Sunday, June 17, 2018

Calling Out "Littermate Syndrome": A Lie Promoted by Inept LGD Owners






My first five LGDs: Sibling Maremma/Anatolian brothers Pak and Pala
Three Great Pyrenees siblings brother and sisters Petra, Peso and Pinta
I've honestly lost count of how many siblings I have raised and kept here over the years 
but it's way up in the double digits, and I know looking at a video that I was going to put up on my fledgling You Tube Channel the other day, I counted five sibling pairs on my ranch in just that one video. 
I do it successfully. So can you.

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Munchausen syndrome, is a factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attentionsympathy, or reassurance to themselves. 


Apparently there are increasing numbers of inept, inexperienced, and what appears to be very lazy LGD owners lurking in many Facebook LGD forums these days afflicted with Munchausen syndrome, in that they all seem to think something called "Littermate Syndrome" really exists. 


It does not. 


"Littermate Syndrome" is a myth, concocted by a dog trainer who refused to take the time to try to understand sibling pups and couldn't train dogs. So he/she concocted up a "syndrome" label to use, to get themselves off the hook and put all the blame on a sibling pair of pups. 

The Internet by the way, is loaded with bloggers bemoaning "Littermate Syndrome." In fact there are so many blogs with "Littermate Syndrome" posts on them as to make you gag. 

The anti-sibling "Littermate Syndrome" rants are usually posted by "dog trainers" with many letters after their names (read my lips: usually a huge red flag.) In a few of them that I've read and replied and posted to, arguing against the anti-littermate BS, I have been flooded with Emails from people who read my side of the story and said "Hey wait just a minute now, this lady sounds like she's done it, and done it a lot, and done it really well, and she actually makes sense..." 

Uh huh. 

Well, after rearing up - let's see, is it 12? 13? 14? or more? sibling pairs of LGDs here - I kind of could almost say I wrote the book on running LGD siblings.

These anti-sibling people, instead of holding up a mirror to themselves and asking themselves why it is they can't raise and train and successfully run sibling LGDs, LGD owners instead point the finger at the dogs and use the excuse of "Littermate Syndrome" as to why they can't work.


Running siblings has been and always will be my specialty. I've done it successfully going on a decade, because it's the only way to go. And many, many of my customers have followed suit. And the ones that turned around and bred my dogs that they bought from me (for good or bad) in turn promoted using siblings to their customers. Well I'll be darned. So I guess I can say, I convinced, corrupted and/or ruined a lot of people for life. Funny thing is, they, and their own customers, don't have sibling pair issues with LGDs. 


So if they can do it, so can you. 

Stop listening to the wrong people. And you'll find those wrong people packed in most Facebook LGD groups. 

Just in the past 30 days, three separate consulting customers of mine with - you guessed it - sibling pairs of LGDs - contacted me for advice and support after they heard or read on these Facebook groups that they "screwed up" buying siblings (they didn't.) 

One informs me that worse yet, there are actually people in these Facebook groups encouraging people with sibling pairs to rehome one of the siblings so they don't "fight, play, or chase stock." If that don't beat all. Gads. Thank God they came to me before taking such bad advice from yahoos.

Meanwhile, all three consulting customer's sibling LGDs are going great. Beyond great. They are amazing their owners with their calm ability and guarding instinct, their keen interest in livestock, and as the millennial types like to say, are "rocking the guardian dog thing."

Folks, running LGDs in the right numbers is key to success. One of the quickest ways to effect strength in a dog pack is to purchase sibling pairs or trios of pups. This in turn, supports the family pack dynamic and - you know I'm going to say this because I'm working on my book and getting it done - it's The Way of The Pack.


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From five years ago, a short article I wrote for Goat Rancher Magazine on Siblings:

Running Sibling Pairs of LGDs: 
Twice the Protection in Half the Time

Brenda M. Negri ©Copyright 2013
The author and GOAT RANCHER MAGAZINE, 
published December, 2013
All Rights Reserved



Discussing running sibling pairs of Livestock Guardian Dogs often elicits moans and groans of trepidation and uncertainty from many, but I have had nothing but success running sibling pairs of both genders in my pack, and regularly recommend buying litter mates to my customers whether its from me or someone else.

