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Hello,

I have two female Hangingtree cowdogs, they just turned one, very smart, always at the barn with the cows.  We do sometimes have a problem with them ALWAYS trying to herd them but they are getting better.  We got them last June so our calves were good size and the the pups were still pretty small, we had our first calf of the season this morning and I was at work but my dad was home and called me and said he thought my dogs killed the calf, the calf was on the other side of the fence and he said the dogs were with the dead calf chewing/licking him.  Have you heard of these dogs killing a calf?  I love these two girls but now I'm scared they might have done this.  They are very timid when it comes to people, they only want to be around me or at the barn with the cows, just cant see them doing this.  Any thoughts??

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I would never allow any dog, other than a trained livestock guardian dog, to be alone, unsupervised  around livestock - ever.

Any dog will chase livestock, over cliffs, through fences, or just run them until they drop.

An untrained stock dog with a high prey drive, will "work" livestock to death.

It's not the dog's fault. The dog will do what the dog was bred to do.

So yes, it's entirely possible that your dogs killed the calf. They may have just run it around until it died. They may have bitten and worried at it until it died. Or maybe they didn't. Maybe the calf died of natural causes and the dogs found it that way. Either way, it's not the dogs' faults. They were doing what is in their nature to do. They cannot be allowed to have unsupervised access to livestock - ever. Working dogs need to be trained to only work stock when you tell them to, and only work the stock  when you tell them to work. Even with a fully trained dog, I would not allow them to have any access to livestock unsupervised.



Don't ever let your dogs run loose with stock around the place.

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Precisely what Pearse said. 

I have to question your statement, "Always at the barn with the cows." That implies that, whether or not you are there to supervise, they are there. It's like leaving something fragile and enticing lying about in a child's room with the child, unsupervised. It wouldn't be the fault of the child to touch, pick up, and play with (and break) that object any more than it's the fault of the dogs for doing what comes naturally to them, without your guidance and supervision, when left on their own with the animals they have been allowed to obsess over and for which they have been bred to work. 

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PS - The resident expert is Amanda Milliken but sometimes it takes a while before she is free to answer a question here. Since your problem is certainly a pressing one, it was more than appropriate for Pearse, or anyone else with good advice, to reply before she had the opportunity. 

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Just now, Pearse said:

Whoops - sorry. I did not even realize this was in the "Ask the Expert" section.

 

Pearse

Not a problem - this was something that needed advice right away so I doubt Amanda or anyone else would mind. I think you did the right thing. 

I have no idea if the OP has read your reply or is even on these boards any more but you replied well. 

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