Friday, April 23, 2010

Comeback Farms :: Chapters 20-21 Book Report

These two chapters deal specifically with livestock guardian dogs. A topic that I don't know too much about (except that we do have a Great Pyrenees), but that will be very important if I have some sheep coming to the farm this summer. Greg Judy speaks very highly of livestock guardian dogs and seems to have a pretty high rate of flock safety with their use, so I was very interested in seeing what he had to say about selection and training of a guardian dog. These two chapters didn't disappoint! I don't have time for many thoughts today, so I will just throw out some highlights from the two chapters that really stuck with me.
  • When selecting your puppy pick out one of the puppies that comes to you right away. When it comes to a guardian you don't want a timid dog.
  • As soon as they get their puppies on the farm they are put with the sheep. That is where they are fed and that is where they sleep. To get the sheep used to the dog they sometimes place them in a pen right next to the sheep so they get used to them being near.
  • Another way to bond your dog with the sheep is to place the pup in a pen (Mr. Judy uses an electro-net pen) with an old ewe and force them to bond. Then when you place the dog out with the entire flock there will already be a connection.
  • Don't let the dog bond with you. We purposefully let our dog bond with the family because we wanted a family guardian dog. But, in doing so Jack hangs out around the house most of the time protecting this area. For a livestock guardian a pat on the head each day and a "good job" is probably enough.
  • Mr. Judy made a neat little "feeding pen" on skids to allow the dogs access to a self-feeder, but keep the sheep out of the dog food. This is a really good idea!
After reading these two chapters (and re-reading them) I'm on the lookout for another dog with sheep on the horizon. This one will be a true livestock guardian dog ... not a people guardian.

1 comment:

Jenny Glen said...

One caution : even though you want your dog to bond with the sheep, that doesn't mean you shouldn't handle it. Handle it alot but while it is with it's sheep. You will be very glad you did when your dog is over 100lbs. and you can trim it's nails without a fight. The Guardian dog Bible should be "Livestock Protection Dogs Selection, Care and Training" by Orysia Dawydiak and David Sims. It will tell you everything you need to know. I followed that book and I am very happy with my very large guardian dog.

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