Anatolians as LGDs and training problems

SageHill

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Meet aggression with aggression HUGE YES!
I see that in the herding dogs as well. Something goes wrong ie a dog gets loose and starts to charge the sheep (a trained or semi trained herder) it’s drop into work mode not yell chase and scream.
 

Ridgetop

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Absolutely! Yelling at the dog often makes it think you are encouraging it to continue the behavior even when you are screaming "NO NO". LOL It is the same idea in training a dog to drop something - don't pull on the item which he interprets as play, instead use his lips around his fangs to open his mouth and tell him to " drop it". And again when a puppy runs away off lead, run the other way calling its name. Chasing the puppy is a game for it, running the other way frightens it because you are leaving it behind. LOL

Next, more behaviors and a daring rescue . . . .
 

Ridgetop

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So far, we had made great strides in training. Some of this was by accident, some due to our understanding and interpretation of Anatolian behavior, most was due to Erick’s constant help and backup. We were not fluent in Anatolian yet but were learning. The more we learned how they thought and worked, the more they taught us. Move over, Diane Fossey! Anatolian behavior over the years has amazed us. Some of it was similar to our Pyrs, other behaviors were quite different. Our Anatolians were now working well as a bonded pair. Harika was still perfect - experienced, wise, the brains of the outfit. Bubba was fully grown - weighing in at 160 lbs., he was the brawn, or as our son calls him, “the heavy artillery”.

I had read about Anatolians’ hatred of snakes and how they attacked them on sight. Perhaps the puppies’ destruction of hoses were because they reminded them of snakes. One afternoon as our grandchildren came in from the field Harika and Bubba gamboled around them. Suddenly, they rushed ahead, ruffs up. A snake had appeared on the driveway 15 feet ahead. Harika and Bubba separated and immediately attacked the snake. Lunging from both sides, they alternately grabbed it, shook it, and tossed it away before it could twist to strike. Each time they would jump back out of striking range then attack again. I had never seen such fast response in a dog – their movements blurred in action. In their native Turkey there are many poisonous snakes, and this must be an inherited genetic response. Perhaps only ancestors that could kill snakes survived back in the mists of time. Baymule’s Pyr, Paris, delighted in hunting out and killing every snake she found. I wonder if this is a trait of all livestock guardian breeds that originated in places with poisonous snakes. Having killed the snake, both Harika and Bubba returned to the children and sniffed them from head to toe to make sure they were ok. Then they went to the field and checked each individual sheep.

Bubba and Harika know where the sheep belong. Their sheep belong on the field, and they know each individual sheep that is there. In the morning the sheep are turned out into the field. The dogs have already checked out the field and are at the gate to the fold to welcome them. Around dusk the sheep all come to the gate of the fold to be put up and fed for the night. The dogs remain with them until the evening feeding is finished. If one was missing, Harika would fetch us and show us where it was. This “Timmy’s in the well” behavior was unmistakable and had occurred several times. Once an injured ewe did not want to make the steep climb back to the barn. After accompanying the rest of the flock to the gate, Rika ran in circles around DS1 preventing him from moving. He came and got me since she was acting so oddly. Counting the sheep, I realized that we were one short. After our experiences with coyotes, I looked in the bottom of the gully. The ewe was laying at the south end. I told DS1 I would walk down to check. In order to get to the bottom of the gully you have to walk from side to side on a switchback sheep path. Using my crook for balance I started down the path which took me in a north direction. As I started onto the field Rika relaxed and became happy but as I started down in the opposite direction to where the sheep lay at the bottom, she became distressed. Her downturned tail and ears showed her disappointment in my lack of understanding. I reached the first switchback and started down the next leg. This time I was going south. Rika was happy again until I reached the next switchback. As I headed north again, she seemed to shake her head in disgust. When I finally got to the bottom of the gully the "dead" sheep was revealed to be gimpy and unwilling to make the steep climb. Hauling the ewe to its feet I started her up the path. Rika bounded along happily now that I had "rescued" her sheep.

