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Dogs attacked cattle

 
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So I'm not going to lie, I did have dogs as a kid but I didn't have anything to do with raising or training them and two years ago was the first time I was actually able to get a dog so I'm doing my best to learn as I go with them. My fiancee and I live on ten acres in the country. His family actually owns around 200 acres that has been divided up among the individual members so while we don't personally have cattle, his family does. Two years ago we adopted two Staffordshire terriers from his brother. We've raised them out here their whole lives and they have never had an issue with live stock. They grew up with cats, cows, goats, and horses. They were trained to hunt small predators like moles, possums, coyotes. We did have an issue with one cat because that cat decided he was going to get cranky and start attacking one of my terriers. He wasn't killed and presently lives under our house and they seem to have a mutual understanding. Roughly a year ago we got an Alaskan malamute. I've been working with her the whole time I've had her, however, she's exceptionally stubborn and it's a slow going process.
When it comes to cattle, they used to have no problems with them. For that matter, I used to have pictures and videos of them cuddling and playing with the cows. However, last night we found them attacking a new calf his family brought in.
He wants to put them down or find them a new home but I want to work with them and finally put up the big fence in the backyard for them because they've never done this before and I don't believe that they should be put down for doing what's in their nature until it becomes a necessity. Ie: they start to bow up to humans or they refuse to stay in their fenced in area and keep hunting cattle. And my problem with finding them a new home is the fear someone will use the boys for fighting when they're truly sweet dogs or something will happen and they'll hurt someone or another animal at another's home and I'll feel responsible.
I was hoping you guys could give me some advice as to how to move forward with being stricter on their training to try and get them to understand they can't hunt cattle or leave the fenced in area?
Please and thank you!
 
pollinator
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Was it just the terriers, or the malamute?

Your fiancee's reaction is typical of herdsmen and farmers. Dogs are there to protect livestock. They have to be an asset, not a liability. Considering the price of some heritage breeds, it's nothing to futz with.

Having said that, your boys are family. Everyone gets that, even those who will undoubtedly go with farmers' wisdom.

Basically, you need to face some hard truths. You can't trust your boys out with cattle any longer, not unless and until the cause of this behaviour is sorted out, in the event that they haven't somewhere gotten a taste for meat on the hoof. That means that they need an enclosure outside that they can't escape from, or else tethers they can't escape. You may be able to assess their attitude by introducing other, less expensive, probably smaller livestock, allowing chickens or guinea fowl, for instance, to free range within their reach, moving up to things less avian and more bovine-shaped as time progresses.

I mean, if you mounted a zipline from one end of your property to the other with a tether on a pulley giving a tethered dog the run of the whole length, that's still a lot of freedom. Substitute clothesline for zipline in the event of a slightly smaller property.

And it may be that they can't remain in proximity of cattle. I think rehoming should be possible, in that case, but honestly, giving them the long nap would be better than living as a mature novice pit fighter. Both are death sentences. One is just peaceful.

I wish you all success with your boys. Try some kind of liberal confinement. They'll rail at the confines, whatever you do, but in the end, it's the only way to be sure, short of something more like what the preceeding movie reference implies.

Keep us posted, and good luck. And welcome to Permies.

-CK
 
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Hi Trista;  Welcome to Permies!
I'm sorry to hear about your dogs!
You mentioned 2 original dogs (the terriers) and one new dog (the malamute).
From your story  it sounds like all three dogs were involved ?

I can only base my opinion on my experiences.  
I think your Malamute is the problem.  (sorry) they are not stock / farm dogs. They run / chase things , they kill things , they rarely obey . I guess they are good in Alaska pulling a sled and spending the rest of the time on a chain. You notice that you never see a loose sled dog?  I have know a few that were one owner dogs (no family) and they were very well behaved dogs. But the majority of them act like out of control five year old's.
I can understand your husbands family's thought's. That one calf is worth more than all three dogs.
Your terriers were fine before... now they are not ...
I would say maybe rehome the malamute if you can . Or if you husband will let you , then fence them all in the yard.

As far as training them to stay in the yard . A shock collar is the most effective way.  A buried perimeter hot wire should keep them at home.
Best of luck , I'm sure you can get this straightened out .

