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Official LGD Owners Thread!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Mugen, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I think a lot of the larger sheep ranchers still use LGDs but some have gravitated towards donkeys, llamas and such. Don't have to keep different food in the fields for these types of guardians.

    I like the fact that my dogs keep my animals safe from predators and that they also are very well-socialized with humans. Although, the phone repair guys were very nervous the other day because my Lab/BC mix dog was standing quietly at alert, head down and giving them the hairy eyeball for coming in the yard! [​IMG]

    Good dog! [​IMG]
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I think a lot of the larger sheep ranchers still use LGDs but some have gravitated towards donkeys, llamas and such. Don't have to keep different food in the fields for these types of guardians.

    I like the fact that my dogs keep my animals safe from predators and that they also are very well-socialized with humans. Although, the phone repair guys were very nervous the other day because my Lab/BC mix dog was standing quietly at alert, head down and giving them the hairy eyeball for coming in the yard! [​IMG]

    Good dog! [​IMG]
     
  3. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Quote:That sounds almost like "prey drive" to me

    No, it's definitely not prey drive.. Ivan has no prey drive whatsoever.

    I actually forgot that one day and tossed a soccer ball at him like I'd do with any of our other dogs....hit him right in the face. He kinda jumped back and looked at me with his feelers hurt, like "Why did you do that?!?"

    [​IMG]

    Point is, though, he has no 'trigger' associated with movement..

    Maybe your breed is more agressive, but I don't think my Maremmas would attack anything they didnt perceive as a threat.

    Neither would mine...but a coyote, or any other dog really, is something he'd surely consider a threat.

    If a dog runs off and leaves the flock to chase down a predator, then he's not there protecting them.

    I dont care if they kill or even fight with predators, as long as they dont let them near my animals
    It's better for the sheep and for my dogs if their mere presence deters the threats.

    And that, I think, is the difference

    Let me clarify...what I should have said was that a good LGD, in my opinion, would kill a coyote anywhere, anytime if necessary. If the coyote were to run away, that would be perfectly fine with our dog. He's not got quite the 'seek and destroy' mentality that I've heard expressed of some other breeds, such as the CMD.

    So, if he were in a strange pasture with nothing to guard and a coyote were introduced, what I would expect is that he would first make his presence known with his "angry bark." If that didn't send it packing, I believe he'd approach it. If it decided to engage him, then he'd kill it....but not before giving it every opportunity to go away.

    Chances are, though, it wouldn't stick around long after seeing him, and I really don't believe he'd chase after it.

    I firmly believe that he would do something about it, though, regardless of whether or not he was in "his" territory or had anything to guard. So, yeah, perhaps he is more aggressive. And perhaps that's the difference, as you say..

    As for leaving the herd...yeah, he would to approach a predator. Indeed, he has. Thing is, he's never really in the herd to begin with, like some other LGDs who stay right in with the herd all the time.

    Some might consider that a bad thing, others not.. I can tell you that I was really glad he had a proactive nature the night my neighbor's boxer and rottie showed up at the barnyard gate. He met them there, and they came no further. The goats stayed in the barn, about 100' away. Had he stayed in the barn with the goats, the two dogs would certainly have actually gained access to the barnyard and a fight would have ensued between a single LGD and two big dogs.

    That could have been a disaster. It was prevented, though, becuase he kept them outside the fence...an action some might even call "territoriality," though I don't believe that to have been the case. He approached them because they were a threat, and that's what he does toward threats.

    At the same time, I can also see the point that if that had been a single coyote at the gate, and had it drawn him out, other coyotes could have gaine access from the rear..

    Six in one hand, half a dozen in the other.

    And...now that I'm thinking of it...perhaps the ideal situation would be a mixed pack consisting of one or more proactive LGDs like the Sarplaninac or CMD, and one or more bonded LGD like the Pyrenees or Maremma. The proactives approach the threat while the bondeds stay back to protect the livestock.

    I'm sure there are individual personality differences even among dogs of the same breed that might make some more likely to want to fight, but most predators simply go away when they lose the element of surprise.

    Agreed, 100%.

    I did watch a coyote sit over a killed fawn once, in broad daylight, while the doe pranced around trying to run it off. The coyote actually got up and charged the doe several times, eventually running her off. It was pitiful. I went in to get my rifle, but the coyote was gone before I could get back. I walked over to the fawn and found its throat ripped, plus big puncture wounds right in the top of its head.

