To Buy or Not to Buy - A Livestock Guardian Dog

Ridgetop

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To Buy or Not to Buy – a Livestock Guardian Dog

This thread is meant for potential first-time livestock guardian dog owners, who have heard about LGDs and want more information. It is meant as a tool to help them decide on the need for LGDs, and their drawbacks. There are many stories out there of the amazing things these dogs have done but not too much is written about the drawbacks of owning one. There are definite drawbacks to owning a livestock guardian dog. I have owned many LGDs, mostly Pyrenees and Anatolians, over 30 years. As our neighborhood and guarding requirements have changed, we have changed breeds to adjust. The focus of this thread is to try to help first time LGD owners be successful with LGDs. I do not breed LGDs and have no financial stake in this. I simply hope that this may help avoid failure for some owners. There are too many supposed LGDs in shelters with bad temperaments, and physical genetic problems. Some of the LGDs in shelters have been ruined by bad training or bad owners and cannot be retrained into society. Maybe this will help lessen that situation. I am not going to talk here about how or where to find a good guardian dog. I do touch upon why you should buy from a reputable breeder, preferably after checking references from previous buyers.

Here I am going to address the question “Why Get a Livestock Guardian Dog?”

You have bought your dream acreage. You have brought in a few animals, goats, or sheep, some chickens. You planted a garden. You subscribe to Back Yard Herds and enjoy talking with like-minded people about your piece of paradise and your animals. Life is good.

But
many of those BYH people are discussing their Livestock Guardian Dogs. They love their dogs and swear by their usefulness. You don’t have an LGD. You worry that you are a bad livestock owner. Occasionally you hear coyotes howling. You begin to think that you must own a Livestock Guardian Dog to be a good livestock owner. Now you are worried. You scour Craigslist for ads for Livestock Guardian Dog puppies or adults. One is advertised and at a bargain price . . . . !

STOP RIGHT THERE!

Before rushing out to buy your fuzzy little guardian, you need to take a good look at your needs, and at your property. Good livestock guardian dogs are not cheap. While they come at different prices, beware of the ones sold from Craigslist at rock bottom prices, or worse, being given away free. Your best bet is to buy from an owner with actual working dogs. Original cost of the dog aside, LGDs are BIG. They have been bred BIG in order to take down large predators. BIG dogs eat a BIG amount of food. They eat even more as growing puppies than they do as adult dogs. They are costly to keep. They require vet care, vaccinations – particularly rabies, good fencing to keep them on your premises, AND TRAINING. They require a commitment of at least 12 years. Let’s discuss your need for an LGD rather than your desire to own one or others saying you should have one.

  1. Do you have a real predator problem in your neighborhood? If so, what type of predators do you have? Neighborhood dogs? Coyotes? Raptors? Larger predators? Where do you live? Have your neighbors had problems with loss of livestock? Have you lost livestock?
  2. How much property do you have? Is your property fenced? Whether you have a half acre, or 50 acres you will need at least 5’ high perimeter fencing to hold your LGD. Your fencing costs will differ according to your acreage, and not in a good way.
  3. Is your property fenced PROPERLY? You don’t just need fences, you need strong, tall fences. Do you have flimsy, broken, or missing areas of fence? Do you have 3 strand cattle wire? Chain link? No climb? Electric? Do you have perimeter fencing? Or just fencing around your sheep or goat pens? How high is your fence? Good fencing is crucial to a successful LGD experience.
A lot of issues with predators can be addressed through proper fencing. In fact, unless you have dog proof perimeter fencing do NOT consider getting a Livestock Guardian Dog. Without good fencing the Livestock Guardian Dog will just add to your problems. You will not be able to train the dog to stay within your boundaries. All dogs need to be confined to avoid neighbor problems, but particularly LGDs. Some LGD breeds are roamers and prefer to set their own boundaries. You need to choose your breed carefully to avoid problems. All LGD puppies are cute. All LGD puppies have potential. All LGD puppies grow into very large dogs very fast. Your small puppy problem can quickly become a very large adult dog problem.

I am not telling anyone to avoid getting an LGD. I have had many over the years and swear by their effectiveness. I am saying have proper fencing and understand the nature of LGDs FIRST. You don’t want to become an LGD owner who ends up disappointed because they did not do their research. There are too many ruined LGDs in shelters.

