Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What a Day!

Well, it was one of those days today ... We looked out the window and down the hill to see our 6 month old German Shepherd in the sheep pen. Peter ran down to get him out, and discovered Samson had pulled some wool from the head of Tilty, the sheep that only has sight in one eye. I don't want him to forever be afraid of us, since as a lamb he was mauled by a dog and lost the one eye, and now it seems to be starting all over again.

We thought we had taken care of the problem, when later in the day we once again discovered both dogs in the sheep pen; this time one of the sheep had a bloody ear. Now comes the fun part -- learning how to train dogs to leave farm animals alone! This will be quite a challenge, and we welcome any ideas.

On top of that -- I came down with the flu!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Suggestions:

1. Get rid of animals till they can be better protected.

2. Build a better shelter and fence.

3. Indroduce the dogs 1 at a time to each animal and walk with them till they get used to one another.

4.It takes lot of time to train animals.

Sorry I am so negitave but its to bad those sheep, (and goats), have had to go through such trama. I am sure they have feelings.

Hope your flu is short lived.

Good luck.

Gp B

HomesteadHerbs said...

I'm praying for a quick recovery from the flu.

I'm sorry I don't have any advice on the problem of the dogs with the farm animals, but I'm sure someone will come up with something brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Chasing sheep can be serious and dangerous, and in any country it is legal for a farmer to shoot your dog if it chases any of his animals - it doesn't take long to go from playing, to chasing to killing. Most dogs will go through this stage regardless of what breed they are. My Livestock guardian dog did it for a very SHORT while and learned that if she even looked at the sheep she was going to get yelled at, something thrown at her (whatever was closest ie. stick etc), or chased around. She was never allowed in the pen with the sheep, and if I wasn't there to supervise she was tied up or put in a stall until she could be trusted with the sheep - OR the sheep were always in a dog safe fence (hog panels). A dozen times a day she was on leash and walked through the sheep (I would tether them in long grass to graze) and if she even cocked her ears at them like, "hi, what fun we could have." I reprimanded her. They were quite flighty sheep and when they saw her they'd often bolt and it was good learning for her to have to just walk with me and ignore whatever the sheep were doing. She had to completely ignore those sheep before she was allowed with them off leash. And this from a dog whose eventual best asset to the farm was how well she guarded sheep, chickens, cattle and horses! She was with sheep from day one and whined if I separated her from them, so it is often a stage they go through that they have to be trained through or else they will end up killing sheep (or chickens or anything else that moves). But it is important that dogs understand the need to leave things alone on a farm and learn to listen when you tell them to "let be". (leave alone) All my dogs have shaken and quivered when they first saw chicks or chickens and weren't allowed around them off leash until they could be trusted. Which involved a lot of "leave it" training - even my laid back dogs had chicken killing instincts from the day they saw those cute fuzzy peeping chicks. And it required me going in with them on leash every time and letting them watch them but not react, (if she got excited or pounced, she got a no or a nose tap) and then bring one to her nose (and tap her nose or say, "NO!" every time she would push it or show interest) until when I lifted a chick she would just ignore it and even let it hop all over her back. Even then I watched her closely and kept taking her around them outside to train her, making sure she was strongly reprimanded if she showed ANY interest in them. They often require reminders also, and you can't just assume that because they haven't chased sheep ever or chased them in a long time that they won't try it.
Two dogs are often much worse for getting into trouble. And you have two herding breed dogs (German Shepherds are used for herding also), so that means they need more training than some breeds because they have a natural instinct to herd and worry an animal. Whenever I have had my worst problems, it was with two puppies together. I had two that killed a lot of meat chicks one day when they were out together (they both were just playing with them and not actually pouncing/killing), they both tried playing with sheep and decided it was fun to see them run etc. ANd for quite a period of time (I'm thinking it was 1-2 months), the one was always in the house if the other was out, and they could never be together without me outside to supervise what they were doing.
Dogs are predators - prey drive. It is natural for them to try to chase and kill everything that moves. They aren't born with the, "Oh, I need to protect the property and livestock." Instead, they need to have training the same way children do or else they or the farm animals need to be protected from each other or one in the equation needs to find a new home.
There are lots of resources on the internet for teaching a sheep chasing dog to stop if you care to do a search.

Lynn said...

Thanks for all the help. We really need to get busy right away with our dogs. At times country living isn't all that simple, especially since we've never had dogs -- or farm animals before! What a constant learning process, and we certainly don't want to do it at the expense of the lives of animals.

Anonymous said...

you need to get rid of the sheep until you have a fence and know how to maintain it.