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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a PM re life with an LGD as a pet, & rather than write in reply, i thought a thread would help many-more folks who are thinking of or dealing with an LGD in a pet home.

Livestock guardians aren't pets when working - they are often on their own for days or even weeks, following the flocks or herds & watching for predators, which as far as they are concerned, includes humans they don't know.
Tourists who try to approach an LGD on the job are in for a wake-up; s/he might merely posture, bark ferociously, & stand their ground, or a hair-trigger dog may bite.

LGDs aren't waiting for back-up or wondering whether the owner "wants" them to act - they size-up the threat & decide for themselves, watch, warn, or defend. // This independence & self-directed action doesn't evaporate when they live as pets in the suburbs.
They've got firm opinions, & U ignore their opinion at Ur peril.

They arrive with a suite of instinctive behaviors that can each cause problems:

- nocturnal patrols
Going room to room, window to window, door to door, checking for intruders or anything suspicious - multiple times a night.

- nocturnal BARKING
loud, deep, metronomic barks at any noises-off; passing peds, a car-door closing, the neighbor's microwave beeping at 3-AM when they warm formula for the baby, can set them off. :( Repeatedly. Every night.

- stranger suspicion / intolerance
Some LGDs are "better" than others re this trait; they aren't sociable & don't greet strangers gladly, but they're civil & can be touched, altho generally with respect - no rumpling ears, NO hugs, etc, from non-family.
Some LGDs must be sedated or knocked-out for every vet-visit.

- attached to home turf
LGDs don't only love their family, they love their turf. They don't move house well; they yearn for their former home, its daily patterns & familiar places.
Moreover, they often consider everything they can SEE as "mine", & will bark & charge at passersby on the sidewalk passing the house. // This doesn't win them admirers.
Additionally, once puberty kicks in, some LGDs refuse to leave the property; i've known more than one who had to get home-visits from the vet, rather than be "taken in". // That works fine when the vet is the same DVM who cares for the household stock, in a rural or mixed-development area, but it's not so easy in town to find a mobile vet.


to preclude these behaviors becoming habitual, it's best to get an LGD pup at 8-WO & begin intensive socialization - which isn't "take the pup out in crowds", it's HAPPY brief exposures to wildly-varied friendly strangers, who differ from each other & the dog's family members as much as possible.
Language, diet, movement, size, skin color, shape, style of clothes, with or without accessories that clink, flap, rattle, squeak, U name it -
folks with walkers, crutches, canes, golf clubs, baseball bats, mantis-eye mirrored sunglasses, CIGARS, reeking of alcohol, the pizza-nik, the FedEx fella, the postie, recent immigrants, any & everybody.

The dog need not MEET them directly - seeing, smelling as they pass by, but happy things happen when strangers are around [food, tug, _____ ].

Habituate the dog to weird noises early -
get a recording of noises-off that includes samples of all sorts of sound-FX, cars backfiring, fireworks, thunder, slammed doors, etc.
Don't be too graceful at home - drop things, a S/S saucepan hitting the floor WHILE THE PUP is in the living room with another person, happily engaged. Let the toilet lid fall with a crash; say, "oops", smile, & move one.
Bomb-proof that puppy.

If U miss the primary socialization period [5-Wo to 12-WO] U need to step up yer game: it takes 2X the work to get 1/2 the results, from 3-MO to 6-MO; this is considered rehabilitative, as the secondary socialization period is so much less malleable.

Anyone else have suggestions on making a happy pet of a jobless LGD? :)
Jump in! :thumbsup:

- terry


 

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Question: Are German Shepherds considered a herding breed or a livestock guardian breed? I feel like they're categorized as herding, but a lot of these characteristics ring true with GSD's I've known.
 

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One big difference is the level of prey drive between GSDs and LGDs, LGDs have a much lower prey drive. GSDs would not make a good LGD in most cases if used for their original purposes. But a GSD is a great HGD as in Human Guardian Dog.

I suppose a GSD could be trained to perform as an LGD but it is a herder and more likely rougher with the livestock an LGD would be guarding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
the original purpose of GSDs was to be an all-purpose farm dog, moving stock, ALERTING the householder to visitors / intruders, etc, as well as a biddable, bold-but-calm working dog for the police & military.

They were never intended to be LGDs, living with & bonded to livestock; if anything, GSDs are prone to over-attachment to a particular human, & can become quite neurotic if that person doesn't "spread the love around".
If their primary person dies or disappears, an overattached GSD is an emotional mess. :headshake:
IMO & IME, precautions need to be taken to prevent such traumatic loss.

