February 13, 2012

I'm Not A Dog Person, But.....

[CLARIFICATION: The post title is in no way meant to convey that we do not like dogs. It simply means that for pets, we prefer cats. :) ]

A few days ago, I happened out onto the back porch and my attention was immediately drawn to a chicken fuss. I looked, and saw a brown animal running behind the bushes. Thinking it must be Billy, our wether, I wondered why he was running around like that. Then I saw it run the other direction. Of course I had to investigate and quickly realized it was in fact a big brown dog. It was in the buck area, chasing chickens. The boys were trying to hide in the undergrowth of trees.

I took off running, wondering what I could grab to fend it off, throw at it, or use to clobber the living daylights out of it. Dan keeps a rifle and a handgun in the house, but I've only had lessons once and and at that moment, regretted not insisting on regular practice. I definitely would have shot that dog. As it was, I grabbed an old bed rail that was in use to hold down tarps.

I was fighting mad by the time I got there. When the dog saw me, it ran to the opposite corner of the fence. The goats came to me when I called and I let them out the back gate. As I stomped toward the front, hefting my mighty bed rail, the dog watched from his corner. At the front gate I called the chickens, who came running too. I shooed them out the front gate, and the dog was trapped in the buck pasture by himself.

I looked at him. He looked at me. He looked just like my next door neighbor's dog, except they keep their dog collared and on a chain when he's outside. This dog had no collar. I decided my best course of action was to call animal control. As I scanned the area to reassure myself that the dog was fenced in alone, he turned, hooked his front paws over the top of the fence, and hoisted himself up and over to the other side. This is a 4 foot fence, and I've never seen a dog do that. I watched it run around the trees and into the next door neighbor's yard and onto their porch. It was mid morning and no one was at home.

I went to do a check on the goats and count beaks. The boys (especially Billy) were upset but fine. Of the chickens I could only account for 11. I went back to the buck pasture for another look, and saw that the dog had come back and was standing on the other side of the fence. He took off when I yelled. Next I walked the perimeter of the front pasture. My neighbor from across the street came over to tell me he had seen the whole thing, if I needed a witness.

I found a couple scatterings of feathers on the ground, but couldn't find the missing chicken. I spent the rest of the day outside, keeping watch. The dog paced his own yard and ran around in the luxury of his freedom. Dan got home about the same time the dog's owners did, and he went to talk to them. Fortunately they were apologetic rather than defensive. They have been responsible with this dog and we realize it was an accident. Still, accidents can result in dead livestock, because unless a dog is bred for working with livestock, it will (no matter how nice, well trained, or sweet) chase down small livestock to the death. It's not necessarily malicious, but instinctive, because dogs are after all, predators by heredity.

Dan and I had a long talk that night, which resulted in taking a course of action we had discussed previously, but not pursued until now. Meet Kris ...

This is the photo that was linked to the ad.

He's a 7 week old Bernese, Pyrenees, Anatolian mix. His father is a registered Bernese Mountain Dog, and his mama is a 50/50 mix of Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd. All three of these breeds are classified as working dogs, the Pyrenees and Anatolians bred specifically as livestock guardian dogs (LGDs). Bernese Mountain Dogs are used extensively in Europe and some places in the US as general purpose farm dogs.

We've been thinking about getting a dog for a long time, ever since Charlie (my llama) died. We've been told that at one time, there were coyotes, bobcats, and black bears in the area, but no one has seen any of these in over a decade. Our current predatory problems are stray dogs and hawks, deer too, if one considers how well they prey on the garden. Since our acreage is small, I don't necessarily need a guardian to stick to the goats like glue, but we do need a dog that we can trust with our livestock, will live with the goats, and has strong guarding instincts for the property in general.

I am hoping that this will be a good genetic mix for us.  Genetic instincts seem to be key, and cannot be trained into or out of an animal. Purebreds are way out of our price range, so breed mix was something I considered carefully. It was also important that both this puppy's parents worked with livestock. Personality is a factor too, but this would be harder (for me at least) to discern with a puppy.

Neither Dan nor I have had dogs around since we were kids. Still, this seems to be a necessary addition to our homestead.

What, is that

Introductions were supervised

The chickens kept their distance

Cattle panels make a great puppy yard, both for their sake & his.

My missing chicken eventually showed up at the coop, Billy remained skittish for several days, and we haven't seen the neighbor's dog since.