Here are some common misconceptions (or lies) about LGDs:
  1. All LGD breeds are the same. FALSE!
  2. All LGDs are calm, gentle natured giants. FALSE!
  3. All LGDs are good livestock guardians. FALSE!
  4. LGDs don’t need fencing since they will stay with their animals. FALSE!
  5. LGDs don’t need any training and will know on their own what to do. FALSE!
  6. You should not Interact with LGDs since they will bond with you instead of the flock. FALSE!
  7. Puppies should be put out with the flock immediately and will instinctively guard. FALSE!
  8. All LGDs are powerful enough to take down any predator. FALSE!
  9. All LGDs will attack and successfully kill any predator that approaches the flock. FALSE!
First, not all LGD breeds guard the same way. Some breeds are known for keeping close to the flock. Other breeds guard a perimeter zone. Different styles of guarding do not work for everyone’s situation. Situations can change over the years. You need to understand what your situation is before selecting a breed. Do your research.

Second, LGD individuals vary within the breed. Some are devoted to their flock, some guard the entire property, others prefer humans to livestock. It takes someone with experience to sort out a litter of potential LGDs. If you have a small property, either of the first two types will do fine. If you have many acres the first might be the one you need. The third LGD personality should go to a home where they will be a family dog and guardian. Again, what kind of protection do you need? Do your research.

Third, LGDs bark. A lot. Loudly. Many (mine included) howl at sirens. Loudly. My dogs barking during the night is soothing since I know they are on duty. I am surrounded by 100 acres of open area. To your neighbors that warning barking might be cause for complaints to Animal Control. If you live in an area of close homes where the barking will be a problem with neighbors, do not get an LGD. If you have livestock zoning this is usually not a problem, check your zoning. Do your research.

Depending on your predator species and number, one LGD may not be enough. If you live in an area surrounded by wolves cougar, and bears, you will need more than one LGD, possibly more than two LGDs, no matter how powerful or brave. In the case of reintroduced wolf packs, you will need several LGDs. Wolves are cunning hunters that hunt in packs. They use tactics worthy of a SEAL team. Your single dog or pair will be outnumbered and killed. Wolves remove threats in their territories. LGDs are threats.

To understand LGD behavior you need to do more research. LGDs are not like normal dogs. They reason. They have been bred for thousands of years to perform specific tasks. No matter how obedient they are at dinner time, if they perceive a threat nothing can call them back from their duty to repel it. They must be trained since puppies are babies and don’t know how to do their jobs. Instinct tells them they have a job to do, but lack of experience and sense can put them or your flock in danger. To be successful with your LGD, you have to understand their genetic coding, what it tells them, and what their instinctual behavior means. Experience with normal breeds will not help you here. LGDs are practically a different species.

First, you need to know that young LGD puppies are as much at risk from predators as your newborn lambs or kids. Until they are a certain age your LGD will not have the size, knowledge, experience, or savvy to come out ahead in a fight with predators. That is why they must be protected until they are large enough to avoid being eaten by the predators they are supposed to guard against.

Most importantly you cannot train an LGD unless you know how it’s instincts tell it to behave. Too many people mistake the LGD’s actions and punish the dog when it is acting appropriately. Here are some examples of possibly confusing LGD behavior.

Because young dogs understand they could be at risk, some of their early behavior will confuse you.
Example:

Two large breed stray dogs wandered onto my property and were interested in my goats. Our 5-month-old LGD watched them approach with interest. Suddenly he raced out to meet them. Wow! I thought, now we’ll see some action! Instead of attacking them, Maverick started playing with the dogs. As they chased each other around they got farther away from the goats. Maverick sat down between the dogs and the goats and waited. The dogs approached again, and another play fest went on. This happened 3 times. Finally, the stray dogs wandered off, Maverick returned to his guard position and calmly lay down for a nap. Horrified at my LGD’s lack of ferocity, I immediately called the breeder to complain about my defective LGD. He told me that this was a normal guardian dog “play behavior”. Maverick was still a young puppy. He was outnumbered and out sized by the larger dogs. By initiating “play behavior” he had lured the predators away from the flock. He continued to do so until the predators lost interest and departed. I was assured that once he reached his full growth, he would not bother doing this. Several years later, 2 Rottweiler mixes tried to get inside the goat pen. Maverick did not waste any time he simply attacked them and drove them off.
LGDs think about what they need to accomplish.

