Great Pyrenees: what age do they actually guard?

Discussion in 'Guard Animals' started by HomeOnTheFarm, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. HomeOnTheFarm

    HomeOnTheFarm Well-Known Member

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    We have two GP pups (4 months old) around our sheep, chickens, ducks, kids. They aren't afraid of noises, are very social with us, but won't stay with the sheep (what we want their primary responsibility to be), won't stay with the birds, and are afraid of the raccoon that showed up last night. Please tell me that one day their mindset as LGD will "click"?
     
  2. debd0712

    debd0712 Well-Known Member

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    Right now they are just babies. They will not really be effective as LGD's until at least 8 months or so, and then they are just really starting. In order to keep the dogs with the sheep you must have very good fences which they can not escape from. At this age you will also have to really watch them. They will go through stages when they "play" too rough with livestock (especially birds and young stock of other species) until they are at least 1 year old. The unwanted behavior normally tapers off after 1 year of age (but may last longer) and they will eventually become worth their weight in gold. (There are the exceptions who just are not suited for LGD's.) The GP's I have had ended up being fantastic LGD's, but they had to grow up first. I got my first 2 GP's when they were 4 months old. Ended up getting a donkey to protect the stock until the dogs matured. Good luck - they should eventually do the job you would like them to.
     

  3. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would pen the dogs up around the sheep in their own private pens and they'll bond more with the sheep that way. I personally won't get two pups of the same age because they'll bond to each other and not much else. Not worth the hassle.
     
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  4. KatsFarm

    KatsFarm Active Member

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    My pyr is 6 months old and it seems she has been "on guard" almost from the start, she was 2 months old when we got her. She protects the goats and the chickens and ducks. And me! She bonded with me the moment we met.

    When we brought her home it took a couple of weeks for her and the goats to get over their fears and get in each others face. Since then she spends her days laying near their gate, watching and standing guard. She automatically started to herd them into their shelter, and from the shelter to their yard.

    She has also been chasing the chickens back to their own area when they wonder off.

    Right now she is still at a playful stage and doesn't realize how rough she plays. I am sure she will mellow out once she gets a bit older.
     
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  5. silvergirl

    silvergirl Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like KatsFarm's dog has a natural instinct for protecting her critters! That's wonderful. I was blessed with that in my first Great Pyrenees - George - but he was overwhelmed trying to keep predators away on his own, so I brought in a female to work with him. He took to Pickle right away and taught her to patrol the perimeter. He took her up to the ridge line and showed her where their territory lay. After that, he would just face in the direction he thought predators were coming from, bark like mad, jump up and down on his front feet - and then Pickle would race up to the ridge line and George would patrol down below. They were a great team until my George went missing on the mountain. A few months later, I brought in a new 10 month old male Pyrenees - a rescue - and Pickle took up the role of instructor - she taught Buddy just the way George had taught her years earlier... They are an amazing team, and absolutely dedicated to keeping their critters safe. Buddy even scans the skies for chicken hawks! They are the best dogs in the world, but they make me laugh... everything is taken under advisement - and they decide for themselves whether listening to me will interfere with their job. If they think it will, I get thoroughly ignored, even if it's a call to come for dinner! I think these dogs have a natural instinct to protect or they don't, but having an experienced mature dog to show them the ropes has been a critical component for my dogs' training... I didn't train them to protect, the older pup taught the newbie, and I've been blessed to have that happen twice now as each generation 'passed the torch'.
     
  6. KatsFarm

    KatsFarm Active Member

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    We had the opportunity to experience this ourselves about a week ago. The chickens and ducks were out foraging in the yard and Sophie somehow got off her tether and went to work(?) chasing the fowl. I heard the commotion outside and saw Sophie with a paw firmly holding down one of the ducks, I called out to her in shock, and it was enough to distract her so the duck could escape into the hen house unharmed. Sophie just stood still a moment looking at me as if to say "what's up?"... then she spotted chickens out where she thought they shouldn't be, looked up at me, and took off for the chickens and chased them all into the hen house!

    DH was in a panic thinking she was attacking the birds. Not one of them was harmed, just a bit shaken. Once I explained that she was doing her job, he relaxed, a bit.

    I must admit, that first display of her protecting the chickens was scary at first, but now I am more at ease and not worrying so much whether she will be able to cope here on the farm.

    Must say, after the fact, that it was a pretty funny scenario that played out day.

    We are trying to get her adjusted to sleeping outdoors now. I don't like it, but she needs to be with the goats to protect them. We know there are predators around, they just haven't gotten wind of our livestock yet.
     
  7. HDRider

    HDRider Well-Known Member

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    Maybe I have been very lucky. Mostly, we did have one chicken incident.

    I got my two, AS/GP cross, at 12 weeks old. They have been with chickens from day one. They are spending the days penned(after the chicken incident), and the nights roaming about 9 fenced acres.

    We have coons, skunks, possums, coyotes and such. Lucky so far.