Dogs are by nature, pack animals.  They thrive in the company of other dogs, and their complex pack hierarchy is passed on from parent to pup. Puppies in a litter naturally grow up together bonding to one another, and what they learn from their parents and litter mates in the first several weeks of life molds them for what they will be in the future.  

When you remove a pup from a litter anywhere from 8-12 weeks of age, he will naturally be frightened, confused, and insecure for the first several hours or days, depending on how he was raised.  When you take two siblings at the same time, however, there is less stress when separated from the litter and parents.  They still have each other to lean on, and this bond only becomes stronger.  They also continue the education of the pack and their other siblings, with each other.  There is a continuity in ongoing education that would not happen if the pup leaves by itself.

Not only have I had success running sibling pairs of LGD’s, my customers have too.  Laura Spindler who owns three pups of mine, was pulling up to her five acre ranch home in Battle Mountain, Nevada, when she saw the feral dog pack in her back field.  Somehow, a gate chain had been left unfastened, and there was a gap big enough to allow a roaming feral pack of pit bull cross dogs into her property.  To Laura’s horror, the pack of dogs were making a bee-line for her little Scotty dog.  And just past him, was her goat herd.

It so happened that morning Laura had taken Violet and Sele, her two half sibling LGD youngsters, with her in the car when she took her husband to work for some ‘car time training’.  Both 8 months old, half Spanish Mastiff, and Maremma and Anatolian, the two girls got wind of the wild dogs immediately.

“It was almost surreal”, Laura recalls. “They never made a sound.  They both bolted out of the car as soon as I opened the door, and headed straight for the dog pack.”

The lead dog was about to jump the Scottie when the two LGD pups “hit him like a freight train”, Spindler says.  The pack froze, then scattered, heading back for the open gate, including the large lead dog.

“But the girls had other plans for the leader,” she continued, “Sele grabbing a rear leg, and Violet his throat” and literally “drug him back through the fence into our field.”  The siblings proceeded to take the lead dog down, eventually snapping a rear leg, and sent him packing on three legs.  

“The dogs never came back after that.  And I swear, had I only one LGD, the story would have ended, I’m convinced, quite differently” Spindler says.  “I have seen how powerful a pair can be together, even at only 8 months of age, and I truly had twice the amount of protection in half the time compared to starting with just one pup.”

Many people claim that two pups raised up together will bond only to one another, and not to livestock.  This is simply not true, and I’ve never had that happen in all the sibling pairs that I’m running.  Good guardian dog pups from good, proven working stock will guard by instinct with plenty of guidance and correction and encouragement from their owners, with or without their siblings. 

Furthermore, as they progress and age, siblings present a much stronger deterrent to predators at a much earlier stage because there is indeed, strength in numbers.  Where as one pup could be viewed as an easy meal for a hungry coyote pack, two pups will present much more of a formidable challenge and threat.  As Laura Spindler found out, a team of pups can tackle much bigger problems than just one alone; what her young 8 month old pups accomplished fending off a feral dog pack is something that is usually done by much older, seasoned dogs.  Running siblings can be done successfully, and is something to consider especially for those experiencing heavy predator loads where one LGD simply is not enough.

Advantages:
§  Pups are already bonded to one another thus there is no time needed for introductions
§  Two LGD’s present a much more formidable obstacle to threats, predators and trespassers than one thus getting protection for your stock, sooner
§  Two siblings will back each other up: one will work while one rests; less stress on the dog means a healthier dog that lives and works longer for you
§  You get all the puppyhood training and ‘ups and downs’ over with in one fell swoop instead of stretching it out longer for two separately purchased pups
§  You can run two males, two females, or one of each sex together as sibling pairs