How to train LGDs?

cassandragrenryd

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I'm currently reading about LGDs, but these articles never mention how to train them.
How do I train a dog to kill a fox? Protect smaller livestock from aviary predators? Minks? (I don't see how a dog can protect small livestock from birds of prey... But hey! it says they can apparently)
Soooooo how do I make them bond with livestock (or just have them protect livestock) and teach them to kill, attack or scare away predators

The only predators I worry about are foxes, minks and birds of prey
I don't have many predators at my farm, but I am setting up a security camera soon to hopefully see if there happens to be more roaming our farm at night that we're unaware of
 

cassandragrenryd

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Is it too late to teach adult dogs? I have 2, but they have no experience with guarding animals
Jack Russell + Her grandson (Jack Russell + Springer spaniel)
I want to have them at least be near the chickens to keep foxes and minks away
But this thread really isn't about them, I'm more interested in training puppies because we'll be getting a livestock guardian dog sooner or later
 

secuono

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You need to buy true Livestock Guardian Dogs, breeds that are real and full LGD.
No random other breeds.

They know by instinct what to do.
All you train is w/e random stuff you want them to do, like leash, car rides, so on. And redirect any puppy behavior that is not safe, chasing, chewing, biting, so on.

Some dogs protect against birds, others don't care about what's in the sky. It's a gamble if they'll care or not.

Mink will be very difficult, if not impossible.

What are they supposed to protect?
Chickens & such is very tricky, because they fight with each other and the dogs learn to ignore their screams. So you need to pen them tightly together.

They bond by living with them full time.
 

Ridgetop

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Your dogs are terriers and terrier/spaniels crosses. These are hunting dog breeds. Even the little Jack Russel is bred to catch and kill rats. They have a strong chase and kill genetic coding. This is not a good choice for an LGD. These dogs are good house, yard, and general farm dogs. LGDs are truly a breed apart. You seem to be asking about training your current dogs to protect your livestock. This won't happen.

An LGD belongs to a specific group of dog breeds. Within that group of breeds the guarding styles are different. Not all LGDs will guard poultry. A few individuals won't even guard livestock. Training a livestock guardian dog begins in infancy when the pups are with the mother who (hopefully) is a good guardian. As she guards her flock, the puppies learn through observation. They begin the bonding process with the flock like they would bond with a pack. In essence the flock becomes the LGD's pack.

Many people believe (wrongly) that you just toss the LGD pup into a pen with the flock and they immediately and instinctively protect the animals. Wrong. When getting an LGD puppy you can't expect it to guard immediately. The LGD puppy is small and at just as much risk as the sheep and goats from larger predators until it grows big enough to defend itself. Then there are behaviors that should not be allowed. Just like small children LGDs go through behavioral phases as they grow. Proper handling and training when the young LGD goes through them are essential for an LGD t reach his potential. Improper handling results in good LGDs being ruined and ending up in the animal shelter.

The many breeds of LGDs are unlike any normal breed of dog. They are harder to train because they think for themselves and judge what needs to be done when guarding their flocks. If a predator is close, they will ignore any commands to "come" even if you are holding their food dish. If they think there is danger to you or the flock, you might not be able to control them. This is why the different LGD breed organizations are adamant on not training any of these breeds as attack dogs. Your LGD believes that he or she knows better than you about any threat to the flock. Since you can't smell or hear what they do, they are usually right. It is important to encourage them when they give an alarm. Some breeds and individuals are more dominant and require special handling.

A good experience with an LGD depends on finding a reputable breeder. If you get a puppy or grown dog from someone that has good guardians and is familiar with their attributes and abilities, they should be able to help you choose a good puppy for your specific situation. Large homestead? Small homestead? Sheep and goats or poultry? Family pet? Each individual puppy in a litter has the same genetics but each puppy might not be a good choice for your situation. A good breeder will help you decide what you need. Choosing the right puppy for the job is like choosing the right tool. A saw and penknife both cut, but what do you want for a tree limb? If they are good breeders with knowledge about their dogs, they also be willing to help you with any training problems. Unlike what most people believe about LGDs you do need to do some training. Rarely you will get a young LGD that does almost nothing wrong and requires almost no training. This is very rare. Most LGDs do require some training but not the training you associate with regular pet dogs. And calling the breeder about any potential problem or even a behavior you don't understand is equally essential. If you don't call the breeder about a problem, they can't help you fix it. And a behavior that you think is a problem can often be explained by an experienced LGD person.