50 comments:

  1. I have 1 neighbor that has been my biggest problem, since he has proven time and time again that, to him, dogs are disposable pets that do not need any supervision. One winter he had 2 large mutts that decided that it was fun to harass my sheep and goats, 1 on his property, 1 on mine. They never got in with my animals, but the stress caused several to abort. I wish dog owners understood the damage their animal can cause without laying tooth into livestock, especially sheep. A single incident can ruin a fleece (causes a break), and the ewes can lose pregnancies up to a month later. Glad your beasties are all ok, and good luck with your LGD.

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  2. Good luck with the newest member of the clan:) He is beautiful! I will be curious to see what methods you use to train him.

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  3. Well cute as a bug! I know he's destined to be working dog, but hoping you two fall in love with him too. You'll all benefit. I have no experience with LGD but with training yes, and if you love an animal they know it, just as they know it when you don't. Genetics play a huge role, but it's up to you two to make sure those genetics are shaped properly. I'm just wondering why you didn't go back to another llama or maybe even a donkey or a pair of geese, all excellent guardian animals for a small
    homestead without any canine experience.

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  4. Awww...

    Don't forget the saddle and tack, and to budget for a 50 lb bag of Puppy Chow every other day ;-)

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  5. Puppy are so cute, then they grow up learn to talk, and talk back, eat you out of house and home...my bad I was thinking of my kids....LOL I hope all goes well with him.

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  6. Wonderful! I think he's an excellent addition. We have two dogs, both mixed breed that we rescued as puppies. I believe any breed can be trained to be a good guardian. Mine are excellent around the chickens, and I do think having a dog helps keep other predators at bay, with all the marking the dogs do around the property. Our leadership style was highly influenced by the book, "Cesars's Way" by Cesar Milan. He had (probably still has!) a show on The National Geographic channel as well. It looks like your new pup is right at home with you and the other animals :)
    -Jaime

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  7. Leigh, He is so cute! He looks like he wants to get into some mischief! lol

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  8. Chris is the cutest thing I've seen in a while.

    Reminds me - we need to get a puppy too - but I wouldn't go for anything that big LOL

    Happiness, they say, is a new puppy. Hope he brings lots of love to your home.

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  9. Oh Sue, that is a problem. I feel very fortunate our current neighbors are responsible with their dogs, but it's a rental house so people come and go all the time. Previous problems have been their kids wanting to pet and feed the goats, throwing things over the fence, and damaging the fence in general. A privacy fence is out of our price range. I'm currently thinking of planting bamboo!

    Stephanie thanks! I've been spending a lot of time researching the training of farm and LG dogs. There seem to be 2 schools of thought, one of which is now considered outdated. The older method was to turn them in with the stock and minimize human contact. The theory was it would make them bond with the animals rather than humans. No responsible breeder or trainer uses that method any more, and in fact considers it more harmful than helpful. I do think there's much to be said for common sense, understanding the nature of the animal, and establishing routines early. Right now he has his own stall in the goat shed plus the puppy paddock, gets walked around the perimeter of the fence every two hours (1st time on a leash), is learning "down" and "come," and is getting lots of love.

    Theresa, actually, I really wanted another llama instead of a dog, but Dan took Charlie's death pretty hard and didn't want another. He would love a donkey! We live in fairly close proximity to other houses though, and I was afraid a braying donkey or fussing geese would be a tad more than they would be willing to put up with. I suspect the rooster is about the limit. :)

    Rusty, I'm laughing at your comment but now it's so true!!!!

    Rob, kids and puppies do fall into similar categories, LOL. I'd add goat kids to that list as well. :)

    Jaime, thanks for the book recommendation. I may even be able to find that one at our county library!

    Clint, thanks! He's a real sweetie. :)

    Dani, a smaller dog would have been nice! We considered breed before size though, and most of the livestock breeds (and breed mixes) in our area are huge. So, that's what we ended up with. :)

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  10. We've had dog problems here, too. After we first moved in, the dog who is tied up all the time across the street got loose and attacked the geese. Ginger still can't pick up her wing, and probably never will.

    Recently, two strays from out of nowhere killed a chicken and fought with our roosters. So far dogs have been the biggest menace to our farmstead, no wildlife coming anywhere near as destructive. I bought a gun, and toyed with the idea of a protective dog. I hope your little guy works out for you. That puppy is adorable!

