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  1. #1
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Question Those with outdoor farm dogs

    What do your dogs do when you're working in the same space that they occupy?

    I got Questa back in July, sheís about 18 months or so and ĺ Anatolian and ľ Great Pyr. We already have an almost 10 year old Great Pyr/Lab so are familiar with LGDís and knew we wanted a dog that was already a (relatively) proven LGD, had very little prey drive, and of course was used to living outside. Questa fit the bill well, she had been living out with a herd of goats and guarding them the first year of her life, she had exposure to poultry and little prey drive as well. Her previous owner had to sell off her herd of goats for financial reasons and I was told Questa became depressed and lost a lot of weight. Unfortunately when I got her home, she hyperfocused on me and has been religiously stalking me since.

    She does occasionally wander off and do her own thing, more often than not though she wants to be within 10 feet of me, preferably only a couple feet away. When I am working on things outside and she lays down but I then need to move a few more feet away, she will get up each and every time to follow me, despite the fact that if she waited a couple more seconds she wouldnít have needed to get up at all. Itís very much a compulsion and she will often plop herself down directly behind a horse (despite the fact she had been lightly kicked by one for being rude) or otherwise lay down/stand very close to them (sheís been bitten by one as well) and Iím genuinely baffled as to why she doesnít seem to learn from her experiences. (How could you let that happen :O ?!?! she already had experience with horses when she came to me, I kept a close eye on her, but I assumed she knew how to behave around them, yet she does these things, and continues to do them (she really likes to sniff, the laying down thing Iíve got no idea about), I know puppies are puppies but come on, thatís just.. a bit stupid. Obviously I donít let her hang out with me with Iím doing things with the horses anymore).

    But... I want to let her do things, she's a farm dog and she's supposed to be out and about exploring, sniffing things, and guarding the chickens. Which is what she does until I come outside and then all she wants to do is follow me around

    She was taken away from her litter at 5 weeks and she's definitely emotionally and developmentally delayed, but has anyone else dealt with this kind of thing? How do I kindly teach her that I want nothing to do with her when I am down at the barn doing things? Is it possible to teach a dog that they will only get attention in a certain area? I'm just kind of at a lose here as to how she would work out as a farm dog unless I move her to a different area while I'm doing things, which would work, but doesn't really teach what exactly she is supposed to do instead?

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Asked and answered. You can try asking this on a homesteading forum, but I think the truly knowledgeable people will tell you what Jewel and I have been trying to.

    Not every LGD is a good fit for every farm.
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  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    katefollot.....

    reading your posts, I'm not exactly sure what the problem is with Questa....in one statement, she's too clingy...in another, she's training well.....in another she ignores you...

    so if I'm confused...I can only imagine what Questa is feeling...

    my suggestion to you is to find a livestock guarding dog group in your area....call your vet....contact a local Great Pyrenees Club or Anatolian Shepherd Club....talk with them...try to get some one with expert knowledge of working LGD's to come over & actually view exactly what it is that Questa is doing & how you can.....now this is very important....HELP HER BE THE GIRL YOU WANT HER TO BE

    that is the best advise I can add

  4. #4
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    The really frustrating thing about the internet is that it's really hard to convey to people exactly how the behavior plays out, and once they have their minds made up that it's one thing, the conversation is kinda over.

    She's training well, she does not have any kind of anxiety or upset what so ever (she'll roam around the property while I'm in the house, she doesn't care when I leave), she's only upset when I have to leave her behind to go and take care of the other outdoor animals. She got used to being able to follow me around very closely (as I thought it would wear off) for a solid month and a half before she made it clear it would not wear off and it wasn't safe for me to let her continue.

    The reason I asked it again was because I was wondering if anyone with a working dog had any input/experience with this kinda thing. Her behavior is very contextual and farm dogs have different things required of them than house dogs. I'm not looking for a quick fix, I'm looking for someone who actually knows what the heck I'm talking about and could share how their dog is when they're out and about doing things. I'm not looking for pity or reassurance that she's a screwed up dog, this isn't a me centric conversation, do I vent? sure, but I'm also asking questions about how to help her that no one seems interested in answering or talking with me about. I am here to ask about LGD's and to talk and brainstorm with people about using positive reinforcement training to work through behavior with a LGD dog, I think I've definitely got the message that this is not the place to do it.