- terry

 

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Thank you both. That makes sense. I was thinking of GSDs as being territorial and protective and alert (alerting) but wasn't thinking of the difference between being protective of the family/owner vs protective of a herd or flock.
 

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GSDs are prone to over-attachment to a particular human, & can become quite neurotic if that person doesn't "spread the love around".
If their primary person dies or disappears, an overattached GSD is an emotional mess. :headshake:

- terry

This is the second time I have read you stating this. Question: Is this a sweeping generalization for all GSDs or just apply to a particular variety such as the ASL, WGSL, WL ( DDR, Czech WG etc.) ? How do these neurotic tendencies manifest themselves ? I have seen many GSDs which were trained for a specific task up through adolescence and even early adulthood and then placed with a new lifelong handler without any fallout from the previous human not being in their life any longer.

Also, your " the original purpose of GSDs was to be an all-purpose farm dog, moving stock, ALERTING the householder to visitors / intruders, etc, as well as a biddable, bold-but-calm working dog for the police & military." is a bit in error as the GSD was not utilized as a military or police dog as its "original purpose". The reason the GSD ended up being used by the police/military was because the sheep herding use was on the decline as Germany became more industrialized. So, von Stephanitz promoted and proved to the police/military that the GSD was a capable working dog with more than just sheep herding as its only asset. The evolution of the GSD like many dogs is interesting but ultimately the GSD's sole original purpose was a sheep herding dog which took to the task with little training whatsoever. Somewhat similar to LGDs, which were raised from pups with the livestock they protected, very little training required but for different jobs. However, future working uses for the GSD required much more training than its original herding task.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
how many hairs would U like to split?

yes, Von-S had to re-purpose his pastoral dogs - however, that was very early on. :rolleyes:
He bought his foundation sire in 1899; Deutsche police & military were using them in sizable numbers by 1920.

by the late-30s, they were among the most-common military & police breeds in Europe.
The French red-legged shepherd - Beauceron - was also popular with the police, as were Airedales.

GSDs lost their status as #1 military / cop-K9 when BSD-Mals came into ascendency; the greater wt, size, & lower strength-to-wt ratio of the GSD vs the smaller, more athletic Mal, plus structural issues created by banana backs, goose rumps, low-set tails, short hocks, etc, & oversized torsos & heads, all popular in the breed ring, made GSDs the stars of show rings, not real-life working dogs.

Show-lines GSDs might as well be another species, contrasted with working-line GSDs.

=======================

As for the symptoms of over-attachment in GSDs, Google can answer that Q -
Velcro dogs who won't let the owner take a shower with the bathroom DOOR shut are a classic example, no matter what their breed.
GSDs who have diarrhea or gut-motility issues, when their favorite leaves for college? -- GSDs who whine endlessly when there's a phone-call, & their darling is distracted from them?

it's an extremely common problem, with virtually infinite variations in symptoms.
- terry

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
"herding requires no training" - ?

... ultimately the GSD's sole original purpose was a sheep herding dog which took to the task with little training whatsoever.
...
an untrained dog will be able to move one ewe out of a flock, on cue?

Or one dog, with no training, can direct a mob of 60 or more individual sheep from one pasture into another, thru a gate? - sheep aren't stoopid; they do know where the gates are in a particular field, & will squirt to either side in an effort to evade the gate.

Herding is an instinct, but no working dog is put on a sheep flock just 'cuz they've reached 12-MO & are now "old enuf"; that would be TRUE if it were purely instinctive.
It's not maturity that matters; it's trained behaviors & compliance at a distance.
Instinct is merely the lowest course of the foundation stones. :) Herding is the edifice built on that thru training.

- terry

 

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an untrained dog will be able to move one ewe out of a flock, on cue?

Or one dog, with no training, can direct a mob of 60 or more individual sheep from one pasture into another, thru a gate? - sheep aren't stoopid; they do know where the gates are in a particular field, & will squirt to either side in an effort to evade the gate.

Herding is an instinct, but no working dog is put on a sheep flock just 'cuz they've reached 12-MO & are now "old enuf"; that would be TRUE if it were purely instinctive.
It's not maturity that matters; it's trained behaviors & compliance at a distance.
Instinct is merely the lowest course of the foundation stones. :) Herding is the edifice built on that thru training.

