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As the "new kid" on the block, your Great Pyrenees will need to be introduced to everything about its new home. A proper introduction will help ensure that your Pyr will become the guardian you want and need rather than a "problem child" demanding too much of your time and effort re-training and re-orienting it to do the work of guarding your stock.  Throughout the entire introduction process close observation of your animals' behavior is critical as well as is immediate intervention if you notice undesired behavior.  It may be necessary to stop the process, let things get back to normal, and then start over again.

The Area

If your new Pyr is a puppy. A natural tendency is to bring the cute little thing into the house so it wonít be lonesome and afraid in its new surroundings. DONíT DO IT! Your puppy has lived in a barn around goats since birth. Your barn will not only provide a familiar environment for the pup but will start from the beginning teaching it that its home is where your stock is, not where its humans are.

If your new Pyr is an older dog, provide a secure place such as an escape proof pen for its first night. Take it for a walk on a lead around the perimeter of your pen(s) or pasture so it will understand the limits of its new area. You may need to do this several times before the dog shows an understanding that this is its new area to protect. Your sensitivity to the animal will help you decide when the dog is ready to be released into its new area.

The Animals

Although there are headings for the different situations you may have, only the new elements to be considered are addressed  in each category.

Other Dogs

There are several categories of "other dogs" that may be associated with introducing your new Great Pyrenees.

1. Other Great Pyrenees.  If your dog is a puppy, your adult Great Pyrenees should accept the dog almost immediately.  You may have to witness a short explanation of "I'm the boss and you're the puppy" but there should be no serious problem. 

If your new Pyr is a spayed or neutered older dog, you need to introduce it to your Great Pyrenees already on site.  Watch to ensure all goes well.  There may be a short alpha demonstration but there should be no problems.

If you have an intact dog on site and your new Pyr is also intact and the same gender as your on site dog , DO NOT PUT THEM TOGETHER IF THEY ARE OLDER THAN A FEW MONTHS.  You can try this after your new Pyr has had a little time to adapt but do it carefully and be ready to separate them if necessary.  Same gender intact Pyrenees will often fight to establish alpha status and while sometimes in younger dogs the fight is not too serious, other times, especially with fully adult dogs, it can be a fight to the death.  If you plan on same gender intact dogs working together, start with only one adult and let the puppy(ies) grow up with the adult.  There will still be fights as the pups go through adolescence and become adults but the chances of  lethal fights will be greatly decreased.

2.  Other non-Pyrenees Livestock Guardian Dogs.  Never put same gender dogs together regardless of their reproductive status unless you take the same precautions described for same gender intact Pyrs.

3. Pet dogs of any breed.  Do not let them into your stock yards, introduce them to your new Pyr, or encourage your new Pyr to accept them.  We strongly recommend total segregation of pets from LGDs.

Goats Familiar with Guardians

New puppy, Cara, learning about goats.

If you raise goats, and the goats have been around dogs before, youíll have very little to do in the way of introducing a Bountiful Farm Great Pyrenees to his or her charges. Simply put the dog on a lead and take it into the area where the goats are. Observe both the dog and the goats and when they are all comfortable, release the dog and observe some more to ensure everything goes well. The entire process may take as little time as five or ten minutes but do not take that estimate for granted, stay there, observe, and donít leave until you and the animals are at ease with the situation. If the dog is mature, or close to it, that should be all it takes.
An immature dog or puppy may become excited or exuberant about all these new friends and want to sniff them all immediately. If this happens, and youíre lucky, a mature goat will teach the pup some manners and decorum and that will be that. If that mature goat isnít available, you need to take its place. When you observe inappropriate behavior by a pup, immediately interrupt that behavior by shouting harshly and/or exhibiting some form of threatening behavior of your own. Make it short and to the point, stopping immediately when the pup changes its behavior. If you observe this behavior from a pup, you need to ensure that the pup knows it will not be tolerated. The closer you can copy its motherís behavior in correcting it, the more effective it will be.

Lilly, a rescue dog, meeting her first newborn kid after spending adaptation time at Bountiful.  Note the kid's dam standing peacefully by.

  In any discipline, immediacy is paramount. If you donít interrupt the behavior, thereís a good chance that the pup will not know why youíre being "mean" to it. If you believe that the undesirable behavior may continue, secure the pup in an escape proof pen in the immediate area of the goats, preferably in a holding pen close to the barn, and release the pup when you can observe it until youíre satisfied that it will behave appropriately.

