This is a new adventure for me, so I’m doing lots of research. I’m a big fan of conscious horsemanship, preferring techniques like Carolyn Resnick and TTEAM/TTouch. For dog training, I love Tamar Geller’s methods. So I’m searching for ways to work with livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) that allow a more conscious, soul-honoring approach. And that allows the LGD to move easily between guarding stock and participating in our home life, traveling in the car and interacting politely with strangers when asked to. I have found a lot of advice saying to have no contact with the pup, just put her in with the goats and leave her alone other than food and water, or I’ll ruin her for her guard duties. I’ve seen other advice to put her in with the goat, but that it’s ok to work with her out there and take her in the house with us, as long as her homebase is the goat pen and she sleeps and spends most time out there. It has also been suggested to mix the 2, leaving her alone with the goats for 2 weeks, then working on socialization.
So, I have a lot to mull over and learn.
From reading about Great Pyr history, they originally worked with the shepards to guard flocks of livestock, as well as the shepard’s family and home. They later did guard duty for the French nobility, working side by side with the soldiers and jailers.
So, as a dog with a long history of working hand-in-hand with people to guard various things, my gut says perhaps Runa does not need to be forced into isolation in the goat pen, but instead can work with me, accompanying me on all the chores and rounds and spending lots of time around the livestock.
My approach so far has been to have a crate in the house for her. She accompanies me on leash for all the barn chores, walks the fence line with me on leash, has supervised playtime in the house with the other dogs and her toys. She is learning all the same commands and rules as the other dogs, including crate training and housebreaking. Go out, in the house, go pee, good girl, phoey, no, leave it, ok, wait, come, and sit are already in her vocabulary, although she is not consistent yet.
I put a meaty beef bone out in the goat pen, so she is excited to go out and visit the pen (and the goats) when we go outside. I leave her in the pen for a while when I am done with chores, so she has been spending 3 or 4 chunks of time in with them, usually for a couple hours at a stretch. And I feed the goats treats when she goes out, so the goats are learning to associate her with good things. It has been 3 days now, and Runa is asking more and more often to go out to the goat pen and stay in there, while I leave to do other things. This morning she wanted out at sunrise and spent several happy hours out there.
She played with the house dogs for the first time today, so they are coming to accept her.
Yum – chair leg…
I am SUPER grateful for bitter apple spray, as she has been testing the furniture. She also thought the Christmas tree was a wonderful dog toy dispenser. We have (mostly) convinced her otherwise.
Hopefully this approach works out well for both of us. We’ll see when her guarding instincts start kicking in at around 6 months old.
Pooped after a few hours in the cold snowy goat pen with her bone.
We are also doing an herbal cleanse to get rid of any residue from the deworming, flea meds and puppy food. She is transitioned onto Taste of the Wild dog food now, and will be switching to my favorite premium dog food as soon as the new shipment arrives. She will also be getting a bit of chelated minerals with vitamins daily.