The puppies are 4 months now and entering that awkward teenage stage that large breed dogs go through. They are on the go most of the day and take a few naps to recharge their batteries.
I have experience with so many dog temperaments – both fosters and family dogs. I’ve had dogs that were dog aggressive, food aggressive, feral, etc. But I was near those dogs most of the day and was able to give them constant direction. It’s different with the LGD pups. Although I am giving them as much training and supervision as I can, it is impossible to be with them all the time. In fact, I want them to bond closer with the livestock than with me. The biggest difference is watching them grow and mature in their own pack. And as hard as it is for me, I know I must remain hands-off for the most part.
The puppies are still working out who is the team leader, but I already know it will be the female, Petra, of course. Ranger is only with them while I am around but they clearly respect him at this point. While they may bicker over a bone or a dead animal they find, they wouldn’t dare challenge Ranger. I’m so lucky that Ranger is very appropriate with them in his corrections. Though he’s young, he is a good teacher… except when he chases his best friend, Chuckie the cat.
One of the main reasons we got the working team was to help protect the chickens, because we lost almost our entire flock our first year here (along with other animals). But now I find myself making sure the chickens are safe from the puppies! HA! You see, they are still puppies, and big ones! Although their instincts and breeding definitely shows when it comes to goats, it’s harder for them not to think of the chickens as toys from time to time. They are perfect 99% of the time. During that other 1% I will see them bounding joyfully after a chicken. So we’ve been working on this and I can already see an improvement. Eventually I know we will be able to trust them completely with the chickens.
Often people get LGDs and think they can just put them out with the animals and it will just work. That has not been the case for us considering they are so young. Teenage dogs are in-fact teenagers, so we must be patient and continue to work with them. Most afternoons, now that it’s warming up, I see the puppies lounging with the goats. It makes me feel good to know that the goats now feel safe around them. Petra in particular adores the goats – she will even eat hay with them!
We hear the coyotes on a daily basis here, but since the puppies arrived we haven’t lost anymore animals! They are still not out alone full-time, so we are really impressed! Although these dogs are a work in progress, we know in the long run they will be worth it!