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!    ;)