When my mare died of old age on our field, both dogs sat on guard over the body all night. In the morning the truck came to remove her. We put the dogs in the house while her body was winched onto the flatbed. In the house they whined and howled. After the truck left with the carcass, they ran to investigate where she had been, then tracked the truck to the gate and paced back and forth in front of it for several hours. Now when we lose a sheep, we let the dogs examine the carcass for several hours before putting it outside the gate for animal pick up. When the truck arrives to remove the body, we bring the dogs in the house. Our knowledge of Anatolian behavior has broadened, and “strange” behavior can be explained.

As our flock grew, we began to separate the sheep into groups in different locations. The main flock went out onto the field from the night fold every morning accompanied by their watchful guardians. Breeding ewes and the chosen ram were in the breeding pen. The rest of the boys were confined to the communal ram pen. Ewes ready to deliver went into barn jugs. Ewes with nursing lambs occupied an adjacent pen with a creep. This system worked well, but occasionally all the sheep had to be rotated. Breeding rams would have to be exchanged. Bred ewes, and ewes with weaned lambs would rejoin the main flock. Ewes close to lambing would be sorted out and removed to the barn jugs, while open ewes needed to be moved into the breeding pen. And of course, weaned ram lambs were sorted for auction.

Our flock know the routine of being herded into various pens. The ewes follow a bucket of grain or flake of hay. They are sheep - where one goes, so go they all. Except - as fast as we sorted and began to herd the chosen sheep to the new location, Bubba and Harika rounded them up and herded them back into the previous location! At first, we thought it was a mistake. Bubba was young, he was getting in the way because he didn’t understand. Orders to “Back Off” occasioned only slight hesitation. Shouting made Bubba more determined to return the sheep to their original location. This scenario was repeated every time the sheep were moved. Harika and Bubba wanted the sheep to stay in their assigned pens. They kept giving us exasperated looks. After a particularly grueling 2 hours in the summer heat, the sheep were stressed, and we were exhausted. Taking a break, I remembered how shouting in the lambing barn had made Bubba more determined and aggressive towards the ewes. Maybe this was something like that. We took the easy way out and kenneled the dogs. With them watching attentively from the kennel, we sorted the now flighty sheep into the appropriate groups and moved them. Turning the dogs loose, we watched as they went from one pen to another sniffing each sheep in turn. Finally, having greeted every individual in the flock, and identified their new location, they returned to fling themselves down at our feet panting.

That was when I realized what was happening. Moving different sheep to different pens completely reordered their world. Harika and Bubba did not like change. Every morning and at intervals during the day the dogs routinely check each pasture. Changing sheep from one location to another is upsetting since new danger may be there. The same thing happens when moving to a new home. In the new place the dogs must learn where the predator danger is, the safest place to put the sheep when danger approaches, the best place to watch over the flock, etc. When we move to Texas our dogs will need several months to readjust. Understanding the reasoning of your Anatolians is paramount. This should have been apparent to us from the start, but we have a slow learning curve as Anatolian owners.

Most LGD protection is heard rather than seen. Perimeter patrols, nightly barking, territorial marking – all keep predators in check. Wild predators prefer not to fight unless necessary. Injured predators can’t hunt, severely injured predators die. Flight or avoidance of protected areas is preferred unless driven by starvation. We know our dogs are working because we haven’t lost any animals. We have faith in our dogs although we have not seen what happens if a predator defies them. One of my neighbors was lucky enough to witness exactly that.

Our sheep were grazing in the gully as their lambs played. It had been a wet winter and the lush foliage was higher than their heads. The dogs were peacefully dozing on the upper slope. Suddenly our neighbor, Bob, roared up our road in his truck. Almost too excited to talk, he gasped out that he had a story to tell me. He was working on his property and watching the little lambs playing. A movement on the other side of the fence caught his attention and he saw a big coyote. It kept jumping in the air to watch the lambs over the top of the brush. Suddenly, it hopped over the 6’ fence and ran toward a couple lambs. John grabbed his cell phone and tried to dial my number to warn me so I could save the lambs. This would have been an exercise in futility since once outside the house I would have had to cover 150’ of pasture then climb down another 150’ of extremely steep gully wall before getting close enough to try to frighten off the coyote. As he tried to dial the phone, John noticed a flash of yellow on the hillside. Looking over he saw both Anatolians racing down the hillside, completely silent. The coyote had almost reached the lambs when it happened to look up and see the dogs converging on him. Turning he ran for his life. Just as Harika and Bubba reached Mr. Coyote’s tail, he managed to leap back over the fence. John said he had never seen dogs run so fast in his life.

