How much does a big dawg eat? Adult dogs consume 4-6 measuring cups per day depending upon their activity level and the percentage of protein. Higher protein = less food. Really. Puppies require a bit more during their first 6 months. Don't fall prey to thinking that your dog must be hulk-like. A leaner, meaning fit, animal is a healthier animal. Imagine that your LGD is an Olympic athlete specializing in track and field, not weightlifting. Are you getting the idea?
What kind of fencing should I have? A minimum of 5 feet height with room for hot wire or barb wire added at the top line. Woven wire tightly stretched on metal tee, wood or pipe posts. Pay attention to gaps at corners, gates, gulleys, etc., and secure accordingly. An LGD's territory is as far as their eyes can see or nose will carry them. Do you really want to invest in an animal that will leave your property the first chance they get?
Why won't my LGD stay in my field? See the fencing question above. Also, consider whether any changes in the dogs environment have recently occurred; i.e., have you moved your herd to a different field. This can lead to confused, erratic behavior, particularly if you've never used the field before. Pay attention to any change from routine for that matter. Anything unusual could disrupt the dynamic, and this is the time to reinforce what you want from your dog. For example, if you do expand the dog's range into a new field, do the "bond walk" around the perimeter to show them what is expected from them especially if they work by themselves.
My LGD ignores my stock, what should I do? There could be a number of reasons for this: First of all, what does "ignoring the stock" mean to you? Some folks assume a snoozing dog means they are not paying attention to the stock. These animals will bolt upright from what appears to be a deep sleep to investigate a strange sound or bark a warning, and the dog may be several yards away from the stock when this happens. Observe whether the dog reacts to strange sounds, school buses, garbage trucks, airplanes flying overhead, hawks above, etc., before a determination of a ineffectual dog is made.
What is the health condition of my LGD? Advanced heartworm, arthritis, age of dog, and hearing should all be considered. Notice any health issues that may keep an animal from being able to perform the guardian duties.
How do I introduce the LGD to the stock? The best solution is often placing the LGD in a pen/paddock adjacent to the stock so that the dog will become accustomed. Pay attention to the dog's reaction to the stock when he/she first sees them. A neutral, contented look is an indication that this dog understands what is happening and what is expected. A proper reaction would be that the dog does not maintain eye contact with the stock...no hard stares. The stock themselves will tell you whether the dog is acting threatening toward them. But, don't confuse stock that has never been around an experienced LGD either. Some stock are naturally skiddish regardless. An excited, agitated, rushing the fence line reaction should be corrected "gently with authority".
My LGD growls and barks constantly at strangers that I am escorting around my property, what should I do? You may have never established basic obedience with your dog so that the dog respects your wishes to calm down when you're introducing approved visitors. Your dog may have never been socialized around anyone except the primary caretaker before. It is in the best interest of the animal to accept a stranger if you've given the okay. You'll need to work out the language to convey this message through obedience training. Obedience for an LGD means accepting you as alpha and abiding by your wishes. It does not mean an expectation that your dog will drop to a sit in a millisecond if commanded. Bear in mind that you will become familiar with the genuine warning barks,
distinguishing those from barks that are inappropriate. "But Square Pegs do Fit in Round Holes" Let's be realistic folks. These animals are impressive, beautiful and quite versatile; however, one cannot force an animal with the drive and propensity to do what they were bred to do into becoming a cuddly house pet, who sleeps at your feet and never barks. By the same token, if your dog shows signs of wanting to be with your family and shuns or runs from a
goat, then by all means, accept this wonderful creature into your familial domain. But please, let's not force these animals into your perception of what you think they should do. My goal when I evaluate is to allow the animal to tell me what their preference is ... it is really that simple. I have sent more than a few pets back to another foster home when I've been told the animal was definitely an LGD. Just because the dog likes to be outside and barks does not make it an LGD. Your dogs are talking to you. Can you hear them?
How much should I expect to pay for an LGD?
Typically a rescue dog is between $250 and $350 depending upon age and experience level. Because these dogs do not spend much time with the foster, a historical profile is a minimal requirement and no guaranties are possible.
Factor in your own knowledge of the breed if you plan to train the animal yourself. Accepting an unproven animal into your stock is a recipe for disaster. Particular care should be taken when accepting an unproven dog or pup that you're training into a breeding stock scenario. Your LGD may seem to get along great with your stock initially until which time dog grows accustomed to his new environment (fear of new place), an unknown behavior from the stock occurs(mating behaviors perceived as aggression), the stock birthings begin, to name only a few. Then you could see a disaster unfold if you have not taken precautions to separate an unproven dog while they are learning that the young stock presence is for protecting not eating.
