Anne of All Trades and The Guardians of Her Farm: Johnny & June's Story

SpotOn Product Review Finn

SpotOn customer Anne B. shared her biggest challenge as a farmer — finding a way to keep her two Livestock Guardian Dogs home, contained on the farm. These dogs need their freedom to keep predators away, but she also wanted to ensure that they stayed on her property and could track their location at night or while she was away from home.

“It's a game changer for me and my farm... We get to have the animals back out on pasture and fully protected by the dogs.” - Anne B., Owner

Before SpotOn, Johnny and June would take off for hours and sometimes days at a time, causing Anne to spend hours on her ATV searching for them. She tried everything she could think of to contain them. Electric wire netting, e-collars, AirTags, and wire fencing. Nothing worked! Johnny and June would still take off, and seriously derail her day. She even got an exorbitant and unrealistic estimate ($65,000!) for a physical fence.

The last straw was the unfortunate day that June escaped (by jumping over the interior fence) and attacked the neighbor’s chickens. Distraught about harming her neighbors’ farm, Anne was now desperately in need of finding a way to keep Johnny and June home.

Out of ideas, she had to fence the dogs in with the animals, which meant they were not able to chase predators aways. This led to incessant barking from the dogs, as their only means of protecting their herd. Unfortunately, the barking did not prevent packs of coyotes from making their way to the farm. Finally, after several years and many failed attempts, Anne was relieved to discover SpotOn GPS Fence.

If she only knew then what she knows now. During her ordeal, Anne realized that she had not  fully understood how challenging it can be to train an LGD. Unlike her house dog Rigby (a Goldador companion dog bred to look to his owner for instruction), LGDs were not meant to be human companions. They were bred to be guardians for livestock, and to think independently and make decisions, rather than wait on commands. They rely on their instinct to protect their property, which is why it’s very hard to tell them what to do (and why they are often perceived as simply being very stubborn).

With that realization and the discovery of SpotOn GPS Fence, Anne had a new plan! And it required being diligent and taking the extra time needed to train Johnny and June, knowing that these dogs are used to making their own decisions rather than being told what to do.

‘I was able to train my Goldador Rigby in an afternoon. But it took almost 8 weeks to get Johnny & June up to speed. And this is actually because of a very key difference between house trained, pet dogs and LGDs as a breed.’

Success at last with SpotOn GPS Fence. And how she did it.

Armed with the knowledge about her LGDs’ instincts, Anne took her time training her dogs to SpotOn, understanding that any new behavior requires consistency and repetition. And in this case, approached her training one step at a time.

‘Once they understood that they needed to turn around once they heard the beep, they were as good as trained.’

Anne’s tips to train your LGD to SpotOn GPS Fence.

  • Start with a short leash and high value treats
  • On a short leash, walk your dog around the perimeter (virtual fence line), until you hear the beeps, and then turn around and return to the center of the fence. This will teach your dog the tones and the boundaries, and train them to turn around and walk in the other direction once they hear the beeps.
  • After success on a short lead, repeat this training exercise (walking your dog around the perimeter and turning around to return to the center upon hearing the beeps) with a longer leash. In Anne’s case, she used a donkey lead as a longer leash. 
  • Start with a small fence (at least a ½ acre) to make teaching this back and forth behavior easier. 
  • Keep training sessions positive (treats help) and short, so that your dog stays engaged. 
  • When your dog is ready, and after testing the fence, unleash them and trust them, but stay close to make sure they have learned to respect their boundaries. 

The key to any training is patience, and understanding your dog. And in this case, the key for Anne was understanding that her smart LGDs actually required a lot more training to counteract their natural bred instincts.

Now with SpotOn, Johnny and June have the freedom they need to roam and guard their herd, and they’ve finally learned to stay home, respecting their GPS boundaries. And if they do slip up and breach the boundary, automatic tracking will kick in, notifying Anne of their location so she can easily track them down. No more long, stressful searches on her ATV!

Ready to train your LGD to SpotOn GPS Fence? Watch Anne’s story and training tips below. Or check out our training guide and videos.

Want to share your pup's SpotOn story? Send it here!

Author Bio:
Amy McPoland is a dog mom, dog lover and Sr. Brand Strategist at SpotOn Fence.

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