Magnum- the unfolding/unravelling story of our LGD

frustratedearthmother

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No trainer here, but I've successfully raised several LGD's over the years. I think he needs lots of leash time and try to take away his opportunity to fail. I have an LGD puppy that likes to flop over (for belly rubs) every time you get close to her. It's a challenge to get her up to walk, but you just have to be persistent.

There is a group called Farei Kennels that has info on facebook about their training philosophy. Pretty easy to look that up - lots of people swear by their techniques. Good luck!
 

frustratedearthmother

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Your pictures of Cowboy are like dreams of mine.
Thanks!

Cowboy is pretty darn special! Not sure I'm totally responsible for his success - but he's the best I've ever had whatever the reason. :) There can be a huge investment in time and energy to get one of these dogs to the point where it "clicks" for them. And, shhhhh, don't tell anybody that he had a flew 'blips' along the way, lol.
 

Ridgetop

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I know we have done some things wrong with him, but I am willing to work with him and help him be like the stories I have read of wonderful LGDs. I know now that him coming to the house after breaking out on the first night was a bad sign, I know now that when picking him out among the litter the most excited and hyper one was not the best pick, and I know he shouldn't be in that kennel, but I cant risk him hurting the goats unintentionally or eating a chicken, and tethering him in the field with him just leads to him escaping and/or tearing the fencing off the posts trying to.
OK. You know that you picked the wrong puppy. You know that you made mistakes. We all have done that so let's forget about that and move on.

First, were his parents any kind of livestock guardians? I mean, were they and the puppies with sheep and/or goats at all times? What kind of livestock did they guard? Were they successful LGDs. Not all LGDs are great guardians. Some are better at ll around ranch patrol. They bond to the flock but are just as happy to lay on the porch and protect the family and property. They will still keep predators from the goats. Some are just not good guardians. Sometimes you get one in a litter that prefers people to a flock no matter how much he/she was exposed to livestock as a pup. this temperament can still protect the ranch. I'm telling you this so you won't feel that you have caused his preference to people. It is possible that he was bonded to people at his prior home instead of to livestock. You have to understand that great LGDs who instinctively do everything perfectly come along only once or twice in a life time. They are the canine equivalent of a Mozart, Beethoven, or Einstein. The others must be trained.

Since your puppy loves the goats but they run away from him in terror the problem is not with him, but with your goats. THEY must be trained to accept him. It is no wonder he leaves their pasture to find you if they are abandoning him. It is lonesome for him if they don't like him. Try to understand his point of view. At his last home the goats were his friends. They liked him. At your house they are mean to him and show that they want no part of him. Why should he stay in the pasture to be with "the mean girls". They need to be brought in one by one and introduced to him so they accept him as their herd buddy. He can't guard a bunch of animals that run from him. They might just run from him into the jaws of a predator! Most flocks that are trained to accept LGDs will seek the company of their guardians. When danger threatens they go to the LGD for protection. If you have a small area where you can put one or two goats with the puppy so they get acquainted it will help.

Second, HE IS A BABY EVEN AT 5 MONTHS OLD. HE WILL BE A PUPPY UNTIL HE IS 2 YEARS OLD. That doesn't mean that he won't guard until then, just that he is a puppy and will have some puppy behaviors till he is 2. Training will take care of most of this but there will be some behavioral issues that will crop up at certain ages. Play behavior with seep and goats is one. It occurs around 12 months. The puppy will have one "bestie" in the flock that it loves, loves, loves! This love will show up when the puppy tries to play with its "bestie". Ears will be bitten and legs slashed. You will think the dog is attacking the animal. Yes, it is biting the animal but ony because that is the way puppies play with each other. The sheep or goat will not be able to stop this behavior because it will be young. To stop the dog doing this yu will need an older tougher animal with which to put the puppy. The older tougher animal will butt or otherwise discipline the pup. The pup will eventually outgrow this puppy play behavior but you will have to step in and prevent the pup from injuring the young stock or "bestie".

Third, some of the escape behavior may be the breed of dog. We had Pyrenees for 25 years and now have Anatolians. Our Pyrs were lovely animals, sweet and friendly towards all the people that came over. Our children's friends could play with the baby goats without any danger from those Pyrs. They were excellent guardians, BUT they did not stay with the flock. Instead they all set a perimeter boundary and guarded everything inside that boundary. THEIR BOUNDARY WAS NOT OUR PROPERTY BOUNDARY. Their perimeter boundary was 100 acres. Our property is 6 acres. You can see the problem here. Pyrenees can climb a 6' fence like a cat. They don't need to jump over it. They can also dig out. They can squeeze through a piece of stock panel missing one wire. If their head will fit through they can compress their bodies like a cat and ooze through. I have seen them so these things. Our Pyrs were impossible to keep inside any fences. Now that the children are grown and we don't have lots of strangers in our yard we switched to a sharper tempered dog. We got an Anatolian, then a second, and finally when we had a terrible coyote problem after wildfires, a third. The first Anatolian was a trained 18 month old bitch. The second and third were puppies. These dogs are completely devoted to their sheep. They do not leave the property since the sheep don't leave the property. They guard within our fences. I will admit that because we live o a steep mountain the slopes have sloughed so the fence on the front slope went from 5' to 3'. We attached extension posts and wire to raise the perimeter fence to 8' high when we got our last puppy. In case of a predator outside the fence that the dogs think they need kill, we did not want them to learn that they could jump the fence. We also put chain link to the bottom of the wire fence and spread it onto the ground on the inside of the property about 2'. The grass and brush has grown through it and it forms an undiggable barrier. We had a Weimaraner who spent his time digging under and out of our 6 acres so we did that for him. It really works. Like I said we live on steep ground and during rainstorms the ground would wash out under the fences in the gully. The chain link trick stopped that. Some LGD owners use a hot wire top and bottom on the fence to stop dogs going under or over. You can try that. For it to be successful you need to train the dog to the wire so he knows that he will get zapped by it.

Continue working on LGD obedience with your puppy. Remember that LGD obedience is not regular dog obedience. LGDs think about things and judge for themselves whether they should obey commands. If they judge that you or the flock is in danger they will pay no attention to your commands. Coming to their name when called, walking on leash, understanding the "No", "Back Off", "Drop it", etc. are all you need.

Also, just because your puppy doesn't want to spend all his time in a boring pasture with the goats does not mean that he will not know the whereabouts of every predator near the property. You said you have 1.5 acres. He will be able to get to the flock in a heartbeat if there is danger. LGDs are deceptively slow looking but can match a grayhound for speed when necessary for short bursts. We have 6 very steep acres with our house on the ridge top splitting the property in half. On the front we have a pasture, in the back and on the side we have a deep gully and steep pasture as well as a smaller pasture for the nursing lambs. Our dogs can get to every inch in 30 seconds if there is a predator. Remember that your LGD will eventually mark the territory and let predators know he is on the job by barking. LGDs protect by letting the neighborhood predators know that they have a big fearless dog to face off to. Most predators, unless they are starving, will avoid your property once your LGD establishes himself. Predators are too smart to risk their lives with your LGD when they can get something easier down the road.

I hope this will help you. I haven't given much training tips, just trying to help you understand the behavior of your LGD puppy. Understanding behavior is the first step to successful training.
 
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