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Livestock Protection Dogs: Selection Care and Training - buy it here and support the Cheetah Conservation fund!

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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 rules.

[Picture of: Anatolian with sheep]

   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 lists.

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Story Selection

Training

Sheep

Goat

Poultry

Miniature Horses

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