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Diva’s Domain – Dogs & Livestock

April 4, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe love dogs. Purebreds, mutts, puppies, old dogs, purchased as puppies or rescues.

But we do all we can to keep our dogs home. So many people move to the country and think their dog “needs room to roam.” They say fiercely “he/she would never hurt anything!”

This was said after a young Rottweiler pawed a cage, resulting in a scared rabbit that broke her back. A Top 10 national show rabbit – not only a waste of money and loss of production, but the dog owner refused to pay, animal control said I could shoot the dog but not confine it, and ultimately a beautiful, mostly well behaved young dog lost his life because his owner refused to keep him home.

Dogs are predators. It doesn’t matter if a Yorkie or a Scottish Deerhound – they are predators. They are wired to chase things down and kill – indeed many breeds were developed for that. Many hounds and terriers were developed as vermin control – from rats to coons to bear. Other breeds were developed to help with tasks around the farm like protecting livestock or herding. When the worlds collide, something will lose a life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen both Diva and, before her, Bella joined the family it was for a specific goal – protection of the home and area. When Diva first arrived, some questioned using a Doberman not only as a farm feature but around poultry and rabbits. Some picture Dobermans as bloodthirsty killers, and we wanted to change that.

From day one we introduced Diva to the birds and rabbits after she had played for a while and was tired. This meant her natural bounding energy was spent out front rather than what would scare the prey animals we keep. As she learned “come” and to behave and be quiet around the pens, she was allowed to be off leash, and occasionally would play with Missy or one of the other dogs, but her play/chase attention was always on the other dog. An encounter with a Muscovy wing taught her respect for birds, and today I would trust her in a paddock of loose rabbits without hesitation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABella on the other hand, not so much. As a herding dog telling her to not try to chase is fruitless…that’s what herding dogs *do*. Instead, teaching her the difference between moving them in control and chasing is important. The above picture was several years teaching her quiet around chickens, but she’s not one I would allow unsupervised in a pen. Her instincts and patience are too strong to be let go. Now it might not be deliberate, but it’s too late to bring an animal back to life once it’s ended.

Even with dogs bred to protect livestock, they need to be taught. A large dog like a Pyr or Anatolian can be devastating if they kill what they are supposed to protect. In my experience, a Pyr crossed on a herding breed (many of them from border collies to German Shepherd crosses are too-common) are not the best of both worlds, it’s the worst. A good guardian dog is worth his or her weight and the best food and care you can give. They allow you to sleep at night.

With a strange dog, unfortunately chasing livestock is a death sentence in the country for many. Dogs pack together and create big problems for sheep, goats, calves as well as poultry and rabbits. People don’t understand that it can get expensive quickly in lost animals, pregnant animals that lose their young and stress to the animals being threatened. I’ve heard in one case a dog latching onto the neck of a horse when he began chasing it and the horse got scared. The dog pays with his life. The owner gets another puppy and the cycle repeats. 😦

Dogs can be a huge asset to our lives. Train them, teach them and live up to the responsibility you take on with a dog in the country. Keep them at your home. The country can be a dangerous place otherwise.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2013 10:11 AM

    We have three rescue horses, six rescue dogs and few cows. All get alone except for one dog, Dusty, he wants to chase the horses. The dogs stay in the yard and can’t get into the pasture, but he slipped through the gate one time and started chasing the horses. The horses worked together and came at him from all sides, you can tell he wasn’t expecting that, I got to him before they closed in. I still don’t think he learned his lesson. I’m going to have to work with him alot or he might not be so lucky next time. The other dogs have been out in the pasture and they get along great with the horses and cows, You have a great blog. Drop a line on our blog if you get a chance. We are just getting our blog started, so not too much activity yet.


  1. Love Your Dog? TRAIN Him! ~ Divas Domain | Food, Farm, Life Choices

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