Thursday, June 15, 2017

Successful LGD Ownership & Use: Livestock Guardian Dog Training Basics

Patience, Compassion, Respect, Trust and Consistency
are the Foundations of a Successful Relationship between the Shepherd and his LGDs


©2017 Brenda M. Negri



Patience do not expect too much, too soon and give the pup time to mature

Compassiondo not use harsh or cruel training methods or gadgets 

Respect respect shown to your dog will be returned

Trustallow the pup to show you what he is capable of doing

Consistencydogs, like people, appreciate a routine and a level of predictability


In an article I wrote for Dairy Goat Journal I go into detail and give examples of the above-referenced five "rules" I have set for successfully understanding, training, living with and using Livestock Guardian Dogs.

I am routinely bashed and badmouthed by many jealous people in the Livestock Guardian Dog community on the Internet.  Do you want to know why?  I can tell you.  These are people who resent the fact that someone without a Ph.D has come along and managed to succeed if not excel (if not surpass them) in successfully training, understanding and using these dogs, without all the "socially accepted bells and whistles".  How dare I, a "nobody" former buckaroo in Nevada, be articulate and intelligent when speaking about these dogs, and succeed without belonging to their little "politically correct LGD cabals"?  The funny part is over several years I've even caught some of these people plagiarizing my work.  You don't say?! No surprises there, really. To add insult to injury I am someone who has furthermore, trained many other people in how they too, can succeed with their LGDs.  Why, the nerve of me!

The training and way I promote runs so counter to what others promote in America (and in some instances, other countries as well), that it stands out like a sore thumb.  I'm accustomed to the bad mouthing, the jealousy and the "haters", and shrug it off.  I really don't care what they say or think about me - all I care about are the dogs, and helping people understand them better and use them with respect and compassion.

Let's Look at Compassion

The regular use of cruel contraptions and gizmos such as hurtful shock collars, "E" collars, "yokes", chaining a dog to a huge, heavy tire, lack of socialization, and more, has increased in America no thanks to bad advice being shelled out by people who are more or less, incompetent as dog trainers and afraid of their dogs - and fit my description of a lazy shepherd.

Fear of the loss of control and the unknown, drives people to use cruel and stupid "quick fix" solutions instead of patient, compassionate training over a longer period of time.  It seems asking for compassion for LGDs is too much for some people, which boggles my mind.  What is wrong with them?

When I see self-touting American LGD "experts" prescribing to running feral LGDs, not speaking out against someone who allows his female dog to whelp out in the wilderness, promoting high risk and bad rearing practices, or stuffing two tiny underaged LGD pups into one airline crate to suffer on a long flight out of the country into the USA, and more, it makes me very sad, and very angry.  Thankfully I am not alone. Many people are afraid to speak out against this kind of foolery but often privately contact me via E mail to tell me I'm not the only one fed up with this kind of cruel and unfeeling rearing of these great dogs. Others "dare" to say it publicly:

I think there are more people on your side than you would think, they just do not find it the right moment to speak I guess. I know clearly I can be beaten for what I write here, but what the heck, I'm to old to care. --Facebook post on my Cinco Deseos Ranch page

And...ha - this just in via E-mail:  

Hi, I just read your latest blog post and the five "rules".  I confess.  I'm one of your silent supporters.  I don't dare utter your name and praise you in the same sentence on the two LGD groups I lurk in on FacebookI'd be crucified.  But I live for your blog posts.  Once again, you hit the nail on the head!  
--LGD loving goat owner fan,  "JKS"
 
The bottom line?  What does it take to treat a dog kindly, folks?  And when did it become socially acceptable to mistreat these great working dogs so much in America?  What does it say about the people practicing these cruel methods?  Not much that is kind.


Let's Look at Trust

Many people are afraid of their LGDs.  How a person can tell this is by the amount of control they exert, or want to exert, over the dog's every move and thought.  Why is this?  It is simple.  It is because they are afraid to trust their dogs.  

A relationship with an LGD without trust is an exercise in futility and a recipe for eventual disaster.  These dogs are smart.  They can sense fear in a human, and they can sense when they are not trusted.  When I see a misguided "LGD trainer" micromanaging every move her LGD makes going through a gate in a video, I know, here is another control freak, a person who is afraid to trust her dog.

