Livestock Guardian Dogs: Breed Information and Training Tips0 comments
Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) are working dogs, bred to protect livestock from predators. They bond with their herd, becoming a member and staying with them 24/7, including sleeping outside. So while how many LGDs you need to protect your farm depends on several variables, including acreage and the size of the herd, the general answer is two or more. Why are two or more LGDs recommended?
They were bred to work with a partner or a pack, and one LGD by itself increases the risk of attack, as most LGDs can’t fend off a bear, mountain lion or a pack of coyotes or wolves on their own. And beyond safety, they are pack animals, like all dogs. They are social creatures who crave companionship and will be much happier with a partner.
Livestock Guardian Dog breeds are renowned for their intelligence, strength and alertness, all traits needed for their job. With this high level of intelligence comes the ability for independent thinking and decision making, also needed to guard their farm animals. And with this instinctual and genetic independence often comes a stubborn streak. Since they are used to doing their own thing, they don’t always care to listen, and like many super smart and stubborn dogs, can be a challenge to contain.
Livestock Guardian Dog Breeds
Some popular LGD breeds include the Tibetan Mastiff, Great Pyrenees, Komondor, Anatolian Shepherd Dog, and the Akbash.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a larger breed originally from the mountains of Tibet. These dogs are wonderful family companions and great with children of all ages. They are especially talented at guarding livestock at night, since they tend to be nocturnal.
The Great Pyrenees originates from the French Pyrenees mountains, where these dogs were used to herd and guard livestock. They are extremely intelligent, especially when it comes to their job, and don’t need much human supervision. They make great family dogs, but you may find that they try to herd anything smaller than them, including children!
Komondors, also known as “mop dogs,” are a unique breed of dog whose matted fur resembles a mop used for cleaning. These dogs are believed to hail from Hungary and make incredible working dogs. They take their jobs very seriously and will actually attack predators that threaten the livestock they guard.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
The Anatolian Shepherd Dog is fabled to have been bred by ancient shepherds in what is now Turkey. They descend from some of the oldest breeds of domestic dogs. They are great at taking charge of livestock, but are known to have dominating personalities. However, their loyalty is unwavering and they make wonderful family dogs.
The Akbash also originated in Turkey, like the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, to manage and keep livestock safe. These dogs are incredibly independent and have sharp senses that help them stay alert at all times. They will grow extremely fond of their livestock and family, doing just about anything to protect them.
How to Keep Livestock Guardian Dogs from Roaming
Livestock Guardian Dogs have become more popular lately for micro-farms and mini homesteads. While there are many different Livestock Guardian Dog breeds, we have many SpotOn customers with Great Pyrenees who have stories about their dog’s inherent wanderlust — another way that independent personality often manifests itself. SpotOn GPS Fence has successfully solved the containment issue for these dogs.
In the case of Heather with a Great Pyrenees named Ursa, Ursa got bolder as she got older, repeatedly crossing the street to bark at a neighborhood horse. Not very neighborly, and definitely dangerous. Enter SpotOn GPS Fence…
“The SpotOn system has given Ursa the freedom to roam and play on 100+ wooded acres. True to her breed, she loves to stay outside, guarding our family and the chickens. Now she can do the job that she loves without me worrying about her going into the road or getting in trouble with neighbors.” – Heather S., Owner
In the case of Great Pyrenees SpotOn pup Yeti, he’s more of a family dog than a working farm dog. Mellow, zen-like, and super sweet, in keeping with the breed, Yeti also had the same wanderlust tendency, despite not being on the job. When dog mom Jennie started receiving calls from the neighbors telling her that Yeti was often playing on the road, she knew she’d need to find a solution, and fast. Now, Yeti is happy to be living his best life off-leash, and Jennie no longer worries about her best friend playing in the road.
“We love that Yeti is safe all the time now. We also love the tracking feature, which lets us know where he is on the property.” - Jennie M., Owner
Livestock Guardian Dog Training Tips
Like all dogs, LGDs require training. And when you have an independent and stubborn dog, it may require extra dedication, though their intelligence enables them to learn quickly. The key to success with SpotOn is training, so your dog understands the system cues (2 tones, vibration and an optional static correction) and learns to respect the boundaries. This is why we recommend SpotOn for dogs over 6 months old, so training to the system is built on basic training when the dog is mature enough to focus.
We spoke with Rick Alto of ExFed Dog Training. Rick is also a SpotOn trainer, who understands how to train dogs to our GPS fence system. As he often emphasizes, all training is a learned behavior. So while Rick has expertise training to the SpotOn system, basic dog training principles apply to any training.
“In all aspects of training, you must take it in baby steps and crawl, walk and then run. There are no shortcuts in dog training. Dogs learn through association and with repetition and consistency. Training sessions need to be fun for the dog, because your dog initially sees this training activity as a game where they are being rewarded with treats, praise or toys for playing by the rules.
Through repetition and consistency, your dog will learn that the tone means return to the safe zone every time, even with distractions present. Remember, if your dog experiences any difficulty, take a few steps back in their training to find a distraction they consistently succeeded with and start reintroducing higher level distractions. The key is to build distractions slowly and end every training session on a positive note. Train, test, proof and repeat!” - Rick Alto, ExFed Dog Training
To learn more about how SpotOn GPS Fence works to enable you to easily contain, keep tabs on and track your dog, check out How It Works.
To learn more about Livestock Guardian Dogs as part of the Working Dog group, and what each breed was bred to do, check out this list from the AKC.
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Willow is a 3 year old Great Pyrenees, and a busy new mom of 9 ridiculously cute puppies.
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