Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Innovative Uses for LGD

Innovative Uses for LGD
©Louise Liebenberg, 2020

Written for The Shepherd's Magazine

With the world-wide shutdown and stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 virus, many people are faced with isolation in their homes, I hear plenty of rants, complaining and general feelings of frustration. This is somewhat unfamiliar to me and I am sure the effects of the stay-at-home order is not something many ranchers are struggling with; our way of life is one of self imposed isolation, alone time and we are accustomed to having our freezers full and general supplies (in bulk) at home. We are accustomed to life without too many restaurants, nail salons and shopping malls.  Life as we know it, might not changed much, ewes are lambing, cows are calving, and we are preparing for the upcoming growing season. We do, however feel the economic repercussions of this shut down, lamb and cattle prices here in Canada have dropped, as has demand. People are nervous and do not want to spend money on anything they feel is a luxury. We cannot simply shut our doors and stay on the couch, ranchers and farmers are deemed an essential service, we need to keep moving forward as lambs are coming, crops will need to be seeded and fences repaired.
In this article I am going to focus on some interesting developments in the use of livestock guardian dogs (LGD) around the globe. The use of LGD is constantly evolving and becoming more expansive. Traditionally their use was limited to shepherds in remote areas solely for the protection of their flocks. The dog’s roles were to primarily be a guard dog to the flocks from predators and sometimes as guard dogs to protect the villages, camps or caravans of the more nomadic people. The use of LGD was pretty much a “forgotten” tool due to the change in how sheep were being raised and to the extirpation of large predators from many regions of the world.  During the late 1970’s and early 80’s an interest for the use of these dogs in North America began to emerge. Researchers wanted to find better ways to manage coyote predation and started to explore how effective LGD could be in North America. 

In Western Europe, traditional shepherding made way for stationary, fenced in pasture systems and as the wolf had been extirpated from many of these countries, the need for LGD dwindled. In the past decade,  interest for these dogs has resurged as the wolf has made a comeback (due to the protected status of the wolf) and it is now moving/expanding back into countries that have not seen wolves in hundreds of years.  Obstacles livestock keepers face include, learning how to work effectively with these dogs,  how to integrate LGD into an urbanised, highly populated  agricultural landscape, keeping the public safe in places where the  LGD and the general public interact, shared land use, how to educate the public about these dogs, dealing with dog and human aggressiveness, traffic, fencing issues, nuisance complaints, litigation and welfare matters are all issues that need examination. These obstacles are generally non-issues in traditional shepherding countries.
With this resurgence in interest, it is not just the large sheep ranchers using LGD, interest from smaller homestead type operations has increased as well as demand for protecting non-traditional type of livestock such as poultry, horses and pigs, exotic animals such as llamas, alpacas and semi domesticated species such as reindeer. 

We sleep more peacefully knowing the dogs are on guard, and enjoy the companionship they provide during daily chores, flock moves and adventures in the woods.

It is interesting to watch this evolution of LGD use taking place, the next big shift has been utilizing LGD in conservation projects. From protecting farm animals to now protecting endangered wildlife!  One of the first, and best-known projects  is the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. The thought process is, if the ranchers would lose less livestock to cheetah, then the farmers would be less inclined to kill the cheetah, thus helping to save this endangered species. The positive part is that farmers are satisfied with the job these LGD are doing in reducing predation (including predation from other predators such as the jackal) and this results in fewer cheetahs being killed. A win-win situation. 

