Friday, January 02, 2009

Bad Dog

Paul caught Balto in the act of chasing and catching a chicken this afternoon. It was one of the young Australorp pullets, which are still small enough to fit through the fence. It's electrified, but feathers are pretty good insulation and it only takes a moment to get through. Anyhow, Paul tackled Balto and he dropped the chicken, and it didn't appear to be harmed. It couldn't be checked thoroughly because it ran back into the rest of the flock, and all 44 of them look about the same. Hopefully, Balto found the experience startling and unpleasant, and will leave the chickens alone in the future. Tomorrow we will be reconfiguring the pens to make it less likely that a chicken will wander into the goat pen with him. It would be nice to have a livestock guard dog that was trustworthy with all of our animals, but since we got him as a two-year-old we didn't have any control over his puppyhood. It makes me want even more to someday raise and breed quality LGDs, that have the wonderful temperament and sense of responsibility that Phantom had without the massive health problems.


Mary Cate said...

It was very sad when our LGD died. But there was a certain amount of relief as well. He kept being a problem with the poultry so that it was a toss up which was worse, him or the coyotes.

If you ever figure out how to get a LGD to work well with free-range poultry, let me know!

Mel, Foxtail Farm said...

Our first dog, Phantom, did very well with both poultry and goats, especially once he got over about a year old. I do recall that he chased a duck the first time he saw one, but it really seemed to be more that he saw it as a threat to his goats. When he was a bit older, he was very protective of our chickens. He developed a really nasty cancer called an osteosarcoma when he was two, and was retired to the house where he guarded the baby chicks in the brooder pen.

As near as I can tell, the ideal situation is to raise a puppy LGD with every major type of animal you expect it to guard, and have constant supervision of the puppy stages when he's inclined to play with the animals. An adult LGD that really knows its job is the best teacher and will be on duty at all times, but a human can make do. There were plenty of times when Phantom was a puppy that I had to go stop him from chasing the goats in play. As he matured, he calmed down a lot.

Balto was raised by people who treated him much more as a pet, so he's not as devoted to his charges as he should be. With Phantom gone, though, he's the best we have for now. He does guard well, and I usually find that I can stop bad behavior with a stern voice, so he's an ok LGD. He just lacks the talent and sense of responsibility that I had gotten used to.

I didn't realize that your LGD had died. I remember reading about your poultry problems with him, but missed what happened I guess. I'm sorry for your loss.