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My dogs are attacking my livestock HELP!

 
Matthew Spaar
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We have 2 7month old bordercollie/lab mixes that have been around our livestock since we have got them and had no problem. Wednesday they defeathered a turkey that has been known to attack and was heading to the block anyway so I talked myself into thinking the tom attacked them first. today they went after a young goat that I almost didn't get to in time. I talked to our large animal vet and he said some dogs have that killer instinct and as hard as it is that he recommends putting them down. we have 2 children and one on the way so their safety is important. I hate the idea of putting them down but this behavior can't be allowed. does anyone have any experience with this or any suggestions?
 
S Bengi
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I can think of 4 possible reason why the dogs are doing this.

1) They are not getting fed enough
2) The animals was attached by something else and they are just cleaning up the mess
3) They are becoming the head of the pack because you guys are too busy
4) The dogs just have killer instincts

 
Matthew Spaar
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They get 4 cups a day and they weigh about 20lbs. We also have 2 adult dogs that they are below for sure. I've seen them try to chase chickens before but they stop when I scold them. They were in the fenced in yard near the house around 11am so I doubt another predator. I could try uping their food.
 
Dave Lodge
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Would try showing them your animals are part of the pack. Discipline at that age is important and a mother would be keeping them in line as you would do a child who's doing dangerous things.

Could be they were playing around, and the animal was acting like it was being attack and running (normal). Then the dog triggered into instincts and nothing to break it from that. Being there when the instincts kick in can help to break the instinct reaction.
 
Amedean Messan
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I had this problem a while back but our fix was to sensibly beat the dog holding the dead chicken. They are smart enough to know the deal. Never had much a problem for over years to be honest. I am sure there are better ways, but that worked. There is a lot more to add but obedience training is a must.
 
Cj Sloane
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Do these dogs have a job to do? Border Collies in particular can be destructive if they don't have a job.

Are they in the same paddocks as the animals? How'd they get to the young goat? IMO only livestock guard dogs, the breeds like Pyrs & Maremmas, should live with the livestock.
 
Su Ba
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If you think about canine pack behavior, what you are seeing is totally normal and right on time. Your pups are coming of age. It is the time when they would naturally join the pack on hunting trips and start participating. They are following their instincts. Since you don't approve of this behavior, then you'll need to step in and modify it.

If these were my pups I would....
1- neuter them ASAP. Early neutering tends to prevent or tone down the behavioral changes of going from puppyhood into juvenile, but neutering at this age will help to some degree too. Let neutering go much longer and you lose any edge it would have given you.
2- get them into structured obedience training. It doesn't have to be a formal class, though that would give you the desired control and communication faster. I would set up a training "ring" where I could clip each pup to a short tether so that one could watch while I worked with the other. Yes, dogs can learn by watching. I used a fence to clip the dogs to. Then each day I would work with each pup on structured obedience....sit, down, stay, wait, watch, etc. If they had been naturally reared in a pack, they would have been learning this behavior since wee pups. Learning it now will be a bit slower and more difficult for them to except, but I've trained literally over a hundred older puppies in my life, so it can be done. Teaching them tricks can also help and can be fun for them, things like bark/no bark, watch/wait (or down), etc. If they can be trained to enjoy playing with a rag, ball, or specific toy, then you could use the focus and desire on that toy as a reward system. It works great for some dogs and it's how most search dogs (bomb, drugs, cadaver, etc) dogs are trained. I also would put adults through their paces while the pup watched. This trick helped some pups that were slow learners, or slow to connect.
3- set limits for these pups, where you are the controller. I'd practice ....on a lead.... going in and out of the house, requiring the pup to stop at the door, wait until I went through, then only going through itself when I told it to. I'd eventually add sit/stay at the doorway, and next practice doing this sort of thing off lead. I'd have them sit/stay when being fed, training them to wait until I said it was ok to eat. This would help them not only with their behavior control but also gear them to look at me and expect me to give signals. I'd practice the same thing when handing out treats and toys. Anytime and EVERYTIME the pups wanted to decide to do something, they would have to get my permission or approval. Out to go potty, into the car, in or out the house, etc.
4- no unsupervised freedom. I wouldn't let a twelve year old boy take the car, carry a knife and gun, come and go anywhere and anytime he pleases, do whatever he wants. Neither would i let a pup have that kind of independence. In nature, 7 month old pups would have little freedom yet. So I would take advantage on their natural instinct to yield to pack pressure.
5- get the pups to see me as the leader. Pups naturally follow the leader as long as the leader demands it. Pups that transgress in a pack would be disciplined. Discipline should be firm and fair, but not cruel. It must be timely and something that they pup understands. Every pup is different so you need to figure out what works best.
6- establish a bond. Through the years I've acquired many half grown pups that had poor communication skills. Before they can learn I needed to establish a bond. I'd spend a lot of time talking, petting, grooming, gently playing, massaging, making eye contact. Not as a pack playmate, but as a pack older member. They would have to learn to accept me touching anywhere on their body, looking into ears, inspecting their teeth, picking up their feet and handling their toes...all with no complaint or fight.
7- at no time would I accept any dominant behavior from the pup. No growling. No snarling. No mounting behavior. No stiff legged walking.

