH, DS1, and DD2. I sent Kassy to put the Weimaraners in the house, cutting the noise level somewhat. Harika, however, was another story. DD2 was now safely inside the fence with Harika while the rest of us were outside with the young man who was becoming increasingly belligerent. As he lurched towards the fence where DD2 stood, Harika leapt forward in protect mode. I was becoming worried that she would go right over the fence and attack him. As DH and DS1 insisted he leave and go home, the man turned his attention to them and took a step toward DH in a threatening way. Harika went ballistic, barking, growling and charging the fence. Suddenly, the man turned and put his hand out to the fence, insisting that all dogs liked him and that he could pet Harika and she would calm down. As I jumped between him and the dog, I sent DD2 in to phone his parents and have them come deal with the situation. His teenaged sister told DD1 that their parents weren’t home, but she would call them and get them back asap. I remained between Harika and the man. This upset her more than ever since I was now in the danger zone as well. I but forced to remain between the man and the gate in case she decided to jump over the fence which she could easily have done. Finally, just as the neighbor was asking for hugs and handshakes (definitely on drugs as well as alcohol!) his parents arrived home. I explained the situation and told them that he had been crouching in the bushes trying to “pet” the snarling dogs. Since the father was an attorney, I warned them that I wouldn’t be responsible if he was bitten under these circumstances since he was an adult in his late 20’s. The parents are lovely people who understood the problem. They coaxed him inside their yard and closed the gate.

This episode brought home much of what Erick had told us about the protective capabilities of these dogs. Harika had calmly allowed friends and family into our yard and home and been welcoming after a few visits. Here we saw firsthand her attitude towards a threatening stranger. Most dogs do not like a person who is drunk or high – possibly sensing that their behavior can be erratic. An intoxicated stranger threatening her family had Harika and the other dogs on high alert. Harika has shown the behavior Erick had described – as the threat escalated, so did her response. She had gone from barking to a snarling charge. Incredible!
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
34,083
Reaction score
103,231
Points
873
Location
East Texas
I have seen Sentry and Sheba in full on snarling attack mode one time. At ME! It was when I was staying at my son’s house and the sheep and Anatolians were in the back on about an acre. With a busy highway out front, I put sheep and dogs in the pens when I left and definitely at night.

I had taken a shower, was done outside, when I realized I had not put Sentry and Sheba up for the night.

I went outside in shorts, T-shirt and flip flops. The dogs didn’t recognize me! Hair raised on their backs, they turned into snarling vicious attack dogs! The closer I got, the more vicious they got.

Finally I said, Mommy has legs! Mommy has legs! They knew my voice, but who was this strange creature? They were confused. Still barking and snarling but not as vicious. I kept talking to them as I approached. They calmed down, I went in the gate and they sniffed my legs! Satisfied that it was really me, they relaxed and got lots of praise and hugs.

I had never seen them so vicious. I sure wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of them!

Last winter a couple of guys were here cutting up a huge dead oak tree for firewood. I told them not to try to be friendly to the dogs. I explained that they originated in Turkey where they were bred for 2 thousand years to protect flocks and their families. I told the men not to even look at them eye to eye, as it was a challenge. Then I stood at the fence with Sentry on the other side, thinking bad thoughts at the two men. From my posture and “feeling “,Sentry hated them. He barked at them. If they went to the side of their truck, on Sentry’s side, he growled at them. Hahaha. He backed up everything I said!
 

Ridgetop

Herd Master
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Messages
6,924
Reaction score
23,827
Points
693
Location
Shadow Hills, CA
I love hearing everyone's similar experiences. It gives all of us more confidence hearing that not was not just our own dogs who behaved in these ways. The fact that they did not recognize you until you spoke to them is normal. I have had it happen to me too.

During the 10 years we have had our Anatolians we have found new challenges needing to be overcome. With Erick's help we have worked through them. This is one reason I always tell people that buying an Anatolian from a reputable breeder who is willing to help you with behavior issues is imperative. Erick told us when we bought Harika that if we couldn't make a go of it with her, we wouldn't be able to do it with any Anatolian. Harika is the best LGD we have ever had, and also the best Anatolian. I credit Erick's dedication to make sure that we were successful with Harika to be the main factor in us continuing when things looked bad. And they did get bad!

Although everything seemed to be coming along well with Harika, I was still worrying about bringing an Anatolian into our home. Constant phone conversations with Erick kept me calm. Soon enough our honeymoon period was over, and our nightmares began.

