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#1 of 16 Old 05-09-2010, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So we brought home an Akbash puppy yesterday. He was from a nice sheep rancher, but was very unsocialized. Had hung out with his parents, guarding sheep, and not touched very often by humans. I was pretty unsure about the whole thing, but a local lady that had a couple of his puppies from another litter assured me that hers went from human-scared to human-loving pretty easily (they guard her goats). So, I got him (we have a really bad coyote problem out here!). We brought him home, went to run some errands, came home and he was nowhere to be seen. Can't find him anywhere (we drove for a while looking), and we are surrounded by 100's of miles of national forest without access roads, so even looking in the area would be a huge joke. I'm really, really hoping he will be smart enough to head back to the ranchers (although it's a 30 min. drive from here). I'm so sad about it and now I'm just not sure if I even want a dog who will guard my animals. If he makes it back to us, I'm definitely considering taking him back to the rancher - he just would be so, so much work. When I picked him up, he peed all over me - twice. Definitely and unsocialized (I'd say little, but he's a 50 lb. 3 month old puppy) guy.

Ugh. So upset over this.

So...is there any way I can protect my small herd of goats and chickens and ducks without giving the job to an animal? I just don't know if I want to deal with animals wandering/disapppearing or being so much work to train that they end up being more work than the jobs that I gave them to do.

Ideas?

Thanks!!
Sarah

Sarah, wife to dh, mama to dd 1/07/03 and ds 3/30/05
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#2 of 16 Old 05-09-2010, 10:29 AM
 
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That sucks... We have a maremma sheepdog guarding our goats. I think the trick any time you get a new dog is to keep it locked up for the first few days and feed it so that it learns 'this is home' yk?? Any animal in a strange new place is going to wander... thats just instinct. Sorry your new puppy ran away. If you find him, I'd give him another chance - keep him penned up for a few days, go out and feed and water him and hang out, pet him, give him treats, etc. THEN let him out with your critters. Good luck!!
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#3 of 16 Old 05-10-2010, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, we woke up yesterday morning, and he was laying next to our duck coop. I was very, very relieved. However, I'm still nervous about him. He was digging under the fencing around the ducks, and almost got in. He also finds it funny to follow the ducks around their coop, making them freak out and run. I'm getting the impression he wants to eat them for lunch (and I want them to free-range, so this is definitely not a good situation). He snapped at my daughter and husband, but didn't mouth or anything. He is gentle, but absolutely terrified of us.

Help?

Sarah, wife to dh, mama to dd 1/07/03 and ds 3/30/05
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#4 of 16 Old 05-11-2010, 08:50 AM
 
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I have been watching this thread hoping the puppy showed back up and I am so glad he did. You need to find a local dog trainer now and tell them your situation. Call your vet for help if you cannot find a trainer.

This is a puppy in a totally new place with new people. Not to mention a puppy not very well socialized. Fear is a big thing with him now. He has a lot to learn. You will need to teach him not to eat ducks for example and to not snap at people. A trainer can come out and help you with all of that and give you the skills to help him learn.
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#5 of 16 Old 05-11-2010, 09:36 AM
 
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As noted before, I'd lock him up (in an empty stall or pen or something fairly small - thik 10x10 or something), and go in and sit down and let him get used to you. Once he's used to you/knows his name/likes you, cause' you bring him food, etc, you can start introducing him to your livestock. Don't expect him to just poof! become a guardian dog. Intro him to your sheep first and keep him penned up with them. Walk him around your property line, but never allow him off it for at least a month or two, till he knows where 'home' is and where he's supposed to protect.

I highly, highly recommend getting on a yahoo group for LGDs, I think one that I'm on is WorkingLGDs with lots of people with far, far more experience with LGDs than I. I wouldn't call the local dog-trainer though - they have zero experience with LGDS, and thus don't know how to properly train a dog as such. Good luck!
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#6 of 16 Old 05-12-2010, 12:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a dog trainer friend that I talked to and she didn't know the first thing about them (she didn't say that, but she said that LGDs are too domesticated to be any good at guarding animals, and only want to be with humans, which gave me the clue that she really doesn't know much about them at all).

