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From a Llama to a LGD... Do's and dont's??


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I looked at an Pyr pup yesterday, 7 weeks old, born and raised in the pasture with goats and sheep. Breeder seems as if she knows how to breed/raise one for its purpose. I however dont. I have always used llama's. Since moving from the mountains of Utah to Central NC. I have found that llama's arent real great with the weather out here, certin predetors, and have feeding issues as well, so I am no longer using a llama. I am very familiar with the Pyr breed, and have handled many, but have never raised one, nor have I ever raised one for a livestock gaurdian. Being as its a puppy, I am wondering if I can not handle it and leave it to bond with the stock. I also have a 12 yr old son, and need to advise him on how much is too much handling, as it is a puppy and it will be hard not to want to cuddle and play with it. That, is the real concern here, how much is too much attention when it comes to a pup? How much interaction does it need, or not need? I dont want it sitting on the porch wanting attention, I want it out in the pasture. We will be lambing around April/May, he would be around 6/7 months by then, and have heard conflicting stories about young pyr's eating or killing new born lambs. Would that be a good time then to get him neutered and have him in the barn for a bit, away from the sheep? ( though I could put him back with the goats at that time too) The no attention thing really bothers me, the breeder said all he needs to know is that I am boss, his name, how to walk on a leash, stand to be examined and take medications when needed, and to come when he is called, and learn to be tied when the need arises. All these things take interaction, praise, time, daily handling, at the age when a pup learns to bond with people. So to me, at this point, it all seems so conflicting. Dont pay attention to the pup, but do teach him these things. I pick him up on tuesday, ( gotta build a dog house the weekend) and would like to have a good outlined plan for everyone here before he comes, so we are all on the same page as to what we can and cant do with him. I was under the impression that the things he needed to be taught, he needed to be taught right away. Or do we just leave him alone ( except for feeding and a good looking ever every day) wait till he is more like 5 months before trying to train him? Any suggestions would be helpful.

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I'm not an expert but I do have 2 LGDs that will stray from their stock if given the chance (ie too much attention from us).


Only attention they get is when they are with the sheep; do NOT let him near the house unless the sheep are right near the house. Teach them to be tied up. We have one super aggressive Akbash with people and other dogs (not ours) that has to be tied up if we have other dogs here. Less attention is better. I know people that chase their LGDs back to the barn or the sheep. I never had the "balls" to do that...maybe I should have.


Teach them to come....hmmm. they are not very good at this; This is Charlies recall: CHARLIE, here....and charlie looks towards what ever he was chasing...thinks...hmmm.. I think I have heard that word before...hmmm, here...better go chase...the moon, the deer, the geese, the coyotes. Obedience is not their strong suit. By all means, teach him to be handled but don't teach him to come to the house or visit with your house dogs...or you will have an extra house guardian.


As far as lambing, you'll just have to see; we have had no problems during lambing except when both dogs were in at the same time. Then there was competition for the placenta and some fighting and guarding. We tied one of them up in another area and they were fine.


We have had some chasing issues, usually with crappy small runts that probably shouldn't have made it anyway; A dangle stick or chain works well in that circumstance.


I think Bill Fosher edgefield sheep forum has an area for LGD info that would help. Also a couple of yahoo groups. You'll get conflicting advice there too.


Good luck...Pyr puppies are darn cute...hard to keep you hands off of!




Here's Charlie (18 mths), Scarlett(5 mths) when they were younger,



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I've done a good bit with LGDs. Two Pyrs and um, I forget how many Maremmas I've raised nwo. [sorry for bad writing, I"m in headache land and racing to get in before my internet connection leaves me again].


So anyway, my own experience iis:


On soialization: whatever you do, it's most important that you do it in the ontext of of the stock. In other words, you can teach them to play flyball if you want to, it won't affect their ability to guard, if you have a godo guarding dog (ie, with correct instintcs) - but don't encourage them to leave the stock. Do it out in the field with the sheep. Bring your son out in the field with the sheep. Go out with them. Teach them to "come" in the field with the sheep. The best way to teach the recall is to feed them with a particular call, every day or twice a day then you know you will be able to get your hands on them. don't feed them at the house - do it in some part of the field (but not near where the sheep eat).


One lambs: My eperience is that the good ones play with lambs as an extention of their instinct to "shepherd" - and don't know their own strength. Just as a Border Collie can sometimes harm sheep accdentally in learning the difference between chasing and safely controlling stock. And of course it doesn't have to happen if you are on your toes, but if it does, it doesn't mean the dog's at fault or should be abandoned (quite the opposite, many times).


the first year, when the dog is small emough to be harmed by the moms, I don't let it near moms and lambs except when closely supervised. I find this is a good learning time for the dog. I've always had older dogs to acct as teachers for the younger pups for this stage but if you don't, you can go out with a pup just as easily and it will work the same way. Meanwhile the pup can spend the rest of his time with "safe" stock - wethers or replacement ewes.