We have had 3 breeds of LGDs over the past 35 years. Our first LGD was a crossbred Shar Planinetz X Maremma. He was a good dog. Our next 3 LGDs were Great Pyrenees. We now have Anatolians. Originally, we needed a guardian that was people friendly because we had strangers on our property frequently. We were 4-H leaders with small children whose friends played in the animal pens. At that time, you were not supposed to make a pet of your LGD or to socialize it in any way. Anatolians were considered too savage for homestead use. They were very aggressive dogs having just been imported from their native Turkey where they were used to fight off wolves, bears, and human thieves. Since there were no laws against the guardian dogs attacking human thieves, the dogs were more savage than was desired here. This has changed with breeding and understanding of Anatolian nature. The two breeds have completely different guarding styles.

In the case of Great Pyrenees, these dogs are used to protect larger expanses of territory as the flocks move through the Pyrenees mountains grazing with their shepherds. This is the dog of choice for the Basque people. The Great Pyrenees breed wants a large safety zone around their flocks. Everything the dog sees is meant to be protected by it. This breed was developed to move out in front of the flock and clear out predators before the flock comes into the pastures. This is where most Great Pyrs have earned a reputation as roamers and escape artists. 35 years ago our neighbors were few and far between and they appreciated the protection work our Pyrs did. I did not! I want my dogs to stay inside the pasture fencing with their animals! A Pyr can contract their bodies like cats. That huge coat of white fur makes them look bulkier than they actually are. If their heads fit through a hole, the rest of them can too. They can also use their extra toes to climb fences. Our Pyrs went through stock panels missing one wire and climbed over 6' chain link fences. They didn't want to just roam; they were looking for predators to remove from their perceived territory. We owned 6 fenced acres; they patrolled the entire 100 open acres behind us. Excellent guardians, sweet temperaments, but as our neighborhood changed to more homes and less livestock keeping, we needed dogs that would respect our fences and remain with the flock.

We settled on Anatolians. Their breeding since importation has changed them to a slightly less aggressive protector. Since our children were grown and we did not have strangers wandering into the yard looking for the 4-H meeting, we decided we could handle them. It was a very good decision. Our Anatolians have remained with the flocks under all conditions. They are tough enough to take on any predator and are gentle with the smallest of our grandchildren. Anatolians are a completely different breed from other LGDs though and we have had to adjust our training accordingly.

If you check out the Lucky Hit Anatolians website, you will find many articles written by Erick Conard, one of the best Anatolian breeders around. He is successful in the showring for the excellent conformation of his dogs (essential for a working dog in rough territory) but is more passionate about their working ability. He has worked with many people who have bought dogs from other breeders and had problems with temperament and training. Over the 40 years he has been breeding Anatolians he has refined his training methods, changed some for more successful methods, and reports on what he has earned. Although the focus of these articles is on Anatolians there is a lot of good information pertaining to LGDs in general. He rarely breeds litters, so he is not trying to drum up sales, rather he is willing to help everyone understand their dog and help both dog and owner reach their potential. (I call him all the time. LOL)
 

cassandragrenryd

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I've been reading about LGDs like crazy
I just wanna know *how* to train them
 

