Any tips on training my new lgd pups?


12 Years
Mar 30, 2007
Belleville, Kansas
Oh man, I probalby bit off more than I can chew!

I brought home not one, but TWO lgd pups this week. They are 8 weeks old, brother and sister, 3/4 Great Pyr and 1/8 Maremma 1/8 Anatolian Shepherd.

Not papered,so thats according to the farmer I bought them from.

Do they EVER hate a leash and collar! The boy hated it so much, he sits smack dab down on his butt and refuses to go anywhere! I really want them to learn tho, as I figure they NEED to learn for trips to vet, etc, that sort of thing. I cant imagine trying to control a dog over 100 lbs that hasnt at least learned to tolerate it.

Right now, they dont know their names or what no means, so its a bit frustrating.

Anyhow, can anyone give me tips on training them with my chickens, etc? And as far as playing with them, what is acceptable to allow them to do? I have only had them 3 days and dont want to start behavior I will have to correct later on.

I have been trying to introduce them to my chickens, they are scared of the big chickens tho when they squawk and flap. Its been 20 years since I have had a dog and all I know how to do basically is potty train.

I do have them inside currently, but dont plan on that being permanent, but since I didnt have a fence, and they are so little yet, and didnt know us from Jake, here they are in the house.

And socializing, how does one do that? Have folks over constantly? Take them to the neighbors to visit? ??? I have lotsa questions.

And we dont have goats or any other livestock, only poultry, they were born with mom an dad guarding goats, with chickens running free range that they didnt mess with, but they didnt guard them per se, just were slightly familiar with seeing them around.

Anyhow, tho..they ARE darling....




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Dances with Chickens
10 Years
Mar 3, 2009
Lakeport, Ca.
First off they are ADORABLE!

I don't have advice on chicken training them, but I do have other advice. I raised dogs for Canine Companions for Independence, an Organization that raises dogs for people with disabilities. Anywho....

As for leash training, all puppies are very stubborn when they are first leashed. What we did to leash train ours was leash them up, take them for a walk, all the while holding out hand down by our knee slowly feeding them treats, this way they got used to walking on a leash, and learned they need to be by our side, and not dragging us. But just a warning, this can be hard on your back, but sooo worth it.

For name training. sit on the floor, and hold a treat in your hand, while fully extending our arm, the puppy will be going crazy over the treat, but you just say his name, and when he makes eye contact with you after you have said his name, Say YES excitedly and give him a treat. Do this over and over for a while, and he will know his name in no time.

Good Luck!
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12 Years
Mar 30, 2007
Belleville, Kansas
Thank you, Kelsey!

I have some specific questions for anyone familiar.

The lil girl pup wants to play by pulling on my pant leg, as she did it yesterday and I didnt discourage(I laughed, and played back...its so hard), so she thought it great fun. I want to play, but am a loss as to what I can do to play with them that wont encourage bad behavior, any ideas and suggestions? Thats particularly what I am confused about right now. I never had a dog that I needed to make sure they mouthed things softly, etc as I never had one with prey drive or a chewer before.

I suppose the grabbing my pant leg is a no-no, right! I didnt encourage it when she grabbed me last night, so she was a bit confused, didnt discourage, just didnt laugh or play back.

So...whats allowed and what is not at this point? I havent been horribly firm with them at all yet, since they were pretty shook up when they first came, to the point I thought I was going to lose the girl, she got so sick she couldnt stand up with nerves plus she was a runt (probably got pushed away from food too), and had a high worm load. She went into shock that first night, it was a VERY LONG night.
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Dulcimyrh Ducks
10 Years
Oct 22, 2009
Question: were these dogs raised more like partly feral farm dogs? I ask this because there are a few things here that make me wonder. They seem to like people enough to not be afraid of them, but I am wondering if they may have been not worked with very much by the seller. Me personally, I would try to find someone well-versed in the training of LGDs and get some advice on how to, and how much NOT to, train these guys. I am by no means an expert on either the breeds you mention or how such dogs are trained, but I am thinking you do need to establish some dominance here with them at the very least.

ETA: Somewhere in here there was a link that went to an article about training LGDs but I'm not sure where it is. Anyone? I believe you are supposed to start with them being out where they are supposed to guard right away and not even bring them into the house...not necessarily *in* loose with the chickens, but at least secured close to the chickens. I think it says that they should become attached to their charges first and you second, which they won't do as well if they come to think of the house and human attention as their place in the world. You'd have to read the whole context of what it says though.
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Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
10 Years
Nov 22, 2009
Jacksonville, FL - Arligton-
When raising a puppy for SEGI (Southeastern Guide Dog Inc.) we were allowed to play 'retrieve' (not fetch) but these dogs will be doing a different job.

Jack was never allowed to destroy anything or play tug of war, he was never allowed to chase anything either, he was not allowed to growl or bark, nor show dominance to another animal.

'Jack come' was the only behavior that was food trained everything else was physical/verbal praise trained. He learned his name and come that way, 'Jack sit' was a different command and he knew then apart.


12 Years
Mar 30, 2007
Belleville, Kansas
They went to feed the chickens with me yesterday. She was VERY calm, but when a chicken fluttered and squawked in the pen, the boy ran as hard as he could all the way back to the house.

The girl just looked at me, inquisitive.

Today they went with me, he ran again soon as he heard a squawk, she actually entered the coop with me nosing around. Was only one hen in there and she was calm until the hen got excited and ran out the pop door, then she wanted to follow and she was a bit excited. I reprimanded her very sharply.
She has been depressed all morning over it.
She is a very sensitive dog. It was the first REAL sharp reprimand I have given her.

Thing is we want these dogs to guard us, the property and the stuff on it, so not sure if that makes a dif. My hubby is gone a lot and we saw a mountain lion this winter, had a break in last fall, etc. So we want it them dual purpose.