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  11. Oh, he is adorable. Hopefully he will help with the problem. We've also found that having our dog around helps deter deer from the garden as well.
    Judy

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  12. I think the mixed working breed will be fine. My shepherd friend uses Great Pyr/Marmora crosses as her sheep guard dogs and has great success. They are dedicated to their sheep yet friendly to people. Your pup sure is a cutie!

    Our neighbour's dogs are wanderers. However they seem to really spend their time chasing away predators. The one was worrying our chooks when they were on the other side of the fence, w but a simple holler out to her, stopped it. All has been good since. Now we do have coyotes, coons, etc in this area, a lot of them. I don't mind the wandering neighbourhood guard dogs to help keep them away.

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  13. Kris is beautiful and I'm sure your place will keep this working breed plenty busy. When I have had dogs, they've always been BIG working breeds because they're smart, tend to be the most friendly, and least vocal. I also don't mind a daily run :) A gentle hand a lots of treats will make for fast training with a Bernese.

    Oh, get a good quality brush cause when this guy blows coat you're going to think he morphed into a buffalo! You're a fiber artist..collect it and make a couple california-king blankets :p

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  14. My best weapon was a slingshot for pests-just a ping in the butt & they never came back. That and yelling like a maniac haha.
    Yep, you will have lots of fiber to work with lol!

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  15. Jocelyn, oh dear. I reckon that nixes geese for guardians. Maybe you could try Peaceful's suggestion, a sling shot. Dan actually uses this more than a gun and it works just as well without damaging the dog.

    Judy, thanks! I'm hoping Kris will help with the deer problem too.

    Nina, thank you for that! Seems some dogs, like the Prys, are natural wanderers. I read they are mostly nocturnal, and excellent hunters themselves. Hopefully Kris though, will stay put. :)

    A, Wright, thanks! Seems like all the working breeds are big. I will definitely collect his winter down coat! Thanks for the heads up. :)

    Peaceful, you know, Dan keeps a sling shot handy too, but that one never occurred to me. He uses it more than either of the guns actually. Maybe that's what I need to take practice on! :)

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  16. Don't do bamboo, Leigh! It's too invasive..unless the goats will eat it and keep it in check. Plant cedars instead. Our neighbor behind us planted some 3' tall cedar bushes 5 yrs ago and those suckers are 30' tall now. Great for privacy. (Might keep the kids out but it still won't stop a persistant dog.)

    Give Kris some puppy love from me! I applaud your choice of breed and agree that not every dog can handle a varitey of animals.

    I've got a 4' picket and even with my 3 running around have found strays INSIDE my property while my dogs were inside the house. I still wonder how much trouble the neighbors dog will give you, though. He won't forget and Dan needs to give you a few more lessons. If you can't shoot the dog just the sound might scare him off. AND I'd let the neighbors know that there's a zero tolerance for that sort of thing on your property. I know the few times I've had to "talk" to past neighbors (also renters who had 7 dogs) I got the impression of being the neighborhood b!t@h.

    I'm fine with that. Don't mess with me (thats my motto)...and nobody did.

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  17. Tami, yeah, I know all about bamboo, LOL. However the goats would trim it back on our side and it would be great for garden poles. We have considered planting other things, though the eastern red cedars we're familiar with grow slower than that. Anything we plant there, would have to go on the out side of the fence, because the goats will eat it all. We did put the fence about 18 to 24 inches on our side of the property line, to give ourselves access to maintain the fence. Unfortunately, everybody who moves in there assumes the fence line is the property line. The previous renter cut back everything on their side of the fence to give themselves a better view of our pasture. My concern about planting anything there, is that it would succumb to the same fate. The best answer probably is a privacy fence exactly on the property line, for the length of that property. Maybe someday we'll be able to find something on craigslist.

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  18. Oh, wow, you're in for some fun!

    As you know, I *am* a dog person - but I also grew up on and around working farms, with zero tolerance of nuisance dogs. So you have my sympathy.

    I have two dogs of my own, and I am amazed at the amount of trouble folks seem to have with strays and neighbourhood pets getting onto their property - seemingly more in the US than in England.

    Incidentally, most rescue organisations here require a six-foot fence before they'll let you have a dog - in some cases, even a small dog.