I've got him in the greenhouse until we can build him a house and pen (our goat house is too small to make him a special place), which I'm hoping to do this week. He is slowly warming up. He still peed when my husband picked him up last night, but today I spent a lot of time in there petting him. He only has snapped the once right after he came back and I think it's because he felt threatened (and was not used to kids at all). He has been very "old man dog" like, but today he started acting like a puppy. He wags his tail and hops around (calmly, but he is doing it) when he hears and sees me. I have to sit down and talk him into coming to me, but occasionally he will. He's been licking my hand and appears to love being pet. He leans into my hand when I'm scratching behind his ear. He is a big ol' love.

I will join that yahoo group - thanks! I'll see if I can't find a good book on the Akbash as LGD. He'll be good at his job, I think.

Also, I have goats (and he came from a sheep farm). I've introduced him to my goats, but the head goat just started butting him. I realize the LGD have to be submissive to the goats, but I'm worried the goats will hurt him at some point. Thoughts?

Thanks a ton! You all have been so helpful and kind!

Sarah, wife to dh, mama to dd 1/07/03 and ds 3/30/05
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#7 of 16 Old 05-12-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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Let him in with the goats with you around at first, and let them get to know him... have your goats been around LGDs before?? (sorry about the mix up with sheep!!) It takes some time for both the dog & the goats to get used to each other. Orso (our maremma) got head butted around a good bit at first, but they've all come to an understanding now, which is good Puppies are tougher than they look!!
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#8 of 16 Old 05-17-2010, 01:24 AM
 
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In reality, you want your little guy to be more attached to the goats than to yourself... Generally, in that kind of situation(I think it applies more to those REALLY BIG operations with tons of acreage) you want the dog to be more concerned with keeping his herd-mates safe than with hanging around the house for pets and treats. AS much as he might not be a cuddly fellow, he's off on the right foot for being a goat dog. My dog was a goat dog when we got her at 12 weeks old... Albeit the most personal out of the bunch, but still a goat dog. We got her mainly for OUR protection. No goats or small livestock other than poultry at the time. So we worked with her and made her a pet. Let me tell you though(see my post on "Tell me about your Farm Dog")... No matter how much a dog might be bred to be a stock animal, it is still going to view poultry as food. In the cases where dogs are COMPLETE stock animals... No human interaction... They rustle up their own food. That's birds, bunnies, frogs, squirrels. I don't know of a breed specifically for poultry protection or else that would be what we chose. My dog killed all kinds of chickens. She's all better now, but you've really got to make those first lessons count. I know a few dogs who's job is chicken/duck/goose duty, so don't give up.

I think the poultry issue necessitates that he love you guys, but don't knock him for preferring sheep. It's all he knows. I would put him in with the goats... Closest to the sheep he knew. Yeah, they knock him around, but that is THEM training him. Don't make it hard on yourself when the goats will do it. They won't hurt him badly, just be sure to mediate for the first few days. You'll have to stay on top of the bird thing... That can be rough, but stick with it. You really can not beat a good dog for whole farm protection. Just like anything else worth having, the initial rough spots and tough times will pay off in the end. Invest the time and energy, and you'll have years of peace of mind. I am not what you would call a dog person, but I was committed to doing what I signed up for when I got my gal... And to tell the truth the dead chickens and tears and trouble are all worth it. I love my dog, hugely. I might not have said that a year ago. It takes time and patience. Hang in there!
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#9 of 16 Old 05-17-2010, 02:48 AM
 
