LIVESTOCK GUARD DOG
A livestock guard dog, such as our Great Pyrenees, is an added measure of protection for your alpacas. First line of defense is good fencing.
This link shows you our fence that our dog patrols.
But having a dog watching over your property, as Sam is doing in this photo, is great peace of mind.
It will add anywhere from $100 to $1000 or more to the startup cost of your farm. Price depends on how much training the dog has had. Sam came to our farm long after startup. You can do without, but they are a comfort to have around.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
- Decrease or eliminate predators
- We sleep better at night
- Very independent thinkers
- Very independent thinkers - this is an advantage when they work in the field but a disadvantage when you want them to come.
- Our Great Pyrenees does require some work to keep his long coat from matting
Sam digs. He dug under the gate and escaped until we blocked it with a board. We can't drive our tractor in that gate, but he can't escape. Fortunately, he hasn't tried anywhere else.
One day a pheasant met an untimely death because Sam perceived him as a threat. No one is allowed in his fields that hasn't gotten the OK to be there. He will kill any other animal that sets foot in the field. He has never shown aggression towards people but we still make sure he knows it's OK when we bring any humans to see the alpacas. And he keeps a watchful eye on them.
Sam kind of fell into our laps through another Alpaca owner. The breeder had someone back out on purchasing him as a show dog and wanted to just find a home for him. We aquired Sam for just the cost of shots but he was already four and a half months old. We weren't sure if it was too late to put him in with the herd.
Sam was just too cute to refuse as you can see by his puppy picture.
So we brought him home and introduced our livestock guard dog to our herd while he was on a leash. He never attempted to chase the Alpacas. He just watched them. We were pretty sure we had a great dog! So we let him off leash while we were with him only days after he came to live with us.
Little by little, we extended the time we allowed him to be with the alpacas until we were confident he could be with them all day and night without any problem.
At eight months of age he was neutered.
Sam enjoyed just being out with the herd and playing in the field. Then one day at approximately fourteen months of age we saw his instinct to protect the herd kick in.
Coyotes pass by our property all the time and on this particular day one decided to come close to the fence. Sam ran to the fence and barked at the threat. Then he ran back to the alpacas, who had instinctively gathered around the cria, and herded the alpacas further away from the threat. He always kept himself between the predator and the herd. That was the day Sam became a livestock guard dog.
The only dog training we did with Sam was basic sit, stay, and come at six months of age, we socialized him with other dogs in a doggy daycare setting. A livestock guard dog can become aggressive out of fear and we wanted to keep him gentle.
Getting a trained dog is probably a better risk than the way we started Sam. This way worked for us and Sam because of his excellent personality. We don't recommend that anyone else use this method of training their guard dog because you will be taking a risk with some very expensive livestock.
Because Sam worked out so well, the breeders can now safely say they have a successful working dog to their breeding credit. They have called and come to see Sam in his environment and are pleased with his progress.
dog obedience tip
and find out how you can have a better working relationship with a Great Pyrenees dog. This tip would probably work for other types of livestock guard dogs, too.
PURCHASING A GUARDIAN DOG
Always get a livestock guard dog from a reputable breeder. You'll have a better chance of getting a great dog like Sam, our Great Pyrenees. As mentioned above, your breeder should take a great interest in you and your dog long after the purchase.
We do suggest getting a puppy. Or a dog that has been raised as a livestock dog. Read our ideas on
choosing a livestock guardian dog
for your Alpaca Farm.
There are other breeds of livestock guard dog that are just as wonderful as our Great Pyrenees. And may have less chore in keeping their coat in good condition.
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