    One pup looks GP, the male, and the female looks Anatolian.


    Great dogs. They are 4 months old now.
     
  8. KatsFarm

    KatsFarm Active Member

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    From what I have learned from neighbors and from walking my land in search of footprints, there are coyotes (we have seen three here, but none since we have began to come every couple of weeks or since we have moved here). Plenty of deer, I have seen bear prints and a large cat whose paw was nearly as large as the bear's.

    We are looking to get a partner for our pyr since I don't want her to face off against a bear or coyote alone. Every night she looks out at the tree-line and gives her "big bark" I suppose to let any possible intruders know she is keeping guard. Yes, she has a "big bark" which is a deep voice, unlike her normal voice which still sounds very young.

    We haven't had any predators, except hawks and buzzards, but I am sure that will change when winter sets in and food becomes scarce.
     
  9. peteyfoozer

    peteyfoozer Well-Known Member

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    Truly they are too young to be reliable. It's difficult to remember that even though they grow to enormous proportions these dogs are juveniles until they are 2 years old. The best way to raise them is to have them penned adjacent to the livestock so they can bond with them, while unsupervised as they will go through stages in adolescence of chasing, playing, fur pulling, etc. that can be dangerous or even fatal to their charges. It's normal puppy stuff and best prevented than cured. The LGD that does not go through these stages with their stock are the exception, not the norm. They will grow up to do their job when they are mature enough.
     
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  10. Jreed

    Jreed Well-Known Member

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    4 months old is tiny puppies, Males mature slower than females but any less than 18 months old is to young to expect adult responsibility.

    I build a shelter that went over the pasture fence on both sides and build 2 corrals on each side of the fence, one is for the sheep, and one is for the guardian who will go there 5-6 months old once she is big enough to stay in the corral and cant fit through the cattle panels that i used for the corrals.

    If I feel the dog is not safe I will crate her in a large crate at night but overall on small acreage 20ish. Her barking at all is enough to alert me or my terriers until she can handle her own business.

    I will allow the dog to run free in the day and be in the corral all night or in the sheep pasture when she is an adult , any unsupervised time will also be in the corral.
     
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  11. HomeOnTheFarm

    HomeOnTheFarm Well-Known Member

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    Well, it's been awhile, so an update is in order. They are growing into their guardian roles (sort of). They are no longer afraid of anything (except me in certain situations, which we'll get to).

    They left the chickens alone, killed some of our turkeys (not sure how many, since we also caught coyotes sneaking up and picking the turkeys off before the pups got big enough), killed some our ducks (one of the pups, not both), and patrol at least 200 acres (not all of it ours). They seem that hate coyotes and are keeping them back, no sign of opossum, raccoon, or skunk for months. I even caught one of them chasing a low-flying hawk one day that had been scoping out our birds.

    I have hope they will continue to grow into their roles, though they still don't hang out with the sheep very often. I'm a bit worried about their reaction when the ewes start lambing, but hoping for the best!
     
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  12. Pyrpup2016

    Pyrpup2016 Well-Known Member

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    I highly recommend that you to to the Bountiful Farm website and read the training articles - very good resource of what to expect and what to do at the various ages. At their ages, they probably shouldn't be unsupervised with the lambing ewes, they're still very much adolescents! Especially don't allow them both together with the birthing - unless you're there too. Too much temptation for misbehavior, and it's so much easier to avoid bad habits starting than to fix them.
     
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  13. HomeOnTheFarm

    HomeOnTheFarm Well-Known Member

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    Well, we have our first lamb (she's adorable!); the dogs were off on their morning rounds when it was born, and we were there to introduce them. I held the lamb as I showed it to them and firmly repeated "Mine!" and "Leave it!". Both have stayed close though (when they're home) and I honestly don't know if it is to keep and eye on it for good intentions or to size it up for a recipe.

    We have three more ewes set to lamb, and I'm thinking about locking the dogs in the sheep trailer at night since nobody is outside to keep an eye on them at that time.

    I have been keeping the ewe and lamb penned for the majority of the day, but the lamb is strong enough to easily keep up with the rest of the flock. She is bouncy and fun, and I worry that this will draw the dogs to her.

    The mom HATES the dogs being anywhere near her lamb. She actually ran off the one dog that was in the sheep pasture, he was genuinely scared of her but didn't turn to defend himself. I'm less worried about him than his brother.

    I thought we'd done our research before getting these dogs, but we really weren't set up right. Our sheep were wild when we first got them so the pups couldn't just hang out with a tame flock and bond with them; instead, the dogs bonded with each other. The dogs roam, and I don't know how far (we have 160 acres), but it seems like they're out roaming most of the day (though they come back at night). The upshot is that there are very few coyotes that come anywhere near this place (there is a rampant coyote problem out here).

    Sorry for the vent, I'm just a bit overwhelmed, this being my first time with the breed. Thanks for your advice, it is appreciated!