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Training a new dog

 
master gardener
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My  wife and I have pretty well decided to get a female Great Pyrenees pup.  The breed because we need something to protect the livestock.  The sex because we want limits on the aggressiveness.  Although the houses here are a minimum of a half miles apart, there are some children around and other pets.  My question is what steps should I take to get her adjusted to the livestock?
 
gardener
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I would be careful assuming a female will be less aggressive. Using the word "bitchy" as a derogatory term against a woman came from somewhere... From what I've seen on facebook groups, female dogs might have a slight edge in the aggressiveness department. If you get a puppy, I wouldn't expect you to have problems with aggressiveness against animals, especially from a herding breed. From what I've seen, dogs are not naturally aggressive against humans, because that was one trait that was definitely a priority to be bred out thousands of years ago. When they are aggressive against humans, it is almost always the fault of the one attacked, or the one who owns/raised the dog, either intentionally or unintentionally. I have found dogs will often mirror the character of their owner.
 
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I've been researching this as I plan on getting a dog very soon (soon as I move into house since it's against lease to have one in the apartment).  GP is one I am considering, but will probably go German Shepard more with general farm dog in mind.

What I've read/see online on training LGDs (livestock guardian dogs) seems to mostly be get them small/young, let them grow up with their charges full time.  That's it.

I think Greg Judy has a vid or two on his.  A search on youtube should turn up plenty. Yep "training livestock guardians dogs" has loads of results.

Here's one clip with Greg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97MhbnvWntA

and another: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWgrin3-TtA
 
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I have no experience with livestock guardian dogs, though we owned one when i was small. But for dogs in general, the time prior to 16 weeks, and preferably prior to 12 weeks, is when dogs are the most able to be sociazed to new things. Cats, other dogs, kids, farm animals, the vet, town, human visitors, car rides, etc. There are socialization checklists online.

Yes, I know most livestock guardians aren't supposed to be too friendly, but I think it definitely allows them to learn good judgement and discretion about normal vs not. There are many checklists online if you search "socialization checklist". The idea is to give many positive or neutral experiences - not to stress the puppy. They don't even have to interact with the checklist item - just observe from a distance. A confident, discerning dog with good judgement is a wonderful partner to have.
 
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If you want a true flock guardian, make sure you get from a breeder that breeds for true working Pyrennes, otherwise, you might end up with a 150 lb lap dog!

Having her fixed is also another choice that plays into temperament. Generally guarding Pyrenees are trained by other established guarding Pyrenees.

Female dogs will generally mature emotionally/socially faster than males. As far as Pyrennes, you'll want to make sure they understand their territory, as opposed to common areas or inadvertently annexing a neighbors homestead. 1/2 mile might not be much for a free-roaming Pyrennes (although not as wide-roaming as Anatolians, or some other flock guardians). And yes having them grow-up around the livestock they expected to guard is important.

The fine line is Socialization. To sociialize or not...generally, this is minimal with true guardian dogs who spend 100% of their time with their charges.
 
Andy John
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Here is a good link: https://thepaleomama.com/2015/06/19/the-training-of-a-livestock-guardian-dog/
 
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I think what catie said is important,
my experience is old dogs can't learn new tricks. I have a dog I adopted, vet said he's at least a year old possibly 2 and he's loyal as far as knowing where his bread is buttered but has nasty old habits that persist and ive tried all the techniques found through google to get rid of these nasty bad habits, I don't know maybe the dog whisper could help but my experience is old dogs can't learn new tricks. train a  recently weaned pup the way you need him to respect others.
 
pollinator
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You might be disappointed. I've had SO MANY LGD's at this point. Absolutely love them. We currently have 4, all boys. Not a ton of problems. Our oldest LGD is a pyr and he's 11. He is a good guard in that he wants to guard things. Unfortunately what he wants to guard is not what we want him to guard. He kills more poultry than any other predator we have. Absolutely useless with birds. Loved our neighbors cows though. Was desperate to guard them. It was a problem and we had to electrify the fence to keep him from being shot by the neighbor, who was less of a fan. He's in tact and has the wandering spirit.

Then we got Sparta our akbash. LOVE that dog. He's big, beautiful lover. Absolutely useless as a guard. He won't hurt a fly. He's the best though as he won't wander at all. In fact, if you let him outside and don't go with him he stands next to the door waiting. He goes with the kids when they're out on the property. I don't think he'll guard them, exactly, but a gigantic dog is certainly a deterrent I'd think.

Then we got a pup which died at 6 months because his kidney's didn't grow with him. It was probably a blessing because he was highly aggressive, particularly to our kids.

Then we tried again doing a pyr/akbash. He's 3 now. He's an ok guard. He's sweet with the kids. Ok outside. He does wander farther than we appreciate. He has bad hips though, so probably not going to make it that much longer.

Then we have an adopted 2 year old pyr/anatolian. He was raised in a suburb but shockingly wasn't fit for it. He wants to guard everything and barks non-stop. Not reliable loose because he wants to run absolutely everywhere. I'm not unhappy with him though. He's an alright dog. Just have to lock him up when people come to the house because he's not super fond of strangers. Means he's probably going to watch out for us just fine though.


I guess I'm saying you can train them and you should. However, it's probably a personality thing too. Some dogs are more suited to certain tasks than others.

btw all our dogs were bred on farms from active guard stock.
 
Jordan Holland
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I've seen a lot of people have trouble like Bruce. I would be wary of a lot of training info found online. If you see a lot of buzz-words and catch phrases like "positive reinforcement only" or "high value treat" or anything saying how easy it is, I would be careful. There is a recent push, for some reason, to re-invent dog training. I guess it's a product of our modern times that some people want to act like they've "figured it out," even though people have been training dogs for thousands of years. These new training methods remind me of a lot of these new designer diets that promise to take pounds off quickly and easily, and I fear many people are as successful with one as they are with the other. And I would definitely make sure the puppy was not taken from it's mother too early, as mentioned. You will save yourself a world of frustration and destruction. The most important thing they learn from their mother and litter mates is self-control. Without that, it is very difficult to accomplish anything. Most old dogs can learn new tricks, it's just a matter of understanding how they think and finding what drives them, and using it to modify their behavior. It's definitely not always easy.
 
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