Livestock guarding dogs are time-tested protectors of livestock and are still used in the territories where the wolves live. Dogs are very popular in mountain areas where herds frequently move and do not have permanent pastures. Specific breeds like the Lower Tatra (Podhalan) sheepdog or the Turkmen Alabai sheepdog, which are bred in Lithuania as well, are big and strong enough to protect the herd from predators. These dogs identify themselves as a part of the herd and protect it from the enemies, and also warn people about the threat by barking.
Dogs are not suitable for small farms, because they are big and they need much quality food. It is recommended to have several dogs (at least two) – they will do their job easier and feel braver. Also, in case one of dogs is taken ill, the flock will not be left without protection.
Properly trained guard dogs are a very reliable protection measure. The presence of a dog, its loud barking and brave behaviour towards predators might be enough to keep wolves away from the herd. Also these dogs are not afraid to fight the predator off if necessary.
A dog will be a good protector only if it is properly trained. From the early age the dog should be kept with the herd and not with people. It is a must to form non-aggressive and affectionate behaviour between the dog and the herd it will protect.
It is very important to adequately feed the dogs. Starving dogs will be ineffective for protection. Even more, they would pose big problems if they start hunting wildlife or livestock for food.
Effectiveness may be increased by keeping livestock guarding dogs in the enclosure.
Dogs are not a cheap protection measure. If you buy a dog with documents of origin from a trustworthy breeder, its price might reach 1000 EUR and more. Also, you need to train your dogs, feed them and take care of their health.
The purchase and training of a dog will require considerable time (may take up to 2 years) and effort from you. In order to raise a reliable protector of livestock specific knowledge about appropriate training and care-taking methods is needed.
Dog is obviously an animal, so you need to take care of it as much as you take care of the livestock it protects. As proper preparation of the dog is quite long and expensive process, you will inevitably have to pay attention to the dog’s physical condition and health.
Installation requirements and recommendations:
- Choose special livestock guarding breeds, e.g. Polish Tatra Sheepdog.
- It is recommended to acquire at least two dogs, and even more if flock is big.
- Buy puppies of 7-8 weeks old.
- Buy dogs with proof of origin from reliable breeders.
- Choose puppies that have parents that also protect herds.
- Keep puppies with the herd, not with people.
- Form a non-aggressive and affectionate dog’s behaviour towards the herd it will protect.
- Consult with other farmers about the keeping and training of dogs.