What is so hard to let a dog show you what they are capable of on their own?  I only need to raise my palm out to my pack of dogs at my front gate and make my "Mr. Miyagi grunt" to them, and they stop, and go no further.  They know what that means because they have been taught it from puppyhood.   Likewise, I don't panic if my 200 pound male Spanish Mastiff pushes ahead of me through a gate before I go through.  He is passing from the known into the unknown and wants to be first to ensure there is no threat in front of me, or him. What is so difficult about understanding that?  Or looking at it that way?  Apparently for many, it's next to impossible!

Let's Look at Patience

Rome was not built in a day but you'd never know it with many LGD owners who expect miracles from tiny puppies, then toss hands in air when they don't get them.  People need to slow down with LGDs.  Sadly in our culture we get everything instantly and expect the same from the dogs.  It does not work that way. If you cannot be patient, consider building a wall to keep predators out or using other means instead of an LGD, and don't ruin a dog's life.

Let's Look at Consistency

Life is full of surprises but we all appreciate some predictability in our lives.  Dogs are the same.   My LGDs thrive on a routine and although it varies some, there is a consistency to it that promotes a calm knowing in my pack that "all is well".  It can be as simple as a feeding schedule or a routine grooming, foot and nail check.  Tossing a wrench into a dog's life everyday only fosters confusion and distrust.  Exercising consistency in training methods, feeding, scheduling pasture changes or relocations, etc., can foster trust and promote a happier pack of LGDs.  Before you scoff, try it.

Let's Look at Respect

Is it respectful to toss a dog out in stock and walk off with no time spent helping the dog to adjust to his new livestock and surroundings?  Of course it is not.  Is it respectful smacking a dog across it's face to reprimand it?  Definitely not.  Does an owner show respect to his LGD by causing it to go hungry by underfeeding it or not setting up a shelter or feeding station so the dog can have protected access to food instead of having goats or sheep gobble it all up?  No he does not.

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It does not take much effort to exercise or show any of these five "rules" of mine to having a great, meaningful and successful relationship with your LGD.  Give it a try for a change, and enjoy the results.  Your secret is safe with me.  I won't tell anyone you dared to use "Brenda Negri's way" instead of the other people's ways!    ;) 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

LGD YOKES: Say NO to the Use of Cruel Contraptions on Livestock Guardian Dogs

Enough is Enough: Where's the outrage, people?
It's time to publicly shame lazy shepherds, academics and researchers who are using and advocating the use of these and other cruel devices on Livestock Guardian Dogs.

© Brenda M. Negri 2017

 Mother Earth News blogger Jan Dohner regularly uses photos by this woman and promotes her.  But you won't find her posting this photo on her blog because she would rather you didn't see it.  It kind of blows a huge hole in her credibility - and that of the woman who took the photo and uses 
these on her dogs in Canada.

I can't be alone in my cryptic observation: with the increased popularity of LGDs and their use has come a huge increase in lazy shepherds looking for the easy way out, and the use of yokes, such as the sickening contraption pictured above and below, is on the rise.  Have you noticed it, too? People who expect Livestock Guardian Dogs to be a quick fix-all for their predator problems, with minimal or next to no input or work on their end.  They don't "have the time" to try to understand these dogs, they just want a quick plug in solution to any problem or issue that arises using them.

Pandemic, it crosses all national boundaries. USA, Canada, Europe, and more.  Is it a product of the times we live in?  Do we blame it on the new generation of hobby farmers and trust funded baby pseudo ranchers with silver spoons sticking out of their mouths?  Since when did it become popular to torture and abuse a dog?  Since when did all these morally bereft, lazy people enter the agriculture, farming and ranching community?  

And just as disturbing: since when did the rest of us, i.e., the general public lose it's "cajones" to call these kind of people out on the carpet and publicly shame them for what they are doing?



Where is the outrage on Facebook LGD groups and Internet forums? There is none, because many of these yoke-promoting  people are part of the online, often Facebook-fueled, unprofessional, corny "Stepford Wives LGD Mafia" that lives online.  They are mostly made up of women, endlessly pontificating about how much they think they know, and stroking and promoting their fellow female members in amateurish mini-films and You Tubes filled with ill mannered screaming toddlers, obnoxious music, incredibly bad training advice, inarticulate presentations and photo bombing chickens.  A group of know it alls who are legends in their own minds and perpetually running online interference for each other against any criticisms or attacks.  I'm proud to say I never belonged to their goofy and amateurish "cabal." I even catch some of their "Mafia" members trolling on my website.  Guess who this one is?: 



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Do I want to run with people like these predator bashing and hating, LGD abuse promoting women?  