A breeder can charge between $1,000 - $2,000 (pup/experienced animal/breeding animals) . Care should be taken to determine whether the animal was born from working lines. Reputable Breeders will ordinarily provide some guarantee of health soundness and a return policy. Animals who have been raised for an extended period in the same working situation with extensive evaluation, testing and known history can range between $500 - $2,000 depending upon their ages, experience levels and ability to protect multiple types of stock. For example, a proven working dog that is exceptional with alpaca and poultry and has been through stock birthing successfully garners the higher end investment fee because that is what you are doing, investing. Consider the value of your stock versus the initial investment in the animal that will protect that stock. The more diverse the LGD, the more valuable they are in protecting your overall stock investment. See the example below:
20 head of Breeding Quality Alpaca estimated at a value of $1,000,000.
Annual average birthing value of $500,000
Two LGD initial investment for stock protection: $ 4000 + $1400 (Annual
Feed and Medications) = $4700 for the 1st year.
Subsequent years equal $1400 assuming healthy animals are maintained.
Continued security that your stock value and investment is protected...PRICELESS!!!
Most LGD folks will welcome if not encourage site visits so that you can determine for yourself if the animals are indeed working successfully with the stock as advertised. I provide videos and pictures of key working events as evidence of each animals working capability as well as farm tours to watch the action in progress.
Why does my pup or young dog chase and mouth my stock or chew on their ears and what should I do?
Don't panic! Ask yourself if that animal was ever introduced properly to the stock in the first place. The danger zone unfolds when a young puppy or unproven dog is tossed into a field with the expectation that they will simply know what is expected of them. You could lose stock by choosing this route. Immediately remove the misbehaving dog from access to the stock! Place the dog in an adjacent field/paddock training. This behavior, left unchecked, results in harm or death to your stock and a harmed LGD. I'ts possible to start over training with a dog but it requires knowledge of why the dog acted this way in the first place and proceeding accordingly. A dog that has been allowed to harm stock might take a couple of years to correct.
Initial problems CAN BE CORRECTED if quickly handled. The dog will learn by adjacency to the stock that they are to protect all animals in the nearby field. Typically, this occurs when the dog is under the age of 2 years. Back to square one for the dog takes as long as it takes. Don't rush this process. Here's the rub: if the dog has already attacked and damaged stock, it may be too late. This type of animal requires evaluation by an experienced Livestock Guardian evaluator to determine whether the animal could be trained over time or removed completely from the stock working environment. Find out about the background of the dog before you intro them to your stock or be prepared to do the research and conduct the training yourself. Having someone tell you that "the dog should protect/guard" or "the dog's parents are experienced working stock so their instincts will kick in", is not good enough. Confirm that the animal is a proven guardian yourself or find an evaluator who can assist you in your choice. Preparation is far less painful than the aftermath of a situation gone wrong.
How do I know how alpha my dog is?
In nature, the alpha dog eats first, access to the best sleeping location, the best mate, the best toys and the alpha dog is the only dog who is allowed to initiate eye contact with the other dogs. The alpha dog will also exhibit aggression whenever he is challenged by another dog. LGDs are essentially mini-packs with a human caregiver that controls resources; however, they still function similarly to how a wolk pack does with a heirarchical structure very much in place to maintain order. This is where a good evaluator can distinguish between a dog that is wired well and one that is not. Some dogs never overcome their past but these are the minority.
"The Domestic Pack Theory Dominance-related aggression. For years, behavioral experts blamed unstable or disordered dominance relationships within the home when dogs acted aggressively toward their families over resources or certain physical interventions. This is currently under dispute. Antagonists of this view point out that in wolf packs there is little overt aggression and that truly dominant wolves (and dogs) do not need to be blatantly aggressive. In the wild, the typical number of wild dogs or wolves in a fully-fledged pack ranges between eight and 15. Order is maintained by means of an almost linear hierarchical relationship between pack members, an arrangement known as a dominance hierarchy. In essence, this means that there are leaders and followers. The most dominant individuals control the resources and subordinates must defer or face the consequences." (Canine Social Structure. by: Dr. Nicholas Dodman )
Livestock Guardian Dog FAQ's
Haven Acres Ranch