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Help with LGD Qs

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  • Help with LGD Qs

    Hey there, I am getting a female Maremma crossed with a Great Pyrenees around the week of June 5th.
    I'm wondering if my particularly odd situation will be possible with her.
    We are on 5 fenced acres, mainly 4ft field fencing. We have 2 horses & breeding trio of mini sheep out on 4 acres. Three pet dogs & 2 cats that live inside, but have a yard to go out 24/7, cats never leave the yard. Also have a 100ft square yard that we keep ducks, chickens and rabbits in. These last animals are the ones that need protection.
    I've added 6 strands of electric wire to this yard and two Niteguard lights. Foxes and raccoons still come around and kill our critters.
    I'd love for the girl to live peacefully out with the horses & sheep during the day, so she can have that space to wander. But then I need her to be in the critter yard every night to keep predators from killing all my babies.
    So, I just don't know if she will be able to make friends with the big animals, my pets and then bond to protect the small critters.
    We need a dog for their protection, since we moved in last April, we have lost well over 100 animals. I have a trap set, snares and sit out to shoot em, but so far, only one coon dead.
    Sheep are not used to a dog being pleasant to them, but if she doesn't get too close, no problem. Mare is fine with dogs, again, as long as dog doesn't go after her. Pony gelding is a little....special. He's a lot like a puppy and will chase down a dog, just like he does the sheep. Sheep have an area just for them to get away from him. He doesn't really hurt the dogs, but I worry the LGD will take it the wrong way, even though what she is guarding is not out there and it would only be during the day.
    Lastly, where do I need to put a strand of hot wire to keep the LGD on the property? Along the top on 4in spacers pointing inward?

    Oh, and I've had dogs my whole life, definitely not afraid to pin any dog down and demand respect.

  • #2
    I think you'll be fine-how old is this dog you're getting? It will make a difference on how things go at first...

    I have a 2 year old male GP and the ranch I lived on in the past had one, just so you know I have first hand experience.

    One thing I noticed with my dog is that he never has bonded with the chickens, for example, but he takes major offense that any other animal would be in his territory. He hasn't bonded with the hay stack nor the garden but he won't let the deer in that area either. So yours will learn what you want to be protected and not have to have a love affair with the individual critters.

    She's going to work all night and sleep all day so that should work well with what you're thinking-give her a safe place to work it out with the pony, she will probably learn to sleep where the sheep do, they are conducive to sleeping the afternoon away.

    Your fence sounds good-hot wire on the top and if she blows under it put an offset wire near the bottom. My GP despises electric and won't come near it, a single strand a foot high holds him. You should be ok but feed out the independence slowly, don't just turn her loose. walk that fenceline and try to keep her in it always. They will eventually get that pattern burned into their minds but they like the repeated lesson.

    Also-don't ever roll her or think about establishing dominance or any of that. If you want her to be confident and think for herself all night while she's fighting and outwitting fox and coons and whatever else you do not want to be treating her like an obedience dog during the day. Give her as much free rein to be herself that you possibly can. They aren't mature until they're upwards of two years old, if you squash them young they won't be confident to do battle for you. I taught mine to sit for a treat and that if he comes when I call him I will give him a treat-but I didn't insist he come when I call him. Now at two he will sometimes stop barking when I call him-he always comes when I call him to me. If you really want this dog to guard you HAVE to respect her and give her the space to do it.

    That Maremma is a weird personality-we've had one in the past and they tend to, IME, be a lot more singular about people. The one we had loved her people fiercely and would protect them that way, no exceptions. IME, a GP tends to be a better judge of character and more intuitive about what their people want. I think a Maremma is a little more primitive, if you will. A GP is more in tune to people. The problem you may run into is that your dog is too "guardy" about people. Prevent bad situations, guide her, but if you want her to do her job do not punish her for guarding. I've met guard dogs that were doing pet therapy, ect and they were corrected for unwarranted guard behavior but again, IME, if you want them to kill another creature on your behalf be very aware of how you treat her. I've treated my GP like a partner from the start and he's happily given me respect and tried to do what I ask of him. I have no doubt if I had disciplined him any harder he would not rear up and run down the neighbor's chicken killing dogs like he does. He doesn't need to look back to me for permission, he knows I'm backing him up. Just be really aware of that-it's a fine line....

    They're an amazing dog but they are not your typical dog, especially when used in their intended role. It's a LOT of dog, in every way. I love them-you'll love yours too.