No thank you!

I prefer to reach out to and teach the serious, sincere, compassionate LGD user, the thinking farmer and rancher, who is not basing their efforts on public accolades and a popularity rating, who want to really understand these dogs and develop a relationship with them - not just use them like a hammer or a saw.  

The people advocating the use of "yokes" do not seem to realize that an LGD cannot defend itself, let alone it's flock or herd, against a pack of coyotes, feral dogs, wolves, a bear or a mountain lion, wearing one of these constraining, ridiculous contraptions.  But maybe they simply do not care?

The advocacy of yokes amongst the lazy has become so bad that even the recent Texas A&M LGD research and study advocated the use of yokes in the manual they produced (which is about what I would expect from this poor caliber of a study that was an exercise in how not to use LGDs - not the hyped success they want you to believe it was): 

Why do people do this?  Because they want a quick fix.  Why do you see people on forums complaining about an aggressive dog they have muzzled, shock collared and crated for years into a psychotic hot mess?  Because they are ignorant.  Because they are lazy.  Because they are detached from their dogs.  Because they have no intention of trying to understand their dogs, and only want a gadget that will save them from any effort or work.

LGDs are not a quick fix to anything.  And yokes, and this kind of result from putting a dog in those yokes, is unacceptable.  Period.




Liebenberg yoke on one of her dogs.

Aftermath of a Liebenberg dog getting trapped in a fence.

Shame on you, Louise Liebenberg!
"About Liebenberg, I can say one thing, she was last year in Europe doing some "lgd seminars", a friend of mine was going to one of those seminars and one moment she stated that she selected her puppies by chosing the most food aggressive ones and rejecting the others because those food aggressive ones behave later as the best flock guardians.....to me a very simple and silly way of doing aside of that wooden stick martyr collar and other stupidities." - European LGD owner






All above: NOT the solution, NOT the right way to train and use LGDs.

The compassionate, thinking shepherd's alternative: Good, strong fences.  Hands-on, regular check ups on stock and attentive shepherding by owners who participate, not procrastinate.  Daily - not every two weeks! - checks on sheep, goats, cattle and working LGDs.  Training that is patient, long term, consistent and recognition that there are no fast remedies to anything.  Proactive and vigorous use of other predator deterrents, such as fladry, range riders, noise makers, hot wire fencing, etc., in addition to LGDs.  Proactive measures and compassionate approaches that spare LGDs misery, and promote non-lethal predator control and deterrents.  These are the hallmarks of a responsible, good rancher, farmer, shepherd, and LGD owner/operator.  Please endeavor to be one.




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Livestock Guardian Dog Feeding Station

Livestock Guardian Dog Feeding Station

A Texas Cinco Deseos Ranch customer constructs a sturdy structure that keeps goats out 
and her LGD's dog food pest free, dry and available 24/7

© 2017 Brenda M. Negri




 A top notch job: my Texas LGD customer completing her LGD feeding station.  Quality work and materials ensured this station will live a long and productive life allowing her hard working LGDs safe access 24/7 to food.  This station allows her dogs to eat even when she is not there to feed them.


Goats will eat just about anything, and that includes your LGD's valuable dog food.  Not all operations are set up or able to leave dog food out 24/7 for their hard working guardians.  Too many operators often assume their dogs are getting enough food when in reality, their goats are stealing it. 

A hungry LGD soon has other things on his mind other than protecting his goats: namely, survival and food to quell his hunger.  Don't let this happen to your dog.

A customer of mine in Texas found a solution in constructing a sturdy, raised and covered station that keeps her large commercial goat herd out, while allowing her four Cinco Deseos Ranch bred LGDs access to their food under a canopy that provides shade and protection from sun and rain.  The unique triangle entry door keeps goats out while allowing her large dogs access to the food.  The raised floor makes for sturdy footing and a repellant to insects. The photos show you the construction of this elegant, sturdy yet relatively simple plan that has worked well for her in heavy brush and predator load country.  

