*sigh* Livestock Guardian Dog training screwed up.

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Rosalind, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    You folks who have livestock guardians and angel-dogs that have never harmed so much as a feather on a chicken's tail, please tell me what I am doing wrong.

    I have a Great Pyrenees. Not a dumb dog, about 8 months old. Did obedience training perfectly. Knows many tricks and believes I am alpha. We gradually introduced him on-leash to the chickens, and he behaved well, so he went on to off-leash. He tried to play a little with a rooster once, but was immediately sorry for it, and has not had any mistakes since, oh, October 1 2007. That's what, almost five months? that he's been working with the chickens in the barn, off-leash, with no mistakes.

    He is good with the cats. Well, he tries to lick them, which they hate, but he's good around the house. He's not teething anymore and doesn't chew anything inappropriate.

    Today, as usual, I get home and go into the barn to collect him and bring him in for dinner. What do I find but my puppy, face-first in a dead rooster, chomping away, blood up to his ears. A rooster that was perfectly healthy this morning, I might add, and which I rather liked.

    I don't get it. He has virtually no prey drive, three vets have confirmed. He was bored silly by chickens for months on end, and behaved exactly right--he'd go in the barn, slurp some water, sniff the chicken feeders, sniff the roosts, then flop down in a pile of straw. Barked and growled at unknown people and at opossums. How can he not bother the chickens for months and months, then screw up like this? What am I doing wrong?
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    First, it sounds like you've done a superb job with this guy. Don't go jumping to conclusions and being all mad at him yet. It's possible that he didn't kill the chicken but found it dead and possibly bloody from some other animal. The smell of the blood would make any dog get his face in there.

    So- until you know for sure that he's the killer I'd keep a close eye on him (not leave him unattended for quite a while with the chickens) and see how he does.

    It's also possible that he didn't kill this one but having tasted blood he may decided he wants a meal of chicken more often.

    Don't do anything different until you know for sure. Just don't leave him alone with the chickens.

    If you see him go for another chicken then you have some serious work cut out for you and he may not ever be safe around them. Notice I said 'may' it's not absolute.
  3. hcammack

    hcammack Crowing

    Oct 5, 2007
    is it possible the rooster was getting aggresive with somthing I have heard of dogs protecting birds from other birds. Agressive mateing or fighting among other roosters? that is a possibility.

    Hope you have good luck with him he sounds great I wish I could have one.

  4. raindrop

    raindrop Songster

    Feb 10, 2008
    Western Oregon
    It may be partly that he is growing up. Sexual maturity starts around 8-9 months for a big dog and takes until they are 3ish when they are grown up adults. Even neutered dogs have a change in personality/drives as they grow up.
    My oldest BC was a goofy, happy go lucky pup until about 2 years old. I trained her in agility starting at 15 months, but it wasn't until she turned 2 that her drive kicked in. It was like someone flipped a switch. "Drives" can change as dogs get older.
  5. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    So what do I do? Start his training with the chickens all over again? This'll be the third time. Or should I just keep him 100% on-leash until he's an adult?

    DH and I both work during the day, and we had a set-up in the barn where the chicken area was fenced about 3 1/2 feet high with sturdy fencing. He could see the chickens, they could see him, but they could stay out of each other's way as they needed to. I have no idea how this one managed to get on his side of the fence, he didn't break the fencing. I was putting him in the barn all day to watch them while I was at work, and then he'd sorta herd them whenever they were out in the yard, supervised. I brought him in the house at night to eat dinner and sleep. So if I can only keep him on-leash 100% of the time with them, he isn't going to see them but for 30 minutes daily, maybe.

    This sucks. I really need a trustworthy dog who can do a piece of work for me. We've got coyotes, possums, hawks, owls, other people's loose dogs, strays, all kinds of predators, and it's his job to keep 'em out of my barn and the orchard where the chickens run loose. He's normally pretty good at it, too, including "chasing off" the local AFB helicopters.

