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Dog attacking a donkey foal.

 
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My dog recently terrorized and attacked my month old donkey foal which resulted in euthanizing the foal due to a broken leg. Even with the foals mother and my mare protecting the baby, my dog would not stop for nothing(he got kicked multiple times pretty hard). I’m stuck on what to do with my dog, I have tried working with him but he does not seem to stop wanting to terrorize my equines.
 
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Without asking a gazillion questions, I just point out a few things.

... The dog has strong prey instincts.
... The dog is not adequately trained to be off lead around livestock..
... The dog can never be off lead again until you have absolute voice control on him.

Some dogs simply are too independent by nature and have strong prey drives. I've owned plenty of them and most were Siberian Huskies. But there are plenty of other breeds and mixes that fit this profile. I owned various livestock while I also owned Siberain Huskies, and I accepted the fact that the dogs could not be loose around the farm animals, regardless of how obedient they were other times.
 
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It is pretty simple, though a hard decision: you put the dog down.

I had a German Shepard that killed and maimed a few of our ducks. We went for a long walk in the field. My walk was longer because I actually came back. It is a tough decision, but it is the only one to make.

In today's world, having a rogue dog is just too much liability. if that dog ever hurt someone like your kids, or the neighbor's kids, or the mailman...and they find out it had attacked a foal and you did nothing about it, you could be sued for everything you have. It is just not worth it.

It just is not right to try and pass a nasty dog to someone else either. And while the responsibility does fall upon you, the owner (because you are held responsible in a court of law), it does help to know that it was not your fault. It is the dogs fault, and just something that has to be done.
 
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I have a different take on the situation than Travis.  Most dogs are not just aggressive in general.  I have had dogs that hated other dogs and were fine with everything else.  I had a dog that hated cats but was fine with chickens, other dogs, people.  The dog may make a great pet for someone that doesn't have livestock.  I would explore other options before just killing it.  Be completely up front with anyone that might be interested in taking the dog.  
 
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This is a tough one. I see the validity of your opinion, Travis, and where we're talking about working stock, yours is the only real option. If you have room in the budget for one LGD and what you've got is a dog that likes to kill livestock, where's the money going to come from to both get the LGD you need and to keep the livestock killer safe and happy as a pet?

I think there should be an effort made, and assistance for, the rehoming of dogs that aren't suited to their current situation. I think it would involve a kenneling at a facility that trains dogs and discovers their triggers and weaknesses. If their betes noir are all known, they can be placed in a home setting where none of their triggers are available. So in the case of an equine-killing canine, no equines, ever, and likely no quadripeds, but that could all be determined through kennel assessment.

I would at least check to see if there are Animal Rescues that address this kind of thing. There may be a charge, and my guess would be that it's not going to be as cost-effective as Travis' long walk to the back 40.

I am not saying to go one way or the other, just that economic realities may obviate the most humane safe option, being assessment, retraining, and rehoming. Safety (or liability) is the most important thing.

I hope you find a resolution that fits with your sensibilities, Tristen. Good luck.

-CK
 
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If you want to keep the dog you must provide reliable protection for your other livestock (i.e. fencing that the dog can't go through, under or over).  Combine that with training to make the dog understand the equines (and other other quadrupeds) are yours and not his just in case a gate gets left open, or something.  

If you can't do that, whether because of money, time or other issues getting in the way then you have to either re-home the dog or put it down.
 
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I've been watching this thread because I have a good friend whose dog has a similar fatal attraction to equines despite getting hurt, despite attempted training, etc. This dog that should be outside now lives in the house, which was not what was expected for the dog or for the farm.
I really love my dogs, but if the dog is a loose cannon like that and there is even half a chance that a person might get hurt I hate to say it but I would also put the dog down (the dog surprised you with the donkey, right.... there was a homestead blogger not so long ago whose dog surprised them by biting a child in the face. a much worse surprise. my friend has no children and few visitors; in my house, I have people coming and going and can't take that chance)
 
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Tristen Roush wrote: I’m stuck on what to do with my dog, I have tried working with him but he does not seem to stop wanting to terrorize my equines.




It's tough to have to decide the fate of our animals. Whatever you decide is best for you in your situation and resources is okay. I want to add some training resources for you and future readers if that's the way you want to go.

Based on your quick explanation, it sounds like your dog would need desensitized and counter-conditioned to equines. A quick guide:
https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/behavior/counter-conditioning-and-desensitization

A quick overview of different kinds of counterconditioning.


It takes a lot of time and energy to counter-condition maybe years, especially if your dog already has the experience of attacking the foal. A muzzle is an option to prevent biting.

If he is still being triggered when you worked with him, it usually means the stimulus(equines) is too much. I would try decreasing the stimulus by moving farther away until your dog just barely notices the equines and working there. 