    The coyote was easily GSD sized, or better.

    I've never had a predator get inside the pasture, so I'm really not sure what they would do.
    I did have one reach under a gate to"attack" a dead fox that I had just shot, but I had carried it close to the pasture myself

    Neither have we, but as I mentioned earlier...I can say with about 99% certainty that we would have, if not for Ivan and the way he operates.


    BTW...your dogs are gorgeous. Now that I had the thought of a keeping a 'proactive' and a 'bonded' breed.....I think I kinda want one. [​IMG]

    We're actually getting a 75%Pyr/25%Sarpie this weekend.. She's 4mo old. When she's about two, provided everybody lives that long, we're going to breed them for 60+/-% Sarpie/40+/-%Pyr babies.

    Should be an interesting dog. [​IMG]
     
  4. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Quote:Interesting that you'd say "head down".. According to my research into fear aggression, a dog with its head and tail held low indicates anxiety or fear. The fact that your dog was alert with her head down would seem to indicate some level of fear aggression, given that she didn't move away..

    Also interesting to note is that Border Collies are getting a really bad reputation for fear aggression these days. It's popping up more and more.

    Thing is, though...in my opinion, most LGDs possess a good deal of fear aggression. Without fear aggression, the dog would either become submissive or shy away from threats altogether -- something NO livestock guardian should ever do.
     
  5. Promiselandfarm

    Promiselandfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ours seem to bond with and protect our flocks and we humans. Lucy the last one pictured in my post laid with an injured goat until she was better not leaving her side making sure she was watched at all times it was touching. This goat was one of those buys my son did because he felt for it as it looked half starved at the auction house. One of those who you put more money in than you'll ever see back out of but your heart strings just tug at ya. Lucy had pups not too long ago and Gracie was all upset trying to get the boys to follow her ...she wanting them to see the new pups and knew that without them Lucy would not let her in. Not sure about those of you guys dogs out there but ours pups start out with the moms guarding as young ones learning to protect the flocks.
     
  6. Jamie_Dog_Trainer

    Jamie_Dog_Trainer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2008
    Washington State
    Quote:Interesting that you'd say "head down".. According to my research into fear aggression, a dog with its head and tail held low indicates anxiety or fear. The fact that your dog was alert with her head down would seem to indicate some level of fear aggression, given that she didn't move away..

    Also interesting to note is that Border Collies are getting a really bad reputation for fear aggression these days. It's popping up more and more.

    Thing is, though...in my opinion, most LGDs possess a good deal of fear aggression. Without fear aggression, the dog would either become submissive or shy away from threats altogether -- something NO livestock guardian should ever do.

    Actually the head down position described here would not indicate the dog was fearful. Rather this is common in stalking prey in all canines. What is may also indicate is the bred-in trait of a Border Collie to stalk with the head down. To me it merely shows the dog is concentrating hard. What you are saying looks like fear is in a very different context.

    I think there is a lot of confusion on this thread on what is actually going on when a dog guarding. The drives a dog uses to act upon a threat or percieved threat can vary greatly. If a dog is truley fearful the dog would NOT go after a predator, the only way a dog goes after something when its in a panicked defense drive is if its cornered and feels its forced to attack.

    Edit to add: In all predators the prey drive follows an inevitable sequence: the search, the eye-stalk, the chase, the grab bite, and the kill bite and the end result eating the prey. Dogs have been selectively bred for these purposes, some have been bred out of them some have been exaggerated. This is seperate from the pack drives in which you look at the in/out bred qualities for dogs living directly with people.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
  7. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Quote:I agree, but I have to say that I think you also may be a bit confused.

    The drives a dog uses to act upon a threat or percieved threat can vary greatly. If a dog is truley fearful the dog would NOT go after a predator, the only way a dog goes after something when its in a panicked defense drive is if its cornered and feels its forced to attack.

    I disagree.

    Fear aggression causes a dog to do just what you said they wouldn't, which is to display aggression toward something of which it's fearful. Hence the name...fear aggression. The degree of aggression displayed is usually dependant upon the seriousness of the threat that's perceived.

    I've seen it. Indeed, I've been on the receiving end of it and had to break my own LGD of fear aggression toward me.