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  19. What a little sweetie...we are dog people and that ball of fur is sooo cute! It sounds like all those breeds put together will be the best you can get! - It is always so frightening when something gets after the chickens..yesterday morning, I was getting ready for church and heard the chickens squawking on the side of the house...I opened the front door and yelled out and off ran a coyote...right there at my clothesline! Feathers were everywhere and hubby thought the chickens was gone but I didn't see anything in its mouth when 'it looked right at me'!!! The chicken was fine but hubby got the gun and went up the hill, he didn't find it but something has to be done..end of story! No matter what is after our animals, it still is very upsetting. - Have a Happy Valentines Day! xo

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  20. Chris is a fine addition to your farm family, he will be an asset that will not only guard your livestock but will love you too. Stray dogs are a nuisance for sure, I like the idea of the sling shot to deter them. Glad the missing chicken showed up again, poor scared thing.

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  21. Just wanted to say, great choice of dog breed. I just lost my 14yr old Great Pyr mix that I've had since I was 10 and I would get another in a heartbeat. He was not only a great protector and dear friend, but he also would mother anything and everything. He even tried to take my cat's kittens and put them in his bed! I know Bernese do the same kind of things too. You won't find a more loyal and loving dog!

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  22. I know you added him as a homestead member who will be a work animal, but from here...he's just plain cute and adorable.
    Good luck

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  23. Both our dogs were chicken chasers until we trained them that the chickens are part of the "pack". Now, the chickens can walk circles around the dogs and they don't even notice. People should never get dogs unless they have the intention of teaching their dogs how to behave around other creatures they see as prey. Dogs are teachable, no matter the breed. I wish you the best with your new puppy and may he do a great job at protecting your animals and all :)

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  24. Alison, I wonder why it's more of a problem over here. My guess would be training, or lack of it. I live just outside of a small town, but I notice that folks sometimes assume that since they're not within city limits, they're in the "country," meaning it's okay to let their dogs run free.

    Interesting about the 6 foot fence. I can understand why.

    Sherri, coyotes are very scary indeed. And for some reason, everything seems to love chicken!

    Martha thanks! I agree about the sling shot. It gets the message across (if the shot makes it's target) in a much safer fashion.

    Joslyn, thanks! I feel fortunate that this mix came up on our craigslist. Guardian type breeds are snapped up very quickly.

    Natalie, he is that! Very loving too, which we return lavishly. I think that will be important to his training and overall well being. :)

    Pisgrimscottage, you've got me curious, how did you train your dogs about your chickens? The first puppy we looked at was a red heeler. Though that breed is used extensively for herding, the breeder said he couldn't guarantee that it could be trained as a guardian only. His experience was that if they ever get to running without herding training, they can run animals down. Of course, our opinions are based on our experiences. So glad you've done so well with your pups.

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  25. Kris is a cutie and I hope he'll be a wonderful addition to your homestead!

    Thinking back to when Bailey was a puppy, the work I did with him in those first few months laid the groundwork for the type of dog he is today.

    So whatever is important for Kris to be able to do, work with him as soon as possible on learning to do that. (For Bailey, that involves hiking off leash, being good in the car, playing well with other dogs, and sitting quietly at cafes.....I'm pretty sure Kris' jobs will be quite different from that list....but that early training makes a huge difference.)

    Good luck & have fun!
    Sue

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  26. First, i must say that there is NOTHING responsible about leaving a dog chained all day. Back in Austin chaining a dog was considered illegal and your good ole' neighbors would be up for a hefty fine.

    I do hope that you'll do all the research necessary in raising a well balanced, well trained, HAPPY dog. A guardian dog is a worker first and foremost, but he still deserves a balanced diet, fair treatment, and reasonable expectations.

    If you're both not really dog people, perhaps you really should have gotten another llama or perhaps a donkey?

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  27. The fact that I live with wolves, coyotes, bears, bobcats, fishers, weasels...the list goes on for beasties that want to eat my beasties, I have 2 llamas, 1 jenny donkey, and 3 flock dogs; 2 pyrenees and an akita. I could NOT have livestock without them.

    I know this may make people angry with me but the big thing is don't make them your pets. Don't socialize them, don't take them for training. If they like other dogs, they'll tolerate wolves and coyotes. If they like people they won't like the sheep and cows (or whatever livestock you have). They should spend most of their time with the livestock and (I hate to say this) they do best in pairs or threes. Of course this depends on the predators you have. Wolves will kill a single flock dog so I need at least 2.

