Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

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PlumHollow
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Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

Post by PlumHollow » Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:38 am

We have run livestock guardian dogs (Great Pyrenees in our case) with our poultry, rabbits, sheep and goats for three years now. Before we got them we couldn't understand how people could justify the cost of having them. Now we realize that we cannot continue to farm the way we do without them. Here are some of our experiences in case people are interested in adding them to their farm:

With our dogs we have had very minimal losses to livestock. They protect against hawks and owls, raccoons, porcupines, wolves, foxes and even bears. Some are very protective against people too.... not ours. Their primary method of protection is to bark and to mark the property. That means if you have neighbours close by or your shed/barn is close to the house you may not want them. They live outside 24/7/365 and can easily take the weather we've been getting with a simple shelter. We use truck caps filled with hay. Fencing can be an issue with them. I understand that some breeds will stick with their animals but most guard a territory and that territory can encompass 3 miles based on their logic! Our dogs came as adults from a farm that uses simple electric fencing and ours have never crossed the fence except for one fox attack on our ducks. If you are thinking of getting a LGD look for an adult and one from a working farm who has been used with poultry before. Before 1 1/2 years old they cannot be trusted especially with poultry.

They are very different from any house dog you have had. They are extremely pack order oriented. If people are firmly established as alpha they will submit to whatever you want to do to them - our veterinarians love our dogs! However, they will often have minor (or sometimes major) fights with each other to maintain the pack order. Feeding and food guarding can cause this. They are very intelligent but in an independent way. They rarely come when called, they won't sit on demand, leash training can be interesting.

By using our three great Pyrenees we have been able to totally free range our poultry, sheep, goats and rabbits. We also were able to make a corn patch in the chicken area and not have to worry about birds and raccoons. Our berry and fruit trees were safe too.
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Epona
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Re: Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

Post by Epona » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:48 am

We have a Pyrenee. Got him as a pup and trained him for our free range poultry etc. A very strong personality breed and not for folks that are not experienced handlers. Our guy has been fantastic. He does our territory. We are very isolated and can't imagine having him with neighbours. That said, we've not lost any stock and he's killed coyotes etc that come into his area. We have used Bouviers and Australian sheep dogs in the past. Until we got this fellow I would argue that the Bouvier was the best. Can't beat a shedding coat LOL.
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pinkkarma
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Re: Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

Post by pinkkarma » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:14 pm

my parents had some great pry. They scared coyotes but werent able to stop a group of pet dogs. So we had to switch to CO, which might be a bit over kill but work better for my parents since they had an adult horse that was killed.. Someone who has egyptian geese has seen them beating the crap out of hawks to the point of getting in their nests and breaking eggs.
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kenya
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Re: Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

Post by kenya » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:22 pm

What is CO?
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pinkkarma
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Re: Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

Post by pinkkarma » Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:45 pm

Friend breeds caucasian ovcharka but these are extreme. Might be over kill.

My czech shepherd caught two coyotes that were in a fenced area going at a swan. One jumped out she killed the other.

Coyotes seem to know tho what dogs are real and what are just big sucks. Because they are terrified of this czech shepherd, but knew my dobie was all bark.

Great pry I think are good safe, more extreme breeds will attack a person also (seen it happen)
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pinkkarma
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Re: Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

Post by pinkkarma » Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:49 pm

lama and donkey seem to work


I DO NOT know how though because my friend lost a lama to a dog. But some farmers they really work.

Dogs killed a bunch of mini donkey also.

Our great pry lost an eye to the grou pof dogs. The shepherd was just nasty tearing out chucks of fur from our GP. IT was a group . Hoenstly coyotes never caused much issues.
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windwalkingwolf
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Re: Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

Post by windwalkingwolf » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:04 am

My dogs MUST be both effective livestock guardians, AND gentle, dependable household pets. My dogs must be allowed the same territory that we as a family, and my free range animals enjoy, but no more. Territorialism is allowed, within the limits that *I*set. My dogs must accept me and my husband as alpha, and if a stranger pulls in my yard, outright aggression must never be allowed. Barking, yes, but attacking behaviours, never. Otherwise, one day the poor mailwoman may find herself with a yelling (or worse) dog chasing her car down the road, or worse, hopping through the open window. The dogs must be wait for my cues. Their entire training is based on their alpha's cues. They learn early which animals are ok to protect, and which are ok to hunt, and this training is reinforced often. I used to breed border collies. It was all fun and games until I got chickens...but I learned, and so did they, after a month or so each of hours of daily work, that chickens were not food. When I had an oopsie breeding of border collie with Akita, I had to learn even more, and so did the dogs.
Food aggression is NOT allowed. I, as alpha, am the food provider, and I decide who eats, what, and when. My Penny dog (Pyrenees/coon hound) tends to high food aggression. I don't allow it in my presence, because if I do, other animals or even people are GOING to get hurt sooner or later. My dogs are fed well, and I love them to pieces, but, if any growls at me when I come near their bowl, (or growls at the cat, or husband, or another dog, or a bird) or worse, snaps, they quickly find their head pinned to the ground by a little skinny woman. A dog with a high prey drive is going to push boundaries when young, and you have to stay on top of them. Either you are training a livestock guardian dog, or you are training a guard dog against people, but you aren't doing anyone any favours if you are trying to get your dog to be both. It can be done with certain dogs, but most dogs do best if given ONE job, and very clear and consistent guidelines, constantly reinforced when necessary. And that goes for ALL dogs, from the chihuahua on up.
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Dominion Link
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Re: Livestock Guardian Dogs - our experiences

Post by Dominion Link » Thu Aug 30, 2018 12:06 pm

We have 3 LGD's- male Great Pyrenees, female Maremma, and a daughter from the 2 of them. All 3 are a bit different personalities. The big male is very aggressive on coyotes, wanders a bit, much faster than he looks and can be intimidating to some people. But he is great with our young kids and animals, and very responsive to us. Our Maremma is the smallest of the 3 and kind of an odd duck. A bit aloof, but very friendly if that makes sense. She's fast but prefers to stick closer to home. The daughter is big and goofy. Barks a lot at night, and is quick to join her Dad if he goes tearing off after a coyote. She's also quite independent and will go off exploring on her own. As a team, they have done a great job for us..... And based on my observations last night, we may have a litter due in November.
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