It's made harder for you that you probably can't ask your equines to hold still while your dog gets used to them like you could a person.
You can separate aspects of the equines and train them individually. Like train to recorded sounds of your equines, and train to a smelly blanket they wore. If you have a HD screen you can train to videos of the equines walking, then running, then playing and being weird.

an example of desensitization and counter-conditioning to cats

I like the guy's training methods. He is a good example of high energy rewards when needed and very calm guidance when needed. He explains his reasoning well and strives not to use force or punishment. 

My favorite conditioning overview book is aptly titled "Don't shoot the dog" (it's okay if you do, no judgment, no pressure) This book covers learning in general, it's good for training any animal and people too! I think everyone with animals should read it.

https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Shoot-Dog-Teaching-Training/dp/1860542387/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

I'm curious what you tried with your dog already? If you decided to let him go and don't want to talk about it that's fine too...
 
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I've got a pair of male dogs. One is a Great Pyrenees and the other looks to be Old English Sheep dog though they haven't been used for that purpose for many generations so the instinct is no longer there, plus he's not real bright and has been abused. Both of them have actually as became evident the first time I walked across the yard with a stick or board in my hand and they both made a mad dash to get away. The Pyrenees seems to be smart. If he sees a shadow on the ground, he looks up and barks at the hawks. They came from a sheep farm and the Pyrenees is older but quite mean to the younger dog.

Yesterday, I heard them really getting into it. It was about feeding time so I went to feed them. I have to stand in the pen half way between them because the older one won't let the younger one eat otherwise. I gave the older one his food and he ran to the other side of the pen and grabbed something off the ground and brought it back to where his food bowl was. It was a dead chicken. I just put some 2 month old chicks out there in a coup in the pen. I kept an eye on them for a day and they ignored the chicks so I figured/hoped all was good and that they probably had experience with chickens. I noticed something had been digging around the coup and there was a hole just big enough for a chicken to get out. I don't know if it was one of the dogs or a coon sneaked into the pen overnight. I'll be burying some fence around the perimeter tomorrow. Pouring rain today. I've still yet to see the dogs sniffing/snooping around the coup.

I'm pretty sure the younger dog is going to be useless to me and we're in the boonies so there's no humane society or anywhere else to take him and everyone that wants a dog, already has one around here. In fact, this is a hot spot for people from the surrounding small towns to drop off dogs they either no longer want or can keep.

In short, we have to put down our own dogs here. Of course 90% or more dogs that get taken to a humane society get put down too.

So I think we'll end up putting down the young one and see how things go. Next Spring, I might try to find a female Great Pyrenees. We will have chickens and they need protection. If this Pyrenees turns out to be a chicken killer, he's gone and we'll get a puppy next time that can be raised with the livestock. We're getting goats in the Spring. I'm thinking the Pyrenees should be ok with them since they're similar to sheep.

We've got a Pitt Bull mix that we've had for over a decade. She listens very well but we never could get her to stop chasing chickens. You can teach an old dog some new tricks but that thrill of the chase is too strong in most cases to override.
 
Trace Oswald
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The more I think about this, the more I think Tristen just needs to rehome the dog to a hunter. The exact trait that makes the dog go after your donkey is what hunters need from their dogs, namely, very high prey drive.  

It makes me sad that so many people are in support of the answer to just shoot the dog.
 
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People that own dogs that live in areas with rattle snakes need to somehow teach their dogs to stay away from rattle snakes at all times, no matter what. They often do so by using an e-collar to have the dog get a real aversion to rattle snakes. If it were me with a dog that had a drive to hurt another animal living on my property, I would learn how to properly use an e-collar from a proven trainer, then go that route with my dog before doing anything else.
 
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Its been a while, what did you do Tristen?

Got a dog and donkeys story myself.

I got some donkeys for few months now. Me and  my wife, we walked form France to Poland with our first three donkeys.
Few weeks after our arrival, one night we got woken up by their braying for help (they never make noise without a reason...). We went outside, and there was a dog madly attacking them. Tried to scare him, kill him, but he was too fast. Donkeys were mostly running away, sometimes one of them was trying to attack. After some 45 minutes the dog finally ran away.
Donkeys were on pretty small field, rather close to the only street lamp. Heard they have bad eye accommodation, grass was very high, they didn't know the place that much... that's what I blame for what happened cause...
One month later I brought the rest of the herd (they knew each other), so now there's 8 of them (geldings only).
Just yesterday I've seen three medium/big sized dogs running towards them. Donkeys organized themselves, stood in line and started braying all at once. Dogs ran away just hearing that, even before donkeys actually attacked them what happened 10 seconds later.