- terry

I can appreciate that logic because it is primarily based on today's mentalities, perceptions and reality that so many "original" purposes our dogs once had, essentially no longer exist to the greater degree. I'm certain we are all aware of this. The GSD is a relatively new breed in the overall spectrum of dog breeds but still old enough to live in the day where the human had little time if any to take their working dog to "PetSmart herding 101 classes". Basically, the dog learned through "osmosis" from the other dogs along with an innate "knack" for the job. Unfortunately, it was a much harsher world for working dogs back then because they basically lived in a "sink or swim" world. I'm not sure about all the gates you speak of being a concern when the GSD first was recognized by Stephanitz. I rather doubt we can objectively understand nor appreciate how a working dog fit into a human's life that many years ago.

Also, I somewhat wonder if your observation regarding the "velcro" GSD problems is more a generalization you came to based on a very limited experience to the breed. The "college" and "bathroom door shut" examples seems to suggest a very limited personal exposure to something you would coin an "extremely common problem". But, I am still curious, does this "extremely common problem" exist in all lines of GSDs? Or maybe better yet, what line was this GSD that exhibited the specific problems you cited?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sheesh.

Also, I somewhat wonder if your observation regarding the "velcro" GSD problems is more a generalization you came to based on a very limited experience to the breed.

The "college" and "bathroom door shut" examples seems to suggest a very limited personal exposure to something you would coin an "extremely common problem". But, I am still curious, does this "extremely common problem" exist in all lines of GSDs? Or maybe better yet, what line was this GSD that exhibited the specific problems you cited?
whatever "experience of the breed" U feel is needed, i'm sure U'll consider me lacking. :) That's OK. I'm willing to reminisce about childhood dogs individually.

My long-time mentor, Mrs Frank Arnold, bred & trained GSDs of her own line from foundation stock she selected in person, in Germany, & flew back to the U-S. // Her bitches were among the vanishingly few F dogs in the AKC who had Utility titles as well as breed-ring ribbons, back then; most breeders thought she was nutz for wasting her time & money.
There were no injections to delay or suppress estrus then, & most breeders left the Fs at home & simply titled their Ms; scheduling shows around heats was too much trouble.
Fs were nothing more than puppy-factories; it wasn't important to "prove" them in any way, they were just mommies.

GSDs were my favorite breed for over 20-years B4 i got tired of picking-up enuf hair every 3-weeks or so to upholster a new pup. :rolleyes:

No, i've never competed in Schutzhund, nor Ring-Sport, Mondio, or even herding trials. // We had sheep; my 1st dog was a GSD x Keeshond who moved our flock, as a group - he did not cut sheep out, we did.

Our neighbor had a wonderful dog, a solid-white M GSD, Snowball: gorgeous, well-mannered, excellent temp; this was in the era when bitches who produced white pups were often euthanized, & white pups were commonly drowned.
That white is a known recessive in the breed, & that white GSDs are no more "weak" or sickly or _______ than B&T dogs, did not change breeders' S.O.P.


My mother's closest friend had 4 GSDs over a 25-year period; i knew her from the time i was 8-YO & saw her regularly until i was 30-YO, plus baby-sat her younger kids. I knew all her dogs well; Banzai was a nasty bitch who bit with little provocation, but did little damage.
Hans was crazy, & sent 8 ppl to the hospital for stitches, the last a man who rode a motorcycle past their house - Hans leapt onto him & bit him THROUGH HIS LEATHERS repeatedly, with his forepaws over the man's shoulders & his feet on the seat behind him.
I was astronomically lucky - when Hans charged at me with no-one at home [he was at large!], i put my hand out to keep his teeth away from my face, he FLIPPED over my hand, fell heavily from the retaining wall to the ground 4-ft below, landed on his side, & knocked all his air out.
I made my getaway while he lay stunned trying to inhale. // He never went for me again, but i never turned my back on him, either. :eek:
They finally put him down when he stole the 8# Sunday ham out of the sink, as it defrosted, hauled it upstairs, dug a hole & buried it in the guest room mattress, & then defended it from all comers for 3 days. // He was 6-YO.
Her other GSDs, both male, were normal - not remarkable, okay dogs.