Once the pups were responding well to behavior control, then I would expand the training to include public behavior (greeting strangers off the property, walking on lead in public, etc). Depending upon how they were doing, I'd also introduce the training to include livestock. They need to learn that behavior control extends to livestock. Watch/down/stay/that-will-do. My goal would be to teach them that they should only show interest in livestock when commanded to.

While I had success with most older pups, not all were success stories. But then I was working with some difficult breeds ....Siberian Huskies, Shiba Inu, and Border Collies.

I hope this post gives you some ideas. I'm being distracted while writing this, so I hope it makes some sense. I'm sure I'm missing some points so I will add mores info if needed.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Matthew,

First let me state how sorry I am that you are experiencing this...it could very well be entirely out of your hands, and more a "genetic trait," than one based in "developmental ethologies." So please, don't blame yourself. "Stock killers," come in all shapes and sizes, yet some "breeds" are known for it more so than others. Unfortunately, Border Collies are a know breed to have this behavioral tendency. I will share, for what it is worth, that all the "stock killers" I have been made aware of or had to deal with came to be "Border Collie," with one that looked like all "Australian Shepherd," yet was listed as "Border Collie mix." Border Collie have been well know for just "turning" on their charges attacking them, running them to death, or into fences, and even off cliffs. It is just an unfortunate anomaly that takes place sometimes.

I agree with others thus far that you should secure complete control of both these animals activities. I would also support nurturing, as I see no good reason in further breeding these two dogs.

As for methods of training, I would stress that "dogs are not wolves," but are Canidae that can have behaviors from fox to wolf, with all inbetween including what we have "bred into them." The ethology of this "family group," is very broad and variable with new discoveries each year in just the genetic genome...let alone, trying to get a good handle on all possible behavioral foundations. You will have to choose the type of training program you feel works, as there are many opinions on that subject (I follow the understanding and modalities of Dr John Bradshaw and leave the Cesar Millan types to the sad state of Hollywood and poor TV entertainment.) We all agree that before you destroy these to animals that are now part of your family, that they deserve a good training program...but be prepared that this may fail, and you will either have to keep them away from livestock, and/or find alternative solutions.

Good Luck,

j
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The Border Collie is a herd dog by nature, they want to herd all animals and some times, when not trained to work they will revert to lupine mentality behavior. The Lab is a retriever breed and also needs training to be their best. Mixing these breeds usually produces a very good, dual purpose dog when trained, that will work their butts off for you and love every minute of their work. Herd dogs normally use the lupine instinct to their advantage to keep a flock together. Your dogs probably just need training and some jobs to do. I would imagine that they are not being trained by the description of behavior you gave. If you are going to keep them, you will need to invest the time required to properly train them. I see many dogs in the country where I live that are neglected and left to fend for themselves who turn to pack behavior for survival. In fact we had such a pack just two weeks ago come onto the homestead but our dogs convinced them to move on before any human action was required.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Bryant, et al,

I think what is important here we all agree on is to get them trained...in some fashion. As for the holotype of the origin ethology of modern domestic dogs Canis familiaris is speculative at the very best, and still there is much debate on that subject...Too often many (even some to be seen as experts in dog training) erroneously choose the lectotype for our dogs as being "wolf," and this is speculative at the very best. Dogs are not wolves and present as being between them and the lesser Canids such as fox and jackals. As such they can hybridize with both the modern wolf, and the representative of the North American Jackal, which is our Coyote...or American Jackal.

This ability to "hybridize" between the range of Canidea has over the millenia given us a very unique set of behaviors...even among different breeds. There is some limited research to day among coydog (or dogote) that have a know blood line of "jackal" to present with aberrant behaviors. There is some suggestion that "Border Collies" are the marvels herders they are because of such hybridizing in the past with Jackals...which could explain there sometime going made and attacking there charges or running them off cliffs.

Either way, these dogs in this discussion need intervention and proper training, we all agree on that.

Regards,

j
 
Joellen Anderson
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I absolutely agree with the folks above who are recommending training. At this age they are pushing the limit of what they are allowed to do (think of a pre-teen or teenager). It sounds as if they are being given too much freedom too early in their training, which is a common mistake made by LOTS of people with dogs (I can't tell you how many times I see people while camping who have their dogs off leash but absolutely zero control over them, no recall, no nothing).

Unless your dogs have shown aggression towards people I don't think this is something that you have to be terrified of for your children (though, as with EVERY dog they need monitoring and feedback to know appropriate behavior with people and children. This especially goes for the herding types as they have strong instincts to herd children-sized animals). Certainly this is not something which means they are "natural killers" and should be euthanized. I have never known a dog in my life (and I have been working with many many dogs over many many years, particularly ones with behavioral issues) that had a behavior problem which wasn't caused by poor/no training and a lack of exercise/job. It is our responsibility to make sure the dogs know boundaries and are kept stimulated enough.