Excited, I called Erick to report the fabulous rescue. After bragging about my wonderful guardians, I wondered why they had not barked. Erick told me Anatolians bark to warn off predators. If predators disobey those warnings and come after the flock, Anatolians will simply kill the predator. Harika and Bubba were not in warning mode. They meant business and were coming after the coyote to “terminate with extreme prejudice”.
 

Baymule

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During the brutal heat and drought this summer, I dry litter the sheep for 2 1/2 months! I let Cooper and his ewes out to graze in mid September. I settled back in my recliner to drink my morning coffee and noticed strange behavior in the sheep. I walked out on the porch and watched Buford trying to herd them back into the pen. They wanted GRASS! Buford wanted ORDER! They were walking back and forth, trying to get out on the field. Buford was cutting them off, trying to put them back.

BUFORD! I bellowed. No! He ducked his head, grinning that silly endearing toothy grin, and went and laid down under the shade tree with Sheba and Sentry.

Sheep ran for the grass. I called out Buford! GOOD DOG! GOOD BOY! And went back to my coffee.

Buford was genuinely worried that the sheep had escaped and needed to go home!
 

Ridgetop

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Amazing behavior when you realize what they are doing! Someone else might have thought he was just chasing the sheep around - you knew what he was trying to do. Understanding their thought processes is so important is working with these LGDs.

After the amazing lamb rescue our flock was secure, or so we thought. Then about 6 months later, John stopped by with news of a shocking attack at the neighbor’s place on the other side of the gully. That neighbor had a large poultry yard, and about a dozen mixed sheep and goats. We could see his corrals from our house and hear his animals. Three nights previously all his poultry, sheep and goats were slaughtered! The owner called out an expert to identify the tracks. The expert announced the killer was a cougar. But not just one cougar, there were at least two, possibly more! Smaller tracks were mixed in with the larger ones and it was determined that the cougar had been accompanied by her half-grown cubs. Normally a cougar would make a kill and carry off the body to be hidden and eaten elsewhere. In this case, everything had been killed and the carcasses left. Unusual behavior but not unknown when cougars are teaching cubs to kill. The neighbors’ 3 large dogs had not raised any alarm. Our dogs had not raised any alarm either. This was bad. If we were going to be dealing with multiple cougars, we might need a third Anatolian. Harika was almost 7 years old, and Bubba was 3. I called Erick who agreed if multiple cougars were coming back to the area so boldly, we might need to increase our protection.

Over the next month, more information came out about the attack. Other neighbors reported cougar sightings on their property. Children were kept inside. Horse owners feeding after dark carried rifles. People lucky enough to have barns locked their animals up before dusk. Fish and Game were called out to look at the kill site. They determined the tracks were not cougar tracks but belonged to dogs.

Further information surfaced – the killer dogs belonged to the owner of the livestock! Not only were these his own dogs, but they were known for running loose. They had attacked other animals. People on the horse trails had seen them. They were friendly. No, they were vicious. Tales swirled around the neighborhood and differing reports were posted almost by the minute to the online message board. No two stories were the same. The owner denied that his dogs had killed anything. There was pandemonium throughout the neighborhood. Our dogs calmly kept working, our sheep were getting ready to begin another lambing cycle. We had not seen these dogs, nor cougars, nor had any trouble. Our Anatolians continued to fight the good fight against encroaching predators.

