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Conventional dog training for an LGD (Maremmas)

 
pollinator
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Location: Los Gatos, California Zone 10a (30°F to 35°F) Steep South Facing Slope, Rocky Soil, Ph 7.1
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We have two 12-week old Maremma pups that will guard our chicken flock. My wife wants to take them to conventional dog training class - sit, heel, come when they are called, walk on a leash, etc. and to be better socialized with other people and dogs. Has anyone done this with LGDs? The trip to the vet was difficult since they fought the leash the whole time. Afterward, we took them to a dog park which was even worse. They were very nervous of all the spastic dogs running around. My wife thought that was proof that they need more training and interaction, I thought it was proof that LGDs have a clear understanding of who is in and who is not in their pack - and that as a rule we should not be visiting crowded dog parks. I would like them to tolerate a leash (for vet visits, etc) and have them come when they are called, but I have no otherwise I don't much other expectations. Does anyone else have any experience with this?

 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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I did conventional dog training with my first Maremma. It was OK but he turned out not to be a great dog and eventually disappeared under suspicious circumstances to our relief (too alpha). It does make life easier if they can walk on a leash but this is not a dog who should socialize too much with other dogs. You don't want them to be friendly with coyotes, right?

We had one who really enjoyed our company more than the sheep & I occasionally took her to the farmers market and everyone stared (137 lb Kuvatz/Pyr). We have one Maremma who is a gem but we can't get him in the car to go to the vet and wont use a leash.

Our newest will go in the car and needs leash practice. She's a little skittish but to some degree that's the way these dogs are. It's been a week and she finally let my husband pet her. She also got out of her paddock and let my daughter put a leash on her to walk her back.

My advice is to do the training, expect them to come when called, sitting on demand is great too. They've been bred to think independently so if they think some of the training exercises are dumb they'll let you know.
 
pollinator
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We don't have a LGD but did wonders for our own dog using clicker training. When done right it is incredibly effective.

I would say for your needs you could do all the training you need at home without adding stressful experiences for your animal. We bought the book below and found it excellent, and the methods will help you to train your dog for the specific role you want it to take on your farm.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Positive-Dog-Training/dp/0470241845
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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My feeling is that 'conventional' training is for pets.
LGDs are supposed to be working dogs for farms, not necessarily trained how to live in a peoplecentric society.

Yes, you do need some basic people oriented training such as 'come' 'stop' 'sit'.
The dogs need to recognize you as not just 'master', but as part of the pack.

Personally, I think that taking them to city dog parks is counter productive to the end results desired for a farm work dog. This isn't about learning how to play with other dogs. This is about training them to chase off other dogs, rather than learning how to be everybody's buddy.

IMO, leash training is good for the occasional necessary trip to town (vet visit, etc.).
Actually, other than a vet visit, I'm having a hard time imagining any other reason to take him to town.
His sole job is guarding the livestock.
Leash training should be done AT HOME, on the farm. Take them for walks around the perimeter, to & fro' the chicken coop, etc. Once they feel comfortable on leash, that emergency trip to the vet won't be nearly as traumatic.
 
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