Introducing a New Guardian Dog

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Maremma Puppy photo by Windance Farm
Maremma Puppy  Windance Farm  

Guardian Dogs know what their work is about. They don’t need the farmer to teach them that.

BUT ~ when they are new to your farm, there is much for them to learn about the specifics of YOUR farm. It is exremely important that you take the time to teach them…..if you want them to be successful guardians.

The following is shared by Jackie Church of Windance Farm in Upper State New York. She is a responsible breeder of Maremma Guardians, and shares her knowledge and experience in a Manual she has written for farmers. Here is one section on introducing your guardian to your farm.

Setting your Dog up for Success

You must set your dog up to succeed. This applies to a new adult dog, and to the brand new young puppy that arrives at your farm.

You need to know what to expect from your dog and what ages you can expect it. Some dogs are exceptions in both the negatives and positives. You may have a dog that could never fail, no matter what you did. Then you have others who take longer to mature, and make you scratch your head more than anything in your life.

Again, what you put into this dog – is exactly what you will get out of this dog. If you toss a dog in the pasture alone, then you will get exactly what you are putting into it. Yes, the dog may (and an adult should) know how to keep predators out, mark the boundaries and bark.

But all the rest? The relationship it should have with the stock, with you, what the boundaries are, where and what – all that the dog does not know.

In all of the old world countries that use guardian dogs, they do not run just one dog. They work the dogs in teams. There is a smattering of ages –from some old dogs to very young dogs.

The older mature dogs that know their jobs are the teachers of these young pups. This is done by example and correction.  If you take a young pup and place it in the field without an adult dog who knows the ropes –then YOU become the teacher. YOU become the mentor. YOU become the one to provide the instruction. If you do not, any failure of the dog is not because of the dog, but because of the lack of guidance and training.

Contributed by Jackie Church of Windance Farm in New York
Jackie breeds outstanding old world Maremma guardian dogs
Material from her Training Manual ©

Crisco, Adult Maremma, Windance Farm
Crisco, Adult Maremma, Windance Farm

Farming & the Why of Carnivore Predation

posted in: Living with Carnivores | 0
 Coyote Pup
Coyote Pup



The answer is….a great deal. I am a wildlife biologist whose work focuses on carnivores. A Vet contacted me and shared how this coyote pup came to her. Evidently an individual killed this pup’s parents and she was wondering around unprotected by them. It appears that same individual shot this small pup (but was a bad aim), so the bullet went through her paw. Her paw being very little was badly damaged, bones and flesh torn apart.

So what does this pup’s story have to do with you. So often when I work with our farmers in Maine, I share with them that farming well with carnivores entails 2 important aspects: When speaking about coyotes the first aspect entails keeping a stable coyote family present on your farm. In this situation the parents have the opportunity to teach their pups how to be excellent hunters of their wild prey, and when they are…they are not hungry. The second aspect is using good animal husbandry practices, as you can read about on this website.

So this pup has lost her parents. She is too little to know how to hunt effectively (At this age she is completely dependent on her parents). So if pups are left to struggle for survival……they will seek out your farm animals more readily, and will continue to do so as they grow up…if they survive.

So be aware of what goes on around your farm. There are many enlightened farmers here in Maine who share with their community members the need to leave their coyotes in peace. And what a difference it makes!

One last comment regarding this pup’s story. It makes me believe that our young people care about all life on the farm.  That is the Farming of the Future. This is how the pup made it to the Vet ~ The granddaughter of the individual who attempted to kill this pup, saw what happened and ran to a neighbors where a young man sought out the vet.

Shared by Geri Vistein, Carnivore Biologist in Maine


Raising Chickens and Electric Netting

posted in: Fencing | 0

photo-5 (2)

More and more people are wanting to raise chickens ~ for some people as a means to provide income, and for others just to enjoy them and have fresh eggs. But no matter where you raise them, whether you are in a suburban neighborhood or in a rural landscape, predators will be present. That is why ELECTRIC NETTING is a great resource. The following information is shared by Wellscroft Fencing in New Hampshire. They have personal experience with what they are sharing here ~ they are farmers, too..