    A little background.. We got our Sarplaninac LGD when he was 7 months old and approaching 100lbs. His breeders wound up with too many irons in the fire when he came along, so he wasn't socialized very much. As his littermates disappeared, he remained because he was very standoffish toward strangers. His breeders were actually at a crossroad with him when we contacted them.

    He snapped at me three times during our first visit, but I knew by looking in his eyes that it wasn't because he was vicious...something else was going on. I felt confident that we could overcome it, and that he would make an excellent LGD...so we gave it a shot, with the understanding that it may not work out and that the breeders may have to take him back.

    In hindsight, it's clear to me that the look he had wasn't territoriality or a sense of having bonded to anything...it was worry, plain and simple. It's so clear to me now, but at the time...I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

    When he came to our farm, I'd hoped he would be looking for a friend in a strange place.. He was, and found one...my wife. They were fast friends from the first minute. Unfortunately for me, one friend was good enough for him, so he continued to seriously dislike me and try to run me off every chance he got. I tried and tried to simply be nice to him to show him that I wasn't a threat, but the nicer I got, the more aggressive he became toward me. He very seriously lunged at me several times. It was truly puzzling..

    I spent the next few days doing research on what I might be able to do to become friends with this dog.. More specifically, what may be causing him to act this way. At some point, I ran across an article on fear aggression.

    It fit him to a tee.

    Head down, tail down...obviously anxious...growling, barking...menacing...approaching when you turn and move away. He seemed a classic case, so I figured out a protocol to deal with it.

    What I did was aggravate him incessantly, refusing to show any fear of him whatsoever. He would run to approach me even with a fence between us, so I used that to my advantage. When he would run to the fence to bark and growl and try to turn me around, I'd just stand there. He'd bark..and bark..and bark..and I'd just stand there. When he'd finally calm down, I'd speak and he'd go nuts again. Again, I'd just stand there. When I could stand there and speak without him actively showing aggression, I'd move away. As soon as I'd move away, he'd start up again as though he'd "won"....at which point I would immediately turn and come right back toward him.

    Over and over and over again, we played this little game.

    Eventually, he got to where he would move away from the fence when I approached because he'd finally come to the conclusion that, no matter what he did, he couldn't get me to go away. He figured out that he couldn't scare me. That's when I started seeing more fear than aggression and I knew, right away, that the diagnosis of fear-aggression had been spot on.

    And, when you think about it...how could a livestock guardian dog be expected to operate without some tendency toward approaching threats, versus running away?!? It all made perfect sense... It became obvious that he'd been afraid of me the whole time...but he's simply not wired to show fear. Ever. He's wired to show aggression when fearful. Only when he determined that aggression didn't work on me did he decide that I really wasn't to be messed with, and that he should probably just go find somewhere else to be.

    That's when I started coming into the barnyard with him, one on one. No fences to protect either of us.

    When he saw me, he'd go the other way. I ran him all over the barnyard -- on open ground, so as not to corner him -- but to reinforce the idea that I'm bigger and badder than he is, and that I'm not going to react the way he's accustomed to things reacting to his showy displays of aggression. I never had to lay a hand on him, mind you, nor did I have to scream at him or chase him or act otherwise like an idiot. All I had to do was walk around, and he'd get the heck out of my way.

    Once I felt confident enough to walk around my barnyard with impunity again, I ignored him. He figured out pretty quickly that I apparently never meant him any harm, so he'd come investigate me every now and then. I'd catch him sniffing around me and would immediately reach down to pet him....a nerve racking experience for both of us. What I found was that when I'd catch him in those weak moments where his curiosity got the better of him, and actually reach out to him, he'd go absolutely stone still....as if to communicate, in the only way he could, that he didn't mean me any harm. Going perfectly still is as submissive as these types of dogs know how to be.

    So, I'd pet him.

    Within maybe two weeks or so, he got to where he would actually approach me with his tail up and wagging. Today, we're best buddies.

    So that's how I know he's fear aggressive, and that's how I know exactly what it looks like when he shows it. I know it because he did the same thing with me that he does with any stranger or threat that approaches to this day -- he puts his head down, keeps his tail low, growls, barks, and generally takes on a very menacing appearance.. The bigger the threat, the bigger the display.

    Deep down, though...I know he's terrified.

    And that, my friend...fear aggression...is what makes a good LGD tick.