Another family friend had a terrific F, Greta; calm, friendly, devoted to her kids, she once herded the 10 ducklings they'd got as pets into a corner of the yard when they escaped their pen - the only time she wasn't on hand to greet them when they came home.
She couldn't leave the ducklings to get to the garage. :D

As an adult, i've worked with many, many clients' GSDs; some for training [cued behaviors], but as i specialized in B-Mod starting in 1985, mostly for problem behaviors. //
I haven't bred a GSD litter, shown a GSD to a championship, titled one, yadda-yadda. // That's also true of every other breed or mix. :p

My Akita never got her Ch, either; i only showed her twice, but we did a tremendous amount in her brief lifetime.

- terry


 

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Well, how nice to hear there was a nice GSD or two in there, I guess they all weren't neurotic messes.

I obviously have a bias as I have had numerous GSDs over the years, such wonderful dogs, fiercely loyal, incredibly intelligent and so willing to please their human. I guess at the end of the day, they just return in kind the hand that has been dealt to them by their person, keeps one honest and fair I guess

Thanks for the discourse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"bad dogs only belong to bad people"? - Don't agree.

... nice to hear there was a nice GSD or two in there, I guess they all weren't neurotic messes.
If "all the GSDs i'd met" were "neurotic messes", LOL, then i'd be a certified masochist to have chosen GSDs as my fave breed for more than 20-years.
:rofl:
... I have had numerous GSDs ... wonderful dogs, fiercely loyal, incredibly intelligent and so willing to please their human.
I guess at the end of the day, they just return in kind the hand that has been dealt to them by their person...
I don't think Anne [his owner] "made" Hans a crazy stalker - he was IMO a genuine psycho; when i babysat, he stalked me from room to room, always lying so he could see me, never getting within arms-length except when he was behind me - when i watched him like a hawk.

I think Hans was miswired at birth, & to this day, he's by far the most-twisted dog i've ever known.
That's saying something - i've since worked with dogs who'd been declared dangerous in court, yet Hans is still my benchmark for mentally-aberrant human-aggro dogs.

When my godchild, Beth, her youngest daughter, had been at home for a week, Hans got jealous; he lay across the nursery door, & when Anne arrived with the bottle in hand, he stood up, dropped his head, lifted his lips, & growled deeply.
Her then-9-YO next eldest, Barbara, came out of her bedroom & saw her mother being faced down by the family dog; she'd grown up with him & was unafraid. She walked over, bopped his muzzle with her small fist, told him he was a bad dog, & he deflated, slunk downstairs, & sulked in the basement for the rest of the day.
Until Beth was weaned, Anne locked him in the basement every time she went to nurse the baby. :eyeroll: I couldn't BELIEVE she didn't euth him, at that point - he was already a multiple offender in the local magistrate's office, & was only 3-YO.

- terry

 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
LGDs as 'great pets'?

There is no such thing as a jobless LGD and they're always happy to be at your side, doing their job, which is being at your side.

Great pets.
@Esand -
i've long since lost track of how many Pyrs, Anatolians, Tibetan Mastiffs, Kuvaszok, Caucasian & other Ovcharkas, Maremmas, etc, lost their pet homes because they came with built-in instinctive behaviors that were serious problems in pet-homes.

Depending upon the owner/s, the circs, how well they can accommodate or manage their dog, & how much time they spend socializing her or him, some LGDs keep their pet-homes for their lifespan.
All too many are surrendered to a shelter or an all-breed rescue; lucky LGDs are taken in by breed rescues or by rescues familiar with their type, & then re-homed to ppl who are LGD-savvy.

the most-unfortunate LGDs arrive at a shelter, are re-homed a couple of times, returned with complaints, & are euthanized - 'cuz there are very few places for dogs who frankly dislike strangers, are up half the night to bark & roust the neighborhood, never want to leave home, & will cheerfully remove every finger & possibly the vet's whole hand, for daring to touch them. :eek: :(

An LGD in a home with several kids, all of whom want their friends to come play, stay, & at least occasionally romp, won't be a happy dog. Their turf is constantly invaded by a series of strangers, & sooner or later, the dog will get in trouble.
Kids do things in all innocence that are provoking; even visiting adults can get into trouble with an LGD in residence.

One of my fellow volunteers in Virginia lived in a suburban neighborhood, mostly families with kids; she was one of the few retirees, & friends threw a party for adults only. There were drinks in the garden, a buffet in the kitchen, & meat on the grill.
A guest went into the house to use the toilet, & about 30-mins later, the host went in to get more tonic - he found his neighbor with the wall at his back, & their Pyr standing on his hindlegs with his forepaws on either side of the man's head.
Luckily, he'd already used the toilet before the dog pinned him there, because i have no doubt his pants would have been wet, otherwise.
It didn't go over at all well - the dog didn't hurt him, but scared the bejesus out of him; every time he tried to move, the dog growled. // The owners forgave their dog, but the neighbor never entered their house again.
I can easily see that dog banished to a shelter, or simply pre-emptively euthanized - when all he did was defend his home from a perceived intruder, since the owners were both outside, & this guy came in alone.