Unique inverted triangle allows her large Spanish Mastiff cross LGDs access to food, but foils goats.
The no-climb type field fencing with small holes keeps out large varmints such as raccoons and rabbits, and feral hogs cannot access the food.

Raised floor keeps insects, dirt and mud out.
A first rate job that has paid off!





Saturday, May 27, 2017

Quick Fix For Lazy Shepherds: Texas Livestock Guardian Dog Study a Study in How Not To Run LGDs

Instead of focusing on responsible shepherd training, using safe dogs that can be caught and handled and run in appropriate numbers, the researchers at Texas A & M University went the easy route - and in doing so, flunked out.  A  few successes didn't negate the severity of the failures, and as usual, the poor dogs paid for it in the end - this always happens when someone demeans them and treats them like disposable tools without proper risk management, respect or compassion. 

©Brenda M. Negri




The results are in from Texas A&M's LGD experiment, and overall, in spite of what their gushing press releases to Texas newspapers may be crowing, they aren't pretty.

If you've time to burn - it'll take you about an hour to really comb through all the results - then pour yourself a stiff, cool drink (make it a double), sit down and read all the results.  Some of the descriptions honestly, are stomach turning in terms of what happened to the poor dogs.  Granted, on what sounded like smaller, well fenced operations, there were some successes.  A couple of ranchers indicated they'd like to try it again.  But.  With changes.  Lots of changes.

But overall?  The results were dismal, at best.  They could have done so much better.  Ah, but this is academia!  They can basically spend lots of money just to tell most of us what we already knew.

Of course these dogs can work.  But you need to know how to run them right.

You also need to be able to safely catch and handle your dogs.  Apparently that one got by them.  The breeder they chose is infamous for rearing hands-off, nearly feral dogs.

Successful LGD use entails BIG participation and commitment from an owner who will show up more than the one participating rancher did - only once every two weeks, on 5,000 acres.  Good God, man!

An addendum:  I sadly noted they took a cruel, lazy shepherd cue from Canadian Louise Liebenberg and advocated the ridiculous use of cumbersome PVC pipes affixed to a dog's neck.  When I read that, it sealed it for me: epic fail.  Ironic how someone like Louise can blatantly mistreat LGDs yet get certified as being "predator friendly", isn't it?

Here's my Facebook response below to both of the gentlemen behind this experiment.  I also sent it via E mail.  Another respected LGD breeder also contacted them and chastised them for their flawed experiment.

Of course they never responded to me, or to her.  And I may have caught them slightly plagiarizing copyrighted material, no less.

Maybe they're making out like Donald Trump, and lawyering up.

Or maybe the Russians were behind this…..ya think?  (wink wink wink)

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Cinco Deseos Ranch Livestock Guardian Dogs commented on an article.


There are two crucial factors that your study/experiment failed on – actually, more than that. But the two biggest “epic fails”:

The importance of socializing and handling LGDs, and running them in the appropriate numbers.


My paper on running LGDs in the correct numbers was published by sheep! MAGAZINE in their May/June 2013 issue. http://spanishmastiff.blogspot.com/…/the-numbers-game-guard… It was the first article ever written to solely discuss and give advice on how to figure out the right number of LGDs to run on an operation. A shame you didn’t avail yourself to it and use the valuable advice I gave.
Upon reading your study I can advise you that most of your operators were severely under dogged. Only two dogs on a combo of 5,000 acres? No. The “two dogs per 1,000 head of sheep” rule is archaic and out of date and does not hold water. In Spain herders sometimes run 12-15 dogs. They also stay with flocks, and suffer minimal if no losses. They responsibly participate. They are hands on. The description of some of these Texas operations sounds as if they just dump sheep out in the wild, close a gate and walk away. No wonder their lamb crops are so dismal. Poor stock management at it’s best.

 Secondly and just as important is the ability to safely handle, catch and interact with LGDs. I know who you bought your dogs from; 5R and I actually share clients in common. Unlike my operation, 5R does not socialize their pups and they are typically frightened, unstable, feral acting, skittish and cannot be handled or caught. And you chose him? Well, that's part of why your study is a failure: http://spanishmastiff.blogspot.com/…/why-so-many-lgd-owners…

http://spanishmastiff.blogspot.com/search… This paper I wrote was published in sheep! Magazine in 2015. That you bought dogs from a breeder who practices the now very strongly frowned upon “hands off” type of rearing, almost sounds as if you were setting this up to fail. Again, what were you thinking? Or were you?