And I think he didnt work with them alot, altho he acted like he loved them, he was affectionate with the mom and dad, but he told me this dog had never been picked up before, and she LOVES human attention. The boy could take it or leave it. They both love baby talk.
They did guard their goats, and he had taught the parents to not attack the chickens or cats.

You can certainly tell they arents human socialized tho, they dont beg for food when a person is eating or anything, really nice when your in the car on the way to the vet and you stop to get tacos and do NOT have a dog in your face!
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10 Years
Apr 30, 2009
Central KY
Puppies are going to be puppies.. With an LGD breed, they're puppies until they're about 2 years of age. I'm not sure I'd encourage one to play tug of war and mouth around on me, as they grow QUICKLY and giant puppy "needle teeth" probably hurt really bad..
...not to mention that if they are always allowed to do that and never corrected, it may very well translate to livestock.

On the other I said, they're going to be puppies, and puppies do that.. Not to mention, I actually made a point to play with our LGD over the winter when he was all hyped up from the cold weather, just so he could burn off some excess energy with me instead of with the goats. If he had another dog in the pack, he'd have played with the other dog...but since he doesn't (yet), I figured it was better that I become the other dog rather than him substituting a goat.

What I'd suggest in general would be to get them outside ASAP and limit your cuddle time as much as you can stand. I'm not saying "totally ignore them" as some folks recommend, because you don't necessarily want a dog that's weird even around your own family...but they really do need to get accustomed to being outside with the livestock from a young age.

Also, try to think like their LGD mama would think as much as you can.. Would she allow them to pull her fur? Probably...for a while, then she'd correct them. Would she play with them? Probably, until she got tired of it at which point she'd run them off.

Know what I'm saying?

Something else that mama wouldn't (or shouldn't) tolerate under any circumstances would be for her pups to play rough with the animals. She would correct that IN A HURRY and you should, too.

And, as for having a dog with prey'd better hope you still don't have dogs with prey drive.

Prey drive should be pretty much totally arrested in LGD breeds, considering livestock are prey animals...hence the need to be guarded. That brings me to my next point -- DO NOT ENCOURAGE PREY DRIVE in your LGDs. What that means, in a nutshell, is don't throw things and encourage them to chase it. Don't run and encourage them to chase you.. Don't let your kids run and encourage the dogs to chase.. No chasing...period.

If they have any prey drive left at all, those types of activities may actually develop it and make it stronger, which is exactly what you don't want. So, don't do anything that would train them to react to fast movement. a dog with prey drive, prey animals are just frisbees that throw themselves. Teach the dog to run for a ball or stick or frisbee, it's gonna be incliend to run for chickens and goats too.

That brings me to my next point..

LGDs shouldn't need much training to do their jobs... They should come with everything they need in order to do their jobs, more or less instictually.. Now, lots of people take that to mean "throw them with the stock and forget it," assuming that they'll eventually settle in and be perfect angels -- not so! If your dog is young and inexperienced (which these two obviously are, as babies), chucking them out with no supervision is a recipe for frustration and problems. While they should be pre-wired to guard, they're also gonna be pre-wired to do some other...shall we say...less desireable things.

Think of it this way...they should already know what to do, but they may not always know what not to do. In a normal situation, mama would teach them what not to do by providing constant supervision and correction, should they get out of hand.

And believe me...they will need correction from time to time. You're mama now, which means it's up to you to provide that correction. The bad news is that they're gonna make mistakes, and it can be a PITA.. The good news is, you get the opportunity to 'correct them' into the LGDs you want. More good news is that, while some LGDs have a reputation for being "big dumb dogs," they're actually extremely sensitive and very, very intelligent. Rarely does it take more than a stern word to get their attention, and it doesn't take much repetition before they catch on to things.

For instance...Ivan hates a leash. He wasn't leash trained as a pup and, dude...I mean, he hates it. He's recuperating from surgery right now and must be kept 'quiet' for 4-6 weeks. He's supposed to go out on a leash. Well, that wasn't going to happen, but that's actually OK in this particular instance because he's not prone to being spastically energetic anyway, and we have a small fenced yard to turn him out into where we can supervise him. Well, for the first few trips out to pee, he didn't want to come back in. So, out came the collar and leash. After once or twice with that, he determined that he'd rather go back in on his own than wear a collar and leash, so all you have to do is show him the leash now and he hops on back to his little 'man cave' and lays down like a good boy.

Very, very, very smart dogs.

Now, as for traditional training...yes, leash training is a very good idea.
Refer to the above...we'd rather that he be a good boy and accept a leash, but...well...that ship had more or less sailed by the time he came to us, and we didn't push it.

I havent been horribly firm with them at all yet, since they were pretty shook up when they first came, to the point I thought I was going to lose the girl, she got so sick she couldnt stand up with nerves plus she was a runt (probably got pushed away from food too), and had a high worm load. She went into shock that first night, it was a VERY LONG night.

In my opinion, an LGD should tend toward wariness and being high strung. If they were so super social and easy going that they never felt threatened by anything, how could anyone expect them to do their jobs? Then, they'd just be the dog that everyone had....ya know, the one who would ward off burglers by licking them to death?


Not what you want in a opinion, anyway.​


Flock Mistress
10 Years
Apr 14, 2009
Benton (Saline County) AR
While I agree with what you posted, I beg to differ about that statement.
My big ole Lab may be the dumbest dog that I've ever owned, AND also the most "prey/fetch" driven, but he DEFINITELY knows the difference between frizbees and chickens.

Again, I'm not saying you should encourage prey games of fetch with a LGD, no way. I totally agree about not encouraging those things....just sayin if my dumb dog can figure it out, surely your "smart" LGD can

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