Two weeks later I received a hysterical telephone call from Nancy, our neighbor down the hill. Three large, friendly dogs had been in her driveway earlier in the day. She had gotten the name and number of the owner from their collars and tried to call him. Not receiving any response to her repeated calls and messages, she shooed them away. Half an hour later the dogs had returned. Terrified screaming from their horses had brought the family running to the barn. There they found the three dogs attacking their horses. Blood covered the dogs and ground. One Saddlebred mare had her stomach torn open. The family drove off the dogs which ran across the face of the hill below our property. Nancy was calling to warn us because of our sheep. Calling to my son to get his rifle, we all ran out to see where they had gone. Expecting our dogs to be barking we didn’t see the killer dogs at first. Then we noticed them running along the outside of our fence. Our Anatolians were running silently along the inside of the same fence, tails up. My son ran up with his rifle but before he could get a shot at them, they veered off into the hills. The stray dogs were a Cane Corso, a pit bull, and a Cane Corso x pit bull. Our dogs never let out a sound. I remembered what Erick had said about Anatolians only warning predators once. Neighborhood watch computers were burning up about the attack. Along with reports of their whereabouts were additional sightings of these dogs from previous times they had been roaming the neighborhood loose. Several people reported they had lost animals in other attacks to these dogs. Compensation was fnally paid to our neighbor for her horse’s injuries and vet bills. Two of the dogs were destroyed. Without our Anatolians we would have lost all our sheep.

Stray dogs are not the only bold enemy our dogs face. Who can forget the wildfires that swept through California during the winter of 2017-2018 several years ago? It was a horrific time. The entire town of Paradise wiped out, people and animals dead and homeless. In our area the fire came at night, driven by 80 mph winds. Sweeping across the hills it gave residents no time to evacuate. They threw open corrals and drove their horses out as they ran from the fires themselves. After the fires ended, thousands of acres of pasture and forest had been destroyed. Coyotes, normally solitary or living in small family groups, began running in packs numbering up to 20 members. Whelping began in early spring. Not only were the packs starving, but they all had pups to feed.

In Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to the north, Cattle ranchers saw huge losses to their calf crop from predators pushed out of their home ranges by the fires. As cows were calving, packs of coyotes would pull the live calf out and eat it, still trailing placenta from the cow. Ranchers began sitting up over piles of offal to shoot these killers. Banding together a group of ranchers shot 40 coyotes in one night.

Our property is surrounded by open brushland. With the number of coyotes pushed into our area from their burned territory we were inundated. Instead of our 2 small resident packs, now we were surrounded by as many as 50 coyotes, all of them very hungry. Neighbors reported seeing packs of 8 to 10 coyotes running fearlessly through yards attacking pets. Normally nocturnal coyotes began to hunt during the day. Dogs being walked on leashes were dragged from screaming owners in city parks. Children were watched carefully when outside. Gunshots sounded at night. We weren’t worried, we had Anatolians. But the sheer number of coyotes we were experiencing had not been seen before. Our dogs were circling our property working ceaselessly.

The rains had finally come, helping to put out the fires. These rains also brought a flush of growth to our hillsides. The sheep were enjoying this succulent forage. One night the flock refused to come in from the field. Buckets of grain were shaken in vain – the green stuff was too tempting. No problem, they had stayed out overnight before with our two Anatolians to guard them. Between the loss of our ram and the fires, our ewes only had a couple lambs that spring. They would be safe. In the morning, we were missing a lamb. The dogs were upset, the sheep milling around on the top of the hill. The ewe was calling piteously for her missing lamb. The carcass was never found. Now we made sure to bring in the sheep before dusk, herding them up from the gully into the fold. Two days later we were missing another lamb – in broad daylight.

The coyotes had lured the dogs to one side of the property. While Bubba and Harika were repelling invaders on one side of the ridge others had entered the property from the other side and killed the lamb. The dogs had heard the struggle but returned to late to save the lamb. Rika and Bubba surprised the killers over the body. Instead of running, the starving coyotes tried to defend their kill. A fight had taken place resulting in severe slashes to Rika’s face and shoulder. These losses were our fault. Overconfident in our Anatolians, we had ignored the sudden rise in numbers and the desperation of starving coyotes. The dogs were outgunned. The predator load on our 6 acres had risen to the point that we needed at least one other Anatolian NOW. In the meantime, we kept the sheep locked up for several days. They complained, but our exhausted dogs gratefully slept. I called Erick. Our Anatolian adventure was about to take another turn.
 

