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Advice On 26-month old LGD

 
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Hi Everyone,

I have been struggling with a decision for some time now, and I would like some advice/thoughts.

First, I run 8 adult LGDs, including 4 Maremmas, 1 Maremma mix (rescue), and 3 Akbash.  The youngest is a female Maremma that will be two in June, so I have had over six years experience with livestock guardians.  I have a flock of about 55 Katahdin sheep, some Nubian nannies, and a group of dairy wethers used for brush control.  We keep so many because we keep rams lambs, adult rams, goats and ewes in separate pastures, and use extensive rotational grazing on 155 acres.  The terrain is very hilly and wooded with very little line of sight, and we have large packs of coyotes, mountain lions, and bears.  I keep at least 3 adult dogs in distant pastures, and two closer to the house and not surrounded by woods.

The LGD giving me trouble is the adult male Akbash.  He and his sister came from a reputable breeder, but were never socialized with people until we picked them up at 10 weeks old.  We spent a lot of time socializing them to the point where we could take them to the vet, approach, check them, etc.  The girl continues to be great, and outgrew her adolescent antics of most LGDs.  Her brother has not.  He was in with the entire flock from the beginning, starting with supervised outings, and eventually was able to stay with them all day, then come in at night.  When they were big enough, they were left overnight separately with experienced LGDs.   I started noticing missing hair on some of the younger lambs - 4-5 months old - plus skittish behavior around him, so I moved him with the adult rams.

All was well for some time, then I noticed some hair pulling on the rams, plus he was mounting them.  He also regressed with his socialization, and it's hard to approach him, and if he lets you, he rolls over and pees himself.  I recognize him as a fearful dog, so we have always handled him with care and tried to boost his confidence, only using harsh voice commands to stop bad behavior.  He has just never seemed to ever be able to attach to us, or outgrow his fear of us.

We then moved him in with our dairy heifer who is a slightly small Jersey.  All was well there for several months until I noticed that he was aggressively chasing her off her feed, and she would stand far away from him when we brought feed out.  We had to stand there to let her eat, but otherwise he was fine with her.

Recently, we tried him again with pregnant ewes.  He is now over 2 years old.  After about 30 minutes, he started chasing them.  As a last resort, we tried to put a dangle stick on him, but he snapped at us out of fear when we tried to catch him, resorting to corning him.  When there is a fence between us, he will come up and let us pet him no problem.  The lack of socializing is not as concerning as the continued chasing after two years old.  He had his head down very much like my border collie does, which is very concerning.

This AM, we had our first lambs born, unfortunately, one triplet was stillborn.  Just to see what he would do, I put the dead lamb in the pen with him and my oldest LGD.  The oldest LGD immediately sniffed the lamb, then laid down and would not let the Akbash near it.  When I moved the lamb away from that dog, the Akbash in question immediately tried to grab it by the head and run with it.  No sniffing or checking to see if it was alive, etc.  Just grabbed it's head.  Of course, he got a harsh scolding, and I tried again, observing from a short distance.  Again, he tried to grab it by the head and drag it away.  He stopped immediately when I said "leave it".

In my heart I know that this dog will probably never be safe around smaller livestock, but I was wondering if anyone had experienced this type of behavior with an older LGD.  He has never killed a sheep or caused any damage other than the hair pulling, but I caught that early, so who knows what would have eventually happened.   He was harder to train with the chickens, but eventually outgrew that, and now ignores them, but cannot seem to be with smaller animals, and after this AM, I'm sure I cannot trust him with lambs.  

Is it too early to give up on him, and is what I see as predatory behavior fixable?  My only option is putting him down, as he is not suitable for a pet due to his fearful nature, and I would never pass him along to anyone else with any type of livestock, even large ones, as he has been food aggressive with my cow.

As I mentioned earlier, he does not chase birds anymore, even when they run past him.  Not sure why he still acts this way with the sheep/goats.

Thanks for any advice.
 
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Hi Kendra;  Welcome to Permies!
I'm not a working dog person, so my opinion on this has a low value.
Hopefully a more experianced LGD person will chime in with a good idea.
You obviously are using your dogs as working dogs and know what your doing.
You have given this dog 2 years to figure it out. His sister grew up just fine.You have worked him with experianced dogs and he still is not getting it.
In my opinion, Sadly he will not make a trust worthy dog to leave with your livestock.
Is it posable to rehome him?  Probably not, but I would try.
There could be a calm pet owner out there he might click with. Putting any healthy animal down is a hard decision that sometimes is the only way.
 
