A common misconception about livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) is that they regularly KILL intruders: a predator ventures onto the homestead and… the LGD kills it, end of story. As a general rule this is not how they work. Bravo, one of our first livestock guardian dogs, taught us graphically about LGD guarding style.
Bravo taught us graphically about LGD Guarding Style.
One day we were outside, working on the homestead when something disturbed our goats and sheep. They had been grazing on the West side of the property, not far from the woods, and suddenly they all bolted to the East side of the property. Simultaneously Bravo jumped the fence and into the pasture. He streaked toward the woods, while Guardi, our Great Pyrenees went to stand with the other animals.
A neighbor’s German shepherd had just crossed onto our land. This is what had frightened our goats and sheep. As Bravo reached the back of the property, we saw the German shepherd emerge from the woods. Both Bravo and Guardi were barking at the dog. As Bravo approached the German shepherd he puffed up until he appeared twice his normal size. He marked his territory, both peeing and pooping, and, he scratched up sod as he approached the intruder.
Walking stiff leggedly the German shepherd kept coming.
The German shepherd continued to approach. Bravo met him, towering over the dog. It was obvious that Bravo was close to twice as large as the German shepherd. He bumped chests with the dog, as if to say “Go home.” The German shepherd circled, stiffly, as if not to comply. Bravo bumped him once or twice more….
Finally, the German shepherd turned and jumped back on its own side of the fence.
It was obvious that the German shepherd, though trying to maintain its dignity, knew that it was going to get creamed if it didn’t turn around! What’s really interesting is that we saw this very same scenario played out, about once every six months, for about two years, with the same two dogs. Finally, the German shepherd stopped appearing on our property. As I thought about it, one day, it suddenly hit me that in over two years of confrontations, Bravo turned that intruder away every time and… he never spilled a drop of blood. LGD guarding style is basically as peaceful as it can be, “given the circumstances.”
For over two years Bravo repeated this protective maneuver, always succeeding and never spilling a drop of blood.
Once the German shepherd would leave, Bravo would rejoin the flock. He and Guardi would then resume their day time “on guard stance.”