Baymule

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It’s Sunday morning. I put the coffee on and went outside to turn the Anatolians out and Cooper and his 14 ewes. I did morning feeding too. Buford was running madly all over the field like a race horse. Sheba and Sentry sat in the middle of the field, throwing out encouraging barks. So what was the intruder?

Birds. Tiny little birds flying up before the onrush of of the Anatolian bulldozer. Buford was clearing the field. Sheba and Sentry let him have at it.
 

Ridgetop

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All they needed was a cup of coffee while relaxing and watching the youngster playing! LOL

After the firestorms that had denuded thousands of acres, predators who escaped the fires had congregated in our little neighborhood. The balance of nature was out of sync. The ratio of predator to guardian had shifted to an extreme. We had a growing sheep flock, 2 Anatolians, and 100 coyotes. We needed another Anatolian.

I called Erick Conard, my go-to Anatolian guru. He put me on the list for a puppy. Two litters were planned from his dogs. Perfect. As soon as the pregnancies were verified the check would be in the mail. Disaster! Neither bitch took. This was a calamity. Bubba was now 3 and Harika 7. Much older and she might not be willing to train a puppy. The next litters would not be available for another year. Knowing that we might spay the new bitch, Erick suggested a solution. He had sold a bitch to a woman in Idaho. She had an excellent working male out of an imported Turkish dog. There were problems with the import paperwork which could possibly prevent registration. The puppies were already born. Both parents were excellent workers - protecting sheep from apex predators in rural Idaho. The call was made, the check sent, we packed up and took off.

From videos Erick had seen of the puppies’ reactions to early training, he chose a shaded mask fawn bitch for us. Relentlessly, I stifled my urge to buy the adorable brindle bitch. Color was secondary to behavior and Erick had decreed Angel for us. Since he had also chosen Harika and Bubba, our 2 perfect guardians, Angel it would be. We had no worries about her training. We had survived Big Bad Bubba – this little girl would be a piece of cake.

I know – I can hear your hysterical laughter.

The trip home was uneventful. Rika and Bubba were on hand to welcome us home. When we pulled the 10-week-old pup from the crate they pressed forward for a better look. As the puppy happily nosed them, Rika looked at her in shock, looked at us in disgust, and returned to her duties. Bubba took one look and fell instantly in love with the fluffy baby. That night when the puppy tried to approach Rika’s food dish Rika sent her sprawling with a low growl. Uncowed, Angel shared Bubba in licking out the remains of his bowl. Angel could steal Bubba’s bone, his dinner, crawl over him, hang from his ears, and in all ways torture him. He endured it all with the Anatolian equivalent of a goofy grin. Her slightest yelp brought him to her rescue.

Angel was not allowed free run of the property yet. With our coyote problem she was confined in the barn with some lambing ewes. The creep at one end gave protection when she needed to avoid aggressive mamas. Angel was thrilled to see the sheep and immediately joined them. We would often find her cuddled up with sleeping lambs having a nap. Several times a day we took her out for a supervised lesson with Rika, and besotted Bubba who would play with her. After supper at night she joined Rika and Bubba for their nightly ritual with family in the house.

When Angel turned 3 1/2 months old, we noticed a lamb in the creep with a bloody ear. We thought it had scratched itself but when more bloody scratches followed, we realized Angel was playing with her new BFFs. We screened off the creep so Angel could only interact with the lambs under supervision. At 4 1/2 months old Angel was still trying to play with the now weaned lambs. They needed to be turned out with the flock but not if Angel was “playing” with them. Remembering Erick’s instructions on “self-correction” we moved her in with our 2 rams. Thrilled with her new location she approached the rams to play. They ignored her. She ran and jumped on them. One ram turned and knocked this annoying creature away. Angel was overjoyed at his willingness to "play" with her. As the rams moved away, she jumped on the ram again. This time he sent her rolling for 10 feet. Shaking herself off she thought it over, eyed her new buddies with respect, and lay calmly in the creep portion of the pen. This barn pen was much larger and opened into another hillside pen. The rams were not aggressive as long as she was not trying to play with them. Angel patrolled the hillside and watched Rika and Bubba as they worked.

