To Buy or Not to Buy - A Livestock Guardian Dog

chickens really

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I have a Maremma named Finn. He was raised with Mini Horses. I got him at 5 months old. He was introduced to chickens when he was a year old. I have horses and he loves them dearly.
Never killed a bird but laid close as they free ranged. I don't have Birds anymore. I got into goats and now they are something he protects too. He lays on the lawn when I have them out grazing and watches over them.
He never wanders or leaves his area he protects. If the people next door are outside he will bark and stay up at the barn to protect my mini horse Teddy. He knows basic commands but definitely won't preform them like a circus dog. He's aloof with strangers but loves my family and friends that come to visit. If he doesn't want to do something their is no way of getting him to budge. He spends 90% of his time laying on the lawn so he can see the barn, goat pen and the driveway entrance. And if anything he thinks is a threat comes his way he has hackles up and barking as he runs to chase off the threat.
He never patrols my pasture though. He won't chase off coyotes beyond a certain point. He remains in his post to protect the animals.
I have a Golden Retriver/Aussie that patrols and chases anything that comes on her turf. They make a great team.
All my dogs are trained with the OFF command and they definitely listen because they don't like the scolding if they don't.
We were not home one afternoon and my Sons friend stopped by to pick up a tool to borrow and Finn wasn't locked up. Finn wouldn't let him out of his truck. Finn has known him all his life but we were not home. He is very loyal and determined to do what he feels is correct at any given time.
I'd definitely get another Maremma if I one day need a replacement for Finn. :hugs
 

Beekissed

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Here's one thing to offer. Ben, a GP/Anatolian/Maremma mix dog I've raised from a pup of 2 mo. was recently given to a young couple with little children, who wanted a dog to guard their goats. I gave Ben away instead of selling him, as I wanted the option for bringing him home if he didn't work out and that was the stipulation for the deal.

The reason we even gave Ben away is because I couldn't keep him in electric fencing at all, especially when he heard gunfire or thunder. These people had different types of fencing and he has stayed in their fencing just fine, bonded with them and their children very quickly and has done fine.....until yesterday.

These people had never had a LGD before and I tried to educate her when she was here but I could tell it was going in one ear and out the other as she just wanted to love on him rather than see him as a guarding animal. I asked her to read up on LGDs more and tried to give her the rundown quickly but I could tell she just wanted to get home with her new love muffin. I was sure we'd get him back and we are, on Saturday.

The reason? He bit someone. Ben, who has never offered to even growl at anyone, hadn't killed a single thing in all his 5 yrs though I really wanted him to do so~I had to personally kill 6 possum while he's on guard around the coop~and is gentle to a fault with little kids and anyone I introduce to him personally as "mine". Ben is about as gentle as these dogs get, especially around humans...he just wants to be petted and loved on all the time. One of those velcro dogs to the people he knows and anyone who will pet him all day long, be they family or not.

Ben bit this woman's BIL and I can guarantee you that he was guarding~the kids and woman were present, as were the goats~ the man just wanted to pet a dog and insisted on trying to make friends while Ben was in full guard mode. I can guarantee that the new owners did not try to supervise or manage this meeting, to let Ben know this person was acceptable and I know this man just kept walking in towards Ben to force some attention on him or on the children, for that matter. I asked about these things when I responded to her message and she never answered, so it was user error all the way.

I explained that ANY LGD they get can and will guard the family, the property and the livestock against any new person, even if they've seen them a couple of times briefly before, unless the owner manages that interaction. Guarding starts with the barking and aggressive posture, if the person continues to advance towards the object the dog is guarding, the next step is more aggressive. The owner's responsibility at that point is to manage both parties~tell the human to stop advancing until the dog has been reassured that this person is allowed to be in close proximity of the family or livestock. Then make sure both parties understand, get a hand on the dog and give an appropriate command to stand down, back off, or whatever command one has established to let the dog know you have the situation under control. Then supervise the meeting....and watch your dog at all times.

My fault all the way for letting Ben go to someone with no understanding of these breeds and no personality that helps them gain the respect and control of one of these strong breeds....a person has to have some level of leadership qualities to fully control one. My fault for not driving home the fact that, besides being a loving family dog, Ben is first and foremost a guardian animal and his instinct is always to guard.

What's sad is they will now go get a LGD breed puppy and wind up years down the road with a dog they are fully attached to but may display the same behavior they cannot fully understand or control. It will also bite someone who also doesn't understand you don't advance when these dogs are in guard mode and they will take it to the pound or have to put it down, simply because it was doing its job but didn't have any good partner to help them do that.