    In my opinion, anyway.. [​IMG]


    And, forgive me, but I also feel compelled to point out that -- even after noting what you consider to be our confusion -- you never actually offered up any explanation whatsoever as to what you think makes a guardian dog tick. All you said was that it can "vary greatly," but...well...that was all you said.

    Would you like to expand on that?​
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
  8. Jamie_Dog_Trainer

    Jamie_Dog_Trainer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2008
    Washington State
    Quote:I agree, but I have to say that I think you also may be a bit confused.

    The drives a dog uses to act upon a threat or percieved threat can vary greatly. If a dog is truley fearful the dog would NOT go after a predator, the only way a dog goes after something when its in a panicked defense drive is if its cornered and feels its forced to attack.

    I disagree.

    Fear aggression causes a dog to do just what you said they wouldn't, which is to display aggression toward something of which it's fearful. Hence the name...fear aggression. The degree of aggression displayed is usually dependant upon the seriousness of the threat that's perceived.

    I've seen it. Indeed, I've been on the receiving end of it and had to break my own LGD of fear aggression toward me.

    A little background.. We got our Sarplaninac LGD when he was 7 months old and approaching 100lbs. His breeders wound up with too many irons in the fire when he came along, so he wasn't socialized very much. As his littermates disappeared, he remained because he was very standoffish toward strangers. His breeders were actually at a crossroad with him when we contacted them.

    He snapped at me three times during our first visit, but I knew by looking in his eyes that it wasn't because he was vicious...something else was going on. I felt confident that we could overcome it, and that he would make an excellent LGD...so we gave it a shot, with the understanding that it may not work out and that the breeders may have to take him back.

    In hindsight, it's clear to me that the look he had wasn't territoriality or a sense of having bonded to anything...it was worry, plain and simple. It's so clear to me now, but at the time...I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

    When he came to our farm, I'd hoped he would be looking for a friend in a strange place.. He was, and found one...my wife. They were fast friends from the first minute. Unfortunately for me, one friend was good enough for him, so he continued to seriously dislike me and try to run me off every chance he got. I tried and tried to simply be nice to him to show him that I wasn't a threat, but the nicer I got, the more aggressive he became toward me. He very seriously lunged at me several times. It was truly puzzling..

    I spent the next few days doing research on what I might be able to do to become friends with this dog.. More specifically, what may be causing him to act this way. At some point, I ran across an article on fear aggression.

    It fit him to a tee.

    Head down, tail down...obviously anxious...growling, barking...menacing...approaching when you turn and move away. He seemed a classic case, so I figured out a protocol to deal with it.

    What I did was aggravate him incessantly, refusing to show any fear of him whatsoever. He would run to approach me even with a fence between us, so I used that to my advantage. When he would run to the fence to bark and growl and try to turn me around, I'd just stand there. He'd bark..and bark..and bark..and I'd just stand there. When he'd finally calm down, I'd speak and he'd go nuts again. Again, I'd just stand there. When I could stand there and speak without him actively showing aggression, I'd move away. As soon as I'd move away, he'd start up again as though he'd "won"....at which point I would immediately turn and come right back toward him.

    Over and over and over again, we played this little game.

    Eventually, he got to where he would move away from the fence when I approached because he'd finally come to the conclusion that, no matter what he did, he couldn't get me to go away. He figured out that he couldn't scare me. That's when I started seeing more fear than aggression and I knew, right away, that the diagnosis of fear-aggression had been spot on.

    And, when you think about it...how could a livestock guardian dog be expected to operate without some tendency toward approaching threats, versus running away?!? It all made perfect sense... It became obvious that he'd been afraid of me the whole time...but he's simply not wired to show fear. Ever. He's wired to show aggression when fearful. Only when he determined that aggression didn't work on me did he decide that I really wasn't to be messed with, and that he should probably just go find somewhere else to be.

    That's when I started coming into the barnyard with him, one on one. No fences to protect either of us.

    When he saw me, he'd go the other way. I ran him all over the barnyard -- on open ground, so as not to corner him -- but to reinforce the idea that I'm bigger and badder than he is, and that I'm not going to react the way he's accustomed to things reacting to his showy displays of aggression. I never had to lay a hand on him, mind you, nor did I have to scream at him or chase him or act otherwise like an idiot. All I had to do was walk around, and he'd get the heck out of my way.