    Good luck with your new helper. If he turns out good, you'll wonder how you ever got along without him.

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  28. I understand being angry at the neighbor's dog. Believe me, I've been there. But to consider shooting it just for being true to its nature? It was accidentally loose and a first-time offender. Don't blame the dog and certainly don't kill it.

    I hope you will be committed to learning how dogs think so you can be a great owner. Maybe you'll be a dog person yet! Here's hoping.

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  29. Sue, that's exactly the lines I've been thinking along. I've learned with all our animals, to establish the routine we want right up front. Kris needs to know basic commands (right now we're working on "down" and "come." He automatically sits whenever he comes up to me :) Our walks consist of patrolling the fence! We stop and look at every corner and gate. He's clueless at the moment, but I know he'll eventually catch on.

    Miranda, perhaps saying we're not dog people is a bit misleading. We both grew up with dogs as family pets and loved them dearly. It's not that we dislike dogs, but as far as pets go, we prefer cats. We are however, animal people. The homesteading relationship with animals means we have a reciprocity with all of them. Even our cat is expected to contribute and he does. He's an excellent mouser. Please don't assume that just because our neighbors don't know how to care for their animals, we don't either, LOL.

    Rea, one of the things I did was to join the Livestock Guardian Dog List. What a wealth of information and so helpful with my questions. The trend now is to not necessarily treat them like pets, but not to avoid most contact with them either. Most trainers now advocate walking them and playing with them, with nominal training. Our predators are stray dogs and hawks, fortunately. It would be hard to have wolves like you do.

    Sylvanna, my title was not meant to say that we don't like dogs. We like them very much. When it comes to pets, we just prefer cats. :) In regards to the neighbor's dog, I have absolutely no intentions of setting out to kill it. However, I do have a responsibility to protect my animals. Many a cat, chicken, goat, or sheep has been killed by a dog that was merely playing. To allow my chickens or goats to be maimed or killed because the dog accidently got free, would be equally unconscionable; they have as much right to be protected as the dog does. Unfortunately, now that the dog has been here once, I worry that he'll be back. He had great fun until I came along to ruin it.

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  30. Too cute. I wish I wasn't allergic.

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  31. Sorry if i appeared snittish! I'm glad to hear you've raised dogs before. it's a full time job!
    just like all critters. and i'm sure you're up to the task. :)

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  32. The key to having a "livestock" guardian dog (as opposed to a family dog) is to not get too friendly with him (hard as that is...). Keeping him with the goats and chickens is great. Teach him to walk on the leash, and be respectful of you, but his job is with the animals. Looks like you have a good set up for him, with the cattle panels. I had a "puppy creep" for my lgd pups, where they could get away from the sheep to eat and sleep.

    As he grows, you will need to watch him with the livestock. Being a puppy, he will want to "play" with them. Nip that behavior in the bud!! It's normal, but they don't realize that goats and chickens don't play the way dogs do...

    I applaud your decision to get a lgd on small acreage. Bringing up young dogs is hard, but rewarding when they do their job!!

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  33. Awe so cute! He will be a great addition to your farm.I so love our Great Pyrenees CJ. They are such awesome protectors. You both will be pleased.

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  34. I'm not a dog person either, but he's really cute. You do need a guardian, so I hope he turns out as you hope. Looking forward to seeing him develop.

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  35. Oh Leigh, he's adorable - and I hope he grows up to fill the big shoes you've destined for him!

    I scanned through the comments and don't see barking mentioned anywhere. My experience (not firsthand) has been that LGDs bark to establish their territory, defend their territory, and warn off intruders. In other words, they bark a LOT. Is that going to be a problem in your fairly populated area?

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  36. hm, when I came over DH pronounced himself a cat- not a dog person. haha, guess who's the biggest dog fan in this house now?:)) he even admitted that he prefers dogs now... I love dogs, esp. large ones and I think you're going to enjoy seeing that pup grow into a gorgeous dog and your and Dan's friend!

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  37. Your new puppy is so cute! I'm sure he'll be the perfect guardian for your place. You seem to be on the right track for forming his correct order in the pack so that he knows his job.
    Please keep us updated with the Kris Patrol reports. ;o)

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  38. What a cutie!! I'm sure he well grow up to be everything you need on the farm.