You also mentioned the Working Dog Liabilty Insurance program in a press release about one of your seminars in May. The American Sheep Industry owned insurance companies hired me as an LGD consultant to help develop and implement that program and I wrote the Loss Prevention Manuals for it. I gather you didn’t read them, or if you did, the advice didn’t click. Too bad. https://workingdogliabilityinsurancedotcom.wordpress.com

Unfortunately, your operators who participated are also “hands off”. What I mean by that is they are never there. Checking on sheep and dogs every two weeks is hardly effective shepherding nor is it prudent in predator country, and thus I was not surprised to learn that the dogs were in poor condition, underfed and hungry, eating lambs, leaving the area, disappearing, trespassing onto other’s properties (which begs the question, why wasn’t good fencing made one of the requisites of LGD ownership?). This is not how these dogs are meant to be used. They are not a hammer or saw. They are living animals that require care and responsible management.

You are trying to turn them into a ‘quick fix for lazy shepherds’.

In short: your study broke no new ground in the LGD world, and only served to further exemplify what happens when these dogs are not run correctly by incompetent handlers in not enough numbers. Perhaps you will think about approaching other sources for dogs and advice in the future, obtain help from someone who runs these dogs correctly. Do it right or stick to studying goats and sheep – when it comes to knowing what you are doing with Guardian Dogs, obviously you are turning to the wrong sources for basing your methods and methodology on. I pity the poor dogs used in this project.

---- Brenda M. Negri Cinco Deseos Ranch Livestock Guardian Dogs, Winnemucca, Nevada www.lgdnevada.com











Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Using Herding and Livestock Guardian Dogs Together




Using Herding and Guardian Dogs Together
Simple Guidelines to Build a Great Team


Copyright 2015 Brenda M. Negri

Sheep! Magazine
July/August 2015 


Many stockmen rely on both herding dogs and Livestock Guardian Dogs to help them in their day to day operations.  A frequent question heard from many is “How do I run and use them both together?  Won’t it cause problems?”  It can be done.  Much of your success or difficulties will stem from the upbringing, quality and background of the dogs used, in combination with your willingness to be patient and committed, and understanding the differences between these two types of dogs.

Livestock Guardian Dogs are by nature, protectors.  They do not tolerate any stray dogs, predators or anything that could potentially harm their flocks and herds.  They guard livestock.  They don’t herd it, move it or ‘work’ it. In fact, any type of ‘prey drive’ or an urge to chase livestock, is considered a glaring fault in a LGD, and is never encouraged.  They mingle calmly within the stock, lying within a flock, or patrolling the fence line for trouble.  They watch the perimeter for threats and tenderly nurture lambs and goat kids.  Although occasionally some LGDs may try to help move stock, it is not their true purpose or trait.  Gentle giants, they are there to keep your livestock alive and safe, not relocate it.

Herding breeds on the other hand, do just that: they move livestock for their handler from one pasture, field or pen to another.  Sometimes the move can be miles.  They typically crouch low, show “eye” or very focused eye contact with the stock, and stalk it, moving when directed by the handler, and pushing the sheep, goats or cattle where directed.  With cattle, the dogs may stay behind the herd nipping at its heels moving it over several acres or miles on a drive.  Herding dogs are typically very active, high energy, in some cases extremely intense and of a nervous nature, and happiest when hard at work.

This type of latter behavior, when seen by a working LGD, is perceived to be a threat to his stock. And who can blame him?  For it appears as though the herding dog may be stalking his sheep, in preparation to pounce on them and inflict harm.

So how do you mix these two diverse types of dogs?  Some simple suggestions and guidelines follow.

 Herding dogs should never be worked in a flock or herd when the LGDs are present and “on duty”.  LGDs can easily kill a much smaller herding breed, and will - if they perceive the herders as a threat.  So before using the herders, keep them kenneled up, in a trailer or in your truck.