The second year is the crucial year when teh dog is usually still puppy silly but strong enough to do damage to stock. During this year, watch for any sign that play is turning aggressive and go out and "claim" the stock in no uncertain terms, running the dog right off. Times this might occur include feeding time, playing time, dusk, dawn, right after an alarm - don't be afraid that you are taking away his ability to guard - he'll do his job, you're just setting tthe bounds, which include no killing livestock.


Every guard dog I've known goes through a crzy period where they enforce some random rule - my best guard dog ever, decided when she was eighteen months old that no sheep needed tails, for instance. I had a lovely little nine month old pup who started nibbling off the left ear of any black headed lamb. In both cases I simply treated all the victims with Stockholm tar until the freak had passed in the pups.


LGDs are control freaks and the best ones are mega control freaks. Raising one is going to expose you to the most bizarre experiences, most likely. But if you are prepared, you'll be rewarded with years and years of good nights of sleep!

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Thank you ladies. What you have said, with everything else Ive read and heard about raising an LGD sounds right in line. I guess a part of me was hoping I could just put this little fella out there and he'd grow up to be an awesome dog with none of the problems Id heard about. But it sounds as if there is a lot more to raising a good LGD than just purchasing the right bred dog for the job. For me it will be a learning experience, and one that I am eager to get on with. I really appreciate the knowing that they are a control freak, that I hadnt read or learned up till now, and gives me a better insight right off the bat.( One good reason I so enjoy the feed back from the boards ) I pick him up tomorrow, it seems so strange, almost as if I cant allow myself the excietment of bringing home a new pup, as I feel that to some degree I must distance myself from him right from the start. But I am looking forward to the task at hand of raising him properly, ( some one will probably have to remind me I said that in about 8 to 10 months) and, looking forward to watching him grow into a useful and trustworthy gaurdian. Darci

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Even with all the ups and downs of my LGD's they are the best thing I've ever invested in to keep things safe. Lovable is icing to me!

I like what Becca says about doing things with the dog around it's sheep. Mine are great at coming or at least checking in when I call but I don't really call them away from sheep.

I have a guard llama with my sheep and LGD's he was with the sheep before the dogs. He still has a job to do and he does it in a complimentary way with the dogs. His job is to keep his sheep together while the dogs run predators off or whatever else they think they might have to do to keep their sheep safe.

Just yesterday I was out with some newborn baby lambs. I was sitting there minding my own business with the dogs close by, paying attention to the lambs and nothing really around me. Well, the white boys jumped up and you could feel the electric all around them. It's wasn't their normal bark to alert things type bark, it was silent but you could almost tell their intent was very forceful. I looked around and as they were racing away I saw a very large healthy looking coyote not 20 feet from the lean too I was sitting in. There was about 50 feet between me and the coyote but a shorter distance from the white boys. They looked like they meant serious business with the coyote like he had broke the barrier lines the boys had set and death was eminent. Don't know what happened but I heard a coyote scream (I'm assuming he hit the electric fence) and a short time later they both came back as sweet as if nothing had happened. Mick the BC was there with me, he shook the whole time the LGD's were gone but settled right back to his lamb watching duty when they came back.

I was aggravated at one of them for trying to take a lamb away from a ewe momma. I was holding the momma so that the new lamb could nurse. Things are OK with the momma and the lamb and I've forgiven the boys for any mischief considering what they do on a daily basis that I totally take for granite. I haven't lost anything except the occasional shoe or tool when the boys find it on the porch since they got here.


With minimal effort they are a wonderful addition.


my 2 cents


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Everything that Rebecca said is right on in my experience.


Do your training with him in the field. I've taught mine to come in when I whistle, you whistle, then rattle the food dish around & then feed them. They do get some individual attention when they get fed, petting, grooming, whatever, so it's a good experience for them. It makes it easier to catch them if the vet is coming out or if they need to be tied.


My kids & nephews have not had any problems with handling the dogs, but again they do it out in the field. And remember a LGD puppy doesn't have any idea how big he is and if he gets to goofing around (and he will) he could easily knock over a 12 year old boy or you.


With the younger dogs that we've had, it seems like the ones that you have problems with (chewing on lambs, chasing sheep) are the ones that turn out the best in the end. So stick with it and if/when you have problems come back & ask questions then.


Good luck & let us know how things go.



