What the hell?!

George in the garden We’d done so well this year with keeping the sheeps out of the damn garden, but George had to ruin the record, the bastard. I am not a fan of sheep in my garden. I confess to acting like a crazy woman with the screaming and the yelling and waving of big long things, whatever is handy.

The problem is that my crazy behavior seems to have given permission to the Big White Fluffy Dogs that getting cross and mean with sheeps is allowed.

A tree fell on the fence yesterday and we noticed it just after we rescued a sheep that walked out there where the tree hit the fence from out of the mouths of Maggie, Faith and Buffy. At the time, we thought it was handy. They cornered her, we walked up and tossed her back over the fence, and everything was fine. We then moved the tree off the fence, repaired the fence, went on our merry way.

But today, George got out again, and we saw all three Pyrs attack him. It’s pouring rain out there. We yelled from the house to cut it out, which didn’t work, and we barely made it out there before they killed him. I screamed, yelled, told them “NO!” as forcefully as I could, but it took a huge effort on my part to save the sheep and correct three dogs, all before Frank could get there behind me to help. What the hell?

Maggie was really protective and good with them, so were Faith and Buffy, just days ago. Something’s clicked in their heads that has changed the entire situation, and I’m continually reminded of Bloody Buddy. But I also remember the vet telling me that injuries along the flank from LGDs were from dogs who were trying to play. If they go for the neck, then I need to worry.

George has blood showing on his flank, but a lot of wool missing from along his neck. He’s hanging out in the trailer while I try to decide what to do.

Why can’t I keep him behind a fence and what the hell is up with our dogs?

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5 Comments

  1. Catherine Sanchez
    Posted October 1, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    You’re the alpha figure for the LGDs and they are imitating your actions because it was never wrong until now.

    My Maremmas have done the same thing in the past so I exclude them from any activities that involve moving sheep into the pens. Our border collie is the only dog allowed to help us.

  2. Posted October 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I think Catherine is right. You have essentially “taught” them how naughty sheep are to be treated. They can’t jump and scream and wave sticks around, so they use their teeth. You are going to need to come down HARD on them if they display anything other than guardian behavior. Make it very plain that you are MOMMA BEAR and you will EAT THEM if they so much as put a fang on your sheep or anything else. Let Bjarki and Disa move the critters when needed. Keep the LGDs for eating the coyotes.

    My farm collie is a natural “enforcer”. If he sees me trying to move a sheep or a duck, or shoo the cat away when he puts his claws in the furniture, he’s right there to back me up. Fortunately, he is bite-inhibited, and more apt to use his paws than his mouth, but more than that, his breed was bred to be the beta enforcer and take direction from the alpha. I don’t think LGDs really were meant for that type of work. Round up the sheep when a coyote appears and stand between them and the predator, or chase off the predator, yes. Herd and enforce your commands, no. Don’t expect more from them than what they were bred to do.

    Do they defer to you when you give a command? I know that LGDs can be “stubborn” because really they are meant to live with their flock or herd and think independently and not need human direction as much. But do they listen if you tell them “down”, “stay”, “wait”, “come”, etc.?

  3. Posted October 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Also, I’m not sure I would take the vet’s comments as 100% right all the time. I think some dogs that don’t know how to kill but are trying to would go for a flank or leg, and some that aren’t trying to kill but are trying to push a sheep a certain way would go for the neck. Still, it doesn’t matter what they were trying to do, only that they must never do it again.

  4. Posted October 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lisa

    I agree with what the other ladies have written but will also add that they are starting to work as a pack, and even with well trained ISD who are allowed to work the sheep with me in lead, when they are in “pack” mode, all that hard work and training can go out the window, and a few times what has happened, is I call off the older dogs, they are coming off, the younger dog in training will push, the sheep push back and then this will set off the older dogs who don’t put up with that crap from the sheep and they will jump back in.. which normally ends up with a number of lession in pack grouping for the younger dog, with me downing the older dogs and then retraining the younger dog to call off.

    I agree with Karen, about using the herding dogs for moving the sheep but I would guess that you will need to set up your big fluffy white puppies in regards to sheep, chickens etc and then proof their training.

    Val

  5. Posted October 3, 2010 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Are you guys on the lgd.org listserv? I think they could offer a lot of good advice on where to go from here.

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