If you’re considering investing in a livestock guardian dog there are some essential things to think about. Making an informed decision comes from asking questions, understanding your role, and having the ability to provide properly for your working dog. If your purchase was for a house pet you would give consideration to the size of the dog, how it fits into your household, and what your responsibilities to the dog are.
It’s no different when researching for a livestock guardian dog. Here are some common things that you should keep in mind when investing in a livestock guardian dog for your farm. Not just ANY dog is fit to be a LGD. There are breeds bred specifically for this purpose.
How Large Of An Area Do You Own?
Livestock guardian dogs will protect your animals beyond the pen, coop, or corral. Even if you have 10 acres fenced in your LGD may think it’s territorial boundary is beyond the fence. Know that the dog will roam to get to know the area it is protecting and it’s potential predators. LGD are usually large breed dogs and will require a good space to get adequate exercise while protecting your livestock.
What Type Of Livestock Will They Guard
A large variety of livestock can be protected by a livestock guardian dog. Some farmers raise chickens and use livestock guardian dogs to protect their hens, eggs, roosters, and brood houses. Cattle ranchers are known to have LGD’s and are able to rely on them to protect their stock while out to pasture, or housed in a cowshed. Your pigs, goats, sheep and other small farm animals can be better protected by having a livestock guardian dog. Understanding what you want them to protect will help you decide which breed is best for your farm’s investment.
Double Teaming Doubles Your Protection
If you have a large farm or a vast amount of livestock you might consider purchasing two livestock guardian puppies. As they grow and learn from training and experience, they will develop a level of teamwork between themselves. They will often times take turns being on guard and alternate periods of rest and nourishment. Livestock guard dogs are self-thinkers and can independently work out communication with your herd as well as with other working dogs you might have on your farm. Littermates that already have a bond can help to run your cattle more efficiently with a pair of protectors.
Do You Have Time and Patience For Proper Training
Your puppy will require time and patience while you train and socialize it. Bringing a new puppy home can be exciting but you must keep in mind the time it takes to train them properly and be willing to adequately give it to them. You will be introducing your puppy to many new and intimidating experiences. Being around the livestock might be frightening the first time around so you’ll want to start with smaller livestock, or with cows that are used to being directed by dogs.
Some people start training their guardian dogs as early as 3 months old. You can expect ongoing training possibly up to the 2-year mark before you have a dog that perfectly carries out its duties. You will need to teach basic direction commands, a stop command, and a callback command to get your dog to return to you. If you’re not confident in training the dog yourself you alternatively could hire a trainer referred by your choice of breeder.
Good Breeding Makes A Huge Difference In Quality
Just like your livestock dogs are bred for specific reasons other than just making a profit from a sale. When thinking of quality in dog breeding think overall body structure of the dog, the characteristics you’re looking for in regards to the dog’s job role, and knowledge of related health concerns that may arise. Proof from the breeder of guardian dogs they’ve sold working in the capacity they were bred for is a good sign you’re working with a reliable breeder. There are some things you can ask and observe to make your decision to invest in a livestock guardian dog a great one.
When looking for a LGD breeder there are many things to consider than merely the price. Expect a well-bred livestock guardian dog to be pricey, vetted, and a fine example of its breed and capabilities of functioning well as a trusted sentry for your livestock. It is wise to communicate with more than one breeder and to ask them for references from previous buyers. Follow up with the references to ensure overall health guarantees and possible training issues you might run into. Each dog has a unique personality just like humans, but asking questions about related dogs can give you a better idea of what your adult dog will be like.