    Once I felt confident enough to walk around my barnyard with impunity again, I ignored him. He figured out pretty quickly that I apparently never meant him any harm, so he'd come investigate me every now and then. I'd catch him sniffing around me and would immediately reach down to pet him....a nerve racking experience for both of us. What I found was that when I'd catch him in those weak moments where his curiosity got the better of him, and actually reach out to him, he'd go absolutely stone still....as if to communicate, in the only way he could, that he didn't mean me any harm. Going perfectly still is as submissive as these types of dogs know how to be.

    So, I'd pet him.

    Within maybe two weeks or so, he got to where he would actually approach me with his tail up and wagging. Today, we're best buddies.

    So that's how I know he's fear aggressive, and that's how I know exactly what it looks like when he shows it. I know it because he did the same thing with me that he does with any stranger or threat that approaches to this day -- he puts his head down, keeps his tail low, growls, barks, and generally takes on a very menacing appearance.. The bigger the threat, the bigger the display.

    Deep down, though...I know he's terrified.

    And that, my friend...fear aggression...is what makes a good LGD tick.

    In my opinion, anyway.. [​IMG]


    And, forgive me, but I also feel compelled to point out that -- even after noting what you consider to be our confusion -- you never actually offered up any explanation whatsoever as to what you think makes a guardian dog tick. All you said was that it can "vary greatly," but...well...that was all you said.

    Would you like to expand on that?​

    LOL i was trying to avoid a long long drawn out explanation of dog drives. We are speaking, kinda, the same language. You are talking a display of aggression, while I am talking about a final act of an aggressive/defensive attack.

    LGD's are good at display. Some are good at acting upon a threat. Fear aggression is and will never be the correct drive for a dog to be an effective guardian when it comes down to actually acting the dog will run unless it feels it has no other choice. If you are happy with a dog that displays as most people are then that's fine its more than adequate most of the time. A dog going after a coyote and attacking is NOT in a fearful state of mind, unless as i said before, the dog is cornered and feels the threat is so great it has no chioce. Most LGD that go after a fox or coyote don't feel cornered, the dogs are acting out of a confident defensive or territorial drive (also called pack drive).

    I also want to point out that a dog that is fearful of humans and a dog that is generallly fearful of its environment are two different things.

    There is defensive aggression. Defensive aggression can be on a scale from pure fear aggression to a very confident kind of aggression while the dog confidently (and without much or any uneasyness) will defend someone or something. Personally I prefer a dog that is on the confident end of the defense drive sprectrum. A dog that displays the behavior that you described in your dog is very unstable. Im glad your dog is in a working home because that kind of temperament wouldn't work well in a non working home, the fearfullness you describe is not only scary but unheathy for the animal. The stress he experiences is very hard on him.

    I specialize in aggression and other behavior issues in dogs. I would much rather be up against a dog that is confidently aggressive than a dog that is fearfully aggressive. A confidently aggressive dog is a thinking dog, a fearfully aggressive dog, once decides to attack, is purley acting out of self defense and is exceptionally dangerous. They freak out and bite and bite and bite. A dog that is trying to prove a point to you will bite once or twice and if he feels you 'get it' will back off. Its thinking versus pure reaction. I know I always want my dogs to be thinking, even if being threatened.

    I also think that you are taking your dogs reaction to you, a human, and rolling that up into a generalization about how your dog reacts to another animal. Unless its territoryal aggression to a strange person or dog, the reaction will be different. Territory aggressive displays look and sound generally the same whether the dog is barking at a person or other animal. And its just that--mere display. IF the other animal or person continues to advance and not heed the display then you'll probably see your dog (and hear for that matter) a big difference in body language. Drives will change at that point to defense or fear defense, and the dog will either run away, or choose to encounter said person or animal OR the dog will go neutral if he has decided its not a real threat.

    Drives, especially aggression drives are super complex. My own personal dog can go from one drive to another in a blink of an eye. He will go from prey drive to defensive drive and back again, and at the same time you can see his confidence go higher to lower all in about 30 seconds, depending on what we might be working on at the time. It takes a long time to be able to correctly lable the drives and even more time to realize that they are all part of one aggressive display.

    ETA: i know my spelling is terrible here. but im too lazy to go back and fix it all....[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
  9. Barred Rocks forever

    Barred Rocks forever Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2009
    maryland
    Quote:that would be considered a duel purpose farm dog
     
  10. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Quote:No, I'm talking both because the two are inextricably linked.