"by your side"? -
even getting an LGD in the car is not easy, in some cases; i've known owners whose LGD would only enter one vehicle, the stock-trailer, & it had to have horses or whatever in it, first. :p
Casually walking them around a city neighborhood with narrow sidewalks, passing strangers, bikes zipping by, skateboards, etc? -- some owners can't drag their LGD over the threshold by main force, & even if U can get them out the door, U might not like their reactions to the busy world around them.

Dogs are plastic & adaptable, but not all dogs are suited to every setting. LGDs in my experience are happiest with stock to mind; backyard hens will do, they're not picky - or if stockless, on a good-sized property with setback.
"Good fences make good neighbors" is very true, & IME, especially true when there's an LGD on one side of that fence. :D

- terry

 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
...
I have had numerous GSDs over the years, such wonderful dogs, fiercely loyal, incredibly intelligent and so willing to please their human.
I guess at the end of the day, they just return in kind the hand that has been dealt to them by their person, keeps one honest and fair I guess
...
"bad dogs only belong to bad people"? - Don't agree. [terry / LFL]

I'm not sure where that came from?
? - bolded, in the 1st quoted post.
The dog that i described who bit passing motorcyclists or visitors to the house was presumably "dealt a poor hand" by his person? -
I don't know how else to interpret it. :)

- t

 

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The dog that i described who bit passing motorcyclists or visitors to the house was presumably "dealt a poor hand" by his person? -
I don't know how else to interpret it. :)

- t



My reply didn't post ???? Or maybe it did. Basically, I guess my point was "the hand that feeds them" as in their "person", not others.
 

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@leashedForLife

you might be right about those breeds. My experience is more with dogs that are often classified as LGD but are, now the I think of it, slightly more domesticated. Filas, Boerboels, and Neos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yow!

...
My experience is more with dogs that are often classified as LGD but are, now the I think of it, slightly more domesticated.
Filas, Boerboels, and Neos.

Oy. :eek: If U think Filas Brasiliero & Boerbels are "more domesticated" than Pyrs, U've met a very, very different type of both than i have!

Boerbels are popular in VA; i never met ONE in the 12-years that i lived there, that i could touch. Even a 12-WO pup - he'd have done his best to take my arm off, with his milk-teeth.

Filas are IMO related to chain-saws; a pro handler i know works in ARBA shows, & she has a scooped-out trough in her right upper-arm as a souvenir of a male Fila; he took offense when she shifted his paw - he stopped out of balance in the ring, she moved his paw about 2-inches, & he ripped her arm from armpit to elbow without even a growl.
She's missing half her triceps, & needed 3 skin-grafts to cover the wound. // He'd lived with her for a month B4 that show, & she'd been showing him for over a year, at that point. She wasn't a stranger; she fed, groomed, exercised, bathed him, & played with him.

Neos have nothing i'd want; super-slobber, loose flews, spaghetti-strings of drool on the walls & ceiling when they shake their heads, dropped haws, prone to cherry-eye, U could put spare change in their lower eyelids like a pouch -- excess wrinkle, brachycephalic with airway issues, oversize frames, joint issues, early aging... they don't reach adulthood till they're 3, & by 7, they're senile & shuffling, poor things. :(

None of the 3 are my cuppa. :eek:
- terry

 

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how can you say no to this face??? :p




What I mean by more domesticated is that Filas (including the above who is now much larger) and boerboels seem more attached to people than animals. Like the LGDs you mentioned they are more comfortable at home & on familiar turf but far from dragging over the threshold will follow you anywhere before letting you leave unaccompanied. For friends I know who have them on their farms, the dogs get along with the horses but don't have any special attraction to them and would much rather sleep in the house than with the animals because their flock are the humans.

I have no problem getting Leia and her 130lbs in even small cars, she's a total lap dog.

As for your friend's experience, thats pretty terrible. 1 month is not that long to develop trust with a breed like a fila (and why a lot of them are shown by their owners). We got a new housekeeper when Leia was 9 months old. It took her 9 more months of seeing her 7 hrs a day 5 days a week to accept her.
 
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