Livestock Protector

Video

Introduction

Your dog is this type if he:
Is quite independent and likes to lie by the doors and exits of your property while staying near the family to watch over them. He doesn’t have much desire to go running or chasing, nor is he keen on playing with toys or retrieving balls for very long. He may enjoy chewing but probably prefers to do so undisturbed and away from the family. He is large and powerful, and usually has a thick double or corded coat to protect against the elements, meaning that on hot days he may be rather lethargic and content to lie in the shade rather than move around.

Exercise & play

Originally bred to protect livestock all year round, these dogs love the great outdoors and will quite happily go out in the harshest conditions in the most exposed of locations. Cold and wet weather will not deter them from wanting to be outside simply to patrol the garden, or just lie about watching the world go by.

They have a great deal of stamina and enjoy going on long walks with their owners, especially when they are younger. In between walks they will happily spend the day ambling around the garden and snoozing, yet always remaining alert to the environment and where the family ‘flock’ is.

These dogs need space so the larger your garden the better. If they are confined in too small a space and become bored, Livestock Protection Dogs may spend their time trying to escape, digging, scaling or even trying to chew through fences. They naturally suit smallholdings, ranches etc, where they can perform the duties they were bred for and there is room to roam safely within the property – and where there are no neighbours to be disturbed by their barking at unusual goings-on or visitors.

Independent play

Livestock guarding dogs are naturally independent, having been bred to stay out protecting livestock 24/7 from predators and thieves, often in remote or mountainous areas. Unlike livestock herding breeds such as Collies, who work closely with a handler, working Livestock Guarding Dogs are often left out in sole charge of their flocks. In a pet home,they are, therefore, usually quite content to amuse themselves and remain calm when alone.

Many types of working Livestock Guarding Dog have to find their own food during the day, hunting small prey and scavenging where they can, supplemented with sheeps milk and cheese by their shepherds. Leaving some treat-toys for your dog to find in his garden and on home patrols is a good way of adding some variety to his day and rather similar to what he would have to do as a working dog. Once found, removing the treats from the toys will occupy his brain and exercise his physical dexterity. Hiding the treats in small cereal boxes is a cheaper alternative to buying commercially manufactured treat-toys, but it won’t take these dogs long to rip up the boxes. Strong rubber toys will better withstand the attention of their powerful jaws.

Playing with the owner

Given their more independent streak, these dogs do not need as much direct playtime with their owners as some other dog types. but that’s not to say that they don’t need it. In the early days ,particularly, it is important that the entire family play and train with the pup so that he forms a strong attachment to his family. Some Livestock Protection Dogs will bond only to the livestock species that they’ve been exposed to as pups – so a sheep protection dog is unlikely to be an effective guard of cattle, for example, unless he is also kept around cattle when young. As your dog gets older and matures, don’t be surprised if he becomes a bit less playful and less interested in chasing after balls and toys.

A young or active dog might enjoy a game of hide and seek with one member of his ‘flock’. If you have two or more dogs, they could well play chase games amongst themselves –particularly when young when they have less of a bulky coat to carry around.

Emotional bonding


Livestock Protection Dogs bond closely with their family from an early age – if necessary, they will fight to the death to protect their charges – but they are not always socially demonstrative. If you want a dog to be delighted to see you when you come downstairs in the morning, wagging his tail like mad, fetching your slippers for you, and always wanting a fuss, then dogs of this group are not for you. Livestock Protection Dogs are more independent and aloof. They are part of the family, but usually prefer to watch from the sidelines, ensuring everyone is safe and protected, rather than being in the centre of the family’s activities.

Early, thorough socialisation is especially crucial for these dogs, as they have natural guarding instincts and a suspicion of unfamiliar people and animals. This, coupled with their size and strength, means it is particularly important to ensure they are safe and content around all kinds of people and other animals. Basic obedience training, particularly recall, is important for off-lead walks in case you encounter anything unusual or seemingly threatening.

Provide several comfortable beds or resting mats for your dog in strategic places around the home and garden – ideally in locations where he can keep an eye on entrances, gates, doorways, and people. This is not a dog that needs constant physical contact and reassurance – but he will want to keep his family in line of sight.