  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Well, the good news is that you're not getting any pity or reinforcement that she's screwed up. She's not. She's having a perfectly normal reaction to the circumstances she's been put in. What's not normal is you denying that she has any anxiety at all, and expecting her to pull herself up by the bootstraps and be the dog you expect her to be. You don't need 16 acres and a bunch of outdoor animals to figure that one out.

    We are all familiar with, and encourage positive reinforcement training - including clicker training. However, LGDs are not TRAINED to guard their livestock or human families. They are BORN to do it. Some are more capable guardians than others. It is the people who expect that every dog of an LGD be exactly the guardian dog that they want them to be that leads to so many of these dogs ending up in a shelter, dumped on the side of the road, or even shot when they can't live up to what is expected of them. Don't believe me? Follow a Pyr rescue for a few days.

    Yes, young working dogs do need some training, but that is mostly to teach them not to be too rough with the livestock. They are born knowing to make a big ol' ruckus when the coyote or bobcat or bear or mountain lion comes a callin'. If they don't have it, it's not really something that can be taught. Again, you don't need 16 acres and some livestock to figure that one out, either.

    Actually, everything you've said has been totally you-centric. You haven't shown an ounce of concern for her welfare. Sure, we all vent about our dogs from time to time, but we make it clear that it is the behavior we dislike, and not the dog. You went as far as to say that you were beginning to dislike the dog in your first post. You claim to be so knowledgeable, but you fail to recognize that the dog you are describing is suffering greatly - or you recognize it and just don't care. I haven't figured that part out, yet.



    LGDs and general farm dogs are two very different things. Again, they guard those to whom they have formed a bond. They don't care if neighbor Jim comes to rustle your tractor - so long as neighbor Jim doesn't pose a threat to their "family". This is true of urban LGDs, suburban LGDs, and rural LGDs alike. If the instinctual guarding behavior is there, it's the same no matter what the setting. The knowledgeable people with working dogs will tell you the very same thing.
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  6. #6
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Unhappy

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    Actually, everything you've said has been totally you-centric. You haven't shown an ounce of concern for her welfare. Sure, we all vent about our dogs from time to time, but we make it clear that it is the behavior we dislike, and not the dog. You went as far as to say that you were beginning to dislike the dog in your first post. You claim to be so knowledgeable, but you fail to recognize that the dog you are describing is suffering greatly - or you recognize it and just don't care. I haven't figured that part out, yet.
    I want to let her do things, she's a farm dog and she's supposed to be out and about exploring, sniffing things, and guarding the chickens. Which is what she does until I come outside and then all she wants to do is follow me around
    I want her to get attention AND be relaxed and happy and be able/know to go and do her own thing, because I hate confining her just to prevent her from getting me kicked in the face while I'm trying to work with the horses!
    Iíve thought through how to clicker train her to move away from me and marking and rewarding every time she steps away to go do something else, I keep getting stuck on concerns that sheíll become even more fond and focused on me though. She only finds food so enticing, she finds following me around more reinforcing than anything and thatís why Iím kinda terrified of shooting myself in the foot and having her go íKate AND food?! Iím never moving more than x number of feet away from you ever againí.

