New guardian

Discussion of the training, use, and management of guard dogs, guard llamas, guard donkeys, guard goldfish, etc.

New guardian

Postby Kensmuir » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:41 am

The LGD pup we got last fall is just under a year old now. She's farm raised until about 6 months old and from working stock.

We run Working Border Collies on the flock (around 250 ewes and lambs currently) and it seems the sheep are still wary of her.

The flock won't let her settle in with them - constantly moving away from her.

Seems she gives up and heads to the Border Collies in thier kennels for "bonding" instead of the flock. Hanging around outside the kennel area and sleeping there - not in the barn or sleeping area with the flock.

Right now, we've got her in a kennel right next to the sheep waterer - hoping the flock will get used to her - but she ain't doing much good at guarding when she's locked up either.

Any ideas or suggestions?
Bill Gary
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Postby trailrider » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:55 am

I`m certainly not the expert. But passing on what I heard. Take the dog and let it stay with some lambs that are to be weaned weaned, and let them bond with the dog. Then later, the lambs and dog will fit in better with the whole flock. now wait for some with experience to give you good ideas.
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Postby Bill Fosher » Mon Apr 10, 2006 5:31 pm

Hi Bill,

It took my sheep nearly a year to get used to the first guard dog I got. It definitely helped to have a lamb crop raised with the dog around. Once the lambs got big enough to be considered sheep by their mothers, the mothers followed the offsprings' lead and settled down.

There are still a couple of raggy old scrags that want nothing to do with the guard dogs, but they just hang on the far side of the flock now, as opposed to the other side of the paddock.
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Postby Laura L. » Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:55 am

Bill,
When you say that the sheep move away from the dog, are they out in a big pasture or in a smaller yard? Have you tried penning her in a smaller area with just part of the flock?

Jean B. got a guard dog from us last fall for her hair sheep. For the first couple of months they wanted nothing to do with the dog (being hair sheep didn't help their attitude) and consequently he started to roam a bit. That went on til we suggested that she have him drag a tire around so he wasn't able to climb thru gates and go over fences. He wore that for more than a month (and sometimes she had to untangle him) but he eventually came to realize that even though the sheep didn't want him that's where he was supposed to be. Now they are very well bonded and they sleep with him in their midst. Jean has even seen him licking one ewe's muzzle and she just laid there with her eyes closed like she was enjoying it.

You really don't want your guard dog bonding with the BCs. Our first guard dog became a glorified yard protector because she wouldn't stay with the sheep.
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Postby Kensmuir » Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:34 pm

"You really don't want your guard dog bonding with the BCs. Our first guard dog became a glorified yard protector because she wouldn't stay with the sheep."

Yep, that's what I'm afraid of happening if she can't get her "needs met" with the sheep.

She wasn't coming up by the yard until we had her spayed and she stayed in a kennel for a few days - I just didn't know what else to do with her during her recovery.

As far as moving away, they no longer startle away, but just mosey away, staying out a ways from her. They do this in small areas as well as big areas.

I like the tire thing - the way our place is set up she can then get to the sheep but not up by the yard - at least until I let the flock out to pasture - which is still going to be awhile until our grass can take them.

Maybe a dumb question - chain the tire to her waist so she doesn't manage to hang herself?
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Postby Peg Haese » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:05 pm

Bill G., if you were a dog, how would you like to drag something heavy around like that (tied around the waist rather than the neck and dragging between your back legs). Might not want to move at all!

Using a dangle stick rather than a tire can be used too from what I have read. Not too big, not too small.

I hear that the first two years are the hardest in training an LGD. After that you'll wonder how you did without. Then it's time to start another one.

We have Border collies too for herding. I understand that they have to co-exist with the LGD but not be buddies.

Peg Haese in SW Wisconsin
PNP Katahdins and commercial wool flock
no LGD - yet
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Postby Laura L. » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:33 pm

The way we do it is with a chain hooked to their collar. It has to be long enough that the tire is behind them. They look pathetic dragging it around but in the long run it's much nicer to have a dog who's bonded with the sheep and not roaming around getting hit by a car, shot by the neighbors, or just laying on the porch while your lambs are getting eaten.