Your dog’s coat is designed to protect him outdoors, so can be quite high maintenance if you want him to look and stay clean. Regular grooming will keep his coat in good order, especially as the warmth of modern centrally-heated homes could mean that he sheds his coat all year round. Many dogs in this group have very thick, profuse coats, or even long, corded coats (such as the dreadlocks of the remarkable looking Komondor and Hungarian Puli). All-over grooming and handling when young, reinforcing acceptance and calm tolerance with tasty treats, will encourage your dog to view the experience as a positive, enjoyable one even when there are knots and tangles to tease out. Trying to groom a strong, large, reluctant Livestock Protection Dog is no fun at all, so make the investment and start him young with daily relaxed grooming sessions whether his coat needs the attention or not.

Livestock Protection Dogs are usually highly vocal and, when working as guards, will bark loudly and impressively to warn away potential predators. In modern pet homes they are just as likely to bark at someone walking past your house. Obviously, they are not always ideal dogs to keep in built-up areas or where there are close neighbours who like a quiet life. Inside the home, to save your own sanity, it helps to train your dog to be quiet after giving his initial warning bark. If you teach your dog to bark on request and encourage him to do so at certain times and under specific conditions, it will mean that he can have a good bark when it’s convenient for you both, such as outside on a walk. Teaching him to bark, and also to stop when you ask him to, means that you can silence him more easily when he barks inappropriately .

If you need to leave your dog home alone for a short period, make sure he has been exercised beforehand and has something to do to prevent boredom and any resultant destructive or escape behaviour or barking. With a treat-filled toy in a very large, cosy room or kennel, he is more than likely to snooze for a couple of hours. A puppy going through a chewing stage would be best in a crate to protect your furniture.

Livestock Protection Dogs will generally accept whatever family they are initially introduced and socialised to – be it with cats, other dogs, livestock etc. They towards intolerance of outsiders, though, and are likely to chase neighbourhood cats that stray into ‘their’ garden.

Teaching your dog ‘Speak!’ and ‘Shush!’
It may sound strange, but to teach your dog to stop barking on command, you should first teach him to bark on command.
• Ask your dog to sit and then show him a tasty treat, but keep it out of reach.
• As he gets frustrated, he should eventually bark, at which point you should immediately say “Speak” and then give him the treat and lots of praise.
• Repeat and your dog should soon learn that he should bark whenever you look at him and say “Speak”.
• Practise little and often, in various locations, in order to generalise his learning.

Now that he’ll bark on request, you can train him to stop when asked.

• Ask your dog to “Speak” and reward him as usual.
• Next tell him to “Shush” and distract him with a high-value treat, such as a new squeaky toy or a very tasty treat. When he stops barking, praise him and give him the treat.
• Repeat little and often, and you’ll soon be able to control your dog’s barking.

Nutrition and health

Many dogs developed as working animals within this group had to be very resilient and capable of fending for themselves when necessary - hunting rabbits and other small prey and scavenging where they could to survive. Being inventive with how you deliver his daily food allocation will appeal to his foraging instincts and keep him far busier than just presenting his food in a bowl twice a day.

Scatter a third of his daily food as widely as possible on the lawn so he has to take his time to sniff it out, and hide another third in food-dispensing toys or empty cereal boxes around the garden for him to hunt out. The remaining third can be split into two meals, presented in a bowl morning and evening, so that your dog will always continue to see you as a ‘parental’ food provider.

Make sure all your bins are secured with heavy or lockable lids so that he doesn’t break in and help himself to scraps.

Your dog is this type if he:
Is quite independent and likes to lie by the doors and exits of your property while staying near the family to watch over them. He doesn’t have much desire to go running or chasing, nor is he keen on playing with toys or retrieving balls for very long. He may enjoy chewing but probably prefers to do so undisturbed and away from the family. He is large and powerful, and usually has a thick double or corded coat to protect against the elements, meaning that on hot days he may be rather lethargic and content to lie in the shade rather than move around.

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