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I am a new vegetable farmer who is considering acquiring a working dog to help deter deer in my vegetable fields. I travel regularly to visit family and take several family vacations throughout the year. I am considering a Great Pyrenees for the farm working dog but am not sure how the dog will handle my family's absence during long weekends and vacations. We have two indoor/outdoor cats who we leave home for several weeks at a time (inside). They are not upset by this absence and continue about their business with no ill effects. Our neighbor checks in every three days to visit them and maintain their litter and feed/water. Would this system work with a working dog who lives outdoors? Any dog we acquire would not be a pet, but rather an employee of the farm with a very important job to do. The dog will patrol our 10 acres of production (we have 85 acres in total) and would live entirely off-leash and un-fenced. I have never owned a dog and am not fully familiar with the emotional needs of working dogs. Any guidance and/or advice? Thank you.
 

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A GP or other flock guardian types, would probably do the trick for keeping away deer.

You say the property is unfenced. Know that almost all flock guardians, tend to wander. They often consider everyone's property around, as their own. Very secure and high fencing is an absolute must. Many will try to chase another animal through/over a fence.

They are barkers. This is why so many are found in rescue. Might not do well if you have close neighbours.

Leaving the dog alone is not probably a good idea. He/she might also chase a human who visits unexpectedly, while you are away. If you had a neighbour with whom the dog was very familiar and who could check a couple of times a day, feed and water, then it might work.

GPs have huge coats and do require a lot of brushing. With so many losing their farms and property these days, there are a great many GPs in rescue. Some have only lived indoors, but many are farm dogs. There are so many ex farm dog GPs in Texas, they have been sending them up to our rescues, here in California. The odds of you finding a good dog in rescue, are pretty good.

Lizzie
 

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In my experience cats are lot more independent than dogs. Even a working dog is going to want to belong to the family, be part of a unit, they are more social and need this unity. There are a lot of dogs who function as working dogs in the police force, for disabled people...they all are being taken care off, and are part of a family unit!

If your dog would get injured or sick while you're on vacation, until your neighbour comes for his every 3-4 day visit your dog could be in serious trouble.

A dog that is roaming around in the fields, kept outside all the time, not allowed indoors or time to play with other dogs, has no one who plays with him and trains him, will be poorly socialized and a dangerous big breed (like a pyrenees) could become a liability if it were to harm other people's pets, heaven forbid: children, or even wild life!

If you decide to get a dog, you will want to make it part of your family, train it and socialize it, and have it looked at every year by a vet. The dog may come with you if it is safe to do so, while you work on the fields, and as a loyal family member and part of a team it will guard your property naturally. When you go on vacation you want to find someone who can take in your dog until you come back.

All working hands need care, and so does a dog! But that's just my two cents on this. :thumbsup:
 

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True flock guardians of any FG breed, Bluemchen, are trained very differently from pets.

They are often bred and born, out in the fields with the flock they are to grow up with and guard. They are mostly never brought into the home. They are not encouraged to be an indoor dog.

We had an Anatolian for a while as a guardian against the many wild animals who inhabit our area. Unfortunately she had been encouraged to have way too much interaction with her previous family and only wanted to stay close to the house. Never in the fields. She was certainly a lovely pet, but no flock guardian. It actully took my daughter's Brussels Griffon, to take on a Coyote who came calling.

Lizzie
 

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Is a Pyrenees a good breed to chase deer? I thought they would instinctively tend to chase predators. The ones here that are working, let deer in to graze with the livestock.

Anyway, many never leave, and do stay to tend the livestock. Most that I have seen don't care to he raised in house, they bond with the stock ( not gardens.).

Maybe a different type of dog would be better suited? ( also see the other thread about Pyrenees killing dogs, fences make good neighbors!)
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True flock guardians of any FG breed, Bluemchen, are trained very differently from pets.

They are often bred and born, out in the fields with the flock they are to grow up with and guard. They are mostly never brought into the home. They are not encouraged to be an indoor dog.

We had an Anatolian for a while as a guardian against the many wild animals who inhabit our area. Unfortunately she had been encouraged to have way too much interaction with her previous family and only wanted to stay close to the house. Never in the fields. She was certainly a lovely pet, but no flock guardian. It actully took my daughter's Brussels Griffon, to take on a Coyote who came calling.

Lizzie
OH my, I've never heard of such! But I grew up in Germany, even farm dogs were/are family dogs.
 