    Yes, mat training is you train them to station themselves on something. Still the same concerns in terms of food though, and I genuinely want her to roam the property, not be stuck in one place. Maybe I could only put her back on the mat when she gets closer to me rather than moving away and doing something else? So she has to lay there essentially doing nothing (except occasional reinforcement when I happen to spot her looking away) unless she wants to go and wander. That would take a heck of a lot of time to even get a solid stationing behavior from her though considering how driven she is to follow. And again, why would she go to a mat for a treat when she can be beside me. I have had some progress lengthening the distance she allows, itís only been about 6 feet or so in two months, so Iím not sure I would get any results that would be useful day to day for some time. I dunno, hoping Iíll be able to find some clicker people who have dealt with this kind of situation and LGDís and had success managing it.
    She's a pretty calm dog for a puppy, but she bounces around, has yet to figure out toys god bless her, does have fun playing with our other dog at least. I genuinely think a lot of it is her legitimately thinking that I am her job now, which is why I wanted to ask LGD people. She's not stressed so much as very confused when I tell her to stay put and go to do something nearby, she's gotten good at staying outside of the hay shed and laying down somewhere in the paddock while waiting for me to stuff hay bags, she gets it, she at least in part thinks it's her job though and I move around so much there just are not clear enough boundaries for it to click it seems?
    Lots of open ended questions about how to teach her independence and make her a happier and healthier dog, something she would need to learn regardless of where she was. I'm glad you're so invested in animal welfare, but I believe you're at least doing Questa a disservice by seemingly completely missing my point as you're too caught up on me being a grumpy bitter person.

    I say 'farm dog' because she's a LGD (quite obviously, this is a great pyr forum), but she is not in her own separate paddock/space, she has access to everything ie; is a LGD who roams the entire farm rather than having a designated herd to be with. She has excellent guarding instinct, never mentioned trying to train that into her, she was just poorly socialized as a young pup and has some other things to work out as a result.

    Anyways, I'm done with this thread as well apparently.

    Questa is happy, healthy, enjoys her pig skin rolls, and really wishes you would stop calling her miserable just because she had a weird upbringing and has yet to learn some things.

  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Again, I can only assess your situation by the information that I've been given. I'm sorry that you aren't getting the answers that you want, but this is a dog forum. The welfare of the dog is always important here. I only see one quote where you mention wanting her to be happy, and that is because you want her to leave you alone.

    You don't seem to get that we are volunteers, here. We take time out of our day to help people because we want to. We don't get paid, and nobody is telling us that we have to respond. We do this because we are a community. We love these dogs, and are committed to educating those who come here looking for a better understanding of them.

    If she absolutely, positively, 100% does not have any anxiety whatsoever, then why on earth did you say you were going to look into medicating her? It seems like at one point, you believed that she could have SA, and now you don't believe that she has any form of anxiety at all. Did something change, or are you just upset and being oppositional?

    There is no way possible that showing concern for a dog's welfare is doing a disservice to anyone. There have been too many threads that I have responded to where serious aggression issues could possibly have been avoided had someone in those dogs' lives been concerned for their welfare. For what it's worth, I'm not comparing you to the people in those situations. I'm just saying that it is always proper to give a hoot.

    As for me calling her miserable, anxious, insecure, and suffering are not the same thing as miserable. They simply aren't. A dog (or a person) can suffer from anxiety or insecurity without being miserable. If there is a place where I actually used the word "miserable", please point it out. I know the cases where I would generally use that word to describe a dog, and I'm pretty sure this isn't one of them. Correct me if I'm wrong.
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  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    katefollot...in your #4 post, you understand what is trying to be said!

    yes, it is hard to convey over the internet exact behaviors...it's not about making up our minds ahead of time, it's just that it is hard to envision and understand without actually seeing the behavior & trying to read Questa's body language...and your response.

    May I suggest that since most of us here have companion dogs, you go to your vet or your local Great Pyrenees club and ask for assistance with helping Questa over come this behavior. I'm sure you can look up an LGD group somewhere in your area. It would be so helpful to both of you if someone with expert knowledge of a working dog could actually come over, observes and make suggestions.

    so many of us would love to have a companion like you are describing Questa...the usual quote in our house is "where's Rudy" response is always..."outside" as you see in my avatar, Rudy sits like this most of the day, looking over a field of cows (not mine) quite content, only coming in the house reluctantly to eat. He will be 5 in October, we do make him come in at night (too many skunks around) but then he is out "guarding again at 4 AM.

    My thought is that Questa will turn into the girl you want/need her to be...it's just going to take awhile...

    let us know how you two grow & learn & understand each other as time goes on..

    Nancy & Rudy

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