Peg's right the first couple of years (especially with your first one) are the worst, but it does get a lot easier. And besides when you end up with a good dog that you actually see working-either actually chasing off the predators, or staying between the predator & flock or you just stop losing lambs-it makes it all worth while.
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Postby gail » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:57 pm

Bill,

I used a tire with my LGD, for another reason though. She was 'playing' a bit with her sheep. I used the tire to slow her down just enough and change her attitude. It had an immediate affect on her attitude.

I have a 6 ft chain with a tire at the end. The chain is to her collar. I actually think her problem is solved, but am waiting until after lambing is done just to be sure she doesn't overly stress a pregnant ewe. She gets around just fine dragging the tire. I also have her in a pasture where hanging herself is unlikely.

I have some concerns about using a dangle stick with young, growing dogs. I wouldn't think that frequent banging on their bones is good.

Good luck.

Gail
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Postby Kensmuir » Tue Apr 11, 2006 4:30 pm

I'm not terribly worried about my 11 month old, 135 pound dog dragging a tire - she could probably drag my one ton dually without much problem.

Sideways and with 6 flats.

I think she'd just eat any kind of dangle stick - and I'm wondering a bit about the tire...so I'll guess I'll just have to see.

I do admit, I'm a bit worried that if she DID jump she'd hang up on the fence, but hopefully a 6 foot (or so) chain might be the answer to that.
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Postby Laura L. » Tue Apr 11, 2006 5:28 pm

I don't think that I would use a 6 foot chain. But not actually standing next to your dog I can't say for sure. You want the tire to be right behind her when the chain is straight back. And after realizing how much the chain and tire weigh it will change her attitude and she probably won't want to be jumping. Just make sure that she wears it for a long enough period of time.

And it is a good solution for a young dog that wants to play with sheep. We've used the dangle bar and had a problem with it hitting the dog in the knees enough that there was some swelling that took a long time to disappear. They're much better off dragging something heavy in my opinion, but I think your dually is overkill.
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Postby Bill Fosher » Tue Apr 11, 2006 7:55 pm

Bill,

Whatever she's dragging, have it connected to her collar, and have the chain long as Laura described. If she does jumpt the fence for some reason, she needs to be able to stand on the ground and pull the tire over the fence after her.

I've only ever worked with one guard dog who would jump a fence when he had a tire dragging. Old Luke was 120 pounds of numb-skulled and single-minded determination to get coyotes away from his sheep, and then to get back to his sheep.

On one occasion, we were moving his sheep from one end of the field to the other and didn't have enough hands to keep him from straying onto the adjoining road, so we looped his chain (2/0 zinc-coated) around a telephone pole that was a support for a pole barn.

You guessed it. Luke joined up with the sheep, having pulled a link out of the chain. When I first saw him coming up behind us I half expected him to have the pole barn behind him, clanking along, dropping sheathing and roof boards along the way.

Anyway, Luke had about eight feet of chain and a tractor front tire. He would jump over fully-charged electronet to get at coyotes, and then pull the chain over. He must have been getting the shock the whole time. Then when danger was past, he'd jump back in. The only problem was that he never jumped out and in at the same place, and he invariably flatted a section of net at each point of traverse.

Every other dog I've worked with has been respectful of electrified boundaries, although a couple of bitches I've had were capable of slipping through the bars of gates.

My young guys went from a car tire to a lawn mower tire to no tire at all -- just the chain -- and now to no impedimentia whatsoever in the course of about a year.