At 6 months old Angel had outgrown her chase phase. She had learned that in order to be with her buddies she had to approach the sheep calmly. Through trial and error, she learned to stop running at least 50’ from the flock and then approach slowly. We congratulated ourselves on following Erick’s training recommendations and agreed that we were home free from troublesome puppy behavior.

I hear you laughing again . . . .

Wrong. Angel, permanently released to join the older dogs in the yard and field had graduated to the “Kill all Snakes” phase. The snakes in this case were our hoses. Again. Unwary persons were sprayed with plumes of water from holes that had magically appeared in perfectly good hoses. We learned to examine hoses for telltale tooth marks before turning them on to fill water tubs, irrigate shrubbery, or wash items. Once again hoses were hung from rafters where they lurked to choke members of the household after dark. We bought replacement hoses and another behavioral phase passed.

While Bubba had been Angel’s main playmate when she was small, Rika now joined their play. At first it looked like they were chasing each other. Then we noticed a change in their behavior. The game was not random, Rika and Bubba were training her in Anatolian combat methods. They would bite the nape of her neck or spine, or slash at her hocks. One at a time or in concert they trained her in fighting techniques. They taught her the favored Anatolian kill move – slam into an opponent with their full weight and as she tumbled over grab her by the throat. Ganging up on her they taught her to fight off two predators at once. Amazingly this “fighting”, accompanied as it was by bloodcurdling snarls, never left any marks. Angel was learning both offensive and defensive Anatolian fighting moves taught by masters of the art. We learned to be watchful on the field when working or feeding. At any moment a trio of Anatolians could barrel past intent only on each other. Unsuspecting persons were knocked painfully off their feet. Our artful twirling out of their way would have earned us a spot in the Bolshoi ballet company.

At 12 months Angel came into season. She was skilled at removing herself from anywhere except the stock trailer. She disassembled a crate, dug out, went through chain link, or over any pen. With Bubba on site, we did not want to chance any pups this young. We couldn’t spay her until the ongoing fight to get her sire registered was settled. She couldn’t stay in the stock trailer for 3 weeks. She went to the kennel with instructions not to put any dogs on either side of her. Three weeks later she returned home thrilled to see all her beloved sheep buddies again and ready to assume her role in their protection.

Several weeks later a 6-month-old lamb came in limping from cuts on her legs. We thought she had snagged herself on wire. A search turned up nothing. We put her in the barn for treatment. One after another, our 6-month-old lambs began showing the same cuts and punctures. Angel had entered a teenage “chase and play” phase. Since she was a pack member the other dogs did not stop her attempts at playing with her BFFs. The lambs did not snarl and turn on her like another dog would have. By the time we realized what was happening all seven 6-month-old lambs were in the barn being treated for infected cuts and punctures. Bereft of her buddies, Angel’s attempts at play with the adults met with failure. They refused to run. We scolded and brought her back into ram pasture. Those big boys were not shy about knocking a playful bitch around. Stern scoldings from us accompanied any movement towards the sheep. This scenario was played out for three or four months until Angel learned not to chase anything. The lambs’ wounds were significant. Twice a day for 4 weeks DS1 had to restrain the lambs while I opened, drained, and flushed the punctures with iodine. Then I used Today mastitis tubes to get topical antibiotics into the deep punctures. The lambs also received injectable antibiotics. The lambs recovered, we trained consistently, and over the next 4 months Angel corrected her behavior.

Over the following year Harika and Bubba continued Angel’s training. We noticed Angel being guided in larger responsibilities. Where Angel had been kept behind the older dogs as they patrolled, Harika began sending her into the gully alone while she watched from above. If there was danger Rika and Bubba would join her to provide backup. She was left on solitary guard duty while the other two slept. She took over night guarding duties in the rotation. Her behavior with ewes and newborn lambs was now exceptional.