Another well known project where LGD are used for wildlife conservation is the Little Penguin project in Australia. In 2005 a project was started to bond Maremma sheepdogs to poultry with the goal of being placed on an island to protect Little Penguins from fox predation.   This small island was home to a colony of Little Penguins, the colony numbers were collapsing due to fox predation (at low tide the foxes could access the island and would damage the nests, eat eggs and kill the chicks) and human disturbance. This resulted in the decline of the colony almost to the point of no return, despite alternate measures to protect them.  Dave Williams was key to pioneering the project to use LGD on this island to help prevent fox predation. Although this project has had its fair share of challenges to overcome, the Little Penguins have increased in numbers and no birds were lost to foxes while the dogs were on duty. The obstacles the project faced with the LGD included things like the dogs leaving the island at low tide and some pups roughhousing/killing the Little Penguins. Each problem was perceived as a challenge and solutions were sought. E-fencing was used to keep the dogs on the island and more attention was given to the bonding and habituating process. Dogs were replaced or removed as needed.  Dave Williams reflects; “No one had done anything vaguely like it before. It’s an evolving project. We were constantly having discussions about how we could do things better.” This project garnered so much media attention, that in 2015 a film was made about this project, it was named after one of the Maremma dogs used in this project, his name was Oddball.
Dave Williams has since moved on from the Little Penguins and is now involved in a similar project where he supervises another LGD program for guarding Australasian Gannets, a large seabird. The Little Penguin project continues.
Other research projects that are being undertaken in Australia include investigating the effects of LGDs on foxes, and consequent survival of reintroduced eastern barred bandicoots. For those who do not know an eastern barred bandicoot is a small rabbit sized marsupial. It almost became extinct due to predation by foxes, cats, and land clearing practices. The conservation of this little animal depends solely on captive breeding and reintroductions back into the wild. LGD could play an important role in keeping foxes and cats out of the environment where these bandicoots are reintroduced, thus fostering the survival chances of the eastern barred bandicoot.

Another evolving use is investigating if LGD could play an integral role is in the restoration of habitats that are over pressured by herbivore grazing.  The researches in this new project intend to study things such as movement, browsing and foraging behaviour of deer and Eastern grey kangaroos, with the goal of restoration of grasslands, riparian areas, woodlands and wetlands.  The researches want to monitor what effects the LGD will have on these herbivore species, and how vegetation responds to changes in herbivore abundance and behaviour. The research will include exploring the effect that LGDs have on the distribution and numbers of grey kangaroos within an agricultural landscape. If LGD can keep fragile areas from being overgrazed by herbivores it could allow for more natural restoration of these habitats.
We know from research that LGD can also play a role in disease mitigation, studies have shown that LGD are effective at keeping deer away from cattle. Bovine tuberculosis (TB) occurs in wild white-tailed deer and have been implicated in transmitting the disease to cattle. With LGD keeping deer away from cattle and, indirectly away from cattle feed, the potential transmission of the disease is reduced as the deer and the cattle did not have direct contact. LGD could also provide a viable biosecurity tool for smaller cattle operations within this context.

Not only do LGD protect livestock, they are also exhibit strong territorial behaviour, LGD have been very effective on our own operation in keeping elk away from our winter feed. The Alberta government has programs and subsidies in place to help ranchers build fences to protect their hay from elk and deer predation. Our LGD have been effective in chasing elk away from our hay bales and ensuring that the elk and deer are kept away from our plastic covered silage pits. Deer and elk walking over the plastic, causing damage results in spoilage to the feed. This is serious economic loss for our operation.  Having the dogs out in the pastures and around the feed yards, has meant we have not had to invest in 8-foot-high elk fences to protect our winter feed. I have heard of programs where bee keepers are  using LGD in bee yards to deter bears and a friend of mine uses LGD to protect her chained up racing sled dogs from predators and other large wildlife.

The primary work our LGD do is protect the sheep, but a great added perk is they also keep the elk and deer off our pastures and away from our winter stock piled feed.