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Welcome to Permies, Kendra! Hopefully someone knowledgeable with your specific question will answer it, but I will tell you that I had a similar issue with my "guardian" goose when Momma Muscovy ducks were being let out for the first time. It was as if Heinrich no longer considered the mom and her babes as part of "his flock" - after all, he hadn't seen them for 8-9 weeks. I solved the problem by making some specific shelters for new moms with hardware cloth at one end right down to the ground, and also having a completely mesh shelter that the moms could move to when they were bigger, but not quite big enough to safely free-range the whole day. Heinrich seemed to get that they were his when he could see them, and the problem disappeared.
Is there any chanced that your problem dog's behavior is a "what's my flock" perspective?
As for the fearful nature, my friend got a standard poodle who'd not been well socialized and was *very* fearful. However, my friend's very patient and although I'd still say he's anxious, he's done well. He now *loves* coming to my farm, which he does if his family's away as he does *not* do car rides at all well, but even then I lock him up if he has to be left alone in the house.
 
Kendra Cardella-Soto
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Jay Angler wrote:Welcome to Permies, Kendra! Hopefully someone knowledgeable with your specific question will answer it, but I will tell you that I had a similar issue with my "guardian" goose when Momma Muscovy ducks were being let out for the first time. It was as if Heinrich no longer considered the mom and her babes as part of "his flock" - after all, he hadn't seen them for 8-9 weeks. I solved the problem by making some specific shelters for new moms with hardware cloth at one end right down to the ground, and also having a completely mesh shelter that the moms could move to when they were bigger, but not quite big enough to safely free-range the whole day. Heinrich seemed to get that they were his when he could see them, and the problem disappeared.
Is there any chanced that your problem dog's behavior is a "what's my flock" perspective?
As for the fearful nature, my friend got a standard poodle who'd not been well socialized and was *very* fearful. However, my friend's very patient and although I'd still say he's anxious, he's done well. He now *loves* coming to my farm, which he does if his family's away as he does *not* do car rides at all well, but even then I lock him up if he has to be left alone in the house.



Thanks Jay!  I don't think it's a "what's my flock" problem, as he has been with sheep his entire life until we moved him in with the cow 2 months ago.  We moved him back in with the rams a month ago as the heifer is due to calve any day.  He harasses them a bit, and mounts one or two, but they don't seem fearful of him.

We have tried everything we know how to do (we have over 6 years experience with LGDs, and 30 years with showing dogs), including treats, not making eye contact, no harsh treatment (scolding, but in a deep voice, not yelling).  He just has not come around.  He is not aggressive with family members who go out in the pasture with us, but will not come near them.  The only time he has snapped at us was when we tried to put the collar on him, and he was cornered.  He snapped at air, but did continue to bare his teeth.

I would try to socialize him to more people, but I cannot get a collar on him to even try to take him in the car, etc.
 
Kendra Cardella-Soto
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thomas rubino wrote:Hi Kendra;  Welcome to Permies!
I'm not a working dog person, so my opinion on this has a low value.
Hopefully a more experianced LGD person will chime in with a good idea.
You obviously are using your dogs as working dogs and know what your doing.
You have given this dog 2 years to figure it out. His sister grew up just fine.You have worked him with experianced dogs and he still is not getting it.
In my opinion, Sadly he will not make a trust worthy dog to leave with your livestock.
Is it posable to rehome him?  Probably not, but I would try.
There could be a calm pet owner out there he might click with. Putting any healthy animal down is a hard decision that sometimes is the only way.



Thanks Thomas!  I appreciate your perspective, and I regret that I do agree with you.  You are right; it's such a hard decision to make that we have put it off for months despite the evidence
 
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Akbash are super weird. Our 5 year old akbash is also skittish except to the opposite degree. He won't even take cooked bones from us let alone kill something and eat it. Won't guard anything but won't kill anything. Makes a great family dog, that's it. Ours came from working lines. He's just got issues and they seem to get worse as he gets older. He barks at random things. on and on.

I guess this is my rambling way of saying perhaps your dog has a mental deficiency. Ours seems to. If so, you can't fix that.

Our pyr aren't like that at all.
 
Kendra Cardella-Soto
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elle sagenev wrote:Akbash are super weird. Our 5 year old akbash is also skittish except to the opposite degree. He won't even take cooked bones from us let alone kill something and eat it. Won't guard anything but won't kill anything. Makes a great family dog, that's it. Ours came from working lines. He's just got issues and they seem to get worse as he gets older. He barks at random things. on and on.

I guess this is my rambling way of saying perhaps your dog has a mental deficiency. Ours seems to. If so, you can't fix that.

Our pyr aren't like that at all.



Thanks!  Yeah, I sometimes think he is just "off" a little.  Like ignoring chickens but chasing sheep.  Right now he is laying peacefully with our dairy cow.  We have two female Akbash as well, and they are very good.  One is extremely stubborn, but does her job, and the other is very sweet and is doing great right now with her first lambing season.

We will have to see.  
 
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