LGDs base their guarding on the surroundings and predator load. Since you can’t smell or hear the predators, you don’t know what the danger is. The LGD’s behavior may make you think they are not working properly. Do not punish the young dog until you understand their behavior.
Example:

A goat breeder bought a 6 month old LGD to guard her herd of goats. The dog was introduced to the goats without any problems. Their pen was attached to an enclosed barn but opened into many acres of open ground. Kidding season began. After the last kid was born the owner began letting the goats out into the field again with their tiny kids. The LGD began to drive the goats back into their barn from the field. When they were let out the dog would surround them and push them back inside, snapping and growling. Then he lay down in the doorway and refused to let them out. The owner was worried that the dog was “turning on” the goats. She complained to the breeder that the dog was not doing its job. She wanted the breeder to take back the dog and replace it. The dog’s breeder drove out to the ranch and assessed the dog’s behavior. After watching the puppy for several hours, she informed the goat owner that the dog was too young to protect that many goats in that large an acreage. The LGD realized It was unable to protect all the goat in the many acre pasture with its hidden areas, rock outcrops, and large brush covering. Since the dog couldn’t protect the goats in the field, it had decided to keep them in the barn where it could watch for danger approaching from the field. The dog reasoned that within the smaller area of the barn the goats would be safe. The goat owner was stunned. She fenced off a smaller area for the goats and the dog happily let them out of the barn. Her predator load meant the immature LGD could not protect that many goats in the large pasture by itself. The young LGD realized that and devised a solution.
LGDs solve problems.

LGDs will change their behavior to suit changes in the flock and on the ranch. Do not punish what you don’t understand until you find out what the behavior means.
Example:

Kidding season, our Pyrenees bitch stopped her far reaching patrols and stationed herself in the barn with the babies and new mothers. She patrolled the perimeter in the morning and evening, then remained in the barn with the kidding does and newborns. When the babies were several weeks old and the birthing odors had dissipated, she abandoned her barn watch and resumed her normal patrols. If we had not known why she was staying in the barn, we might have tried to force her out of the barn onto the field.
LGDs reason out problems.

LGDs have behaviors that may confuse newowners.
Example:

I never saw any of my other LGD breeds do this, only our Anatolians. Rika had not been with us long so I was still checking on her frequently. Our sheep disappeared from the field. I went out to look for them but nothing in sight, and no LGD either. Nothing in the gully. Then I saw movement behind the hay shed. I watched as Rika walked slowly out and looked into the gully. Her tail was up – a sign of warning. She proceeded into the gully and quartered it fastidiously as I watched. Finishing her search of the gully, she came back up and went behind the hayshed. Wondering, I had started toward the shed to investigate, when she reappeared leading the flock of sheep back into the gully to graze. I have seen this particular Anatolian behavior several times since. The sheep are rounded up and brought to a safe place by the guardian who then returns to deal with the threat. It is particularly common when there is only one guardian and no backup. If I had not waited to see what was going on, I might have scolded the dog for leaving her sheep. Luckily I had read about this behavior and was privileged to actually see a dog in action.
LGDs judge how to deal with threats.

With two guardians, the demographics often change. Again, don't jump to conclusions that the dogs are not acting correctly.
Example:

When you have two livestock guardians on patrol, the dogs will often share the guarding chores One dog might take the night watch while the other takes the day watch. This allows the off-duty dog time to sleep while always being available in the case of a predator attack. When the flock is threatened, the dogs react in different ways too. Sometimes they will both chase off the predator. Other times, depending on the threat, the stronger, more experienced dog will face the threat while the younger or weaker dog retreats to the flock as a second line of defense. If the threat is terminated by the first dog, it ends there. If the threat is greater than the first dog can handle alone, the second dog will join in routing the predator. If the threat is too great, the second dog may continue to guard the flock while the first dog falls back to join the protection around the flock. If you don’t understand this behavior you might think the dog who stayed back with the flock was a coward that did not protect properly, rather than recognizing this as a good example of pair protection.
LGDs plan and cooperate in protecting their flock.

Livestock guardian dogs are one of the tools the rancher and small holder use to avoid losses of livestock. LGDs are specific to the situation and need to be carefully selected for the job and family. Getting the wrong LGD leads to finding so many LGDs in rescue and the local shelter. Most of these dogs have health or temperament flaws due to poor breeding, or have been ruined by bad training. While adopting a rescue LGD may show a good heart and make you feel good, if you need real protection, I advise against it. Many of these dogs were abandoned for good reasons – they attacked livestock, bit people, are unreliable in temperament, have health issues, etc. While some of them can be retrained it usually takes years to complete this retraining. In the meantime, you have a dog that will not protect your animals, and may be a danger to you, your animals, or others.

