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Debbie Crowder-BaaramuLuke

LGD-(GP) Can an adult pet dog be introduced to work as a LGD?

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I have a client who has a GP who is having some issues with with adjusting to life on a rural setting, the owner wants to give him a "job" watching some animals (goats or sheep). PLEASE offer up some opinions, I showed her this forum and she will check in for responses. He is also having some serious skin issues that she feels might settle down if he had something to do other than chew on himself. She's a really nice lady, he's a great dog. Looking for help!!

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You know, Debbie, that I have absolutely no experience with LGDs but I have always been under the impression that it is very important that they grow up with their livestock from a very young age - to bond with the stock and to become a "member of the flock". And that's not to say that they can't go to a new home and a new flock, but that the initial bonding and integration at a young age is important if not crucial.

 

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what people who have and know these dogs say!

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I don't know enough about LGDs to really say with any kind of certainty (other than that I have 2 and they are the GREATEST things on the planet!), but I would think it might depend on the breeding; would it not be similar to a well bred border collie--the guarding should be part of the genetic makeup, no? I would also think the dog's age would be a factor--if it is still young-ish, it might learn a new job better than an older dog who is used to being a couch potato. Those that are bred for guarding are also raised for the job/on the job, too, and my understanding is that that is an important part of their future success as a guardian. You might have your friend look at Bill Fosher's Sheep Production Forum; there is a guardian animal section on there, with some VERY knowledgeable folks who have been breeding these dogs for a long time, and could answer better than I,

A

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This particular dog lives in a place where they could have livestock, and they intend to get feeder calves anyway, and horses. Peter has been here for a few spells, once while they needed to board him after getting loose and HBC, slight break in a front leg. At home he is very watchful and a good house-guarding dog, doesn't want other dogs around, and for us here, a really good dog to work with when he needed vet care. His skin is just a nightmare and still trying to fgigure out what that is about, food allergy or what, but he invariably chew his haunches into nasty hotspots. I don't think the sheep or goat idea is totally off-base, BUT (big but) if they are just for him, is it worth it to invest in more animals to care for, and better yet, who can she find out more about this, which is why I sent her here. Before she left this evening, I showed her the forums, posted this question, and darn if you guys didn't jump in, thanks.

 

Sue, I was also under the impression he would have needed to be raised up with stock, but I don't really know either. He is a rescue, 4 years, neutered, a good looking dog, and my feeling is he has an idea what he was supposed to be, just gut though. She's had him since he was a juvenile. Thanks for any help!

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I've always understood that if the dog is bonded with humans it's not likely to want to stay with the stock. That's why it's such a fine line between socializing an LGD enough so you can take physical care (take to the vet, give shots, etc.) without making it so people friendly that it seeks out humans instead of livestock.

 

That said, if these folks want to keep livestock anyway and don't care whether the dog stays in the field with the stock or hangs out on the porch keeping an eye on the whole property (that is, if it's not required that the dog stay in with the stock for real close protection), then it might work.

 

But I would caution that if they get smaller or more fragile livestock and the dog hasn't been acclimated to livestock from the start they could suffer some losses (or injuries) as the dog won't have learned the appropriate behavior around the stock back when it was of a size to be bullied back, so to speak.

 

J.

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FYI, Chewing & scratching on the back half of the body is most often associated with Insect bite allergy (fleas, mosquitoes, culicoides...)

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Hi Debbie (and Peter's owner),

 

Your first post mentioned that this is "a GP who is having some issues with adjusting to life on a rural setting". With the additional information that he "got loose and hit by a car", that leads me to believe that the dog's most likely issue is keeping him contained and at home. When I did extensive research about livestock guardian dog breeds (before deciding on a breed for my farm), I learned that Pyrs are rather notorious for roaming. The expression used was that if you have five acres, the Pyr wants fifty, and if you have fifty, the Pyr wants five hundred. Pyrs usually patrol their area several times a day, and they would prefer to incorporate the neighboring properties in the area they patrol, as well. So, it is essential to have Pyr-proof fencing to keep a Pyr at home.

 

I have read on some Pyr rescue websites that they have successfully placed dogs that formerly had no guardian experience on farms to work as LGDs. While being introduced to livestock as a puppy is the ideal, apparently some dogs can adjust to becoming a guardian as adults. I suggest that Peter's owners check with the rescue from which they got the dog, along with other Pyr rescue groups' websites, to find out more information about this. It may be possible for Peter to become a livestock guardian dog, but I am sure that the adjustment would not be without problems for both the dog and owner. The dog would need to stay with the livestock 24/7, and many owners have difficulty not allowing their dog to still be part of the family. The dog may initially chase the livestock, which would require the owner to correct this behavior. Also, part of the guarding behavior includes barking (lots of barking!), which may disturb the neighbors (even distant ones). There is a lot to consider!

 

Best wishes for Peter, no matter what his owners decide. Personally, I would make certain that he is always safely contained by a secure Pyr-proof fence, while giving him some extra time and attention as a well-loved pet. Kick a soccer ball around the yard for him, teach him lots of tricks, put a harness on him and have him pull a kids wagon around. Enjoy him!

 

Regards,

nancy

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^^what Nancy said and a note - I don't think there is such a fence that's Pyr. proof (they're worse than goats) even with a pvc collar! Good luck.

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Doubt there is a Pyr proof fence I do know that if you build a fence 10 feet high and fill it with water it will hold a goat ( or so I was assured by TX goat breeders)

 

Some LGD's take to stock when socialized with people, some do not. They might try it and it might help. Have they checked the dog for some food allergies or such for the scratching?

 

I know several people who have stock for their essentially pet Pyrs. They do fine. I have one woman in 4H whose daughter uses her Pyr for 4H and the dog spends most of the time with the stock ( although how much a LGD she is I doubt)

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I agree with Pam and Karen about the challenges of creating a "Pyr-proof fence"! :D Usually, fences that are truly Pyr-proof utilize electricity as the primary deterrent.

 

Regards,

nancy

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I've had guard dogs for 15+ years and some were great ... others good ... and some I got rid of :@)

 

The best I ever had was a female that was the most loving girl in the world EXCEPT to coyotes or stray dogs. She would come up to be petted while I was giving lessons and watched all the dogs work. She did NOT care for the puppies that were just starting (to much chase for her) and I would have to correct her NOT to interfere:@)

 

When the coyotes grew in number I had to get her a "back up" quick so got a rescue male. He had never been with stock but took all his "cues" from her. For the first year she wouldn't let him near the ewes lambing :@) They were a great team ... he paroled the boundaries and she stayed with the sheep.

 

However, saying that I don't think he would have been "that great" if she hadn't been there with him. He was never bonded to his sheep like she was. I would think if they don't feel the stock are "part of their pack" they would be less inclined to stay with them (like I said I think he did because he hung with her).

 

But then ... I've found that the females bond more with the sheep ... the males are more with the property.

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