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Please know that getting a dog of any variety is a big responsibility. To help them become good dogs, you need to make an investment of time into them. They need training. I am sick of seeing dogs on our local garage sale or freecycle list to give away now that they are no longer cute puppies because "oh they misbehave" or are too rough, or run away, or take too much time. They wouldn't be those things if they were cared for by a responsibile adult.
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#10 of 16 Old 05-17-2010, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks guys! Oh believe me, I didn't go into this with the "cute puppy" eyes that most people go into getting puppies. In fact, I'd rather have adopted an adult dog (like we have done in the past) but with livestock dogs apparently that doesn't work and puppies are a must for them to be trained to do their job. Honestly, I've been reluctant about the whole puppy thing not because I got him and then reality hit me (I was reluctant before I even decided to look for a puppy), but because I know how much work it is. But still I needed him (therefore needed to do the work). I've spent a good amount of time fostering dogs, volunteering with an animal trainer, adopted a dog or two in the past, etc. I'm sick of people adopting puppies and then getting rid of them once reality hits, too - believe me! But I gave him the one week trial, and now that it's over and he is still here, he will stay. I'm matter of fact about him, simply because I know he's not going to be my doggy that will curl up on my bed at night. He probably even will lose some of his excitement to hang out with me at some point. Sad for me, but I know he will be very happy doing the job that is instinctual.

That said, I just ordered the only two livestock guardian dog training books that I could find online. He's become very human socialized now, and is running up to almost all of us and grabbing our pants with his teeth and just being all-around playful. He has completely come out of his shell and is a total puppy now (albeit a much calmer one than the breeds I'm used to!!). He's stealing clothes off my clothes line, and being pretty funny (he hasn't done any serious damage to anything, so it's still funny ). He still loves running around the duck pen and making them run to and fro, but I think there is still enough fear in him of my authority that he is witholding himself from doing any serious damamge. One of my small people left the chicken coop door unlocked the other day and I caught him (just in time!) in there chasing the chickens. He didn't seem to want to eat them, just chase them (like a playmate). Of course, I was very verbally clear with him that it was not okay to go anywhere near the chickens. Some of the chickens had escaped at that point and we had chickens running everywhere. He went and laid down and behaved himself while we caught them. I think it should be easy enough to make sure he understands that chasing poultry is a negative in my book.

As far as the goats go... now he's terrifed of them. My herd queen is all about butting anyone who seems to threaten her (but she's awesome with humans, go figure) and everytime she is anywhere within 30 feet of him, she stops, stares for a bit and then full-force runs at him and butts him. It scares him and he always yelps. It makes me sad, but I try to remember that this is what he was made for and it will work out okay. Right? Looking forward to getting those books so I can figure out exactly how to get the two of them together and living peacefully, each doing their jobs.

Thanks everyone!

Sarah, wife to dh, mama to dd 1/07/03 and ds 3/30/05
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#11 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Digging this thread back up for more thoughts. The akbash puppy has been a lot of trouble, which has been frustrating for me and hard for him I'm sure. He is a sweet guy and if I didn't have farm animals, he would make a great pet. He has become very attached to us (which is probably bad considering I got him for my goats, but I've gotten VERY conflicting advice from LGD books and owners). However, I can't say he is a very good farm dog, no matter his breed's heritage. I started having to tie him up because he is a big digger and will dig out of whatever fencing material, and through a couple coincidental events he got to my chickens on one occasion and then my ducks on another (last weekend). When he killed chickens I was under the impression that he was just playing with them and hurt them enough to kill them, but this last weekend he massacred a few of my ducks. One of them completely disappeared other than a wing left behind (we looked everywhere). I found the rest of him yesterday when I was hanging laundry and all that was left was his head and part of a wing. The dog ate the rest of him! It made me very sad, but I realized that dogs are dogs and have a tendency to eat poultry.

I had decided to take him back to the farmer on Saturday, but then I decided to give him one more chance in a different arrangement. I hadn't put him with or even near the goats since I have one goat that is very bossy and mean to other animals (and the few times I've introduced the two of them she has continuously head butted the dog over and over and scared him to death, to the point where I had to pick him up and move him myself). Well, I forced him out there and tied him up (with his dog house and food/water, of course) right next to the goat pen. He was petrified and fought me all the way out there, but now a few days later he seems very comfortable. The bossy goat has even quit being such a hound - the first day she stood on guard with her hair bristled nearly the whole day!