I think they can handle the dog situation now, though remembering first situation, I'm still a bit scared of a very aggressive dog, or a pack of them...
 
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We got a new Mini Aussie Shepherd, hoping we could train it to work sheep. Seemed super sweet, but when we worked sheep the dang thing kept going for their THROATS. The last straw was when it nipped my 5yo grand daughter on the face. It was just a scratch but I immediately had it put down. My grand daughter is an animal lover and was not mistreating the dog in any way. It just had a strong prey drive I guess.
 
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I ended up giving up my dog to our local humane society, I tried to find him a better fitting home for weeks with no luck and even tried rescues. I told the humane society everything that happened and asked for their advice. They told me if I don’t feel as if my equines are safe I needed to either train or rehome the dog. I am currently in college so training wasn’t the best or better option for me due to little time I have after school and work. He is still currently looking for a home and they are furthering his training in their facility.
 
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Tristen,  I'm glad you were able to come to what sounds like the best solution given the situation.

I like animals, but I eat some, squash some (insects), trap and kill some (hornets, mice, etc), ignore others (they aren't impacting me, I don't need to act) and generally use them to improve my life and those of other humans I care about.  Your permaculture place should have diversity of life in it, but in the end you have to figure out what life forms you'll give priority to in what areas.  (Wally Hickel, a former Governor of Alaska had some funny sayings.  My favorite, maybe taken out of context was "... you can't just let Nature run wild...."

I agree with Travis.  I wouldn't want to wish my problem on someone else.  

I know there are probably many permies who will disagree with me, but I was raised to see a big difference between animals and people.  I may love my dog, but in the end it's a dog, not a person, (even though I've prefered my dogs company to a lot of people I've known).    I recognize they have feelings, thought processes, etc similar to us, but I draw a line between us and them.  Maybe that makes me a 'speciest' or something, I'm ok with that.

One of the things I like about permaculture is the concept of 'encouraging the chicken to be a chicken', meaning finding ways an animals instinctual behavior helps you while letting it live a better, more 'chickeny' life.  Sadly, there are times when their instinctual behavior is at odds with what you are trying to accomplish, then something has to give.  In this case, either give up on equines or get rid of the dog.  Giving it away is a good option, if you can.  If that doesn't work and you want equines, time for the dog to go to doggy heaven.  Do it as quickly and painlessly as possible and move on.  We overlook it sometimes, but Mother Nature is a  mean mother, with most animals fated to die young and painfully!  Death is a normal part of life.  All things die.  Most natural deaths are a lot worse than a bullet to the head as it's distracted, wolfing down it's favorite treat.  Keeping a dog tied up or penned all the time (or a big, active dog in the house all the time) seems like a situation, long term, crueler than shooting it.  (I realize I am anthropomorphizing the dogs feelings, but I don't know how else to approach it).
 
Trace Oswald
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Mick Fisch wrote:One of the things I like about permaculture is the concept of 'encouraging the chicken to be a chicken', meaning finding ways an animals instinctual behavior helps you while letting it live a better, more 'chickeny' life.  Sadly, there are times when their instinctual behavior is at odds with what you are trying to accomplish, then something has to give.  In this case, either give up on equines or get rid of the dog.  Giving it away is a good option, if you can.  If that doesn't work and you want equines, time for the dog to go to doggy heaven.  Do it as quickly and painlessly as possible and move on.  We overlook it sometimes, but Mother Nature is a  mean mother, with most animals fated to die young and painfully!  Death is a normal part of life.  All things die.  Most natural deaths are a lot worse than a bullet to the head as it's distracted, wolfing down it's favorite treat.  Keeping a dog tied up or penned all the time (or a big, active dog in the house all the time) seems like a situation, long term, crueler than shooting it.  (I realize I am anthropomorphizing the dogs feelings, but I don't know how else to approach it).




My own opinion is different.  If you adopt, buy, breed, or somehow acquire a domestic animal, especially a pet, you are responsible for giving that animal the best life possible.  I agree with the concept of letting a chicken be a chicken.  I also believe the dog should be a dog.  Some dogs have high prey drive.  That is exactly what some people want in a dog.  I think the solution would be to find a person that wants that.  I don't think that is pushing your problem to someone else, because having a dog that chases other animals isn't a problem, it is a problem for THAT owner.  Having a dog that doesn't go after other animals is a problem for some owners.

I don't find the solution of killing the dog because training it or finding it a home is inconvenient to be acceptable.  If a person is in college and working and doesn't have time to train a dog, it may be better to wait and get one when life has slowed down a little.  All animals take time and energy.  If those aren't available currently, it may be that this just isn't a good time to have animals.
 
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Tristen, thanks for updating us on how it all played out. Glad you had the resources available (a place to take the dog). It sounds like it all worked out for the best.
 
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