See our Livestock Guardian Dog signs
The Anatolian Shepherd as Livestock Guardian
There are methods and goals specific to each family farm or working
ranch situation. The owner must create an appropriate working environment for the young
pup or older dog and supervise its initial interactions with livestock. Essentially, it is
important that the pup or dog spends most its time with the animals that it will
eventually be guarding. This is to encourage social bonding to the other animals as this
bond is what brings out the desire to protect his charges.
The successful livestock manager using livestock guarding dogs realizes
that the dog is not a miracle or a machine. Correct behavior for the livestock guardian is
generally instinctive, but so is puppy play and various other canine behaviors. The stock
manager needs to be attentive to the interactions of animals and must able intervene
immediately when necessary. Timely correction and behavior shaping will assure that the
guardian will be a success.
Spaying and neutering of all dogs that are intended to be continuous
herd guardians is strongly recommended. Males that are intact may be influenced by the
drive to mate, and roam. Roaming predisposes him to getting shot, hit by car, poisoned,
and to fighting with other intact males. Intact females will attract nuisance males and
will become less tolerant of their charges when in heat. Raising a litter of planned or
unplanned pups will keep her from being able to protect the hoofstock. If the farm spread
is very large, and the local predators are primarily wolf packs or big game, several
guardians may be required to effect sufficent predator control. Intact animals will cause
more problems among themselves than is worth the stock manager's time.
Stock owners should have a second pup coming along when the older dog
has matured and learned its work. Older dogs also serve as tutors' and help integrate the
pup in his role as guardian by modeling the proper behaviors. Wolf packs, bears, and
cougars will usually avoid conflict with a single, confident livestock guardian, but may
confront the guard under some circumstances. Two or more Anatolians are more seriously
regarded by these predators and more likely to avoid rousing their ire.
Use of a new dog with stock often presents several initial problems
because most stock have become used to running from dogs. It is better to start with one
pup, and to "train" the stock to accept the pup and to correct any playful
chasing early on. Only one dog and the stock should be trained to work together before the
manager ends up with a frustrating case of two playful pups to work with and uncooperative
hoof-stock to boot. If two absolutely MUST be started at the SAME time, they should be
raised in separate pens with their own stock to grow up with while they are learning the
Keeping the dog in the same pens or pastures with some types of stock
works out well. Sheep and goats acclimated to the dogs, for example. Other types of stock
such as adult llamas, donkeys, or ostriches will require some judiciousness, as the adults
of these species may attack a young guardian dog and teach it to fear or fight them. The
older specimens of this type of stock are usually best kept so that the pup or dog may
freely enter or leave the pen, and initially with the stock manager observing the
interaction between the species.
Younger stock can be raised with the dog with the same judicious
attention from the manager, the main attention being to deter littermate type play toward
the stock. These animals will usually accept the dog more readily than adult stock will.
The stock manager will be most successful with the sensible routine of initially creating
an enclosed large pen for the pup with some placid stock that will not hurt the pup. Stock
that is similarly sized will help to get a good start for them. The fewer mistakes made
initially with the young pup, the sooner will be seen a satisfactory investment of time.
See our story selection below for
personal accounts from people who have used Anatolian Shepherds as guardians for various
types of livestock. For further information about Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) take a
look at the LGD.org web page also check the list
of recommended reading and the mailing
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