Finally, as the use of LGD evolves  and becomes redefined in some areas,  the biggest, singular positive advantage to using LGD is the mental peace of mind we have. We can sleep a bit easier knowing our livestock are safe. We feel personally protected having our dogs on the ranch, they accompany us when we head into the bush where wolves, bears and cougars live. We feel safer knowing they are an early warning system and help reduce the chance of us bumping into a bear or moose.  Having the LGDs on the ranch provides us with a sense of security from 2 and 4 legged intruders.  The gentle nudge of their head in my hand and companionship during the daily rounds is perhaps the greatest perk of them all!
 LGD are increasingly being tested and utilised in wildlife conservation and (potentially) in the restoration of habitats.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Lambing time and Livestock Guardian Dogs

This is IMO the best LGD behaviour for a LGD around lambing. The dog is not intruding, allows the ewe to do her job, is fully aware that the ewe is lambing. 
Lambing time and Livestock Guardian Dogs
©Louise Liebenberg, March 2020

As we slowly roll into spring, most sheep operations are preparing for the upcoming lambing season. For most ranches, this once a year event is a big one, as it marks the start of the new cycle. It is often met with excitement to see what new rams throw, watching lots of lambs running together in a mob and the joy of all this new life. It is also a time of concern, worries about weather, health and predators weigh on the sheep ranchers’ mind. With sleepless nights and long days, it is not a good time to have to worry about the livestock guardian dog (LGD).

Even though lambing time is when most producers need a trusted LGD, introducing a new adult at this point, might be a little too late. A new adult dog requires a settling in time, if sheep are not used to LGD then they may become quite stressed about the dog, if the shepherd does not know this dog, it will need supervision and guidance during the first few weeks to months, this all takes time and generally lambing time is not conducive to this. It is better to be prepared and have your new LGD in place a long time before lambing starts, so that you know the dog is trustworthy and your stock accepting of this dog.

Lambing time is, however, a great time to have pups aged 8 to 16-week-old around. Very few LGD pups cause trouble at this age, they are still too young and easily impressed by a protective ewe. The pup can really learn from this experience, build bonds and understand that ewes need to be respected. Lambs are not fearful and will happily go and lay with a young LGD pup. This is an ideal time for a pup to learn about sheep without the shepherd needing to fear that the pup might harm a lamb. This is what people call bonding, it is the time when the pup is impressionable and can come to see the sheep and lambs as part of his world. 
Having young pups around the lambs is a great way to help them learn that lambs and sheep are a part of their world. This is an ideal age for pups to bond with the ewes and lambs, as the pups get older more supervision will be needed.
After about 4 to 5 months of age, is when some issues can creep in. A 5month old pup is much stronger than the lambs, the pup wants to play all day and playing for a pup is wrestling, playfighting, mouthing and chasing.  The pup is in a stage of its development where it wants to push some boundaries and one can expect some naughty chase and nipping behaviour. Lambs can not discipline a rowdy pre-teen and it will require the owner to guide these interactions and ensure that the pup does not get into some bad habits or hurt the lambs.

The bonding process for this litter is so natural, the pups are raised in the barn with the sheep and lambs.  We spend time with the pups to ensure they are socialised with people, but this all happens in the barn  and with the sheep.

A pup in adolescence (between 8 and 18 months) can be a handful, as it can show a whole range of “bad” behaviors towards lambing ewes, these can include; stealing lambs, chasing the ewes away from her lambs, carrying lambs around in its mouth, running down/chasing lambs, attacking the ewe when she tries to protect her lambs, ear and face biting, holding lambs down with their paws, pulling afterbirths out of the ewe before she is done lambing, killing and eating the lambs and wool pulling. All highly undesirable behaviors if allowed to continue, escalate very quickly to killing and seriously maiming the livestock. When any of these behaviors are seen or even suspected, it is essential that the dog is contained and only allowed to be with the ewes while under human supervision. Just removing the dog temporarily does not teach it anything, this dog needs to be told in very clear terms that none of this behavior is acceptable. The good thing is, if you see these behaviors, the dog is telling you very clearly that it is not ready to be trusted around young and birthing stock. If it can escalate, then you have failed to take note of this behavior and have not taken the appropriate steps to stop it.  If you do not see the dog displaying this behavior but you find “evidence” of bad behavior ( sheep in a corner, panting livestock, tufts of wool, bloodied ears, a dead lamb  or half chewed lamb) then always suspect the LGD first, if you give it the "benefit of the doubt”, you might be allowing it to reinforce its own (bad) behavior. It is better to act immediately and supervise the dog, than let bad behavior escalate.  It is better to err on the side of caution than allow bad behavior to continue.  There is nothing wrong with a bit more supervision and guidance, and it is always preferable to trying to correct a dog that has got into a habit of chasing ewes away from their lambs, or killing newborns.