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Well, got the little buggar home yesterday, and of course he won everyones heart right off with those soft brown eyes, and clumsy puppy gait. He was covered in fleas, and fire ants, so it was off to the shop for a quick cleaning up, and he is,...... way to cute. My son named him Bruin, which doesnt exactly fit him at the moment, seeing as the water bucket is bigger than he is, but we have hopes that he will grow into the name. The one thing you all left out when answering my queery, was just how difficult it is to leave the puppy out side in the catch pen all night with the goats! They seemed to get along just fine, right off the bat, and I was fine with him being out there as long as I was out running dogs and doing chores, but when it came time to bring everyone in for the night, and shut out the lights and settle into a cozy warm house, knowing that little puppy was out there really does tug at your heart strings! I knew he had a nice warm cozy place to sleep, and he was safe, but darn it was hard not to bring him in! Equally difficult was this morning, when I ran dogs threw hay and checked everyone and H20'd anyone that needed it, there he was, crying for attention, and wanting to be out to follow me around. I went in and petted him for a moment, and made sure my son had fed and watered him, and feeling ever so guilty, walked away. Any of you moms out there that have left your baby at a daycare for the first time should know the feeling. I am quite the realist when it comes to my dogs, years of working with dogs and thier owners in the grooming biz, has opened my eyes to some pretty fanciful ideals that some folks have about thier dogs. I am not prone to them. My dogs are dogs, I love them dearly, but they are still dogs. But a puppy is a puppy. A baby. Helpless, innocent, needy, scared, lonley, so many adjetives to apply to make me feel even more horrible for leaving that little fella out there. But I gritted my teeth, and even with all the howling and crying, I didnt look back. I came home this after noon, to find him curled up sleeping with a young goat. Still, Im not sure who has been more tramatized by this experience, him or me! post-7917-1196286277_thumb.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for askin'. The pup is doing great. He and my son are getting along famously. I had to give up having much to do with him myself, as I tend to be an old softie when it comes to pups being out on cold nights. ( besides the fact that every time I get around him, I just want to pick him up and hug and kiss him) I had my son read everything I had read about raising an LGD and he has been following the rules to tee. He was starting to play with the goats, but the billy set him straight right off. They're right, the stock will teach the pup alot. He eats like a horse, and is growing like a weed. Latly when some one goes outside after dark, and is walking around the yard, or starts towards the goat pen, he starts barking at us. Pretty funny, as that little puppy bark is a little less than ferocious at the moment, but he seems to be trying already to do his duty. We took him for a vet check cause he had some hair missing on his tail, but everything checked out OK, and the hair is growing back already. My son has been brushing him, and playing with his feet, and getting in his mouth and ears, so he is learning to be handled in some of the ways that will come in handy when ever we need to administer to his health, and coat. All the other dogs like him, though he seems aloof with them. We have found that he is a bit food aggressive, and we're trying to figure out if this is some thing we need to work on or not. He's not aggressive with us or the the goats, just other dogs if they come by the fence while he's eating. He is pretty layed back compared to the collies, which I find strange, puppies should be running around and playing, and he just lays around most of the time just looking around and watching whats going on. I thought about getting him some toys or a chew bone to put out there for him, but he seems to amuse himself pretty good with a stick or plays in the hay. Im bringing the ewes up in about 2 more weeks, they are still out with the ram at the moment, then I'll put him in with them, though they are all familiar with each other already, as we have been having him come out to the sheep with us in the evening, and I wouldnt say they're friends by a long shot, sheep are still keeping thier distance from him, but they are starting to realize that he's not a collie, and have quit running from him. He has a mind of his own, and is pretty independant, and stubborn some times, but Ive been spoiled with the collies, so I have to be careful not to expect to much obedience from him. He comes when he is called, ( most of the time) other times, I know he hears me, as he looks at me, but decides to stay put, and lets me come to him, or goes the other way when there is something more interesting than me. Unless Im carrying a food pan. All in all, I think things are going pretty good with him, but its raining tonight, so I put him in the shed, as I didnt trust him to hang under the shelter with the goats all night, and its cold and even though he has a pretty good coat on him, its just a puppy coat, and doesnt repel the wet and cold so good yet. I put some shavings and a horse blanket down with his food and water in there, I reckon he feels like he's spending the night at the Ritz. But we are enjoying him, and looking forward to him growing up and seeing if our efforts have payed off.

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  • 1 month later...

Bruin at 4 months. He's as big as my biggest collie already. Ive seperated him from the ewes as they have lambs now, but am wondering if I should have left him in there. The ewes are a bit snarky right now, and I dont want them using him like a pin ball, but do want the lambs to get use to him and him to them too. He still on accation will chase a goat, just trying to play with it, but if I catch him I just hollar for him to knock it off and he seems to understand. And if I dont catch him in the act to stop him, the billy does, Ive seen that much already. The billy will only take so much of his horsen around and will plow him to the ground if he doesnt take the first hint. He's pretty big for his age, and I wouldnt say that he couldnt become a hazard for the lambs. How do you guys handle your young LGD"s with lambs and new moms?



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