Raising the Livestock Guardian Dog Puppy


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It is common to receive conflicting advice on how to raise a full time working LGD. There are slightly different ways to introduce a LGD puppy to livestock and foster the bond between them. The method you use depends greatly upon your situation.

You may be an experienced LGD user with stock accustomed to living with a LGD. You might have an older reliable LGD to help serve as a mentor. Or this pup may be the very first LGD for you and your stock. You may work full time on your ranch or farm and available to monitor a growing pup with stock, or your job may take you away from your home for many hours every day. You might live on acreage with large flocks and have the ability to organize different or flexible groups of stock and a pup, or your space and animals may be very limited. And finally, your pup may have been born on a farm from excellent working parents and spent its early weeks in close contact with stock, while other pups may have come from unknown backgrounds or did not have these early sensory and formative experiences. In our various situations, we need to be flexible and adapt to our own specific needs.

Perhaps more important than one particular set of guidelines, is providing a reliable way to supervise the pup into early adulthood. It is crucial that all inappropriate behaviors – playing, chasing, biting, herding, barking, dominating, or other aggressive behaviors - be stopped to prevent them from being ingrained. This process is not really “training” in the classical sense and it definitely doesn’t require that level of control. LGDs are self-thinkers and they don’t need to be taught to protect. But even for young pups born with stock, continuing attention to their behavior through observation and time spent with the dog is essential.

It is important to remember that in their homelands, LGDs always worked in close partnership with their shepherds and other livestock guardian dogs. A pup was never left completely alone with stock. Despite the widespread and mistaken advice, both hands-off raising and placing a completely unsupervised pup directly with a flock are wrong. Keeping this knowledge in mind, how should you proceed to give your pup a good start as a working LGD?

Early Beginnings

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