If this is your first LGD, you don’t need any of these problems. LGDs are unusual dogs and are hard enough to understand. Stay away from free or rescue “LGDs”. Buy from a reputable breeder with health guarantees. The reputable breeder will be ready to help you with any questions about behavior and training. “Reputable” breeder does not mean extortionate prices. There are many good breeders out there whose puppies are reasonably priced. Raising a litter of large breed puppies is not cheap. Get references, ask the right questions about health tests, and guarantees.

“But I can’t afford the prices they are asking,” you say?
If you can’t afford the price of a good dog, then you can’t afford the vet bills that come with genetically or temperamentally defective dogs either. A dog that requires expensive vet care will not be able to protect your flock consistently. It costs the same to feed a good dog as a bad one, but a good dog costs a lot less in vet bills and neighbor complaints. Or lawsuits when your rescue LGD takes down their pedigreed $1,500.00 stud buck or ram.

Here is my formula when pricing any dog:
$$ cost of dog divided by # of years it will live and be useful = the $ cost of the dog per year

Even an “expensive” dog will turn out to be surprisingly cheap when you do that math. If you consider the health guarantees and lack of costly vet care, your cost becomes even cheaper over the working lifetime of the dog. Save up for the right dog instead of rushing out to buy a cheap dog with no guarantees.

Here is the breakdown on Puppy Raising 101. The reputable breeder doing those health tests and x-rays has to pay for them and they are expensive. That means $$$. Stud fees to a healthy sire who has also been tested can run up to several thousand dollars. More expense = $$$. A normal 110 lb. LGD bitch in whelp and nursing consumes a LOT of food. To grow healthy puppies the food has to be high quality. More $$$. The litter of 6-10 puppies are aggressive eaters, and good quality puppy kibble is expensive. More $$$. Then there are the vaccinations and wormings. More $$$. Are you starting to understand the financial investment the reputable breeder has in a litter of puppies? Reputable breeders don’t just hand over their puppies to the first person knocking at their door with a check either. They determine the compatibility of the dog and the buyer. Most of the puppies will be reserved in advance. But reputable breeders often won’t sell to a person they don’t feel comfortable with. Their dogs’ reputations are on the line along with the breeder’s. This means they may keep a couple of puppies for 4 months or more before finding an approved buyer. Feeding these large puppies as they grow costs more $$$. The breeder when selling guaranteed puppies at $1000 is usually taking a loss, not making any money.

The normal LGD works effectively for 10-12 years on the family farm with normal nutrition and vet care. If you pay $1000 to $1800 for a livestock guardian dog with genetic testing, health guarantee, and the backing of the breeder in being available to help with training, that still equates to less than $100-$180 per year of protection! Now figure the cost of your losses in livestock for one year. In 2 years without an LGD we lost over $8,000 in ewes, lambs, and at term lambs. My 25 registered Dorper sheep and lambs are worth a lot of money, as well as proving my breeding program, and giving us enjoyment. Will your LGD save you its purchase price in livestock? Mine have many times over.

Do your research and decide for yourself if you really need a Livestock Guardian Dog. Not everyone does. Sometimes, you just need better fencing and husbandry methods. If you decide you need a livestock guardian dog, get the best you can find. You will sleep soundly at night.

But do yourself a favor, buy carefully.


Anyone with other opinions are welcome to please comment. This thread is my opinion only. I buy my LGDs from breeders that have working dogs and that do testing for genetic problems. But 20 years ago, when LGDs were harder to find, I bought dogs that had no testing done from professional ranchers. Those dogs did come with a guarantee. If the dog didn’t work, shoot it and send them the tail. They would replace the dog. Ranchers’ livestock guardian dogs work hard for a living. The rancher can’t afford to pay for expensive operations or medicines for a dog that can’t or won’t work. Those dogs are removed from the gene pool by a bullet in the head. Selection of the fittest at its most basic.
 

Baymule

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AMEN! and AMEN! and AMEN!

This should be required reading for everyone considering their first dog. Buying from a good breeder with working dogs who TEST FOR HIP DYSPLASIA cannot be stressed enough. I have first hand experience with that. We bought a beautiful pup from a lady with lots of sheep, goats, pigs and horses. Working dogs, right? We adored our brilliant smart puppy and named him Sentry. Wise, calm, the perfect example of a working dog. At 9 months old, he hurt his back leg playing with the older dogs. He limped, it swelled up, when the swelling went down, it was plain that we had a problem.