Goats Unfamiliar with Guardians

If you raise goats that have no experience with dogs, you must protect pups and younger dogs from them initially. An older dog will sense the fear and hostility in the goats and treat them gently while avoiding any confrontations. A panicked or dog-fearing goat will attack a Pyr and can injure them badly. The Pyr will not fight back and if the dog doesnít understand it is endangered, it will not know about avoiding attacks until it learns by experience. Our pups have never had to deal with this situation and will need to be protected. We recommend securing the pup in an escape proof pen in the center of the goatsí area. The goats can make the adaptation to the presence of a dog and you can take the dog among them on a lead until you see that everyone has accepted the situation. Even then, providing an area where the pup can escape an attack is prudent. The goats should adapt fairly quickly, within hours or a few days at the most. Again, you need to be sensitive to the attitudes of your animals and observe their relationships.

Quick, Simple Method

Use a rectangular pen about twice as long as it is wide. Put the herd in the pen first and let them get comfortable with it. Then, with your dog on a leash, enter the pen at one end and you will see all the goats run to the far end of the pen. (That's why you shouldn't use a large pen) Walk you dog generally toward the goats but not in any kind of purposeful manner, just amble along that way. Watch the goats and they will become more nervous the closer you get. When you determine that they are ready to panic and scatter soon, turn yourself and your dog away from them and sit both of you with our backs to the herd and pay no attention to them. As you ignore them they will calm down again. When they are calm, slowly rise and again walk you dog in a non-purposeful manner in the general direction of the goats until you see them ready to panic again. Then sit down with both you and the dog turned away from the goats. They will, once again, calm down after a period of time that you ignore them. Rise and again walk slowly in the general direction of the goats and sit again with you and the dog facing away from the herd when they look about to panic.

Depending upon on long the field, how big the herd, and how well you show no interest in the goats and get your dog to do the same, after some repetitions of these actions, you and the dog will be sitting in the middle of the goat herd. DO NOT acknowledge the goats, continue to ignore them and have your dog do the same. Eventually the goats will come around to find out what you and the dog are doing. In the process, they will introduce themselves to the dog and learn to be at ease around him. Most generally, this introduction is not total but it does stop the panic when the dog is around and the individual goats will accept the dog totally at a much faster rate.



Stock Other than Goats

Neon, a daughter of Clark and Sunshine, allowing an alpaca cria to introduce itself .

If you have animals other than goats, there is a chance your new Great Pyrenees will consider them as predators initially. Take your Pyr in among the animals on a close lead and explain that these are its new charges to guard. Make sure it understands that you expect it to take care of these strange new critters. In this case, the escape proof pen in the center of the herd is a virtual necessity. Your Pyr will live in close proximity to its new charges until everyone seems to accept the situation. If your stock has not been around dogs and shows aggression toward your Pyr, once again, pen the dog in the center of the herd, taking it out into the herd on a short lead regularly until everyone is accepting of the situation.

Chickens And Other Fowl

We don't know how they decide but some Pyrs want to chase chickens and others don't.  If this is important to you, let your breeder know in advance and insure they will select a dog for you that shows little to no interest in chasing chickens.  You still, however, need to pay particular attention to introducing your dog to your fowl if they will come into contact, or for that matter, if you plan for your LGD to be guarding fowl.  When the dog gets to your farm, have some chickens penned so they are available to you and set the dog in the pen with them.  Explain that they are to be treated as animals to be guarded and stay with the dog to ensure it leaves the fowl alone. Repeat this process until you have confidence that your dog understands.  Leave the dog for increasing periods of time and then begin again with short periods of time during which you leave the dog unmonitored. Remember that puppies will be puppies and never count on the pup being on its best behavior all the time.   If you have free range chickens, after penning the dog with some chickens for a short time, arrange for chickens to be in the stock area where the dog will be living.  Be alert to its reaction to the birds as well as your other stock and correct any tendency you see for chase behavior.  With any undesirable conduct, early detection and fast, interruptive action are the most important factors in stopping this behavior before it becomes a major problem.  For more more information on introducing your LGD to chickens click on http://www.anatoliandog.org/poultry.htm


Planning For Future Stock But None Are Present

If you are starting a stock operation and want a Livestock Guardian Dog to protect them when they arrive, make your arrangements to receive the stock and the dogs at about the same time.  If you must acquire one before the other, get the stock first, then the dogs.  Great Pyrenees, and all LGDs,  need to be "with" their stock, not locked up alone and waiting for them or treated as a pet until the new animals arrive and then expected to turn into an LGD.  Getting your Livestock Guardian Dog early is asking for problems.

Dan & Paula Lane
Copyright © 2002, 2006 [Bountiful Farm]. All rights reserved.

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