Adopting an Adult or Rescue Livestock Guard Dog

| 4/9/2014 9:42:00 AM

Tags: livestock guardians, farm dogs, Michigan, Jan Dohner,

Great PyreneesRe-homed adult or rescue LGDs are another option when you are looking for a working dog for your farm. The genetic traits LGDs inherit are powerful. LGD owners have seen individual dogs, even after spending years as a companion, make an astounding transition to life as a working dog. Most LGDs will also make the transition to new humans in their life far better than we emotionally think they will. However, it is vitally important to know the reason why is dog is in rescue or up for re-homing. 

Many LGDs that were purchased as pets are later given up by their owners or turned into rescue groups because they bark too much, shed too much, or are difficult to control in an urban or suburban area. This usually happens in late adolescence. Indeed, some of these dogs will be happier with a job to do and the room to stretch their legs. Given careful support and time to adjust, a dog that possesses good genetic instincts often turns into a good farm guardian and perhaps even a good fulltime livestock guardian as well. 

If you are enormously fortunate, you might find a good, working LGD to buy or adopt when his owners sell their stock or their farm. Dogs transferring from similar working situations and stock are more likely to adapt, although some dogs are very bonded to their animals or territory. Be especially cautious of dogs that were not well socialized to people. If they are not routinely handled, LGDs can become nearly feral and almost impossible to catch. If they are restrained, they may react dangerously. Be sure that you can handle this dog confidently and that you feel safe around him. Even if he is well behaved, you will need a very secure area to keep him while he adjusts to his new home and new stock. Don’t assume that he is used to the situations and routines on your farm. It takes a year or more for a dog to completely adapt to his new home and perhaps longer to become true working dogs. 

On the other hand, if a dog has already failed as a livestock guardian the chances are small that he will improve in a new situation. In some cases, a dog might do better with different stock, a different pasture situation, or a different owner; however, he will also bring with him any serious problem behaviors such as chasing or killing stock or poultry, escaping fences, human aggression, or others. If you are a brand new LGD owner who attempts to rescue a poorly raised or un-socialized dog, you will probably not be able to turn him into a reliable LGD. There are experienced LGD owners who do this retraining successfully but they have many years of experience in handling dogs and problem-solving LGD issues.

guard dog

Choosing Your Dog and Bringing Him Home

If you are considering a rescue dog or adopting or buying an adult dog, there are several things that can contribute to your greater chance of success:

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