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  39. LOL. He is adorable!
    PS. I haven't forgotten about your pumpkin seeds - just been swamped with work.

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  40. Limette, that is too bad. It seems so rare folks are allergic to dogs. Usually it's cats.

    Miranda, and I apologize if I appeared defensive! A couple of comments and emails made me feel like I didn't convey myself very well. You're a homesteader too, so you know some of what I'm talking about.

    Laura, actually I should be thinking in terms of a puppy creep rather than a puppy pen because he's little enough to slip through the cattle panel! So far, he's attempted to approach the goats (submissive posture) and gotten butted for his trouble. He backed off real quick. Today though, it seems as though Surprise has decided that he's okay, and I actually found them laying down within about a foot of each other.

    SmithGang, thanks! It will be interesting to see which of his breed genetics ends up being dominant. Still, with that mix I have high hopes he'll do very well.

    Candace, it only takes about 2 seconds to change your mind. :) From my reading (Livestock Guardian Dog List) it seems that the instinct just "kicks in." The age at which that happens can anytime during adulthood. We'll see!

    Michelle, thanks! It's true, no one did mention barking. I've been reading about that too, seems the training has to focus on "inappropriate" barking. So far, about the only dog that barks in the neighborhood is the one that got over the fence! When he's out, he spends about 80% of his time barking to be let back in.

    Bettina, my DH used to claim he hated cats. All it took was the right cat. :)

    Renee, I hope so. Toward the end of the day he isn't so enthusiastic about patrolling, but he's still a baby. I've decided to use hand signals as well as verbal commands in our training. I think that might come in handy.

    Barb, I hope so!

    Cecilia thanks! No problem about the seeds. :) Can't plant them yet anyway, LOL

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  41. He's precious, Leigh! A great addition to the homestead! -Carrie

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  42. hand signals are great. With Lilly she'll "ignore" verbal commands and just start going through all her tricks until she gets the right one, but she knows her hand signals very well.

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  43. Thanks Carrie!

    Renee, that is excellent to know, thanks! Just seemed the right thing to do. Glad I followed my own "instincts."

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  44. Your new addition is adorable. And just what I needed to see. We lost our sweet yellow lab yesterday after 10 wonderful years with him and my heart is broken. Seeing your puppy let some light in to realize that one day I may be able to love another dog. Best of luck to you.

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  45. Aw Donna, I'm so sorry. It's so hard to lose a friend like that. A big hug from me to you.

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  46. Awww. So cute! Our LGD was life changing for us. He literally changed the way we farmed by making our lives so much easier. I usually take a "wait and see" attitude when one of my animals seems a bit off or has a scratch or a little limp but if Bruno appears off his game at all, I rush out there and spend time checking his whole body and give vitamins, etc. we absolutely love him!
    Stevie @ ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

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  47. Stevie, that's an animal at it's best. I love it when everyone contributes so that the homestead is a living organism, which each part just as vital as the others. :)

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  48. Congratulations on your new addition.
    By your own admission you are not dog people, so may I suggest you find a local herding group to visit, if not join, and get some pointers. I also suggest having Kris neutered around 6 months to curb his wandering traits. While he may grow into the dog of your dreams, future breeding will not guarantee more of the same. Neither does cloning. Neutering will give you a better chance of enjoying this dog.
    I love mixed breeds, and giant breeds are my main choice. Our Anatolian mix was the best dog for almost 14 years but he had his streaks of attitude. (Yes, even neutered.) I can't say anything bad about our Berner.
    As others have said you must let him know that you are the bosses and to be pleased. He should grow with the livestock and know it is his job to protect them, not harm them.
    The number one thing in dog training, well actually it is human training, is consistency.
    Both of you should work with Kris and use the same words and signals. Feeding should be done at the same times daily, 3 times at first, then 2 times after his system matures. Being a working dog he also should have some extra vaccinations. Check with your vet.
    He will have moments when you think there is not a brain in his head, or that he does things to plot against you, but hang in there. It is a bond that over time is worth everything you put into it.

    Around here I am blessed with cats who help do the training.

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  49. AwaydownSouth, I agree. :)

    DogsMom, I should have added that we're not bird people either, but we love our chickens. :) You give good general advice, consistent with everything I've researched. Our vet also recommends neutering at that age. As you say, it's an unknown as to how they will turn out as adults, in spite of their genetics. Hopefully he'll be the farm dog we need.

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