    LGD's are good at display. Some are good at acting upon a threat. Fear aggression is and will never be the correct drive for a dog to be an effective guardian when it comes down to actually acting the dog will run unless it feels it has no other choice.

    I disagree completely. Fear aggression is what draws the dog to the threat. If the threat does not leave, the dog becomes increasingly anxious and aggressive until the threat either decides to leave or a fight breaks out. That's my experience.

    If, on the other hand, what you're saying were true, then people would have nothing to fear around a fear-aggressive dog so long as they didn't corner it or fail to give them a way to escape.. That's not reality, though. The reality is that fear aggressive dogs bite and lunge to try to make the threat go away. If it won't go away, depending on the dog, it may very well decide to try harder....which in many cases means actually connecting on a lunging bite.

    If you are happy with a dog that displays as most people are then that's fine its more than adequate most of the time. A dog going after a coyote and attacking is NOT in a fearful state of mind, unless as i said before, the dog is cornered and feels the threat is so great it has no chioce. Most LGD that go after a fox or coyote don't feel cornered, the dogs are acting out of a confident defensive or territorial drive (also called pack drive).

    Again...I disagree completely. Let me run another scenario by you, and you tell me what you make of this.

    My neighbor's great Danes got out one day and -- as always -- came straight to my house. Ivan was about a year old at the time, but was already a whopping big dog and knew his job. As soon as he saw them, he jumped up and ran straight to the fence to run them off. The Danes -- two of them -- came over straight away to investigate him.

    Now, I know the neighbor's Danes to be good dogs, and I knew they weren't going to get in Ivan's enclosure, so I wasn't particularly worried. I just stood watch to make sure nothing really bad happened, and waited for the neighbor to show up as he always does within just a few minutes of his dogs getting loose..

    Well, Ivan was going absolutely NUTS at the fenceline, barking and snapping. There's no doubt in my mind that, had one of the Danes actually gained access into the barnyard, Ivan would have hit it at full speed and tried his best to kill it. No doubt...none whatsoever. Now...here's the part that -- in my opinion -- blows your theory of "confident defensive" or "territorial/pack" drive completely out of the water..

    As Ivan was barking and growling and snapping and lunging at these two monster dogs, he was also peeing. As in, simultaneously.

    Ya know how dogs pee sometimes when they get really scared? Well, that's what he did...yet, instead of rolling over and peeing as I've seen some males dogs do when they're REALLY scared, he had his ears flat, his head down and eyes averted, tail down, and his body crouched low...peeing...yet barking, growling, snarling and snapping the entire time.

    That incident was the most scared, and also the most aggressive that I've ever seen him act.

    So, what do you make of that?

    I also want to point out that a dog that is fearful of humans and a dog that is generallly fearful of its environment are two different things.

    There is defensive aggression. Defensive aggression can be on a scale from pure fear aggression to a very confident kind of aggression while the dog confidently (and without much or any uneasyness) will defend someone or something. Personally I prefer a dog that is on the confident end of the defense drive sprectrum. A dog that displays the behavior that you described in your dog is very unstable. Im glad your dog is in a working home because that kind of temperament wouldn't work well in a non working home, the fearfullness you describe is not only scary but unheathy for the animal. The stress he experiences is very hard on him.

    See, I disagree here as well.

    First of all, Ivan isn't uneasy or fearful all the time.. Wary, yes...but that's his nature. He is, afterall, a livestock guardian dog. An LGD that's not wary isn't a very good LGD. Indeed, most times he can be found laying flat out in the shade with nary a care in the world. When a threat presents itself, however...it's a very different story.

    Now, what I've found to be the "confident aggressive" dog you're describing are the ones who don't do much display before they attack.. As my vet put it to me one day describing a certain breed with that characteristic, they just "wade in" to a fight. No warning.

    My then gf/now-ex-wife used to work at a vet's office.. One weekend, they were kenneling a rottweiler whose temperament was as you describe...confident aggressive. My ex's job was to let all the dogs out to pee, and I went with her that afternoon specifically because of that rottie and because nobody else was there.

    She'd sprayed the concrete run down after the previous dog went out, and then she let the rottie out. I was holding the clinic door open in case she needed to make a quick getaway. The dog sauntered out and sniffed around for a second, then began to approach my ex. She didn't move...she didn't back away or anything like that. All of a sudden, the dog tried to start picking up steam and it became apparent that it was about to take her down. It never growled nor barked nor showed its teeth -- nothing. No warning whatsoever.