We know all too well the heartache and expense that @Ridgetop is speaking of. The vet called our young pup a train wreck, the worst he'd ever seen. I detailed his journey in the two threads below.

https://www.backyardherds.com/threads/sentry-baymule’s-livestock-guard-dog.40052/


TEMPERAMENT! Oh, another winner! Yes, we did this one too. Our first Great Pyrenees, Paris was one of those free throw away dogs. We still have her, I call her the Psycho B!tch. While she did make a valuable addition to the farm, it took years of patience, slow training, to correct all the wrongs heaped on a young puppy. By the time we were gifted with her, she was a total mess. Chicken killer, turned out to be an EVERYTHING killer, and she still is. It took two years to turn her from a chicken killer to a chicken protector, and she made one of the fiercest, best chicken guard ever. She has channeled her hatred of every living thing into snakes. She kills everyone of them she finds. She also hates female dogs and has a death wish for all female dogs and most male dogs. After she got into an electric wire-put up to keep her from climbing the fence and taking off (yes, we did that one too)-Paris blamed my husband because he was standing close by on the OUTSIDE of the fence and tried to attack him from the INSIDE of the fence. There is no doubt that she would have bit him had she been able to reach him. There have been times that we seriously considered putting her down. Somehow, by diligent study, reading everything posted here on BYH and trial and error (lots of errors) I have attained the exalted status of the ALPHA B!TCH, and she listens to me-sort of. She is now 12 years old, still screwy, still a vicious killer, still gentle with chickens and sheep and adores children and would lay down her life for a child. Paris is location bound by her own insistence, to the backyard and side pasture that goes to the sheep barn. Even though she finally did make a good guardian, it took a LOT of work, YEARS, and she is still damaged goods.

LGDs are not your "normal" dog. They do not want to fetch a ball or a stick. They do not live their lives waiting on your command, living only to please you. They are not a lap Poodle or a loving Labrador. This cannot be stressed enough. If you want a pet, get a pet breed. Most of us that have LGD's also have a house dog or a farm dog and they are vastly different from our LGD's.

Being big dogs, LGD's get hot in the summer. They dig holes to the coolness of the earth to lay in to cool off. Our back yard looks like a mine field. Thank you Paris. There are favorite "look out" places in the pastures that are likewise pockmarked with holes, dug by our dogs. As it gets hotter, the holes get dug deeper. Solution? Fill them in, water down the earth and start over. In fact, water the holes frequently for the dog's comfort. You don't have to fill them up, just wet the holes a little. If you are OCD and everything must be picture perfect, maybe a big dog that digs big holes isn't for you.

SOCIALIZE Yes, socialize your dog. We realize our mistakes with Paris, she was a grown dog with issues when we got her. We took our next pups to Tractor Supply for treats to acclimate them to being off the farm and riding in the truck. Both are important for taking dogs to the vet. People who do not socialize their dogs will be doomed to taking them to the vet in a livestock trailer or paying for a farm call. Make those trips off farm something pleasant for the puppy and it will pay off.

Very good post @Ridgetop!!!
 

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I replied to a post about LGD on BYC this morning. :hide
Of course I got a negative response from a user that considers random breeds as LGD. Unfortunately just because certain breeds protect your property doesn't give them the classification of LGD at all. :idunno
I tried to explain but I'm not sure if the person understands or wants to argue? Anyways I came back here with you people that are awesome..:woot
Mostly what I've encountered on BYC regarding LGDs is that people think that a farm mutt can't guard chickens as effectively as a LGD breed can, so they keep recommending people with chickens to get a LGD if their chickens are getting killed by 4 ft preds. Well, not everyone should own a LGD, not every situation dealing with livestock requires one and often in small, backyard settings a simple farm mutt is enough firepower. MOST of the time, in fact. Since the forum is called BYC, most of the people involved are those with a small backyard flock and not in need of a rocket launcher when a simple .22 will suffice.

I've had this very same discussion with the passionate LGD people who claim farm mutts can't truly guard livestock. They can guard chickens and any livestock that are enclosed in a 1-3 acre fence just fine. And, yes, they can even do so against coyotes if it's the right sort of dog. Insisting that anyone with any sort of livestock can't keep them safe unless they have a LGD is one reason so many of these breeds are winding up in rescues. My best chicken dogs were free dogs, Labs and Lab mix dogs.
 

