Rough play

blessedfarmgirl

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I have 2 LGDs, a 20 month old Pyr mix(Gracie) and an 18 month old Maremma Pyr mix(Moses). Gracie is tied out with my goats since she can't be trusted alone with them, and Moses is with my sheep in their pasture almost 24/7. He is super gentle with the livestock. Every evening and morning we take them out for a long walk around our property and sometimes take them along to feed pigs or chickens and let them hang out by the barn and house for awhile before putting them back. They both have a lot of energy, especially now that it's cooler, and they play ROUGH with each other. Most of the time when they are playing and roughhousing, I can move out of the way in time, or give them a quick buzz with their e-collars to stop them if they're doing it too near us. But sometimes they just randomly start chasing and fighting before I can react. Today both of them ran into my left knee full force before I could stop them. I was on the ground and hurting or I would have beat the snot out of both of them. My question is, how can I train them to not play fight near people, but not stop them from play fighting altogether because the associate playing with punishment? I want them to be able to get their energy out on each other, but we can't afford to be injured, plus I have a young sister who could seriously be injured if they ran into her. Whacking them while they're wrestling doesn't work. They have tough LGD hides.
 

Baymule

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I have had two big LGDs run into the back of my knee, did a face plant in the dirt, screaming in pain and agony. (I had a really bad knee) then they thought I wanted to play and they delightedly jumped all over my, licking my face. Yeah, been there. The good art about that is, the force of the blow actually knocked the bones forward and nd I was pain free for two years. Hahaha. I finally had knee replacement a year ago.

So I put the sheep up at night and put the dogs in a 1 acre pasture where they could run and play.

I like your E collar idea. Do you have a pasture you could let them run and play in?
 

blessedfarmgirl

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Nope. All dilapidated barbed wire fencing. The only time we can let them loose is when we can supervise them. Gracie will run off and visit the neighbors' properties if we let her loose. We used to keep her in electric hotwire with the sheep and Moses, but she started being aggressive to the sheep AND escaping.
 

Baymule

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I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear. These dogs are not made for tie out. They aren’t made for a small pen. Pyrenees especially need room to roam and are hard to keep contained even on a several acre pasture. The Maremma half of Moses makes it easier to keep him in with the sheep. I have never had Maremmas, but watching friends with them, they seem to be more better at small spaces than Pyrenees.

Now I’ll tell you something else you don’t want to hear. Fence. A good fence, sheep and goat wire, 4’ tall, with 7’ T-posts. 2 feet in the ground and 5 feet above ground. That gives you a foot of post to run a smoking hot wire on, maybe 2 strands. Run a hot wire in the middle of the fence and one a foot off the ground. Every 10th post is a dead man post, an 8 foot treated wood post set 3 feet in the ground for added stability. The end of the roll is a H brace, I like a H brace in the middle too.

You may be looking at the cost, staggering backwards with chest pains, at the cost. You may be looking at the total cost of fencing your whole place. Not many people can afford it. But ONE roll of wire and start buying posts, a few at a time.

I also have old run down barbed wire fences. They also come with 40 years of growth in them, briars, brush, trees, a mess. So I know where you are, I know what you are facing.

Get several plats of your property or draw it out on a roll of white butcher paper. Butcher paper is cheap, tear off a piece and draw all over it. Draw your pastures, shelters, don’t like it? Tear off another piece.

It’s best to start on a property line, so that as you go, you are enclosing your land. Sheep and goat wire is a 330’ roll. An acre is roughly 210’x210’ so a 330’x330’ would give you a decent sized pasture.

My husband and I fenced and cross fenced our 8 acre farm in 2”x4” non climb horse wire. It took us 2 years to completely fence the outside perimeter. He died in September of 2021, I sold the farm, moved everything to my sons 2 acres, bought a 25 acre place that needs everything, 3 weeks after moving in, had knee replacement surgery and I’ve been here a little over a year. Basically I have a job for the rest of my life. I’ve increased my flock to 30 ewes and 3 rams. Yes I am an idiot. Sometimes I babble incoherently and drool.

My goal for now is to fence the front field and build a 3 sided shelter. The span along the road is 670’, the short span on one of the sides is 162’. Two sides are already fenced. All of this is the above described horribly overgrown old fencing. Two neighbors are bringing in a bulldozer to clean their fence rows. I jumped in on that deal. It will cost me $125 an hour, a super great deal. I’m thrilled.