Also neutering is a great idea! Should help with a lot of the issues

You get immediate results from hitting the dog while holding the dead animal, but that is the fastest way to lose any partnership or relationship with your dogs which doesn't involve fear. In the long run beating and hitting causes far more behavior issues, especially when the dog is so scared it retaliates. I would NEVER recommend hitting or beating as a method to train.

Hope this helps! Border collies are incredibly smart and fun dogs, so I hope that these two can even out and learn the boundaries. Also, if you must give them up please don't euthanize, as there are breed-specific rescues which can place them in homes which meet their needs.

Good luck!
 
Chris Badgett
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I would encourage you to read the book Don't Shoot The Dog before putting your animal down: http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Shoot-Dog-Teaching-Training/dp/0553380397

It sounds like your animals need more training and more jobs to keep the focus.

Do you have access to a more seasoned well trained border collie that you could bring around to lead from example. Dogs learn a ton from other dogs.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Just to clear up the ideas put forth by JC in response to my post, I post this article from The Scientist, Nov. 14, 2013 issue.

Domestic dogs evolved from a group of wolves that came into contact with European hunter-gatherers between 18,800 and 32,100 years ago and may have since died out.

This origin story comes from a new study that compares DNA from dozens of dogs and wolves, including 18 ancient fossils.
The results, published today (November 14) in Science, provide the clearest picture yet of where, when, and how wild predators came to be man’s best friend.

“It really is a sea change from the little bits of fragmentary DNA that have been reported in the past,” said Gregor Larson from Durham University in the U.K., who was not involved in the study. “It includes really old material from a wide range of sites.”

The new paper follows two earlier studies that looked at the genetic signatures of domestication in dogs, and came to differing conclusions about canine origins.
One group suggested that dogs were domesticated around 10,000 years ago during the Agricultural Revolution, when wolves started scavenging human scrap heaps.
Another concluded that wolves and dogs split 32,000 years ago, somewhere in East Asia.


Both studies compared the genes of a wide variety of living dogs and wolves, but modern samples can be deceptive.
Dogs and wolves diverged so recently that many of their genes have not had time to separate into distinct lineages.
They have also repeatedly hybridized with each other, further confusing their genealogies.

To deal with these problems, a team led by Olaf Thalmann from the University of Turku in Finland analyzed mitochondrial DNA from 18 fossil canids.
They compared these ancient sequences to those from 49 modern wolves and 77 modern dogs, and built a family tree that charts their relationships.

The tree conclusively pinpointed Europe as the major nexus of dog domestication.
It identified four clades of modern dogs, which are all most closely related to ancient European canids rather than wolves from China or the Middle East.
“We didn’t expect the ancestry to be so clearly defined,” Thalmann told The Scientist.

“This suggests that the population of wolves in Europe that gave rise to modern dogs may have gone extinct, which is plausible given how humans have wiped out wolves over the centuries,” he added.

According to this new tree, the largest clade of domestic dogs last shared a common ancestor 18,800 years ago, and collectively, they last shared a common ancestor with a wolf around 32,100 years ago.
They must have been domesticated at some point during this window.

These molecular dates fit with fossil evidence.
The oldest dog fossils come from Western Europe and Siberia, and are thought to be at least 15,000 years old.
By contrast, those from the Middle East and East Asia are believed to be 13,000 years old, at most.
“The archaeologists would be happy,” said Larson.


For the issues being had with the subject dogs of the OP, Cesar "The Dog Whisperer" Millan has specific methods which can be of great help in guiding your dogs to respect you as pack leader.
I agree with the poster who says "Don't Hit The Dog" this doesn't work the way desired, ever. Simply because it only induces fear into the subject dog and the natural response will be defensive attack.
When a dog begins "bad behavior" changing it's focus is the key to stopping that behavior. This can be a sound, a light touch or anything else (that isn't going to elicit a defensive retaliation) to redirect the dogs attention immediately.
When you are working with a dog, praise works very well to get the dog to understand that it has done what you want.
Redirection works best when they enter a state we don't want them in. It takes time to get a dog to change behavior, sometimes it only takes a few minutes, other times it takes much longer over a few days.
The real trick is for the owner to understand that they are the pack leader and to act like a pack leader. Yelling at a dog does nothing good for the dog, hitting a dog does nothing good for the dog.
If you have access to a kennel club, they usually have obedience classes, these can work but you have to be the constant for the dog(s) if you aren't consistent, they will pick up on this and test you repeatedly.
They are going to test you repeatedly anyway, but if you remain consistent, they soon understand that the results of their tests will always be the same, and the behavior will be modified for a while.
Training a dog is an ongoing process, it is the pack nature to try and move up the ranks. You the pack leader, lead by being consistent in your handling and that will lead to the dog being consistent in their behavior.
A Stable environment lets the dog know it is safe and what is expected of it. This relaxes the dog and as long as you expend their excess energy, they will be the dog you desire, since they seek and need your approval as pack leader.

 
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