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I am a new vegetable farmer who is considering acquiring a working dog to help deter deer in my vegetable fields. I travel regularly to visit family and take several family vacations throughout the year. I am considering a Great Pyrenees for the farm working dog but am not sure how the dog will handle my family's absence during long weekends and vacations. We have two indoor/outdoor cats who we leave home for several weeks at a time (inside). They are not upset by this absence and continue about their business with no ill effects. Our neighbor checks in every three days to visit them and maintain their litter and feed/water. Would this system work with a working dog who lives outdoors? Any dog we acquire would not be a pet, but rather an employee of the farm with a very important job to do. The dog will patrol our 10 acres of production (we have 85 acres in total) and would live entirely off-leash and un-fenced. I have never owned a dog and am not fully familiar with the emotional needs of working dogs. Any guidance and/or advice? Thank you.
Great Pyrenees are more of a one person dog , I knew someone that had one and the dog was not good around other dogs , I would not let a Great Pyrenees run lose on it own or any dog, like someone said if it got hurt and no one was home the dog could up dying a very painful death!
 

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Livestock guardians are not the same as most dogs, even other working dogs, even when kept as pets.

If you have livestock they can bond with they may chase away deer, it would depend on the situation, and you may be able to teach them too. I'd suggest contacting someone who breeds LGDs for work, AND works them, and discuss what you want, they'd be the best to help you work out what would work and what wouldn't.

As for vacations, you cannot take a LGD with you, they are to bonded to their flock or herd and would not be happy. Having said that if your area isn't fenced then leaving the dogs unattended for extended periods shouldn't be an option either. LGDs have no sense of boundaries except for keeping predetors out. the number of things that could go wrong are huge.

And yes LGDs will chase, attack, and kill, other dogs that they perceive as to close to their charges/property and not part of their family. Its not just Pyrs, its all of them. The folks mentioned above who had dogs killed by Pyrs were involved with Pyrs who were either not socialized properly as pets (LGDs do not socialize the way most dogs would when kept as pets, they require much more work), or who were not restrained properly to their property.
 

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Blue, my farm dogs are pets, but stock guardian are different.
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:eek: There is so much I have yet to learn! Now it kind of makes sense to me, about dogs like Great Pyrenees, if they aren't ideal dogs as pets for most, then being guardians of stock is the logical answer! This is my "duh-moment" of today! lol :)
 

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Livestock guardian dogs baffle alot of 'normal' dog owners. They CAN be awesome pets, but you HAVE to socialize and manage them properly, and since, by the standards of 'normal' dogs, they can be very difficult to train, it takes work.

These dogs bond tightly with their charges and their master. If not given a charge they will pick one, usually the master's family and what the dog percieves as belonging to their master. They will then guard that charge with all their worth. If not socialized and trained and controled they can be come highly aggressive to all strangers, human and animal.

The problem the Pyrs are having is that they are percieved as giant fluffy cuddly dogs who'll protect your kids.....all of which might be technically correct, but theres so much more involved that people who don't do their research, thinking they know dogs, and don't buy from reputible breeders, then end up in trouble when they expect their Pyr to react like other dogs.
 

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Lol, its just different. Most dont really want the pet life if that makes sense. ( Lgd) not like labs or shepherds who love their families, the gaurdians are mostly born and raised in the flock.
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I know, see that big fluffy face on my profile? Thats a Tibetan Mastiff, another LGD. Thankfully the TM's haven't had the publicity that Pyrs have had and so haven't had quite as many issues with owners not having a clue.
 

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Livestock guardian dogs baffle alot of 'normal' dog owners. They CAN be awesome pets, but you HAVE to socialize and manage them properly, and since, by the standards of 'normal' dogs, they can be very difficult to train, it takes work.

These dogs bond tightly with their charges and their master. If not given a charge they will pick one, usually the master's family and what the dog percieves as belonging to their master. They will then guard that charge with all their worth. If not socialized and trained and controled they can be come highly aggressive to all strangers, human and animal.

The problem the Pyrs are having is that they are percieved as giant fluffy cuddly dogs who'll protect your kids.....all of which might be technically correct, but theres so much more involved that people who don't do their research, thinking they know dogs, and don't buy from reputible breeders, then end up in trouble when they expect their Pyr to react like other dogs.
The people next door to me have an Australian Shepherd which is a real sweet dog but the poor dog is kept in the house all day. It got out a couple of days ago and the owner was not able to catch the dog. I saw the dog running lose when I driving up my street and was able to get him in my car before he got into heavy traffic. The owner is not able to bring the dog to the trainer and the dog is allowed to run around on it own in our driveway. I feel bad for the dog as it does not have a job and the owner is letting her 20 yo daughter and her b/f take care of the dog. I agree with you herding or livestock dogs are great dogs but they need to kept busy and they really need an owner that know how work with them.
The woman that had the Pyrs was sorry she got it as the dog was not good with kids. She is my daugther mother in law and I never felt good having that dog near my grandchild as the dog did not like anyone near food. I was not able to get near that dog .
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you all for the great responses. This thread has given me much to think about and is exactly what I was hoping for; many different points of view.

