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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default When will guarding begin?

    Hi all, new here. We have a 4.5 month old female Pyr (though 1/4 Anatolian Shepherd), Suzy. We have a large yard surrounded by 100 acres. We got Suzy to guard our ducks, geese and chickens as we were and are losing a lot of birds to bobcats. 2 days ago a bobcat got one of our ducks, during which the geese were honking loudly and the dog sat and seemed not to notice anything was going on.

    Also, Suzy has a habit of chasing our birds sometimes.

    I realize the fault is probably mine but I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Are my expectations too high since Suzy is very young? Have I not socialized Suzy enough to the birds?

    Suzy is a very playful, friendly pup. We got her at 9 weeks old and kept her inside the first night, then fenced off part of the duck barn for her and kept her in there with the birds most nights. Lately we've been letting her stay out at night. We do play with her (throwing her toy tire, etc) once or twice almost every day.

    Anyway, please help. Thanks in advance.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by CathyApgar View Post
    Hi all, new here. We have a 4.5 month old female Pyr (though 1/4 Anatolian Shepherd), Suzy.
    At 4.5 months you can't expect her to be assuming the guardian role. At this point in life, she would still be dependent on her parents to protect her. She's small and not yet entirely coordinated; she doesn't even have adult teeth yet. She's probably right now losing her puppy teeth so she's pretty much ENTIRELY DEFENSELESS. At her age if there is a threat, her survival instinct would direct her to run away and hide or stay quiet so as to avoid being found.


    It sounds like you are doing the right things to get her used to the flock she's eventually going to protect. She needs to be supervised when she has access to the flock because for the next years she'll be in her adolescent stage and may easily be overcome by the desire to play and chase.

  3. #3
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Default

    Thank you so much, Jewel. You've reassured me!

    More background for your opinion:

    Is it appropriate to have her loose in the yard when the birds are out and about? We've had her for 2 months now and she hasn't harmed any of the birds, just seems to enjoy the chase. I work at home and can see about half the yard from my desk. I keep the sliding window door cracked open a bit so I can hear if there's trouble, and get up frequently to look out at the whole yard.

    When we catch her chasing, I or my son run out immediately and pin her down and tell her, MY DUCKS!

    Suzy is about 25-30 pounds. Does this sound right for her age?

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by CathyApgar View Post
    just seems to enjoy the chase.

    When we catch her chasing, I or my son run out immediately and pin her down and tell her, MY DUCKS!
    Ok, no no, don't do that to her. We don't want her to think perhaps humans are a bit deranged...

    The goal is to set her up for success. She's done very well that she's not harmed any of the birds. But because of her age, she should not be left alone with the birds. You should have her on leash whenever you let her be amongst the birds. You want to head off any move to chase before she could actually chase. When she's getting ready to run after a feathered one, give the leash a quick tug, not snap to hurt, just a quick tug and tell her "no chase" in a calm but affirmative tone. If she stops praise her, and if she's treat motivated, give her a little treat as reward. You don't want to let her off the leash until she's able to remain calm with you on leash while you move amongst the birds. Even after you can let her off leash and she doesn't chase them, you want still be there to supervise for a period of time before you let her be alone with them for short periods of time while you observe her. The teaching process easily lasts a year. Some dogs can be left with their charges a little before or a little after a year old, but others take longer. It all depends on the personality of the dog.

    That whole throwing a pup down style is old school and is just unnecessarily harsh in a situation where you can educate the puppy rather than punish the rules and boundaries into them.

  5. #5
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    Ok, no no, don't do that to her. We don't want her to think perhaps humans are a bit deranged...
    OK. The thing is though, I can't envision how she could be with the birds under supervision, since I can't spend all day outside and she is an outside dog. How do most people do this?

    Thanks again.

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by CathyApgar View Post
    OK. The thing is though, I can't envision how she could be with the birds under supervision, since I can't spend all day outside and she is an outside dog. How do most people do this? Thanks again.
    The puppy has to be separated from the birds when you can't supervise her. Allowing a 4 month old pup to make its own decisions is a really bad idea and you would be inviting her to make decisions that you won't like. Remember, this is a baby dog, it is at an age where normally it would be playing and wrestling with its siblings to learn coordination and social skills. Allowed unfettered access to other animals, it will act like a puppy and try to find playmates. It would not that out of the ordinary if it will be a year before she can be trusted alone with the birds. If you don't build the foundation of her bonding properly with the birds now, it is potentially going to be disastrous when she's much bigger, stronger and has plenty of energy needing to be released.

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

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    Absolutely, 100% what Jewel said.

    From a developmental standpoint, a good rough equivalent is that a month of puppy age is developmentally similar to a year of human child age. Right now, your tiny baby puppy is the equivalent of a preschooler. Iím pretty sure that decision-making was not my strong suit when I was in preschool.

    A lot of people will build a pen for the puppy that is adjacent to the livestock enclosure. That way, the puppy can interact and bond with the livestock without hurting it. If you got your puppy from a reputable breeder who is experienced with working dogs, they should be able to give you guidance on this.

    I also want to stress the importance of not pinning the puppy to the ground when she acts like a puppy. In the dog world, that is a pretty violent and frightening act, and it could teach your puppy to fear the ducks or fear you. Setting her up for success by having her interact with the ducks only when she can be leashed and supervised will help her learn to do her job without fear of being punished. Rewarding wanted behaviors helps her build an association between being with the ducks and/or her humans and the reward centers of her brain being activated. You want her to associate being with you and/or the ducks with feeling good, NOT with being afraid.
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  8. #8
    Puppy (New Member)

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    It's a tall order, but I'm working on it. We won't pin her any more, and will supervise with the birds. I'm looking out at our one-time garden (horses destroyed the fence) wondering if we can make that into a daytime enclosure for Suzy. It has a big tree at one end for shade. That might work nicely. She'd have plenty of room, shade, sun, and could see the entire yard.

    Thanks to you both for your thoughts!

  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    As LGDs typically work in pairs, and having a proven adult LGD can help immensely when training a puppy, you may want to consider buying or adopting an adult dog with fowl guarding experience.

    If that sounds like something you would be willing to consider, this may be an organization worth getting in touch with: https://www.bluebonnetanimalrescue.o...ip&Courtesy=No

    The owner of the rescue also moderates a FB group called Livestock Guardian Dog Rescue Network, which is dedicated to rehoming proven working dogs in need.

    If that is the route that makes the most sense to you, I would highly recommend adopting a male, as LGDs tend to work best in opposite-gender pairs.
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  10. #10
    Puppy (New Member)

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    OK. Looking around for a male rescue. Can't do an adoption fee right now though.

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