 Before you release any herding dogs, remove the LGDs from the flock.  Lock them up in a barn or horse trailer, where they preferably cannot have any visuals of the herding dogs in the sheep or goats.  Treating them with a big soup bone is a way to ease their stress over being removed from their job and can assist in calming them so they don’t tear your barn down trying to return to the flock.

Once all your moving or sorting of stock is done, put your herding dogs back up in their kennels, trailer or truck, out of sight of the LGDs.  Then you can release your LGDs back into the herd.

Can you rear them up from puppyhood together so that they get along?  Yes - with patience and by setting some simple rules.  Many folks successfully mingle their herding and LGD dogs outside of the livestock.  It can definitely be done if the dogs have been raised together and have tolerance of each other.  Just don’t mix play or “down time” with work. 

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COMMON SENSE, TRIED AND TRUE TIPS:

*** If raised from puppyhood together, make sure you train them separately.  LGDs are bred to be calm, quiet, protectors with good judgment.  They are not supposed to be hyperactive and chasing lambs. You do NOT want an LGD with prey drive or "eye".
***When you spend time with your LGD pups in the flock, make sure the focus is on them being calm and comfortable with the livestock.  Drag a chair in there, sit down and relax as you praise good behavior and correct undesired behavior.  The pups will pick up on your calm state and mirror this.  That’s what you want!
***Keep the herding pups out of sight - again, penning them up in another area, away from the stock.  Again, a juicy soup bone can be a “miracle worker” with pups, and  keeps them content and quiet while you are schooling your LGD pups.
***Likewise when it is training time for the herders, remove the LGD pups from the area and keep them out of sight and if possible hearing range as well, as you work your herder pup on his or her verbal and hand cues and commands.
***Once lessons are done, bring the herders out of the stock.  Once outside of the stock the two sets of pups can again mingle and play.

Many people have success with their LGDs living peaceably alongside their herders as long as boundaries are set and some simple rules are followed and reinforced by you with consistency and respect.  And of course, you are an integral part of this training process.  This does not happen on its own - it takes patience and consistency on your part.  Set up a schedule each day, and do your puppy drills.  Dogs are like people: they like comfort and consistency in their lives, too. Don’t ask more than these dogs can give. Don’t expect your Kelpie to protect your flock from coyotes because they can’t.  Don’t press your Great Pyrenees to play herder: it’s not their role.  Respect the purpose and roles each type of dog has, and you’ll be rewarded in the long run with a great team of workers who help you move your stock when needed, and keep them safe.


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Partial List of Recognized Herding Dog Breeds
Border Collie
Australian Kelpie (Kelpie or Barb)
McNab
Pembroke Welsh Corgi (Pembroke, Corgi)
Australian Queensland Heeler (Red/Blue Queensland Heeler, Australian Cattle Dog)
Catahoula Leopard Dog (Catahoula Cur, Catahoula Hog Dog)
Black Mouthed Cur
Old English Sheepdog
Australian Shepherd (Aussie)
Belgian Tehurven (Chien de Berger Belge)

Partial List of Recognized Livestock Guardian Dog Breeds

Great Pyrenees (Pyrenean Mountain Dog)
Akbash (Akbas)
Anatolian Shepherd
Spanish Mastiff (Mastin Espanol)
Tibetan Mastiff (Do-Khyi)
Pyrenean Mastiff (Mastin de los Pirineos)
Komodor
Turkish Kangal (Kangal Copegi)
Kuvasz
Maremma (Il Pastore Maremmano Abruzzese)
Polish Tatra Sheepdog (Polski Owczarek Podhalanski)
Central Asian Ovcharka
Caucasian Asian Ovcharka (CAO)
Bukovina Shepherd
Karakachan (Bulgarian Shepherd Dog)
Sarplaninac (Illyrian Sheepdog)
Tornjak (Hrvatski Ovcar)
South Russian Ovcharka
Armenian Gampr
Carpathian Shepherd
Cao de Gado Transmontano
Estrela Mountain Dog
Central Asian Shepherd
Slovak Cuvac (Slovensky Cuvac)
Sage Koochee
Rafeiro do Alentejo (Portuguese Watch Dog)
Mioritic Sheepdog
Karst Shepherd (Kraski Ovcar)
Greek Sheepdog
Kars Dog
Cao de Castro Laboreiro (Portuguese Cattle Dog)