A neighbor on one side of me had his forest clear cut and I convinced the shear operator to run down that property line and he even made me a fire lane. I wasn’t planning on fencing that right away, but it’s clean now, so I will.

So in a nutshell, I’m doing a little at a time. It’s going to take me awhile, but if I make my goals one run of fence at a time, it’s doable.

Didn’t mean to write you a book. A long answer to your question, but the short answer is Fence.
 

Baymule

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I’ve started a fence thread.
 

blessedfarmgirl

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Thanks for your input. :) You're not telling me anything I don't know. We knew when we got the property it would need a ton of fencing work, and looking at our options we realized that portable electric was the best way to go(using the Greg Judy model). I know it's not for everyone, but our solution has worked well for us (mostly). And yes, I know that Pyrs are not made for tie out. That dog is a whole other story. The maremma in Moses is what keeps him so close to the sheep and willing to stay in a 500 foot perimeter fence most of the day(I'm probably expanding out wires to 700 feet next grazing season, since our flock is expanding rapidly). We were going to get 2 maremma mix puppies from the same breeder, but when foolish me saw a pup for sale nearby for half the price, I decided to get one of each and see how it went. Worst decision of my life. I should have seen the warning signs when we actually got to her breeder's farm, but I didn't know any better. She was being kept in a pen away from the livestock, and her parents were quite scary, vs Moses who was around free roaming cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks and goats from day one, plus his very well trained guardian parents. I know it's really not good for her to be tied out all the time, but it's the only option we have right now. Short of rehoming her to a place with better fences (which I don't think we would be able to anyway, considering her other bad habits) or euthanizing her, we have no other options.
I guess I'm trying to sort out not only how to curb the rough play around people, but what to do for a permanent solution for Gracie. It doesn't really seem humane to me to keep her tied out, I am just clean out of options is all.
In the spring, I am going to fence in 1.5 acres of brush for our new goat herd. She might stay in that fence, since it will be 48" tall, but I cannot trust her alone with the goats, particularly young ones. She has always had problems chasing sheep, and now she has been away from livestock and tied out for months, so I don't know how she would act around them at all now that she's older and past the puppy stage.
 

SageHill

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Hind sight is always 20/20 they say - and especially true when animals are concerned.
For any dog chasing livestock is a big bad no-no. Yeah - you already know that 👍 . Of my 5 dogs one is a bit too intense, though she is 12 and would be close to retirement anyway, a young one lacking confidence (that can be worked on) and three that are working. They are herders not LGDs - so that's different. I'm also in a position that I can keep them all and they all live by the rules here.
I do not have LGDs or experience with them other than encounters when out judging herding trials. I do have working herding dogs. Mine are allowed to play, but rough play is not allowed. Run, chase, some tug all fine - but when it comes to T-bone charging and tackles double no. Why? I don't want a dog hurt - that means lay up from work, possible vet bill(s), and at some point that rough "play" becomes a learned behavior which I definitely don't want.
But - that's just me and herding dogs, I don't have LGDs. I'm sure some folks with LGD experience will have more advice that is tailored to the LGDs.
 

blessedfarmgirl

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See, with my dogs, play = t-bone charges and tackles, especially my boy, he's a big, rough crowd. I never thought of discouraging the roughness altogether, and only allowing them to chase and run.🤔
 

Baymule

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The rough play is necessary. It’s how they take down a predator. They need that rough play. So trying to teach them no rough play is contrary to 2,000 years of who they are and would only lead to frustration. Teaching them not to run you down would be a tough chore. It can be done though.

What pen do you ave for the goats or sheep now? What shelter? I’ve had puppies, adolescent dummies that wanted to chase. So I put them in a pen next to the sheep, sharing the lean to 3 sided shelter. Sheep were closed up in the evening, dog let out to run the pasture all night. It wasn’t perfect but it worked.

For Gracie, this might work. And the fry her hair hot wire.


This is the charger I will be using for the fence by the road. My Anatolian 13 month old puppy doesn’t know he can go over the fence and I want him to know that is a bad idea. LOL

I hope you didn’t take my post as lecturing, I meant well. Maybe we can brainstorm together and come up with something that will work. Sharing a shelter, pens side by side, lock up at night and let Gracie out at night isn’t perfect but would work for now.