    [​IMG] My sweet fluffy dog is a murderer [​IMG]
  6. nccatnip

    nccatnip Songster

    Aug 5, 2007
    Piedmont area NC
    I would agree that it is possible that the bird was already dead, for whatever reason. But one thing I would recommend is to avoid confusion, do not bring him in for feeding or take him away from the flock in anyway. His job is to protect them, it is inherent to the breed but I think when you remove him from his "job" it may result in confusion. When you take him away from his flock, he is no longer guardian, he is pet. Bringing him away from his flock makes him a part timer. My understanding is that the breed does not "switch gears" well, leave him where you want him to protect 24/7. I believe you will have the dog you want providing you allow him to do his job.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2008
  7. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    My GSD, Rex has proven to be a great guard dog. He has guarded each batch of baby chicks from day one, sleeping in bathroom with them. He stays outside day/night on our farm and won't let any predators anywhere near our property so our chickens free range without constraints. However he was 4 years old before we got the first chicks. At 8 months he was too young and too much energy.

    Actually our 3 cats and our other dog also interact with the chickens daily. I'm not sure I could say that any, including Rex, were "trained" to guard or not harm chickens. Well Rex kind of trained them because when the babies got moved outside to their pen Rex slept by that pen and growled at and jumped on every cat or dog that came anywhere near them. They all learned not to mess with Rex's babies.

    As far as training your dog, the only thing I did with Rex was to show him the first baby chick and cuddle it and kiss it and let Rex smell it and talked calmly to Rex (who initially was barking and jumping) and told Rex to "guard" the baby chicks. Rex knew the word guard meant to go sleep outside our bedroom door. Every night we would tell him goodnight and to go "guard" and he would go to our bedroom and lay outside hall door. Anyway, after about 5 minutes he made the connection and laid down by the box of chicks and stayed there for a week, leaving only to run outside to pee/poo and would run back in, stick his head in box as if counting them, 1,2,3,4 - yep all there - and then lay down again. So maybe the trick is to introduce your dog to babies (under close supervision).

    Here's Rex with one of our newest babies - hatched Valentines.


    Here's his first batch.


    Stayed outside with them and would not come in. Prior to moving chicks outside Rex had always been an inside dog but he wouldn't come in and leave his babies so we put his bed out there. He's been sleeping with them ever since. It's true that guarding does need to be a full-time job for them.

  8. WriterofWords

    WriterofWords Has Fainting Chickens

    Dec 25, 2007
    Chaparral, New Mexico
    My Pryrenees have never threatened a feather or fur on anything on my property unless it was a threat. Is there any chance your rooster might have considered the dog a threat to the hens and flown at him? He would defend himself, that is natural. But also as others have said, don't blame the dog with the chicken, it might have been a gift from another predator!
    Don't leave him alone, but do allow him around them with you out of his site but with him in yours. That way you can get a true sense of his behavior around the birds.
    My dogs, cats, rabbit, horses, chickens, ducks, etc, all live together with no issues indoors or out.
  9. lacyloo

    lacyloo Cooped Up

    May 26, 2007
    north florida
    Rosalind , I fell your pain... These are the worst pupies ever. They are very stuborn and when you think they are getting better with chickens bam they kill one. I have 2 pyreness pups 5 months and they will gang up on and chicken that my fly into there pen and kill it, or even if i take one pup and intruded it to them they try to attack, these pups have been with chickens since 8 weeks old. I had to separate them and now one is training and is very obedient now as a hunting dog...... They other pup stays with our goats but the fence is big enough for the chickens to go in the pen and have an easy eascape. ad " mountain man jim" has told me , these dogs dont mature intill 1 and a half years of age. Good luck with the dog.
  10. Rafter 7 Paint Horses

    Rafter 7 Paint Horses Songster

    Jan 13, 2007
    East Texas
    It takes a long time for these dogs to mature. It sounds like you have done a great job with yours.
    They go through a "stupid" stage at about the age yours is. It is like they have forgotten everything they have been taught. I think it is really the time that they start to think for themselves and just have to figure things out for themselves. These dogs are supposed to think for themselves and not rely on humans to tell them everything to do.

    I agree with a lot of the replies, you didn't see him kill this bird, so you don't know if he did it. Their instinct is to clean up the dead as to not attract other predators. They will eat stillborn goats and sheep, and have been mistakenly thought to have killed them. Mine have "taken care" of stillborn babies and have never harmed a healthy baby goat or sheep.

    Don't give up on him.


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