On one occasion a serious threat brought all three dogs down into the gully at a run. They reappeared, leading the sheep and Josie the Mule onto the ridge. Stationing the flock and mule near the night fold, all three dogs touched noses. Angel sat down at the edge of the gully in front of Josie and the sheep while the other two ran silently back down. Angel stared fixedly into the gully. Occasionally excitement got the better of her and she stood up. You could see her anxiety to join the other dogs, but she stayed where Rika had left her. Josie stood 20’ back from the edge with the flock clustered around her legs. All their focus was on the gully as well. About 15 minutes later Harika and Bubba returned from the gully. They touched noses with Angel who promptly got up. Bubba went over to the flock. Josie led the sheep back down to graze. Then all three Anatolians trotted across the field. To witness this Incredible cooperative behavior directed by pack leaders was amazing.

Fast forward to Angel, age 3 years, trained Anatolian guardian. Harika’s training along with ours, has resulted in a superlative livestock protector. Angel is the scout, often checking out the first advance of a threat. Bubba, in his prime at 165 lbs. of fully muscled Anatolian male, provides enough brawn to repel a Sherman tank. He has appointed himself the home guardian as well. We often wake to the sight of his face peering into our bedroom window. Harika is the serious brain of our guardian operation and the arbiter of correct conduct. Over the years Harika has trained Angel and Bubba in procedure and safety. She has disciplined them over breaches of correct Anatolian guarding conduct. I have also seen her shaking her head in disbelief over some of their antics. Between the 3 of them they are the Special Ops of Anatolian protection

With our small grandchildren these powerful dogs are soft and loving. Yes, a swipe of the tongue can knock over a toddler, but the dog is always there to gently nose him up and dry any tears. When my daughter-in-law nurses the baby on the patio Bubba lays on one side of her chair and Angel on the other. Even when the older grandchildren play with them you can see our dogs holding their strength back. The gentleness they accord the newborn lambs is transferred to our grandchildren. No one seeing their ferocious aspect toward a stranger at night would believe these dogs would allow a 2-year-old to sit on them, pulling their ears and tail.

Harika is aging. We see it, but she does not. This is dangerous for older Anatolians who will throw themselves into a fight not realizing that they have gotten slower and less agile. Having younger backup to their experience is essential for protection of both the flock and the aging LGD. Angel is taking over many of Harika’s duties. Early morning patrol of the ravine is now her job, along with most of the night watch sentry duty. She has graduated from cadet to fully fledged patrol. She has also matured into a powerful Anatolian bitch, 140 lbs. of pure muscle clad in a silver coat.

Hopefully our beloved Harika will train one more puppy for us. Angel is young enough to indulge in playtimes, while remaining a model of Anatolian guarding skill. Bubba will have another puppy to adore. With Harika in charge, operation Anatolian Guardian Dog will continue on track. But it is still time to get on the list for another Anatolian puppy.

Luckily, I have Erick on speed dial.
 

Ridgetop

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Shadow Hills, CA
After hearing the years of different behavior problems we had with our Anatolians you are probably wondering why we even bothered to continue getting another. Easy - the security we have with our protectors is worth any training problems we have to endure (for months or years LOL). Eventually we get them trained and like childbirth the suffering disappears into a dim memory as they become perfect guardians.

I really miss Bubba though. Just now, going down the flights of stairs to the milk shed to put the extra 21 lb. turkey in that freezer, I was pretty unsteady on my feet. Probably wearing proper shoes instead of my L Bean slippers might have helped. However, I automatically put out my hand to steady myself on Bubba's shoulder. No Bubba. He has been gone over a year now and I miss him every day. He had a lot of expression in his big face. Before I had my knee replacement, I was very unsteady on that leg. Going up and down the stairs to the 4' drop to the barn was not easy without a guard rail which we never seemed to get around to installing. Bubba would always walk next to me on the outside of the steps, keeping between me and the drop. He was so large that I could lean on his shoulder. One day on the patio I tripped and fell. I had fallen so hard that I couldn't get to my feet. As I lay there wondering f I could roll over to the table to pull myself up Bubba appeared out of nowhere, concern on his beautiful face. I reached up to grab hold of his ruff and pull myself to my feet. He stood still bracing himself to take my weight. With me leaning heavily on him he slowly paced beside me to the door so I could get inside.