About two months later, when DH and I came home, the three big dogs were crowding around the gate to greet us. I told DH to come through the garage since I sensed a potential problem but too late! DH had already opened the gate and stepped inside the yard. The dogs, vying to be the first for a welcome home pat, shoved and jostled each other in the narrow area. Harika knocked Didi out of the way. Didi, annoyed that this Johnny-come-lately had the nerve to shove her aside, turned on her with a warning growl. Too late we saw that there is no warning growl with an Anatolian if you are not prepared to back it up with physical punishment. Quick as a striking snake, Harika jumped on top of Didi, biting her viciously. Didi was trapped behind the open gate and side of the house. She could not escape. With shouts of “back off” (Erick’s command to the dogs to move apart) DH and I muscled between them, shoving Harika back with our bodies. DH pulled a bleeding Didi out of the yard. Reinforcing my position as pack leader and dominant bitch (a position I have held all my life according to most family members!) with dominating, growling noises and orders to “back off” I forced Harika to back away. Once Harika showed submission by avoiding my stare, I released Harika from my orders and went to see about Didi. Two large gashes on her back showed where Harika had torn the skin, while two additional punctures showed the extent of the bite. Quivering in shock and terror, Didi cringed at our feet. I disinfected the wounds and applied antibiotics. Then we shut Didi in the bedroom. As Didi was bleeding all over my bedspread, we discussed what had happened and what we could have done to avoid it. I examined Harika for any wounds she might have suffered in the fight. That was when we discovered Harika was coming in season. The mystery was solved, Harika was suffering from PMS.

We hoped things would improve once Rika was spayed but we had to wait several months after she came out of season for that to happen. The risk of bleeding was too great while her uterus was swollen from estrus. We were warned by several Anatolian owners including Erick not to have the surgery for three months after her cycle ended. One had lost a bitch to excessive bleeding during a spay surgery while another had lost a dog from the anesthetic. Actually, this simplified things for a while. We locked Rika in the kennel while she went through her three-week cycle. Since we no longer had a guardian dog while Rika was locked up, the sheep stayed in the barn for another month. By now, we had had Rika for several months, but the sheep had been locked in the barn for most of that time. One ewe had lambed, while the other had a lamb with a broken leg. So much for the need for an LDG!

After Rika came out of season, we tried to reintroduce the two bitches to each other. Didi cringed and ran from Harika who would jump her at every opportunity and bite her. According to Erick Anatolians don’t like dogs to run from them and will “punish” them for their “rudeness”. The bruising from Rika’s bite strength caused huge swellings that at first we mistook for infection. Since Didi ran from Harika in terror, Erick felt that Harika was punishing her but did not intend to kill her. An Anatolian has a thick coat and skin that partially protects them from bites. Did had a fine coat and thin skin which was easily punctured and torn. Erick said that Anatolians are so powerful that they don’t always use restraint when they bite. Even puppies when playing would occasionally slash and puncture each other. He carried a tube of antiseptic with him when checking his dogs because one or another always had a wound. While I was relieved by his belief that Rika was not preparing to kill Didi, the injuries were taking a lot of my time to treat and bandage.

Didi’s large gaping slashes and punctures healed only after constant antibiotics and bandaging. Some wounds healed up with this treatment, some did not. One of her wounds healed on top but abscessed underneath, bursting open into a 5” hole in her side. The vet spent an hour repairing the wound and removing dead tissue. We had to separate Didi and Harika at all times. Didi now spent her days in the kennel while we were working. To keep Didi company, we kenneled Ricky with her. He barked non-stop in the kennel. We had no close neighbors to worry about, but it was driving us insane. When we put the two dogs into the kennel in the morning it took two of us – one to lead them to the kennel gate while the other one kept a lookout and ran interference if Rika showed up. I was extremely grateful that Erick trained his dogs to heed the “back off” command. It was necessary to use it several times to block Rika from access to Didi. I was amazed at the way Rika would immediately obey the command, falling back so I could get between her and Didi. She would look around me, but my repeated “back off” command, and turning my body to keep between the dogs worked. I would also use the body block to back Rika away by walking into her face and repeating “back off” as I did so. She had to back up in front of me. Erick was really pleased that I had done this maneuver on my own. This method instilled in Rika the acceptance of my dominance in our pack hierarchy. I have had 50 years of experience training dogs in obedience. Some were dominant and required more from me. This Anatolian was extremely well behaved and yet she exhibited some of the most dominant behavior I had ever seen. I could see why some people with little dog experience would have trouble reading behavior cues and enforcing their dominance over an Anatolian in the pack structure.

