LGD's - Training or Instinct?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by AllCoop'dUp, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. AllCoop'dUp

    AllCoop'dUp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Poultry Run has 3 layers fencing 8ft tall garden fencing, 4 feet tall pountry fencing and 8ft tall deer fencing.

    Tues. Morning feeding - 2 - 4wk magpie ducklings dead another 1 missing. Bite marks their bills, no body bites. Led me to believe it was an owl?

    Wed. Morning feeding - 6 month old American Goose laying near fence, No visible bite marks anywhere, bill is scraped up and a little bloody, can't stand or lift her head, but she is not dead. Big hole in the 8ft tall deer fencing (That black plastic coated stuff). Goose gone by 2pm.

    Now I'm thinking it was a Raccoon, but we haven't seen Raccoons in over a year. Plus our LGD patrols at night, but he's only 1 yrs old and the only thing I've ever seen him "kill" delibertly are garden hoses. He's played a few ducks and geese to death when he was younger, but he's finally grown out of that. I'm attributing the big hole in the deer fencing to him pawing at it trying to get whatever it was in the run attacking the geese and ducks.

    I can't confine the geese/ducks to indoor housing at night at this time. Am I navie in thinking that my LGD will take care of the predator instinctively or do I have to train him to? I know that he patrols the property at night because I've walked the path he's made and found his markings. I really thought getting this dog would answer all my predator issues.

    Sorry no trail cam or infared pictures. I did order 2 sets of "Nite Eyes" to attach to the fencing, hoping that will help. Like everyone else, I hate losing birds after putting so much time and effort into growing them up.
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    LGD likely cause of ongoing losses. Will correct with time. Fencing reads as complex. Not all LGD's are good as getting around barriers either because of not taking time to learn pathways or limited mobility from something like hip problems.


    Engaging threats is instinctive but experience and dogs physical condition influences dog's activities.


    Another possibility is a fox, maybe a grey, comes in and makes quick attack but cannot clear fence with catch so abandons catch when dog comes over. Red foxes attempt snatch and run on me but my dog is very fast and chickens do not cooperate with fox by calling dog over.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  3. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: LGD's (Livestock Guardian Dogs) were never meant to guard poultry.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    It is correct that LGD breeds as recognized on this forum were used and selected for guarding relatively large mobile herds of sheep or goats. The large herds operated as a relatively cohesive unit which chickens do not do although larger flocks of geese might be similar to the herd. The herds were also much more mobile in they covered much more ground per day and not confined to what approximate feedlots like many folks keep their flocks. On whole, most folks with LGD's even when keeping them with sheep or goats, do not have dogs operating the way the dogs were originally purposed because we confine so much and herds are so small. At work our single dogs work at most 100 grazers on at most 20 acres. The dogs still provide protection but if we were concerned about cost, then the number of dogs would be reduced greatly. With poultry they also provide protection and often do a very good job but you are forcing a football player mentality to work in a flower shop.
     
  5. Mountain Man Jim

    Mountain Man Jim Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think Centrchid might be right. Is it possible that your dog has caused the injuries to your birds?

    He’s into the goofy teenager months where they are not very reliable about not harming the chickens or deterring the predators. If my experience is typical, at about 1.5 years the larger breed LGDs come into their own and, if your training has been consistent, become very reliable guardians of the flock.

    By the way, what breed is your dog? I think it helps a lot to have a breed from a LGD or guard dog line. They just seem to naturally take on the role of chicken guardian; once you train them to stop chasing and playing with the birds.
    Good luck,

    Jim
     
  6. ChicksinFL

    ChicksinFL Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would say it is very possible your LGD did the damage to your birds. I have a 7 yr old GP that will not harm a feather on the birds heads and will protect them just as she does our goats/horses and my kids when they are outside. I also added a puppy this year he's only about 6 months old, he is huge and can be a threat to all our animals at times I have to correct him constantly and I've seen our older GP correct him as well. My biggest issue we have had is food related we have had to teach him that poultry food is not for him, we hadn't worried before if we dropped some feed on the ground our 7 yr old GP would never even come near it however the younger dog got a liking for it before we realized what was happening with him liking the food he busted into one of my temp cages (my fault as well it shouldn't have been left at ground level it was temp for the day but the day had gotten away from us) killing the two bird in it to get the food. After that he went on a very strict NO poultry feed lifestyle, we have a large dog crate set up right next to the coops and he goes in time out for showing any interest in the feed this is what his breeder suggested to do. I also have taken to pulling birds out and petting him while I hold the birds, this has seemed to make him accept them more as well since before they were just these animals in coops now he's getting accustomed to them being animals that are part of his herd. After several weeks of this I am seeing improvement I can now feed the chickens and if some spills he will not go after the food he stays nearby but lays about 3 feet away without moving I also now rake any dropped feed up when I'm done. We have A LOT of work left to do with him as he's only six months, per his breeder and all my reading before getting a GP they won't really start guarding until they are between 1 1/2 and 2 yrs old. Knowing I wanted something to guard right away is why I got a older GP last year, then I added the puppy this year once the older one had established her role here, now she is doing the training and teaching of the puppy just as their breeder said would happen.