ETA there are some dogs that never become good guard dogs. Poor breeding is the usual culprit but even in the same litter of well bred dogs, not all are going to make good guardians. Some make better farm dogs or pets. I applaud you for examining all your options with Gracie. I hope you can turn her around. If she continues with bad behavior no matter what you do, at some point it would be best to rehome her to a home with no livestock or euthanasia her. You probably already know this but just want you to know we are on the same page. Farming can be tough, you have backup here.
 
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blessedfarmgirl

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NO, I didn't see it as lecturing, and thank you for your help! This is precisely why I posted here, I knew I could get help from folks who have been farming waaay longer than I have. Right now our sheep are in a completely portable setup. I have way too few pics of them for some reason, but here is what I do have from over a year ago.)
(This pic was taken before Gracie had to be removed from the sheep paddock. She is the dog in the bottom right. Moses is a LOT bigger now, lol. We now also have 13 sheep instead of 8)

Screenshot 2023-10-28 184653.png


Screenshot 2023-10-28 184818.png


It's basically 3 strands of polybraid hotwire, plus reels and plastic step-in posts. You can see the reels on the reel stand in the second pic. (our sheep are katahdins crossed with gulf coast, that's why they're wooly. We have only one that doesn't shed off completely in the summer.) We went ahead and got the best of everything, these posts are made in New Zealand and are a step above most other posts you can buy at farm stores. We move the sheep about once a week onto fresh pasture by reeling up the three wires, moving the posts, and clipping the wires back onto the new fence. We energize it with a 5 joule plug in charger that plugs in by the house and we use another strand of polybraid to run a hot extension wire to the sheep. This process takes about 2-3 hours, then we're done until the next week, and our sheep require only a little hay and alfalfa for the last couple months of winter when we run out of winter stockpile (dead grass:) ALL of our animals with the exception of our bucks (they are in a cattle panel/t-post pen) are in portable electric fencing of some sort. We move them all over our property. There are downsides to this, but the upsides outweigh the downsides for us, anyway. (Upsides: free fertilizer, free brush mowing, less parasites, healthier soil and grass) We do get occasional breakouts, but only if the charger is left off. That thing punches 10,000 volts plus. Our sheep were trained to electric using netting, and then we transitioned them to hotwire after about 2 months in the netting. We bought our sheep from a man in Arkansas who let his sheep free range on 200 acres, so it was a DRASTIC change for these sheep. They have done so well. The dogs were also trained to netting, then let out into the hotwire. Moses respects the fence. Gracie does not.
For shelter, the sheep have a portable hoop/ish structure that has removeable wheels and a tarp over it. I'm going to have to build another one this winter before lambing season starts. Oh, yes, and I forgot to mention, Gracie's favorite thing to do is tear up tarps. I have lost count of how many she has shredded. So no tarp shelters anywhere near her.

I completely agree with you about breeding, and even dogs in the same litter being different. My breeder worked with us in choosing the best puppy from the litter for our needs. Some of the puppies tended to roam more, some were better with chickens, etc. We chose one that didn't roam as much and like to stick with the sheep, and so far he has stayed that way.
We have a parmak... not sure which one it is. We switched from that to a plugin a long time ago because it didn't pack the punch we needed. And...that's about it. This is what we've got to work with.

About the goats: I'm hoping to start a dairy operation, sell kids, maybe show, and sell milk shares. I'm going to fence in 1.5 acres of brush (again with netting, 48", since we still can't afford the permanent) which they will graze in the daytime, and be in a pen with a small barn/shelter at night. After morning milking, they will be let out to pasture. I'm not sure how I could work that situation to allow Gracie to roam the pasture if I can't trust her with the goats. Do you think I could try training her to not chase them and slowly reintroduce her to livestock?
And as far as rehoming her, here are her list of bad habits:
~destructive, likes to tear everything up and dig huge holes
~chases livestock
~has food aggression toward livestock (she guards grain from them as well as minerals)
~jumps on all guests even when she has an ecollar on
~likes to roam and escape fences
Imagine that on a craigslist post to rehome a dog. So I think my only options are reform or euthanize.
Anyway! Long post. Sorry.
 
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