Wild Bug Ranch

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I have an akbash/great Pyrenees mix female named Dallas. She is 61LBS and she is a great dog! Although sometimes she trys to dig out, and she jumped the fence sometimes too! She is a great dog as I had said before! I would definitely recommend a LGD dog if you are in predator territory/area and has a herd of goats/sheep!
 

Baymule

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Training a LGD to chickens.

My first LGD was a free throw away chicken killer. Paris. She is now 12 years old and is still a killer, just not chickens. LOL Her former owners left her alone all day on 3 acres with LOTS of free range game chickens. In case you don't know, chickens are the ultimate squeaky toy. They run, flap their wings and make noise. And when they stop flapping, just chase down another one! WHEEE!!!!

The only bad thing about chicken squeaky toys is that it tends to make people mad. I don't know what those people did to Paris, but by the time I got her at a year old, she was a mess, she blamed all her troubles on chickens and absolutely hated them. She would look around to make sure no one was watching, then rush the coop, snarling viciously. So did i pretend that everything is rosy in La-La-Land and let the chickens free range? Absolutely not! They stayed in their coop.

Paris was and still is a screwy dog. She was timid, scared, and cowed down. It took time to earn her trust. She began to assert herself and "own" the yard. At that time we lived in town and she had the back yard. She chased away motorcycles she heard on the street, people were not allowed to walk down the street without her seeing them and barking. She barked the alarm at danger, be it a garbage truck on the next block, a cat or falling acorn. Because the yard was HERS, everything in it was also hers, including the coop and the chickens in it.

It took 2 years to turn Paris from a chicken killer to a chicken guard. I would put her in the coop and she would desperately search for a way out. Scared. Then she discovered chicken feed. I let her in the coop to eat the feed and I sat in the doorway, blocking any chicken escape, praising and petting her. She beamed at the praise. When a young pullet eyed that luxurious fur and snagged a beak full, Paris instantly whirled, snapping and growling. I scolded, Paris, heartbroken, hit the dirt, rolled over on her back, pleading for my praises. The pullet stalked the big hairy monster and yanked another wad of fur with her beak. Paris did not react. I lavished praise on her, she leaped to her feet and got lots of hugs. It was finally time. We let the chickens out right before dark and sat in the back yard to watch. Paris did nothing. She never offered to chase or play with a chicken. She was their fierce protector. Why? Because I allowed her time to consider the chickens to be hers and "own" them.

Ok, on to a new pup and chickens. New pups go on a leash, they are not allowed to run amok and get in trouble. When off leash, they are supervised. When a pup alerts on a chicken, they get an immediate no. If they persist, I get louder, more threatening, until they pay attention to me and submit. Submission can be as simple as a soft posture or they come to me. I then praise them. I may turn my head and laugh, they can be so darn cute and funny. When our newest pup, Sheba, was chasing a chicken one day, I loudly said NO! Sheba ignored me and chased the chicken around the coop. I waited, 1 gallon plastic water container in hand. As the chicken and Sheba ran by, I lobbed the container at Sheba, hitting her in the butt while yelling NO NO NO. She yelped and chicken chasing suddenly didn't look like as much fun. I advanced, shaking my finger, scolding loudly and she was very contrite. There have been only a few instances since then where she alerted and I calmly said no. She broke her gaze away and looked at me.

I use some intensive training while they are young. If loose chickens are tempting, then lock them up. Better to have unhappy chickens in the coop than have them teaching a puppy to chase them. Let the chickens out late in the evening for short periods for training the puppy. Keep the puppy on a leash and walk him around. If he stares or gets too interested, correct him until he submits by looking away. The chickens will go back to the coop to roost as it gets dark, keeping the chicken lesson short. I put the puppy in the coop and fuss if they get interested in the chickens. I praise when they look away.

We have a Great Dane and Black Labrador cross named Carson. He loves to run and play. We also have free range guineas. Carson has devised a game with the guineas. The male protects his 2 hens and 4 half grown keets. He will run at the dogs to chase them away from his family. Carson instigates the male, running up to the group, then letting the male chase him away. Carson circles back, the male chases him away, Carson comes back, the male chases him away and Carson comes back, tormenting the poor birdie brain half to death. We don't scold Carson for this, we laugh until our sides hurt. Carson would not hurt the guineas for any reason, but enticing the male to chase him away is just too much fun.