Ben will come home to us and I'm glad they will take the time to bring him back, so I thank God for that.
 

chickens really

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Here's one thing to offer. Ben, a GP/Anatolian/Maremma mix dog I've raised from a pup of 2 mo. was recently given to a young couple with little children, who wanted a dog to guard their goats. I gave Ben away instead of selling him, as I wanted the option for bringing him home if he didn't work out and that was the stipulation for the deal.

The reason we even gave Ben away is because I couldn't keep him in electric fencing at all, especially when he heard gunfire or thunder. These people had different types of fencing and he has stayed in their fencing just fine, bonded with them and their children very quickly and has done fine.....until yesterday.

These people had never had a LGD before and I tried to educate her when she was here but I could tell it was going in one ear and out the other as she just wanted to love on him rather than see him as a guarding animal. I asked her to read up on LGDs more and tried to give her the rundown quickly but I could tell she just wanted to get home with her new love muffin. I was sure we'd get him back and we are, on Saturday.

The reason? He bit someone. Ben, who has never offered to even growl at anyone, hadn't killed a single thing in all his 5 yrs though I really wanted him to do so~I had to personally kill 6 possum while he's on guard around the coop~and is gentle to a fault with little kids and anyone I introduce to him personally as "mine". Ben is about as gentle as these dogs get, especially around humans...he just wants to be petted and loved on all the time. One of those velcro dogs to the people he knows and anyone who will pet him all day long, be they family or not.

Ben bit this woman's BIL and I can guarantee you that he was guarding~the kids and woman were present, as were the goats~ the man just wanted to pet a dog and insisted on trying to make friends while Ben was in full guard mode. I can guarantee that the new owners did not try to supervise or manage this meeting, to let Ben know this person was acceptable and I know this man just kept walking in towards Ben to force some attention on him or on the children, for that matter. I asked about these things when I responded to her message and she never answered, so it was user error all the way.

I explained that ANY LGD they get can and will guard the family, the property and the livestock against any new person, even if they've seen them a couple of times briefly before, unless the owner manages that interaction. Guarding starts with the barking and aggressive posture, if the person continues to advance towards the object the dog is guarding, the next step is more aggressive. The owner's responsibility at that point is to manage both parties~tell the human to stop advancing until the dog has been reassured that this person is allowed to be in close proximity of the family or livestock. Then make sure both parties understand, get a hand on the dog and give an appropriate command to stand down, back off, or whatever command one has established to let the dog know you have the situation under control. Then supervise the meeting....and watch your dog at all times.

My fault all the way for letting Ben go to someone with no understanding of these breeds and no personality that helps them gain the respect and control of one of these strong breeds....a person has to have some level of leadership qualities to fully control one. My fault for not driving home the fact that, besides being a loving family dog, Ben is first and foremost a guardian animal and his instinct is always to guard.

What's sad is they will now go get a LGD breed puppy and wind up years down the road with a dog they are fully attached to but may display the same behavior they cannot fully understand or control. It will also bite someone who also doesn't understand you don't advance when these dogs are in guard mode and they will take it to the pound or have to put it down, simply because it was doing its job but didn't have any good partner to help them do that.

Ben will come home to us and I'm glad they will take the time to bring him back, so I thank God for that.
Yes. That's awesome your dog has you to come back too. If for any reason I couldn't keep Finn I'd put him down before I'd let him go to a new home. He is very committed and loyal to only us and his animals he protects.
A couple of years ago he followed Bindi up through the pasture and into adjacent pastures that lead into the next subdivision. A young girl was able to approach Finn and get his number off his tag. He hid under a car and waited to be be found. Bindi came home without him. My husband walked through the back pasture and had to pick up Finn at over 100 lbs and carry him up a stone flight of stairs. Finn isn't leash trained either. Once he heard me calling him he took off from my husband to the sound of my voice. When he saw me he jumped and cried, peeing on himself too. He has never left again.
They are not pets but a working Dog and in the right hands they are worth their weight in gold. ❤🐶
 