As I said in my post, any dog I may acquire would be not be a "pet" but a worker on the farm. This is what draws me to the Great Pyrenees, its lowered emotional need from its master. I had considered several other more common breeds such as Labs, but they were all more companion dogs and I didn't think they would be well suited to the lifestyle we lead.

Does anyone have a suggestion about what breed would be best for deterring deer and other garden pests, happiest living solely outside, not wary of strangers, not especially prone to extreme wandering, tolerant of family pets and livestock, and happy having a stable but not emotional relationship to the family?

I understand and am prepared that achieving these traits will require thorough training and socialization, but what breed is most positioned to fill these needs?

I think that this process is showing me that it may not be our time, yet, to bring a dog on the farm... it may be best to wait until we have livestock to give a more defined job to a working dog... and use other strategies for deterring deer (not thrilled about an electric fence and bars of fragrant soap).

Tolerance of strangers is very important to us. Even though we have 85 acres and our nearest neighbors are 3 miles away, making me less worried about the dog bothering other's pets and homes, we have alot of strangers visiting to pick their own vegetables and collect CSA crop shares.
 

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Honestly, look up the various LGD breeds, look up their breed clubs, and see if you can find a breeder in your area thats willing to talk with you and discuss what you want. I've never actually trained a LGD to livestock so maybe you can do what you need, maybe you can't. But I still think the vacations aren't going to work regardless.

LGD Library. Start here, some of their links out are wonky, but it'll give you a place to start, and Google can probly fill in the holes. Not sure what other dog breeds might work.
 

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I have a rott/coon hound mutt that is the best farm dog. He guards, but will let anyone walk up (just barks) leaves the horses and goats alone, chases deer and rabbits. Doesn't care to come inside for more than five minutes, perfect coat ( he sleeps out in the rain or snow, drags his bed out of his house to the yard lol). He hangs out with me, but doesn't stare in the door if I come inside lol. Good with dogs, cats, he really doesn't have the traits of either rott or coon dog.

Sometimes just a dog fits well on a farm, but stay away from herders, they want to be with you, and instinctively want to chase generally. (Not everyone).

I think a Pyrenees could work, possibly, but with management and socialization with people and strangers coming and going.
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Oh meant to ask,what kind.d of livestock will you be getting? I mean, if you plan on vacationing, you probably wont be bring goats along lol. I would get someone familiar with the dog to stop daily. Feed, look over everyone.
All the dogs I see working are kept in the pastures, fences, with the flock. Which probably wont be in your garden.
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Juliemule:

We are just beginning our farm. Eventually (several years from now), we plan to expand to chickens, goats, and buffalo. Fences will be erected as we bring in livestock. I may ruminate on the possibility of a free range dog, but NEVER a free range buffalo! :) I'm not a fan of dogs on vacation (that's why I'm gathering info about the feasibility of leaving it home), but the thought of a goat is kind of funny! lol

Like I mentioned, I am beginning to think now is not the time to bring on a dog. When livestock come into the picture, our vacation arrangements will alter due to their added needs. We live so far from people that I feel awkward asking someone to come to the farm daily to look after the pets. But once there is livestock, we can budget for a vacation caregiver and then it is not as much of a burden on a person to come daily. That is the time I think a dog will best incorporate into our farm.

Ruthcatrin:

Thanks for the lead about the LGD Library. I have read extensively about the various LGD breeds. I am looking for anecdotal evidence and educated opinion to add depth to my reading. I have spoken to several breeders, including of GPs, Labs, and Goldendoodle's. The GP breeder trains them to livestock and was confident they would socialize enough for my needs (with alot of patience and work), but I'm just widening the net of opinion and experience.
 

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Ah, you've done more research then alot of folks asking that set of questions then.

My concerns with the idea:
-no fences
-CSA guests
-no livestock to bond the dog to NOW, not sure if the dog would bond properly later
-especially for vacation, would the dog even allow the occasional visit from the neighbor? A person who already works on the farm would be different from the dog's POV.

Certinally theres alot of breeds (and mixes!) that could be trained to it, sounds like you're working on that aspect already.
 
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