 
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The relatively painless short version ... I know a bit about dogs & cattle & the problems that sometime occur between the two. Some of my best friends are ranchers & one is a professional dog trainer as well as a rancher. She gets results. My best suggestion, for the long term sake of the dog, is hire the best professional trainer near you.

 
pollinator
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Hmm if I catch a dog doing that I shoot it on the spot.
Regardless of whose dog or what breed.  
My neighbour got one warning earlier this year when I found 80 cattle on the road one night and I had seen his dog on our boundary earlier in the day.
They'd mysteriously blown through two gates on a calm still evening.
He keeps a closer eye on it now after I started carrying my shotgun with me.
There's the cost of the stock and I'm very aware of the potential human cost...
When a car hits a cow it's a mess, when a motorcyclist hits a cow it's game over.  
 
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I agree with most of the posts already provided - in essence, you're trying to drive a nail into timber with a screwdriver = wrong tool for the job. Malamute's are work dogs, but not working dogs. A working dog for stock are traditionally small and nimble breeds like Border Collies, Kelpies, Cattle Dogs, etc. These are fast, highly intelligent and are easily trained to work by voice/whistle commands. Importantly, they are 'people' dogs - part of the family and very protective.

Seems like the purchase was an impulse buy because you quite rightly like that breed, but it doesn't suit the needs.

In many rural environments, any dog that attacks stock are dealt with via 'lead poisoning' because they cannot be trusted, particularly with children, visitors or neighbours.

Sadly, I think the Malamute should be given to someone who doesn't reside anywhere near stock. Tethering such a big canine is unfair and cruel - placing it in a pen is very impractical and a bit pointless when considering it to be a pet.

Some hard decisions to be made.

Good luck.
 
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Well... you have 3 dogs - two from a breed bred to be stubborn, brave, and kill bulls, one from a breed bred to run fast and be able to hunt it's own food.... Not great stock dogs, I'm afraid. And three dogs = a pack. Do not expect that just because this is the first time, they won't do it again. They've just discovered a fun game. The hardest things to train are stopping dogs from performing rewarding behaviour. I can't think of anything more rewarding than harassing "prey" animals for a dog.

I'd suggest either you build that fence (don't go for an underground fence, they won't deter them), or find new homes. Or commit to never letting them outside off leash, which is a huge commitment to walking your dogs daily. If you don't do one of those things... your husband will probably be right, or a relative will shoot them, and then there will be lots of hard feelings at the next family event . Even once you get the fence up, Staffordshire Terriers are stubborn, strong dogs - I'd suggest only letting one or two dogs out in the fenced yard at a time unsupervised if your yard is in sight of cattle, in case  one decides to bust out.

For training - try "whistle training" - you want to make sure your dogs have an excellent, "OMG great reward" sort of recall - get a long distance whistle, and train them that EVERY time you blow it, they get the world's best treat - i'm not talking dry milk bones here, I'm talking raw steak or hotdogs... A really reliable emergency recall - MIGHT- give you a chance to call them off in an emergency, if you call before they commit.

Sorry Trista - i adore my dog too, so would hate to be in your shoes.
 
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There was a thread here recently about a dog attacking a baby donkey that had some good info about dogs and livestock in a similar situation (I can`t find it but I know it`s there), might be helpful.
If the Staffies were fine with animals and the Malamute is a nut (as they tend do be) it could be that something set her off, which set them off. I agree, in my experience Malamutes are not stable enough to be farm dogs (the ones I knew couldn`t be trusted around kids or other pets).
 
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Trista, welcome to the forums!

One of these is the one Tereza was looking for:

https://permies.com/t/131191/dog-killed-llama-protect-year

https://permies.com/t/64471/Dogs-Killed-Goats-Support

Both of them will give you some ideas.  I hope you find a solution.

 
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This is the thread about the donkey https://permies.com/t/127178/Dog-attacking-donkey-foal

My reply to that thread is also applicable here so  I will go ahead and quote it for easy reference:

Amy Arnett wrote:

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...

 
pollinator
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Training/retraining a problem dog is huge commitment, and it sounds like you might have three. Good luck if you go that route, and I hope it works out.

If you decide to give the dogs up for adoption, maybe see if there are any organizations that can help with that so they don't end up going to a bad home. A lot of people specifically take problem dogs. One of my second cousins does it and gets a lot of fulfillment from it.

Sometimes a change in environment is enough. I woman I know adopted a great Pyrenees who was going to be killed by the shelter because he was agressive. He'd been mistreated by a man who owned him. Living with this single woman and her small daughter totally put him at ease and once he trusted her enough, he learned to trust her judgement about men too. Any men she was friends with was a friend to him too. After some more time, he was good with everyone.

Sounds like your dogs might just need a home away from livestock to be great animals. Hopefully you can find a way to keep them though.
 
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