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Beekissed

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Yes. That's awesome your dog has you to come back too. If for any reason I couldn't keep Finn I'd put him down before I'd let him go to a new home. He is very committed and loyal to only us and his animals he protects.
A couple of years ago he followed Bindi up through the pasture and into adjacent pastures that lead into the next subdivision. A young girl was able to approach Finn and get his number off his tag. He hid under a car and waited to be be found. Bindi came home without him. My husband walked through the back pasture and had to pick up Finn at over 100 lbs and carry him up a stone flight of stairs. Finn isn't leash trained either. Once he heard me calling him he took off from my husband to the sound of my voice. When he saw me he jumped and cried, peeing on himself too. He has never left again.
They are not pets but a working Dog and in the right hands they are worth their weight in gold. ❤🐶
Putting Ben down was our first conclusion~after much trying at training to the fencing again and again~ but my granddaughter was raised with him and I thought she could handle it better if he went to another little girl to love on him. And she did. We won't tell her about him coming home, as he will come home and take a walk to the back of our land for his last day here on Earth. I love him and he's bonded to me like no other but I won't keep him tied all his life just so he can live here with us. I can't afford to change all our fencing. I also won't keep trying to "rehome" him, just to keep him alive one more day. Ben had a good 5 yrs but life on a line or dragging a heavy tire around is no life at all for any dog.
 

chickens really

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Putting Ben down was our first conclusion~after much trying at training to the fencing again and again~ but my granddaughter was raised with him and I thought she could handle it better if he went to another little girl to love on him. And she did. We won't tell her about him coming home, as he will come home and take a walk to the back of our land for his last day here on Earth. I love him and he's bonded to me like no other but I won't keep him tied all his life just so he can live here with us. I can't afford to change all our fencing. I also won't keep trying to "rehome" him, just to keep him alive one more day. Ben had a good 5 yrs but life on a line or dragging a heavy tire around is no life at all for any dog.
My heart breaks for you and I fully understand you for doing what you have too. ❤
They really are not pets as far as other Dogs are. I will be thinking of you and I honestly know you are making the right decision. :hugs
Each breed has their own way of protecting and in each breed each dog either is a patrol, guard or runner and you don't really know what they are till mature. I got lucky and Finn is a guard so stays with his animals and won't run. I don't have a fenced in property. Only between each lot we ran field fence but pasture is barbed wire. No fences out front.
 
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Ridgetop

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That is a very sad story about Ben. You have my support in what you are doing. You are right in everything you said.

It is one of the reasons I wrote the post to familiarize people about LGDs and their differences from regular breeds. These dogs are almost another species but so many people think just because they are loving with their family that they will be safe with strangers even when the owner is there. If the dog thinks there is a problem and the threat does not back off, they escalate their threatening behavior, still no backing off by the threat, the dog WILL attack. That is why we have them.

When we got our Anatolians I was very worried about temperament. They are known for being one of the sharpest of the LGDs. I had to learn about how to handle them and train them. This is after 45 years of owning, training, and showing sporting, hounds, and other breeds. LGDs are not like regular dog. Sadly, their size and sweet furry looks deceive people into thinking they are just big friendly dogs. People that don't listen to your warnings and keep trying to approach your barking dogs infuriate me.

I told my husband that owning these dogs is like owning a loaded gun. If you are careful and know how to handle them, they are wonderful, but if you are careless they can go off. I never trust Bubba loose in the yard with strangers around. I even am watchful of him with persons he knows that are not immediate family. It is better to be safe than sorry. We put the dogs in the barn with the young lambs when strangers are around. It only takes one wrong move by a stranger or acquaintance to make the dog think there is a threat.

I would rather have people telling me what expert dog people they are and ignore them than have my dogs bite someone because I was careless and just assumed "They'll be ok". We have to protect our LGDs just like they protect us.
 

Beekissed

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Agree 100%! They are guard dogs first, pets second, if at all. I've seen some that are not pets either, but almost feral.

I've had an Akbash, a GP and then Ben, an Anatolian mixed with GP and Maremma, but these two Anatolians are a whole other breed of cat. I am having to learn how to train an Anatolian as opposed to training a dog. Not sure I like that aspect but I do like their more feral instincts than the Akbash and GP dogs I've had and known.

I had always wanted an Anatolian but now that I have them, the jury is still out. I really do love the Akbash, so my next dog in the pack just may be an Akbash if I can possibly swing it.
 

Baymule

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Putting Ben down was our first conclusion~after much trying at training to the fencing again and again~ but my granddaughter was raised with him and I thought she could handle it better if he went to another little girl to love on him. And she did. We won't tell her about him coming home, as he will come home and take a walk to the back of our land for his last day here on Earth. I love him and he's bonded to me like no other but I won't keep him tied all his life just so he can live here with us. I can't afford to change all our fencing. I also won't keep trying to "rehome" him, just to keep him alive one more day. Ben had a good 5 yrs but life on a line or dragging a heavy tire around is no life at all for any dog.
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.
 
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