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It has occurred to us that although on this website we address
several different potential problems and answer all the questions we can think
of in order to give the new owners of an LGD all the information they need to
successfully use an LGD to protect their livestock, nowhere have we seen a
coherent logical explanation of what a person must do to effectively guide
themselves through the process of integrating a new LGD into their stock
operation. It seems to us that the new owners' activities can easily be
divided into three areas: learning, awareness and action.
There are several different ways
you can set about learning what you'll need to be doing and what to expect from
your LGDs. You can read this website and others. You can find books.
You can talk to people. Breeders who guarantee their dogs are always
willing to furnish as much information as a buyer could possibly ask for.
There is one requirement that is
absolutely necessary for any of these methods of learning to be effective - a
person must have an open mind and accept the fact that there actually
are things that he or she needs to learn in order to have an effective LGD.
Some common excuses leading to failed placement that we have heard are:
We've had dogs for years; we know
how to train them.
We know these dogs don't need any
attention; they do everything on their own.
Our last LGD was a lousy
guardian; we want to get a good one so we don't have to worry about it.
I've been a farmer for years, I
know all about animals.
I know this is what the material
says, but . . .
and, lastly, the never spoken, but
all too common, I know everything already, just sell me the dog.
Awareness means not only paying
attention to a situation but thinking through the probable outcomes of your
actions. For instance, when getting a new dog one should be aware that
there may be a period of adjustment. Thinking through the probable
outcomes of your possible actions should indicate that leaving town immediately
after receiving your dogs may not be a good idea. Another example of
awareness could be noticing a connection between bringing your dog into the
house occasionally and the fact your dog prefers to hang around people rather
than animals. Awareness may mean understanding babies, even LGD babies,
are not as competent as adults and may not even have "the common sense" which we
would like to attribute to most adults. It may mean understanding that
throwing an LGD with which you are not familiar into a pasture and forgetting
about it could cost you the LGD and/or the stock.
One might be tempted to sum all of
this up as "common sense" and much of it is but to use common sense effectively
one needs a base of knowledge and an awareness of the situation as well as an
awareness of probable outcomes. Not to belabor a point, but, please,
don't take anything for granted.
Probably the single most important
action the owner of an LGD can take after assuring its health and well-being is to
stop undesirable or destructive behavior by the dog immediately upon discovering
it. This would seem to be the inevitable outcome of being aware of the
behavior and the probable outcome of injured or missing animals. For some
reason, this does not seem to be universally true. "Bad" habits are
developed through repetitive behavior. Stopping undesirable or destructive
behavior by your LGD will prevent that behavior from becoming habitual and will
either save the owner extra work or, perhaps, mean the difference between an
effective guardian and a failed one. The next most important action that
we can think of is to get help if the situation seems to be beyond your
capabilities. The dog's breeders should be an excellent source of advice
as well as presenting your problem to a list serve with people who have some
expertise and are willing to share it. Our recommendation for quick and
effective advice is Working LGDs which you can access at
We are thankful for the many people
who have purchased dogs from us and have demonstrated an excellent grasp of
these three areas. Some have been so exceptional and creative that they
have taught us. It is with the hope of attaining universal successful
placements for our dogs and to provide information to help both people and dogs
we never meet that we have added this page.