    My older GP does not let ANYTHING on our property, we have found dead and buried coons, my daughter has witnessed her swinging a fox by the tail once. She will not even let people she doesn't know on the property I actually have to put her in a run when we have the farrier/vet out because she gets very upset if anyone she doesn't know messes with her animals or my kids. My neighbors who share a fence line with me have a bear that visits their property once every few weeks and it never comes to my property, they have also lost 3 goats this past year to predators and I've lost nothing except one free range chicken that a hawk got to in broad day light with us standing in the barn with the vet.

    ETA: We even have pictures some place of our 7 yr old GP killing a snake that was getting too close to the coops. She snatched it up by the tail and swung it around smashing it into the ground several times before really shredding it. My girl is worth her weight in gold , and my pup will be once he grows up and learns all his lessons.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  7. AllCoop'dUp

    AllCoop'dUp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    From your replies, I'm thinking I did not communicate effectively. The run is surrounded by 3 layers of fencing all tacked to the same 8ft tall 6" round posts. The outer layer is the 8ft deer fencing, middle layer is the 8ft woven wire garden fencing and the 3rd layer is 4ft green plastic coated chicken wire. My LGD (Great Pyr) only pawed at the 8ft plastic deer fencing. There are NO other holes in the fencing, so there is NO way he is the culprit here. The run is open on the top, hence my inital thought that it was an owl that killed the 4 wk old ducklings and carried off 1 of their bodies. The goose was a good 25-30 lbs, which led me to believe it was a raccoon that climbed up and over the 8ft fencing and attacked the goose, and my LGD heard the comotion and pawed at the fencing trying to get it.

    Needless to say...my question was: Are LGD's abilities instinct or training?
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I miss understood at multiple levels. You fencing will not stop a raccoon or fox, particularly grey fox but 20 lb goose bigger than most foxes will go after. A coyote can likely beat fence but in my experience a coyote will be less likely than fox or raccoon to operate in close to a large dog on other side of fence. Still do not rule out owl. Direct observation or sign needed for confirmation on ID.

    LGD's abilities are combination of instinct, training, and experience not derived from your training. All canids, wild and domestic, have some inherent level of interest defending core of territory around den site. Some species more aggressive thant others in that respect. Your LGD, is the result of wolf domestication that is greatly enhanced the animals concept of territory and willingness to stand and fight when wolf would think such efforts are stupid / not worth effort. Your LGD has also been selected to more readily occupy a tighter home range that is centered on flock which would be important in free-range setting but not yours. LGD also selected to bark a lot more. Training and experience comes in with dog learning ropes around your containment system and who is to be attacked and who is not. Some dogs get so riled up they can not think how to go around a barrier to get at something of interest. Experience helps with that. I actively trained pups how to get over some fences and into some coops which makes so predator can not operate out of harms way. Also makes so dog does not damage containment or self while trying to get at target.

    Your dog may need to be able to get in with stock to be effective. I tried perimeter use only and some predators learn to use fencing to their favor. In your case LGD may still be able to intimidate predator enough to abandon catch but that may not last and death loss / maiming of stock is just as bad as predator eating it's fill..
     
  9. ChicksinFL

    ChicksinFL Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In that case he very likely was trying to get in due to what was happening in the coop.

    I feel that a good LGD is both instinct and training, before getting my first dog I read many breeders sites and that is why I decided on a older already guarding GP for our first and our second was a pup because we have the older GP to do most of the training. We have things to work with on our younger GP and our older GP handles the teaching him to guard by showing him the ropes. I see him picking up on it more and more daily as he matures it's instinct, training and following the lead of the older dog in our case. According to the breeder we purchased both our dogs from it is a mix as well of instinct , learning from the older dogs and a some training in the puppy years. From what I've read if you don't have an older dog you will need to do more work to teach them their place and what not to do to your animals like chase, nip etc..

    Our pup has a ways to go to be a trusted guardian but that is my own fault for thinking he would take right to the cooped birds and see them as something to protect, however the more we are working with him teaching him the birds are indeed to be protected and that their food is for them not him the better he gets.
     

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