When Bubba was about 16 months old, we decided to show him. I took him to several showmanship classes and he behaved well other than having to be lifted into the SUV. It took DH and DS1 to put hm in - he was a BIG boy. I could get him out by myself but loading him to come home. DH said he would come with me to the classes. Loading Bubba back into the car was an effort for us, but we managed it. We needed 5 minutes afterwards to recover, but accomplished it. Bubba was a beautifully put together dog with a gorgeous head and movement. The handler was thrilled with him and assured us that he would finish his championship easily. His wife was a handler as well so there would be no problems with showing two dogs in a class. We entered hm in a couple shows and I had a handler for him. With my bad knee I couldn't run gracefully or fast and falling down in the show ring was not an option. He did well enough in the first 2 shows, but at the third his handler brought him out of the ring and gave him back to me. He had asked to be dismissed from the ring because Bubba was growling softly at the judge. Asking to be dismissed saved Bubba from a DQ. Bubba did not like the judge who was coming to look into his mouth. A breeder who had brought over some of the first Anatolians told me that he was a teenager and just starting to lean what was appropriate with strangers. He was not comfortable enough with his power yet to accept strangers, knowing he could take them at any time.
:eek: WOW! She told me to wait until he was about 3 years old and then show hm. Grateful for that advice, we took Bubba home to mature, but when he turned 28 months old he had an injury to his eye and lost the sight in that eye. His eye still looked normal, but a dog without sight in one eye Bubba never resumed his show career.

However, since the loss of sight was as a result of injury, we still needed to have him collected. It was in our purchase contract. I made arrangements for all the DNA tests and other health exams needed. Loading Bubba was harder now than when we were going to showmanship classes since he had grown. Now he was a REALLY BIG dog. We put his front feet in the SUV, then lifted his back section in with a chair lift under his stomach. It took a while since he was trying to back out of the cargo area hie we struggled to put him in. Again, getting him out was no problem, however, at the vet we collected an interested audience when it came time to load him for the trip home.

We were in the second year of Covid and I couldn't go into the vet's office with him. This worried me so we put him in a muzzle to hand him over to the technician. When having semen collected the technicians run tests on it to make sure it's viable. The first 2 collections were only so-so but since we had not been using hm as a stud dog and he was 4 years old, this was not unusual. We decided to collect him a couple more times to see if the quality improved. The next week the semen was excellent, so we decided to continue the collections every week. By now when we opened the back of the SUV, Bubba decided he wanted to get in. This made things difficult when we tried to unload groceries or cargo. Would he eat the meat or just trample the eggs and bread? During the second month of driving to be collected, we noticed that we only had to open the SUV rear tailgate and he jumped in happily. We assumed he had learned to load to command. However, the reason for this easy loading became apparent as we got off the freeway for the vet. Bubba, recognizing the direction we were travelling began to dance in the back and whine. We wondered why but as we pulled into the vet's parking lot his joy was unmistakable. When the technician can out to bring him in for the collection, he was thrilled to see her. She addressed him as her "sweet teddy bear". He looked at her with love in his eyes as he pulled her toward the open door of the clinic. Other clients commented about our dog being so happy to go to the vet as theirs braced their legs and hung back. We were embarrassed to tell them he was there for semen collection. DH and I avoided eye contact and took a seat on the far end of the bench. We felt like pimps. LOL

The effort we put into training them and any problems we suffer through while doing it, is nothing compared to what we get from them. For the past week the dogs have been barking non-stop from 8:00 pm on. Tonight, I realize I have not heard a sound. Whatever predator they were warning off has moved on. They keep us safe from animal predators and human predators as well. As we age, (sorry - move into Prime - LOL) we are not as spry as we used to be. All our Anatolians would defend us to the death. I have no fear with my Anatolians on guard. Before we had Anatolians, I relied on my dogs to let me know if there were problems. During the year I underwent chemo and radiation, my Weimaraner bitch stayed close to the couch or bed with me. My dogs are the other half of me - without them I feel incomplete. With my Anatolians on guard I feel protected.
 

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