Puppy Talk and How it Relates to Livestock-Guardian Dogs



I’m very happy to feature a guest post on the purchase or adoption of overly young puppies. Pups who are taken from their mom and littermates too soon face many potentially serious behavior issues. Equally important when we are looking to raise a good working livestock guardian dog, the older pup learns invaluable lessons from its mother on how to live and work with stock.

I’m so pleased that Louise Liebenberg offered to share this very important information with Mother Earth readers. Louise has many years of experience raising and training working Sarplaninac livestock guardian dogs on her 480-acre ranch in High Prairie, Northern Alberta, Canada. The Grazerie ranch working dogs protect their large flocks of sheep and Angus cattle from the largest predators in a demanding environment. You can find much more about raising LGDs on her website and blog.

Puppy Talk and Livestock Guardian Dogs by Louise Liebenberg

Nothing is more endearing than a sweet, fluffy puppy. They melt your heart and the desire to go in and hug it, and mother it, and baby it, seems to take over. The problem that arises from following the heart and not the mind is that we potentially set the pup up for failure before it even has a chance to work.

Walk away from breeder that insists that a pup should leave the litter at 6 weeks of age or younger! Even if the mother dog dies, the siblings will still play an important role in helping to shape the behavior of the pup. Too often, I see posts of people all excited about getting their very young pup, but many do not recognize the importance of what a mom and the siblings teach the pup and how this shapes its future behavior.

We want our livestock guardian dogs to be tough on predators, be protective, and be confident in what they do. Taking on formidable predators requires the dogs to be savvy and streetwise, to understand canine language, to work together in a pack, and to be confident, brave and unwavering. On the other hand, we require them to show nurturing behavior, to read the body language of the livestock, to be attentive to the livestock, and to be calm, steady, and reliable. We need a dog that is super-stable in temperament, and confident in its ability. To get this ideal, we need to place emphasis on both the genetic background of the dogs and how they are raised - nature and nurture. We need to optimize the chance of success for the pup, and the livestock it will guard down the road.

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