Electric netting is one of the fastest, easiest, and most versatile types of fence available.  It is widely used to confine just about any livestock as well as protect a vast array of crops from a host of predators.  Netting is a great temporary fencing option and is an excellent choice for anyone farming on rented land, preferring to shift their grazing areas, or that does not want to invest in a permanent fence.

How electric netting works:  One of the nicest benefits of electric netting is it is quick and easy to set up and move.  Most netting is made from a poli-conductor horizontal strand tied or bonded to a polyethylene string or plastic vertical strut which holds each intersection in place.

A hollow PVC post with steel spike is inserted at various intervals in the net depending on its type (some are spaced closer together to better support the weight of the netting). The size of the netting grid, height, length, type of conductor, post size, and spike type are all considered for the animal that is to be kept in or out. Once you set up your netting, install a ground rod and energizer for it to be effective.  It is recommended that netting never be left unenergized.

Finally, know that netting is very effective for all seasons, except in areas where winter brings plenty of snow. Netting does not hold up to snow, and wildlife standing on that snow will not receive an electrical shock, as they cannot be grounded.

If any of your farm animals are out in the winter, you must use a woven wire fence, with an electrified wire at the top of the fence. In this instance, as the wildlife climb the fence to get over, they will be grounded when they touch the electrified wire.

Photos and information provided by Wellscroft Fencing in New Hampshire

Donkeys as Guardians of your Livestock

posted in: Guardian Donkeys | 0
Wild Burros
Wild Burros


Many farmers have discovered donkeys as their Guardians of choice! And know that there are many wild burros (Spanish name for donkeys) in need of a good home. They can be purchased very inexpensively from the Federal Bureau of Land Management. (see the link on our guardian animals page)

However … please feel free to contact us regarding this. We have great connections with a caring Mustang rescuer who can guide you through it.  The following are some Donkey Basics that may help you ~


The donkey’s herding and territorial instinct, combined with its inherent dislike for all canines, domestic and wild, can make it an effective Guardian animal.  Donkeys rely predominantly on sight and sound to detect intruders. When intruders approach, sheep will tend to move so the guardian animal is between the intruder and themselves.  The donkey’s loud brays and quick pursuit will quickly chase predators out of the pasture.

When seeking a donkey as a Guardian, 2 standard size jennies (females) or 2 standard  size gelded males are the most effective. It is important to have two donkey guardians, as they are very social and tend to be much calmer and content in each other’s company….and therefore more effective guardians.

When introducing the donkeys to the sheep or goats (or other livestock under their care) they should be placed in a pasture next to, but separate for a period of 1 to 2 weeks. They then can be placed in the same pasture but should be watched carefully initially for any signs of conflict.

If you have herding dogs, both the dogs and donkeys will adapt to work with each other, if you take the time to introduce them to each other. Though donkeys are  aggressive toward canines, most are docile and gentle with humans.

Donkeys are most effective in smaller, open pastures of less than 600 acres, and watch over not more than 200 ewes or goats. Larger pastures with rough terrain and dense brush, where sheep and goats are scattered, lessens the effectiveness of the donkey.

Donkeys should never be made to guard pigs, as they would often be forced to stand in mud.  Donkeys are from the deserts, and if forced to stand in mud, their hooves will rot.



Raising Successful Livestock Guardian Dogs

posted in: Guardian Dogs | 0
photo by David Kennard
photo by David Kennard


A successful livestock guardian dog, like this adult Great Pyrenees, is an invaluable member of your farm. There are important actions that you can take to help them be successful. In the link below, Cat Urbigkit, a successful rancher in Wyoming, who uses guardian dogs to protect her sheep, offers 12 of those key factors. Valuable information coming from years of experience!

