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LGDs: Introducing a New Dog

LGDs: Introducing a New Dog

IMG_3707Introducing a new dog to an existing pack of dogs or even a herd of goats can be a little tricky at times. A new dog that has already been working will not always accept or guard your livestock, as they don’t consider the stock in their new home to be ‘theirs’. It is best to have a holding pen inside your pasture where you can house a new dog for a couple of weeks. This allows the herd to get used to the new dog, as well as allowing the new dog to get used to and accepting of your livestock.


Let your dogs see you handling the new addition. This lets them know that the new dog belongs to you and will soon be part of their pack. The introduction of a new dog will also put the pack hierarchy into limbo for a little while, until a new pecking order can be established. If possible, let the dogs work it out for themselves. Unless the pack is extremely brutal to the new dog, leave them to their own devices.


Often, a new dog will cling to the person that handles it the most, and not want to acclimate to the herd or pack. In a situation such as this, you can often ignore the dog when it sits at the fence asking for attention from you. Only handle the dog on YOUR terms.  If the dog leaves the flock seeking attention from you, ignore it and tell it to go back to work. When the dog stops coming to you for attention, you can start calling the dog to you, handling it and petting, then tell it to go back to work, and continue ignoring.  It can be a slow process and it can be difficult to ignore a new dog, but you will have a better dog for it in the long run.


IMG_3998Puppies are a whole new ballgame to introduce to the pack. While most dogs will accept the new pup, they can be rough on it for a while. Let the alpha dog, if it will, handle the training of the new pup. The alpha dog in a pack will typically reprimand any wrong doings of a new pup and teach it quickly what is and is not allowed.


You do want to spend as much time as you can socializing and handling a new pup, but you also want it to be a dedicated guardian. So, as with an adult dog, handle the pup on your terms, and if it begins to seek too much attention from you, ignore it until you are ready to handle it. It is also best to handle the young pups as much as possible in the fields or pastures. If the pup escapes and comes to the porch, correct it and put it back in the pasture.   I like to take my new dogs off farm for social working. This insures that they don’t equate the front porch with affection and attention.


Rescued or rehomed dogs can often turn out to be some of the best working dogs a person can have. So many dogs are given up with the owner realizes how much they bark, how large they are, or how dominant they can be. Most of the issues that a pet home has with a dog are the qualities that I look for when considering a dog for adoption. Take time to walk the pasture with a new rescue dog. It will need time to learn what is expected of it.


IMG_3777Never be afraid to seek advice or help from groups on the internet or Facebook. Many knowledgeable people are out there willing to offer suggestions and advice on how to train your new dog! Seek them out and ask questions, and remember that details of a situation are very important in order for others to help you work through an issue.  Also remember to take advice with a grain of salt: Read it, digest it, ask more questions, and then find the suggested solutions that you think you can work with.


I am Robyn Poyner, of,  and I am looking forward to blogging for you about livestock guardian dogs from around the world and my experiences with them!

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