    You do know she will bark all. night. long, right? it's not a bad bark, I can sleep right through it and I'm a terrible sleeper-but it is a constant. They guard by discouraging, they bark and warn and only go to battle if something dares to cross the line.
    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


    • Original Poster

      That's the other thing, I hate pointless barking. When my dogs bark at a leaf or the sheep or other invisible thing, I totally hate their guts. But if there's something there, a different bark, concentrated on something that's off, that's fine. Because they eventually shut up.
      I have a huge problem with sleeping, I can't sleep for hours and had to be on pills for almost a year. I recently learned how to fall asleep on my own in under an hour, whereas it used to be 3-4hrs before I'd actually get to sleep.
      Are you sure they all bark just because? Do none bark when they hear/see something instead?
      I have no idea on her age, I'd say 8-12wks as the pictures of them are all very cute and young. He has new pics every week as they grow up. I forget when they were born.
      Our Doberman is also a 'one person' type, he knows his family and everyone else is the Devil in his eyes. It's only me and my fiance here, so if we ever need the farrier out or hay guy, I can tie/pen her up if she just flat out refuses to settle.


      • #4
        Originally posted by secuono View Post

        Oh, and I've had dogs my whole life, definitely not afraid to pin any dog down and demand respect.
        Originally posted by secuono View Post
        I have a huge problem with sleeping, I can't sleep for hours and had to be on pills for almost a year. I recently learned how to fall asleep on my own in under an hour, whereas it used to be 3-4hrs before I'd actually get to sleep.
        Are you sure they all bark just because? Do none bark when they hear/see something instead?
        It doesn't sound like a LGD is the dog for you. Sorry.

        They need to be trained in a pretty unique way, so I would be calling around looking for local experts, or at least find a trainer who is willing to speak to you intensively over the phone.

        And no, they're not barking at nothing. Like the other poster already explained, they do their guarding mostly by alerting the neighborhood that there is a BIG, scary dog on the property. So it's not barking at nothing. But it is a lot of barking.


        • #5
          I think they ALL bark all night long. I don't even hear my Pyr at night anymore, except when her bark changes to warn of an actual intruder. She's very independent and thinks for herself. She has never been on a leash since I owned her (I got her at about 6 mo for free- people realized she was no house pet!) refuses to be penned up, and has no formal training of any kind. The only time she comes when she's called is if she wants to. I feel absolutely no need to establish dominance over this dog. I think the only time I ever scold her is when she chases the ducks out of the barn (she learned that from one of my corgis), but she does it in a half-hearted manner and I'm 100% sure she'd never hurt the birds.

          When she was younger, our former neighbors also bought a Pyr. Together the 2 girls would patrol both properties- about 80 acres total. It was wild to see how quickly they could cover ground and jump fences in pursuit of a coyote! Since the neighbors moved away and my dog has gotten a little older, she pretty much lounges around the barn all day, and patrols (and barks) close to the buildings at night.

          I think the Pyrenees is an awesome dog, but not right for everybody. As much as I love mine, I'm not sure I'll get another LGD when the time comes.


          • #6
            OP I don't think you want a GP-you might look into another sort of dog that will serve the same purpose. Maybe a heeler or BMC-you'll be getting out of the bark warning system and back to the barking AT something.

            GP's do bark a lot, all night long. More if they actually see or hear something. It's not barking at nothing, it's the warning system.

            I think you'll be frustrated with a GP-look into other breeds, any good farm dog will do what you're after and it won't take long for the varmits to realize there is a dog there and reduce their presence.
            “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


            • #7
              Originally posted by secuono View Post
              Are you sure they all bark just because? Do none bark when they hear/see something instead?
              My first thoguht when I saw you were only on 5 acres was for your poor neighbors.

              I live next door (5 acre parcels) to a GP mix. He barks all the time. From the second he steps outside ...


              • Original Poster

                The issue is there are no other working dogs in my are for a price I can pay. Heck, no working dogs other than this breeder with this mix. And others are all in central USA and I am not having my pup shipped.
                I can't believe that they bark literally nonstop. I can see some barking, then silence and then more in a pattern, not just like a broken record.