Finally, Rika went to the vet to be spayed. This raised another problem since Anatolians are similar to greyhounds in their sensitivity to anesthetic. I had to get the information from Erick’s vet in Texas and give it to my vet. I made a pre-surgery appointment to discuss the sensitivity with him. Luckily my vet had experience with greyhounds and as soon as I mentioned the sensitivity, he knew what alternative anesthetic to use. Just in case, when signing the permission forms, I wrote in block letters “sensitive to anesthetic”.

Coming home it was back into the kennel for the recuperating Rika. Under orders from the vet to have her “take it easy” until the stitches came out in two weeks, she spent her recovery time locked up. There is just no way to keep an Anatolian quiet when her job is guarding a six-acre ranch. Her recovery time was extended to three weeks by a minor infection. Of course, the sheep stayed in the barn for another month. By now I was wondering why we needed so much acreage since our sheep had been living exclusively in the barn for the past 4 months.

At this point we were beginning to wonder if we had done an extremely stupid thing in getting an Anatolian. Maybe we should just enlarge the barn if the sheep were going to live in it full time! Maybe we should sell our horses and sheep, get rid of our dogs, and move into a condo! Yes, we were very depressed, but don’t worry – it could get even worse!
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
34,083
Reaction score
103,231
Points
873
Location
East Texas
Maybe that’s why I didn’t start my Anatolian journey with full blood Anatolians. Sentry is half Anatolian, 1/4 Akbash and 1/4 Great Pyrenees. Sheba is 3/4 Anatolian and 1/4 Great Pyrenees. Buford is full blood registered Anatolian.

Sentry is intense and doesn’t forget first impressions. Unfortunately he has hip dysplasia and at only 9 months old, had a blow out on his right hip. Vet called him a train wreck, the worst he’d ever seen in a dog so young. We thought about putting him down, broke out crying and just couldn’t do it. We elected for the Femoral Head Ostectomy or FEM. I won’t go into all the details here, I made a thread for that so that we all could learn.

During his lengthy recovery, my son came in off a job one night. Big tall man, loud, wearing a black cowboy hat, grabbed me in a hug. Sentry did all but attack him. I tried to let Sentry know it was ok, but too late, he distrusted my son and did not like him. He still doesn’t like my son. I’ve done everything to let Sentry know that my son is ok. Son has talked sweet to him and tried to placate him.

Sentry will whine, wag his tail and look friendly. Son will talk sweet baby talk to Sentry. But as soon as he gets close, Sentry growls, barks and will not let son touch him.

Four and half years later, it’s still the same. Son tries, Sentry tries, but that first impression holds Sentry back. He just cannot and will not get over it. At least now, IF I am with him, SOMETIMES Sentry will let son pet him.

Proper introduction is essential if you want your Anatolian to like a family member or friend. Blow it the first time and you blow it forever.

A few months ago, son was here. It was the heat of summer, drought, 100 plus degrees for over 2 months. Every day around 11:00 AM I brought the Anatolians to the front yard so they could go under the porch for a cool place. Buford had joined the pack and was just under a year old. Son carried a bucket of water to two young rams, whose pen joined the front yard.

Then Sheba and Buford came to him for petting and attention. He had a hand on each dog. Sentry came up wagging his tail, whining and making happy noises. As soon as son reached out his hand to pet Sentry, in son’s words, “Sentry went bipolar on me.” Sentry growled, barked and backed away. Buford looked at his hero and mentor. Sentry said this is a Bad Man. Buford went aggressive and bared his teeth at my son. So there he was, two Anatolians that had gone past unfriendly.

At that moment, Sheba, whose ear scrubs had stopped, raised up her front paw and slapped Buford to the ground. Buford was reprimanded.

I properly introduced the dogs to Chris, my friend. First, through the fence, Chris put the back of his hand up to, not through, the fence. Sentry and Sheba carefully sniffed his hand. Then Chris went in the pen with me while I fed them. They sniffed him, ate, but kept a watchful eye on him. Then he petted both of them, talking to them and setting them at ease. Next few days he fed them. First I went in the pen with him, then stood outside the pen. Finally I stayed out of sight and Chris was able to go in by himself and feed the sheep and dogs. This is invaluable for me, so I can leave the farm to go visit family or friends. Sentry loves Chris. But not my son.
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
34,083
Reaction score
103,231
Points
873
Location
East Texas
One of those rare moments that Sentry allowed himself to be friendly to my son. I’m in the pen, behind them. Sentry is actually getting ear scrubs from my son.

IMG_2888.jpeg


IMG_2889.jpeg
 
Top