It is also good to remember that not every dog is equally good in all aspects of livestock guardian work. Some dogs might never be 100% reliable with newborns and yet they can still be very functional and excellent guardians with older stock. I think it is  good to remember that on a small operation, an LGD might only ever experience a handful of births. This is not enough for an LGD to become super reliable with birthing if it only experiences a few births, once a year. A dog on a large operation might experience a few thousand births per year and by the time it is 10 years old might have experienced tens of thousands of births. In behavioral language this is called “flooding”, where the dog is exposed to so much stimuli that it does not really react to it anymore.  A young LGD on a large operation will eat so many afterbirths that it truly will not find this a novel or  an exciting experience anymore. It will have met up with so many belligerent ewes that it will know to make a nice wide berth around these ewes.

The experiences for an LGD on a small versus large operation are just not comparable. Similarly, an operation that lambs indoors, will also not give the LGD the opportunity to experience lambing ewes and newborn lambs. One day the LGD  might be surprised when his ewes who are suddenly accompanied by small little bouncy things. This can certainly excite a young LGD enough that it might do some naughty things like chase those new creatures around. Watching the dog when lambs and ewes are first turned out, is always a good policy.

Some people promote this idea that two is the magic age when suddenly, LGDs become reliable and before then, they are not trustworthy. I am going to suggest, all LGD who shows any signs of not being trustworthy, at any age, requires supervision, whether they are 9 months old or 10 years old. If the dog only experiences a few births ever, he might need supervision all his life. Some dogs are trustworthy right from the start, but many do make mistakes and it is the job of the shepherds to teach them what is acceptable behavior and what is not. There are no hard and fast rules to this, and the key is “reading your stock” and paying attention to the dog.

I know a lot of people have a nice, warm fuzzy feeling when they see their LGD licking off a newborn and certainly in the case of an experienced and trustworthy adult  LGD this might be okay. I prefer my LGD to watch at a distance and do not want them to interfere with the birth process. The ewe has her job, and that is to care for her lamb, lick it dry, feed it and bond with it. The dog’s job is to watch for predators and be ready to spring into action if one appears. Some dogs can be very intrusive and push the ewe away from her lamb, or the dog wants to lick the lamb clean and the ewe might reject that lamb. Some skittish yearlings will drop the lamb and if the dog comes too close, she will run away and never think of her lamb again. I want my dog to do his job, and my ewes to do theirs.

So, what does good lambing behavior look like for an LGD? I like my dogs to be watchful, at a comfortable distance from a lambing ewe. The dog must not intrude on her space or disrupt her in anyway. I want them to walk very calmly past and through the ewes and lambs, I want them to walk with their head low, avoid hard eye contact and to move around the ewes without disturbing them. If an ewe feels uncomfortable, then I want the dog to give her more space and quietly walk away or further around. I want the dog to be tolerant of the lambs without getting excited when they run and play. If the dog is not comfortable with the lambs, then it is the dog who should get up and move away. If an ewe charges the dog he does not need to retaliate, but just move away so that the ewe does not feel the need to charge the dog.  He may eat the afterbirths once the ewe has finished lambing. He needs to alert, vigilant and protective to predators, watchful and calm around the sheep.  I like my dogs to do a regular walk by an ewe who as lambed or lay calmly at a distance close to the ewe and her newborns.
The LGD watching a ewe giving birth at a nice respectable distance, the ewe is unconcerned about the dog.