We had one dog that was a poultry killer. He came to us as a young dog, great dog in every way, beautiful blue merle Catahoula. He went into a killing frenzy, digging at the coop, focused on the chickens. I realized that this was going to continue, it was in every cell of his body to hunt and kill birds, it was in his nature. I could beat him for it, know it was futile, or find him a home with no chickens. A young couple got him and he made them a perfect dog.

I tried ducks. Didn't work. Trip is our male Great Pyrenees, great with the lambs, sheep, ewes, ram and awesome with the chickens. So I got Muscovy ducks. I kept them penned for awhile, then let them out. Trip not only killed them, he ate them. I caught him with a half eaten duck and another dead one. he snarled and lunged at me. Oh no you didn't! I picked up a tree branch laying on the ground about 4 feet long and beat him with it until he retreated from the dead ducks. I yelled a lot too. I chased him with that stick. Ok, turn me in, I beat the dog with a stick for killing the ducks and dang near taking my leg off protecting his kill. I gave the remaining ducks away. Trip is back to being my awesome LGD. He just thinks ducks are on the menu.

So that's what has worked for me. Every dog is different, what works for me may not work for you.
 

Baymule

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Start over at square one. Go back to the basics. Tether the dog near the goats as Beekissed said, but not when you are not home. Only put her with the goats under supervision. Do not even pen your dog next to the goats as she can chase up and down the fence and reinforce the bad behavior. Take the dog out.
 

Beekissed

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Best article I've ever seen on LGDs and should be a sticky in the LGD forum section. I'll definitely be linking it to people who need it on other social media. :woot

One thing I see mentioned over and over wherever people gather and talk about LGD breeds is the "you can't fully trust a LGD until they are 2 yrs old or older, so they must be supervised at all times with the livestock until then". That has not been my experience and to tell that to an inexperienced person like it's fact is just all shades of wrong. I wouldn't keep any dog I couldn't trust for the first 2 yrs of its life, let alone one that is working with my livestock.

Another area of need is teaching people about how to train these dogs~or any dog, for that matter~on working with poultry. It's fairly easy and works well for most dogs and most breeds, but all the advice out there tells them they can't be trusted around poultry until 2 yrs of age, so no training until then will be effective.

In addition, I see a lot of failure happening with these breeds due to being raised by people who don't set boundaries....most don't even know what boundaries to set and they don't have the personality or energy it takes to be a master to one of these breeds of dogs. LGD breeds seem to be the new fad dog for the pet crowd and it's a disaster in the making.
 

Ridgetop

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My friend Erick, who breeds Anatolians, starts his puppies on ducks when they are very young. He watches them carefully to correct them if they try to go after the ducks He puts them in with older Anatolians who are already trained on the ducks. He uses Indian Runners (what my youngest called "bottle ducks"). His adult dogs are trained not to go after poultry, but not all of them care for the birds much. LOL He said he has only a few that are truly devoted to the poultry! LOL

They can definitely be trained. I would love to hear how some of you have done it. I don't keep chickens anymore. My mother bred cockatiels when she retired, developed "Bird Lung", and died of it. I noticed I was developing a terrible cough that lasted for months after I would clean the chicken coop. It had happened years before too, when we had a cockatiel. I would get a terrible cough after cleaning her cage. I have decided not to keep any birds since I probably have an allergy to their dander. If I had chickens again, they would have to be loose on the field with just a small coop with boxes to lay their eggs. Not sure if it is worth the risk.
 

Beekissed

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I am sad for you and Ben. I know you love him, but you also face reality head on. You tried to find him a safe home, but some people just insist on being stupid. If you tried again, it could turn out even worse. My heart goes out to you.
Thank you, Bay. I've never had to do anything like this before, with any dog I've ever raised, so this is pretty hard. I feel like I've failed on this one and it hurt to even let him leave the land, let alone to have this happen and get him back under these circumstances. He's got so many good qualities and it's hard to put down a perfectly healthy animal that has potential, especially when we've put so much of our heart into him.
 

Baymule

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I replied to a post about LGD on BYC this morning. :hide
Of course I got a negative response from a user that considers random breeds as LGD. Unfortunately just because certain breeds protect your property doesn't give them the classification of LGD at all. :idunno
I tried to explain but I'm not sure if the person understands or wants to argue? Anyways I came back here with you people that are awesome..:woot
You can't fix stupid.
 
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