Training the Great Pyr to stay with the livestock

by Mary
(Texas)

We have several Great Pyrenees. They are great for running out to scare away predators. They do the barking at night and we have never had a predator attack (except for neighborhood dogs during our females heat cycle). However they tend to stay more around the house than in the field except when they sense something. I hear a lot of Pyr owners who have their dogs out in their pastures with their livestock. I'm not sure how they teach them to do that and feed them too. If we feed them in the pasture with the sheep, goats, horses & cows, the livestock will eat their food before the dogs. Sheep can't have copper which traces could be in the dog food, which could hurt their birthing process. Soooo, how do you encourage the Great Pyrenees to stay with the livestock and feed them too?

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Jan 24, 2016
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Training Pyrs
by: Donna

First, spay and neuter your dogs. You don't want unwanted puppies. There is also less chance of them wandering.

It sounds like you haven't trained them to be guardians of your livestock. If raised with a working mother, the moms teach them the job. Since that hasn't been done, you need to show them.

Pyrs will wander if they don't know their job.

You need to have fencing, usually stranded fencing for your animals that will also contain the Pyrs for now. You take your Pyrs out amongst the livestock on leash. The leash is to be around your waist as you work amongst the livestock and in the barnyard. If the dog does anything silly, you can correct him with an 'ahah'.

When you aren't there, you need an enclosure within the livestock area with shelter for your dogs. The animals can wander around the enclosure while the dogs get used to them and everyone is safe.

This way, the dogs get used to the livestock and learn to become protective of them the more time they spend with them.

I don't know how old your dogs are but they are ready to be alone with the livestock at a year and a half if the training has been done before then. No sooner or the livestock are just toys for them. If they are older, it will take a month to two months to train them.

If you leave them alone with the livestock any younger than 1.5 years old, livestock may get hurt or the pup may get hurt.

When you feed your livestock, have a separate area where the dog can go to eat but the animals can't get in to where the food is.


Jan 24, 2016
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Lgd groups
by: Anonymous

If you have facebook join on of thr lgd groups. They hve loads of input there from experienced people.

Jan 25, 2016
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guardian dogs
by: Anonymous

Well, it seems to me that you have no problems really. You have not had any stock lost to a predator, so your dogs are doing their job. If this is the case, then why is it a problem for you if the dogs spend time at the house until they are needed in the field? If your feeding schedule is fixed and monitored (so you know who is eating and who is not), what is the problem in doing this at the house? Have a bowl for each dog, well separated from each other, take the bowls away when they are finished. Always have clean water available for them.
Your carelessness in not spaying your female dogs IS causing you a problem. It is quite common for a female to lose her appetite for food during her heat cycle. This is your responsibility to take care of, and would eliminate your strange acceptance of the visits of neighbourhood dogs to your property during female heat cycles. It is very irresponsible of you and could very well cause injury to all the dogs due to fighting, besides the inevitable large litters of unwanted mix breed pups. This is neglectful at best; abusive at worst.
Spay your females, accept that their guardianship also includes your home and its occupants, feed them on a schedule. Respect and treasure them for the good job they are obviously doing for you.

Jan 27, 2016
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Training
by: Marianne

I agree with anonymous.

Your house and your family are part of their herd so they are doing their job. You really don't have a problem since your dogs are watching your sheep.

I know that many farmers insist on leaving their dogs out in the field 24/7. I think this is not a good idea. They do need to have contact with their humans as they do now. I would suggest that they have 'shifts, so that each one has human time. You might need to bring them in if there is a medical need or even just to get their vaccines. They need to accept human handling which they will not accept if they are not socialized.

Donna has noted a particular point here. What age are they? It's difficult to be more precise because the situation would be different if they are young or if they are mature. Training would be different as well.

And yes, spay and neuter. Your dogs will not lose guardian instinct. If someone has told you that, they are propagating mythology at best, old wives' tales at worst.

To keep on learning about Pyrs as livestock guradians, do join one of the Yahoo groups or the Facebook groups for further discussion or consult www.lgd.org.

We can probably tell you a bit more about training again if we know the age but I think you need to join into ongoing conversation with people who have 'Pyr employees' too.

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