The key thing here is to not give up on her at this age and at this point in her introduction to your flock. It will take a few more months, but you'll be very glad you stuck it out. And the next one will be 1000 times easier, because the sheep will do part of the training for you.
Bill Fosher
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LGD

Postby DeltaBluez Tess » Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:44 pm

My Great Pyr was a brat the first 18 months. I got 10 Katahdin ewe lambs and they all lived together in a pen for about a week and I put a ewe with twins with them also. When he would try to maul a lamb, the ewe would bop him. When he was good, she ignored him. soon the lambs and Kodi would be one huge heap of legs and hair......all sleeping in a huge pile.

As he got older, I put a heavy duty chain and 2x4 that hung b/w his front legs. That way he could not chase the lambs. He was put with the Clun Forest ewes who taught him a lesson in respect and space.

When he would get out and want to play with the Border Collies, I would put him back with the sheep. I would tell the Border Collies to "Leave it" and they would ignore him. I did get him to recognize his name when I called him for food and when he came I gave him goodies so he mostly comes when called. I would only pet him for a minute if I was in the pasture and then ignore him. I did work with him so I could brush him clip him and do vet work. I leashed trained him too.

So after a bit, his only friends were the lambs he grew up with and the Cluns.

Now he is 5 and I pet him tons but he goes back to his sheep. He is very protective and has no desire to play with the Border Collies. He loves his sheep and saved them from a barn fire. If there is a predator, they all run to him and he puts himself b/w the danger and the sheep.

Now at nite, he eats his food with the three remaining original Katadhin ewes who are waiting to snatch a bit of dog food. He lets them. He lets them get away with a lots...like laying on top of him. That was fine when they were lambs but full grown ewes????...and when they lay on top of him or near him, he licks their face and neck and they sleep with their heads on him. He adores the lambs and hovers over them.

I saw crows flying about the pasture and Kodi was below them, barking and running around and making sure the crows did not land near his lambs. He is the best dog on the farm.

Now in your situation, I would put her in a pen with some lambs and a few ewes with lambs. Let them stay together until she gets the idea that they are all family and that is it. It might take a month or so. Kodi used to jump the fence to try to play with the dogs in our kennels so I put him behind a Premier electric fence and that stopped him.

Sounds like your dog rather be with the Border Collies and now would be a good time to make her realize that her family is the sheep. She sleeps, eats and plays with the sheep.

Can you make a pen that she can not escape out of, put a few lambs and couple of ewes/lambs and let then be as a family for a bit. I realize you need her now for protection but in the long run, it will pay off if she bonds with the sheep in a controlled area,

Diane
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Postby Kensmuir » Tue Apr 18, 2006 4:07 pm

Well, after a few days in a kennel we put back adjacent to the sheep waterer...

They don't seem to move away from her. She can walk right through the middle of them without them moving away.

I witnessed a very pretty thing last evening at dusk.

Belle - the dog under discussion - was laying out in the middle of the pasture. I was sitting reading a book when I saw her leap to her feet and streak out towards the back hill - faster than I evere saw her move.

I looked up and saw two dark shapes running through the back pasture.

As Belle headed for the dry creek bed - the sheep stopped grazing, stared at her for a minute - and completely and totally silently - begin to run for the barn. Now, these are ewes with lambs on them - I've never witnessed them moving without hearing moms and babies calling to each other.

I saw Belle pause at the top of the ridge, and then she disappeared down into the gully.

As I watched, I again saw her streak out of the gully and head toward the back pasture - where there were still a few sheep out by the old farrowing shed.

As she headed that way, on a line betweent the shed and the hill - the few still grazing there lifted thier heads and headed - again silently - toward the barn.

Belle showed up awhile later - looking pretty content.
Bill Gary
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Postby Bill Fosher » Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:31 pm

It's something to see a guard dog work.

Sounds like the worst of it is behind you, Bill. You've got yourself a good one.
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Postby Lana Rowley » Sat Dec 09, 2006 11:54 am

I re read this thread and we added the chain and tire to Frank. He wants to chase the sheep some and they are freaked. I think he is just getting used to our place and all so hope we can move to the smaller tire then just chain. Right now he is very sad and does not walk much with the tire so will see how that goes all day today. Lana
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