12 Keys to Raising Successful Livestock Guardian Dogs


Coyote America

posted in: Living with Carnivores | 0



  • Along with our farmers, guardian dog experts and fencing experts, our scientists are an integral part of our effort to support our farmers and community members in learning how to live well with carnivores with whom we share the land.
  • Learning about our carnivores on many different levels is essential to living well with them.

SO HERE IS AN OUTSTANDING BOOK, NEWLY PUBLISHED IN 2016, WRITTEN BY A HISTORIAN SCIENTIST. Read it…and you will gain a deep understanding of who Coyotes really are and our human relationship with them. It will give you the opportunity to step back and view our relationship with this highly evolved canine.

Chicken Coops … A Secure Home

posted in: Secure Housing | 0

hen and her chicks


Chickens are the most vulnerable farm animals. They are the just right size for most predators….

that includes our predator birds like eagles, hawks and owls.

Therefore we need to give them a secure home…..their COOP.  Below is a great article with tips to consider when constructing one + 34 different plans …. choose one that fits your needs!

Livestock Guardian Dog Grant

posted in: Guardian Dogs | 0


Bulgarian Karakachan
Bulgarian Karakachan
Bulgarian Karakachan puppy
Bulgarian Karakachan puppy

Our Chickens are by far the most vulnerable to predation by our carnivores,

especially when the carnivore in question is being subjected to human persecution.




FACT | Food Animal Concerns Trust

  • FACT is delighted to announce another free opportunity for poultry farmers — the chance to receive a Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) puppy and participate in an immersion training session! New this year, FACT is partnering with a current Fund-a-Farmer grant recipient to place four LGD puppies with selected poultry farmers who raise their birds humanely (one of seven certifications is required). These selected farmers will receive a LGD puppy and attend a free weekend training session this summer in Wisconsin, along with additional educational resources and expert technical assistance throughout the year. FACT’s LGD webpage for more information.

Kangals ~ Guardian Dogs

posted in: Guardian Dogs | 0
Introducing Otto
Introducing Otto ~ He loves meeting everyone

On May 20 of this year, some very fortunate people came together in Rockport, Massachusetts to learn more about these amazing Guardian Dogs ~ the Kangals. They are an ancient breed in their homeland of Turkey, and have been protecting the shepherds flocks from predators for centuries..Now we have them here as well.

We were all so fortunate to learn from Stuart Richens of the Banks Mountain Farm in North Carolina. She and her husband Bob, carefully breed these amazing Kangals. She shared that Temperament and Health are what they are selecting for, resulting in a trustworthy and stable dog.  When their pups are 6 weeks old, they go out to pasture with their goats, and are carefully watched over. They want their dogs to not only be great guardians, BUT also to have a HAPPY AND HEALTHY life. They are very careful as to who is “worthy” of purchasing one of their dogs..Any responsible farmer also would have it no other way. To learn more about them, you can go to their website:


MAY 21: Kangal Club of America Dog Show, Windhover Center for the Performing Arts, Rockport, MA. (Photos by Tsar Fedorsky)
SLEEPY 4 MONTH OLD PUPPY   Kangal Club of America


MAY 21: Kangal Club of America Dog Show, Windhover Center for the Performing Arts, Rockport, MA. (Photos by Tsar Fedorsky)



MAY 21: Kangal Club of America Dog Show, Windhover Center for the Performing Arts, Rockport, MA. (Photos by Tsar Fedorsky)
 Rheanna and 12 year old Vasi  Kangal Club of America  (Photos by Tsar Fedorsky)


Lords of Nature

posted in: Living with Carnivores | 0



to Understand Who They are

So here is a DVD that we highly recommend all our farmers to watch. It not only shares with you the importance of these predators, but also incorporates the many ways that farmers can live well with them.

AND HOW ~ by telling the stories of others who have very successfully done so!

If you choose not to purchase it, you can ask your local library to issue an Inter-library loan in order to obtain it.