    Luckily, the concrete run was wet and the dog's back feet slipped. My ex bolted to her right as I swung the door wide, and just as we shut it the dog was back on its feet and heading toward the door. It never made a sound. We actually had to call one of the vets to come put the dog back in the run.

    If that's what you're calling a "stable" type of aggression....well, frankly I'd rather have a dog that barks like a fiend and gives me a chance to get away. Seems MUCH less dangerous that way.

    Something else you have to understand is that this type of behavior has been bred into these types of dogs.. It's fear aggression -- not craziness. My guess is that the truly crazy, "unstable" ones were culled over the years to the point that the fear aggression isn't completely out of control.

    I specialize in aggression and other behavior issues in dogs. I would much rather be up against a dog that is confidently aggressive than a dog that is fearfully aggressive.

    Well, that makes one of us. I'd rather an aggressive dog warn me and give me a chance to back off, but if you prefer to be mauled without warning...suit yourself.

    Again..I fail to see how that's preferable.

    A confidently aggressive dog is a thinking dog, a fearfully aggressive dog, once decides to attack, is purley acting out of self defense and is exceptionally dangerous. They freak out and bite and bite and bite. A dog that is trying to prove a point to you will bite once or twice and if he feels you 'get it' will back off. Its thinking versus pure reaction. I know I always want my dogs to be thinking, even if being threatened.

    Any dog trainer should know that when a dog -- any dog -- gets in a fight, they pretty much go into survival mode. They're not thinking, they're fighting, unless they've been specifically trained to attack and back off on command. Otherwise, they all bite and bite and bite.

    Ask anyone who's been bitten trying to break up a fight between two otherwise sweet, submissive dogs and they'll tell you.. I mean, that's rule #1 of a dog fight -- don't get your hands in there, because a dog engaged in a fight bites indescriminately.

    I also think that you are taking your dogs reaction to you, a human, and rolling that up into a generalization about how your dog reacts to another animal. Unless its territoryal aggression to a strange person or dog, the reaction will be different. Territory aggressive displays look and sound generally the same whether the dog is barking at a person or other animal. And its just that--mere display. IF the other animal or person continues to advance and not heed the display then you'll probably see your dog (and hear for that matter) a big difference in body language. Drives will change at that point to defense or fear defense, and the dog will either run away, or choose to encounter said person or animal OR the dog will go neutral if he has decided its not a real threat.

    I understand that reactions differ between humans and animals, just as I realize that reactions differ according to the situation. I've seen Ivan snap and lunge at goats before when they won't leave him alone to eat. That's not fear aggression. He's just warning them to stay back. I saw make a lunging grab and take a goat by the ear as she rared up to butt him, and she freaked out.. FREAKED out. He actually chased her for a few feet, then stopped and went back to the business of laying around. We checked the goat's ear...slobber. He didn't even break the skin.

    Why?

    Because he's a livestock guardian dog, and he knows that the livestock is no threat. He just wanted to be left alone, and sent a very specific -- and effective -- message that he wasn't to be fooled with.

    BTW...that was day one on this farm. He was 7mo old when he did that, and the goat that bugged him has respected him ever since.

    So, believe me, I know the difference between fear aggression and other types of aggression.

    Drives, especially aggression drives are super complex. My own personal dog can go from one drive to another in a blink of an eye. He will go from prey drive to defensive drive and back again, and at the same time you can see his confidence go higher to lower all in about 30 seconds, depending on what we might be working on at the time. It takes a long time to be able to correctly lable the drives and even more time to realize that they are all part of one aggressive display.

    Well, what I'd say to you is this...livestock guardian dogs are super complex. It makes sense given what you've just said, considering the fact that "aggression drives" are such a huge part of the dog's nature.

    I'd also say that if you don't have first hand, real world experience owning livestock guardian dogs and watching them operate every single day...you're missing out.

    They're not like other dogs. You may think I'm an idiot, totally misinformed, and that I don't know what I'm talking about, but consider the fact that I took a dog you'd consider "exceptionally dangerous" and "unstable" and who absolutely hated me and turned him around within two weeks to the point that he would come running when he saw me.

    I mean...I can't be that misguided, can I? [​IMG]

    Experience matters with dogs, and that goes about triple with LGDs...and I have experience with LGDs.

    Do you? [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2010

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