                • #9
                  many lgd's have a highly developed sense of 'justice' and 'retribution' - if pony hurts dog, dog will retaliate in kind - not overdo it but as in, you slap me, I'll slap you back, only a little harder
                  Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

                  The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”


                  • #10
                    re barking at nothing -- to you it can be 'nothing', to the lgd it is the coyote they hear (that you and your neighbors cannot hear) a mile away - the bark means 'I hear you over there, don't come any closer or there will be consequences'
                    Last edited by SGray; May. 23, 2012, 03:31 PM. Reason: added info for clarity
                    Nothing says "I love you" like a tractor. (Clydejumper)

                    The reports states, “Elizabeth reported that she accidently put down this pony, ........, at the show.”


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by secuono View Post
                      I can't believe that they bark literally nonstop. I can see some barking, then silence and then more in a pattern, not just like a broken record.
                      It's more like a broken record than not, seriously.


                      • #12
                        you have a pup lined up and don't know anything about the breed(s) involved? are the bloodlines any good? some of the "show lines" GP don't have any of the guarding instincts intact.

                        Oh, and I've had dogs my whole life, definitely not afraid to pin any dog down and demand respect.
                        you should never do this to any dog, ever- it doesn't do anything except convince the dog you're an insane idiot. The "pinning dogs down" was totally discredited as a really bad idea decades ago- I guess you didn't get the memo?try looking it up. Has really bad effects on the dog's behavior such as causing aggression. Anyone who continues to think "alpha rolls" are a good idea knows nothing about dogs, and you are considering getting a very special breed and abusing it in this way? I foresee disaster.

                        yes, they bark. Yes, they roam.

                        If you have a fairly small "critter pen" that keeps getting raided, surely the best solution is to just build a better fence?


                        • #13
                          There is a reason farmers put their small critters in for the night, in coops, stables, etc.
                          That is a proven way to keep them safe from varmints.

                          Doing that would be one more option.


                          • #14
                            Is 5 acres not too small for a LGD? I have 15 acres, and I think it's a bit too small for my Maremma. He hates leashes and small fenced in areas.
                            My understanding is that GP roams even more.

                            As to bonding with large animals, mine has no problem bonding them - well, actually not sure it is bonding or not, but he certain sees them as his charges to protect. One evening when I was riding in the arena with my Maremma louging by the fence dozing off, a neighbor shot a series of shotgun into the tree tops. The moment that happened, he jumped up and bolted into every single pasture to check on everybody, including the evil filly who chased him while back. He then came back, flopped down, and dozed off once he was sure all were fine.

                            My spoiled rotten cat who does nothing but hiss and swipe at him, he also protect.

                            By the way, I never try to assert dominance over him - it just never seems necessary. If I may say, he shows submission to me. I don't try that rolling thing either: he does that often enough on his own accord...


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by secuono View Post
                              I can't believe that they bark literally nonstop. I can see some barking, then silence and then more in a pattern, not just like a broken record.
                              Um, you have people here WITH THESE DOGS that are telling you they bark all the time.

                              What more do you want, here? Do you think they're lying to you? I agree that it sounds like this is definitely not the dog for you. They were bred for a very specific purpose and if that purpose (and method) doesn't mesh with your life, the dog will be miserable, you will be miserable and your neighbors will be miserable.


                              • #16
                                I have a dog of this exact cross--he's 6 years old and I got him at about 6 mos of age.

                                He is a wonderful dog, and I'm terrified of having to replace him at some point. He keeps my small herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats from becoming coyote/hog/bobcat/puma chow. I chose him pretty carefully, from a breeder that produces dogs that excel at protection AND can also be decent family pets (IOW, I wasn't looking for theft protection, I wanted a dog that was people friendly, but I wanted any predators to not get much mercy).

                                That being said, he is not a pet, and doesn't want to be one. He lives with his herd, and is unhappy without them. I worked very hard to put a few basics on him--he walks on a leash, will take a bath and get groomed and clipped a few times a year, and he knows his name. Other than that, he is not pet-like.

                                So from someone with this EXACT cross of dog, let me tell you: YES, THEY BARK ALL NIGHT, AND OFTEN DURING LONG STRETCHES OF THE DAY. THAT IS THEIR JOB. While they can "fight off" an attacking predator, the goal of their protection style is to convince the predators not to show up in the first place. They do that by patrolling and aggressively announcing their presence.

                                Now, I live on 65 acres, and the dog and goats are not right next to my house. My nearest neighbors are at least half a mile away. I don't hear Zeus unless I'm listening for him, and my neighbors haven't said boo, BUT I'm not sure those two things would be true if he was sitting outside my window at night, or sitting under a neighbor's window.

