Sunday, June 25, 2017

Calming Solutions For Your LGD - Livestock Guardian Dog During Fourth of July Fireworks

Symptoms displayed by dogs with canine noise aversion

Canine Noise Aversion: Calming Solutions For Your
Livestock Guardian Dog 
During Fourth of July Fireworks

Brenda M. Negri
© 2017 All Rights Reserved

Independence Day is just around the corner.  Many Livestock Guardian Dog owners fret and dread it's approach.  Why?  Fireworks!  Does your LGD fear loud noises such as firecrackers, gun shots, thunder, construction racket, etc.?  Some of mine do and it is always traumatic.  They exhibit many of the symptoms in the illustration above.  Does your LGD do any of these, too?

"The fear and anxiety associated with noise is commonly called noise sensitivity, anxiety or phobia, depending upon the types and severity of clinical signs. Noise aversion is a term used to encompass the spectrum of degrees of fear and anxiety associated with noise." -- Zoetis US

What is canine noise aversion?  This excellent page will get you up to speed on that subject!

My wonderful and trusted vet Dr. Katie Estill at Desert Trails Vet Services in Winnemucca, Nevada prescribes using SILEO to help calm dogs who are exposed to stressful noise events.

SILEO helps to alleviate signs of noise aversion by:

  • Calming without sedating, so that the dog remains fully functional to interact normally with the family

  • Reducing the dog’s suffering and distress and, subsequently, the pet owner’s stress, helping to preserve the human-animal bond

More information about Sileo is here.  What else can the LGD owner do besides using Sileo?

💟Remove your working guardian dog from livestock and if possible, bring your LGD into the barn, house or an enclosed area during the Fourth of July fireworks.  Many LGDs run away never to return because owners leave them out in stock, assuming the dog will "tough it out" or "be okay".  In the morning, they are shocked to find their LGD has disappeared - usually for good.  Escaped LGDs are often hit by traffic and killed on a road while trying to escape from fireworks noise.

💟If possible stay with them.  Stroke them softly and speak in a calming, soft tone.
💟Offer a juicy meat bone or their favorite chew toy if they have one.  Make sure water is available.  Do they have a favorite blanket?  Let them lay on it.

💟If you can't stay with the dog at least check on him throughout the noisy part of the evening to make sure he is not trying to escape or dig out.  Your presence will help calm him.

💟Once the noise is over, make sure your LGD is settled and calm before putting him back in with livestock.  It's advisable to wait until morning.

💟Some people use or advocate "thunder shirts" which are fabric "coats" that can be fastened around the dog's torso to aid in calming him. carries many calming remedies in addition to the shirts.  Revival Animal sells other items as well that can assist in calming dogs, including one specifically to be used the day before ("July 3rd").  

Help make your LGD's Independence Day a "Yankee Doodle Dandy" - instead of a nightmare - by looking into calming remedies to help him if he has noise aversion!

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.


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

It's time to publicly name and 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

 Above: Mother Earth News blogger Jan Dohner regularly uses photos by Louise Liebenberg and promotes her "expertise" continuously.
Below: Cat Urbigkit promoting ridiculous yoke use in her "Shepherd" magazine.
Only lazy shepherds use yokes!

I refer to these three women as the "LGD Stepford Wives."
Urbigkit, Dohner and Liebenberg run together and regularly applaud and prop each other up.

I'm the rogue - I've never run with this crowd - and never will. No thank you...
Meanwhile, you tell me how a dog is supposed to eat, sleep and fend off predators using this?

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? Cat Urbigkit: 

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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). They go on to promote lazy shepherding by saying it's often "not possible" to have good fencing. Well maybe it's time the owner/operator rethought where he has put his fencing, and his stock!? And culling the dog is NOT the solution. This is just more band-aid mentality from an incompetent scholar-run experiment, promoting more bad management of LGDs.

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. Shame on Texas A&M. Shame on Cat Urbigkit and Louise Liebenberg and Jan Dohner for promoting yokes.

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 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.