However...his behavior today is making me nervous. When I was milking the goats I noticed that he was digging under their fence and would get really excited and run about when one came near him. I realize that is probably normal behavior, but it made me nervous because it was exactly the same behavior he exhibited toward the chickens and ducks. And those he killed (and would have killed the whole lot of them had we not found him and stepped in!). I know for sure that he could hurt my baby goats, and kill them most definitely (they are Nigerian Dwarfs and not much bigger than my ducks were). I moved his tie-line so he couldn't reach the fence anymore (but he is still right next to the goats). I was sad when my ducks and chickens were killed, but I would be downright devastated if he killed any of my goats.

I'm not sure he is a good fit for us. What do you LGD experienced mamas think? This has been hard for me because I'm such a dog lover and have always viewed them as pets and something to be respected and cared for. It's not been easy for me to tie him up, but I also don't like animals being killed needlessly, so it has become a necessity for now.

Thoughts?

TIA!
Sarah

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#12 of 16 Old 06-16-2010, 10:41 PM
 
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I would not keep any dog around that had killed poultry. If he's eaten one of your ducks, he'll likely want more, and you won't ever be able to trust him around your animals.

Happy mama to L (Sept '06), R (Apr '08), R (Apr '10), and G (Mar '12)! - Homemade , Home birthed , Home schooled , Home grown

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#13 of 16 Old 06-18-2010, 01:09 AM
 
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Our collie/retriver cross only ever killed a chicken once - when we caught him with it we took it away, tied him up and placed the chicken about 4 feet in front of him. Every time he went for the bird we told him firmly NO and held his chain. We went through this for about an hour before he gave up on the bird. We left him tied that day, the next day I brought out an old clucking hen that I intended on making soup out of. Placed her in the grass in front of the dog and repeated the procces from the day before. The following day it was one of my ducks (and her ducklings) that was placed infront of him.
It took about a week and he hasn't touch another live animal at all - dead is another matter - if I have something die and carry it out to the wheel barrow to go buried he will often grab it and eat it.
Today he was in my bad books though - he grabbed a steak, off the picnic table as I was getting the BBQ ready - NOT HAPPY. Tonight he is on his chain Sadly this is the first time he has done something like this in about 5 years.
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#14 of 16 Old 06-28-2010, 03:36 AM
 
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Sorry to hear your puppy is being a stink! It makes me feel like we won the puppy lottery! We did everything wrong-- got a barely 5 week old GP, did not get the sheep for 3 more months during which time she went from being w working parents to being a complete house pet, and still she is great w the flock, w my children and w my students. Chased coyotes off 2x the first night on pasture w no training. Even helps us herd lambs if we point or call them by name-- and she's not a herding breed! ..?

My goat/ sheep/ dog mentor (GET ONE OF THESE!!!) told me when she jumps up (our main trouble) or misbehaves seriously, to flip her on her back w my forearm across her throat as if about to throttle her-- then in this position tell her no in a firm low voice. The alpha female of the ranch-- that's you-- needs to do this first, then one family member at a time til he/ she knows he/ she's head of the goats, but bottom of the human pack. Good luck!

The fence digging problem I CAN help with tho-- we ran a single strand of barbed (the cheap stuff'll do fine) right on the ground around the perimeter of the fences-- she tried once, and bloodied her paw pads, and has not tried since.

The poultry eating problem has been adressed by a pp and I like her method a lot, but some dogs are far more stubborn than others; if it should fail-- I have heard another way is to tie the dead bird to the dog's collar in such a way that they cannot chew it off (wrap w wire??) and leave it. When it rots, the dog will never touch another bird. (Have not had the *pleasure* of trying this one, but many friends and neighbors do with each new dog)

blessings-- let us know how he does
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#15 of 16 Old 06-30-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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My mom has had LGD's for years. They raise REALLY pricey Kiko breeding goats.

One thing you can do if the dog digs is to put empty gallon milk jugs on it's collar. It won't get thru a fence w/that on. My parents have always got a dog w/milk jugs on it, lol.

I hope you resolve all your problems. The advice to flip the dog on it's back and make it know it's at the bottom of the human pack is really good advice.

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#16 of 16 Old 07-08-2010, 03:20 AM
 
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http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2007/08...ectations.html

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/2006/03...trainable.html



Those two blog entries might help.



Alot of people use donkeys to guard animals too.

Resistance is futile Matey
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