                                And yes, dominance work is definitely contra-indicated with these dogs. You don't want them "obedient" or "submissive" you want them working. Very different things, and they aren't hard-wired to operate that way.

                                It doesn't sound like this is a good fit for your situation. Sorry.
                                Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
                                Eventing, Dressage, Young Horses
                                Check out my new blog: http://califcountrymom.blogspot.com


                                • #17
                                  Yes, they do bark all night long, but it since it is so constant I tune it out. House guests always complain about it. The tone of the bark gets more intense if something is actually going on (in the dog's opinion). I think LGDs work because I don't think any predator can stand the excruciating noise and they take their bleeding eardrums to more peaceful territory.

                                  Your fence does not sound adequate, you would definitely need to add some hot-wires to it. Any respectable LGD can squeeze under a fence or clear 4ft with ease, so you probably need a wire at the top and the bottom. LGDs like to expand their territory, they don't understand that the land on the other side of the fence really belongs to your neighbor.

                                  The up side is that they are incredible farm guardians. Here's how it works: there will be a big, low key dog lounging around all day and barking all night, and there will be a few large, crater-like holes in your yard, but your predator losses will mysteriously stop. You almost certainly would not need to put the dog in the "critter yard" at night.

                                  Keep in mind that setting up an LGD takes a little time. They have to get settled in and learn their home base and learn who belongs on the property. They don't just run around killing coons and possums the way a hunting dog would.

                                  ETA, I agree with using minimal dominance with these dogs. Treat them fair and square and maintain yourself as the boss, but without any theatrics.


                                  • #18
                                    I have a 10 acre farm, and I have 2 LGD sisters 2 yo that I have had since puppies.

                                    You need to stop and immediately go join the Working LGD Yahoo Group and post this same query and be sure to mention your dislike of barking and sleeping problems.

                                    IMO, this idea is a disaster. I am probably going to come across as rude & harsh, but this is a serious decision which is life or death for that puppy and for your livestock.

                                    #1 LGDs cannot be counted on to "guard up" until age 2. Putting a puppy out where you have a known predator problem is simply putting out more prey for the predators.

                                    #2 If you have a predator problem, you need at least 2 adult LGD who are proven with poultry.

                                    #3 LGD require excellent fencing to keep them in -- their instinct is to expand their territory and perimeter. These are giant dogs and having them loose is a huge legal liability - not to mention the risk to the dog of being shot or hit by a car. I suspect, based on your predator losses, that you do not have adequate fencing. Adequate fencing is going to keep out most predators except big cats and birds of prey. An LGD is not a substitute for adequate fencing in the situation you described. They are used out West on BLM lands with grazing flocks, but that is a whole nother can of worms.

                                    #4 Barking -- some LGD breeds are thought to bark more than others and individuals within a breed may vary in the amount of barking that they do. My 2 girls are not big barkers; unless there is a predator. Barking is how LGDs work. They bark to say "I see you". They bark to say say, "this is my area - stay away". My girls rarely barked at our old place, but we have a terrible coyote pack at our new place; and the coyotes will circle the perimeter barking right back at the dogs. So, during lambing, there was serious barking for most of the night - the girls were doing their job. There is no way an LGD can do its job w/o barking; and you've already trained your local predators that you provide great meals. For most people, the main concern is the impact of the dogs on neighbors. Sometimes working LGDs are protected under local right to farm laws, but most people talk to their neighbors about the dogs, their job and why they bark.

                                    #5 LGD puppies kill birds -- you can get the best puppy and be the best trainer, but you will still lose birds to the puppies. Puppies will also chase and maim livestock given the opportunity. Just like herding dogs, LGDs have an instinct that is only useful if they are properly trained and supervised. My birds have a night shelter surrounded by electric net fencing, and my LGDs patrol around that -- however, I lost birds when they were younger due to chickens flying over and ducks charging through the net fencing. I cannot imagine confining a puppy with birds - okay, actually I can imagine it

                                    Please go to the Working LGD yahoo group for advice and really think this through before you take possession of a puppy. That puppy's success or failure, its life, and the life of your stock are your repsonsibility; so you really need to educate yourself. PLEASE!
                                    Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


                                    • #19
                                      You need to stop and immediately go join the Working LGD Yahoo Group and post this same query and be sure to mention your dislike of barking and sleeping problems.

                                      And, here is the link to that group --
                                      Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


                                      • Original Poster

                                        What is a "BMC"?