cassandragrenryd

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Is it too late to teach adult dogs? I have 2, but they have no experience with guarding animals
Jack Russell + Her grandson (Jack Russell + Springer spaniel)
I want to have them at least be near the chickens to keep foxes and minks away
But this thread really isn't about them, I'm more interested in training puppies because we'll be getting a livestock guardian dog sooner or later
Let me add something first - My dogs do not care about the chickens
They were fine with the chickens when they lived at their own coop, but recently our mink problem became to big and the property was literally taken over by minks...
We moved the chickens up to our backyard, and the dogs don't like it the slightest since it's their territoryI just want some basic training tips to get them used to eachother, not to be left alone eachother and having them ''guard'', I just want to teach the dogs to be near the chickens vwhen we tell them too when we're in the backyard too. If a dog is near then the fox and mink wont attack when the dog is near.
Yes one of them is a jackrussell, but her grandson is quite big due to the changes in generation, he's more than just those 2 breeds, he's A LOT. But has a high prey drive, but controls himself at last, for example when they lived down at the chicken coop. I know accidents can happen, but I *wont* leave him alone with chickens, I simply don't trust him but to be able to have the chickens free range around him would be great (when we're also there)
What are they supposed to protect?
Chickens & such is very tricky, because they fight with each other and the dogs learn to ignore their screams. So you need to pen them tightly together.

They bond by living with them full time.
Well, goats at first.
Chickens.. may take a while. The chickens are my dogs! I can't risk to lose a single one, maybe when I get a bigger flock/meat flock, any of the sort.
Many of the livestock animals don't need guarding but the birds, so I'm unsure about the whole LGD thing at the moment, foxes have never gone after our other livestock but the birds...
We'll see how it'll be in a few years of time
 
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Baymule

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It doesn’t sound like you need a LGD at this point. Wrap your chicken coop in 1/2” hardware cloth. Lay 2’ of wire on the ground, attached to the coop, all the way around it. Weigh it down with dirt. The dogs you have should be sufficient to deter predators. If the chicken coop is in the dogs territory, over time, with your encouragement, the chickens will “belong” to the dogs. I don’t believe you need the intensity of a LGD. A good farm dog will do what you need.

My own situation, I lost my 7 year old Great Pyrenees to cancer. I bought a new ram that I was planning on the GP to guard. The fifth morning I had the ram, coyotes came REAL close to his pen. I moved him to my fenced front yard, with my Great Dane/Labrador cross. Not a LGD, but it’s his yard and he barks at predators and varmits.
 

cassandragrenryd

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It doesn’t sound like you need a LGD at this point. Wrap your chicken coop in 1/2” hardware cloth. Lay 2’ of wire on the ground, attached to the coop, all the way around it. Weigh it down with dirt. The dogs you have should be sufficient to deter predators. If the chicken coop is in the dogs territory, over time, with your encouragement, the chickens will “belong” to the dogs. I don’t believe you need the intensity of a LGD. A good farm dog will do what you need.

My own situation, I lost my 7 year old Great Pyrenees to cancer. I bought a new ram that I was planning on the GP to guard. The fifth morning I had the ram, coyotes came REAL close to his pen. I moved him to my fenced front yard, with my Great Dane/Labrador cross. Not a LGD, but it’s his yard and he barks at predators and varmits.
Just for the future :weee I may not need one at all, we'll see in a few years from now
Just very interested in how to train them!

We borrow my grandpas herding dog a little then and there, It works well.
She ''protects'' the ducks, well, that's a lie. She likes sitting at the pond, trying to find a way to herd them out.. completely alone.. It's odd but if she gets bored of people she immideantly goes to the pond

Thank you for informing me about the chicken coop! I'm currently building their run. Thank you so much

And I'm sorry about your pyre :(
 
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Baymule

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Study the LGD forum. It’s got a lot of information in it. Then if you do get one, you’ll at least have a pretty good idea where to start. Stay away from Facebook groups.
 

Ridgetop

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With minks you will need to use traps. Minks are a variety of weasel so trapping will be the easiest and most successful way of eliminating them from your chicken coop. Redo the fencing like @Baymule suggested and then bait and place traps around the coop. If you could leave the dogs in the coop the minks would probably not enter but since the dogs are not safe with the chickens, that is a no go. Better fencing, and tras are yur better bet than a dog until you have goats.

I don't know where you are located, but @bethh in Georgia was trying to rehome a pair of trained Great Pyrenees. They are trained to protect her poultry and goats. They keep getting out of her fencing and she is in a tighter neighborhood and has gotten rid of her poultry and livestock. If you are not in a neighborhood, you could contact her and discuss. Go to Rehoming Gracie and Fitz on the Search engine to find her post about this. If you are close to her this would be a good way to get a trained poultry guardian. She wants to find them a god home with livestock and poultry.
 
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