The same dog does a walk by, just checking it out, eyes are averted, head low and her demeanor is calm. You can see the ewe is completely relaxed.
The dog has her back to the ewe; she is calm watchful and not intrusive. She is not trying to lick the lamb or grab an afterbirth and she is certainly not pushing the ewe away from her lamb.

A dog who is disruptive or excitable needs to spend more time with the sheep, it must be supervised or possibly tethered on a zipline. Removing the dog entirely will not help calm the dog down. I have a young female that was getting excited when the sheep ran, or the yearling ewes would jump and play. She spent the winter in our barn with the ewes who were lambing. She got to watch lambs run around all day and she is now not “triggered” by their movements.
Lambing time is a wonderful time for young pups to learn, it is also an important time for the adolescent dog but requires more supervision and guidance from the shepherd to ensure he does not get too excited or learns bad habits.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

The Fighting LGD

This is clear language. It is a warning that need to be respected. The head lower, the “hard” stare, the bared teeth is signing to another dog to back off.  The dogs will escalate his body language if the other dog persists before any fighting will take place. If the other dog turns his head away or moves off, then no fight will ensue. 

The Fighting LGD 
©Louise Liebenberg Feb 2020

Dogs live in social groups, as do wolves and most other canids. Living in a group or pack provides stability and protection to each member, it spreads the workload in looking after offspring, hunting together and of course protecting their territory.  These social groups are often family groups comprising of parents, older siblings, younger siblings and some aunts and uncles. To work as a cohesive group these animals need to be able to communicate with each other and this communication is often in the form of subtle body language and sometimes overt displays of physical communication.

The subtlety in this body language and the ability for both dogs to know what is happening reduced the risk of fighting. The older female eating tells the younger male to back off, he is the process of leaving. He is mindful and respectful, and this ensures that no fighting will take place.

It is not in the best interest of a social group living animals to fight with one another causing injuries, disruption and sometimes death to a (pack) member. Livestock guardian dogs (LGD) are most effective if they work and live as a cohesive pack. Against apex predators it is pretty much the only way to ensure the safety of individual dogs and to provide a formidable front to the predators. Unfortunately, pack fighting does occur and the reasons why LGD fight are numerous. Some of the more common reasons for in pack fighting include; resources (resources can be food, toys, attention, space, the livestock, newborn lamb, water bowl etc.), or there could be rivalry (sibling or strange dogs), breeding rights, territory, redirected aggression, disruptions in social structures ( new dog brought into existing pack), in some instances because some dogs display inappropriate social behaviours/neurotic or extreme anxiety, aggressiveness due to pain or injury and underdeveloped or insufficient social communication skills in some dogs. 

In stable packs most disputes can be solved with body language without the need to engage in fighting.  Behaviours such as posturing, submissiveness, lip licking, ear carriage, positioning, tail set, wider eyes, raised hackles, stiff legged walking, growling, displaying the teeth as in growls or “smiles” and numerous other subtle signs are the language of dogs. Understanding this language can ensure that disputes can be settled without injury. In free living dog societies such as our LGD, or stray village dogs, dogs who are involved in aggressive confrontations, generally remove themselves from these situations and leave that group. In wolves these individuals that leave or are ousted from the pack are called dispersers.  This removal from an aggressive situation is sometimes a reason why some LGD roam. They are avoiding being involved in pack fighting and are either evicted or choose to leave the pack.
This is play behaviour, the dogs are play fighting, the paws on each other, mouthing. No escalation as they are playing.

Not all dogs are equally skilled at communication (just like some people),  single dog homes are often a prime example of this, where the singularly raised dog simply  does not read social ques and body language of other dogs. They are often rude and do not respect boundaries of other dogs, this often leads to some harsh disciplining. People often ask how to introduce a puppy to their existing LGD group. If the pup was raised appropriately with its mother and litter mates to an adequate age, it will have learnt enough about dog language to be able to meet new dogs without being injured. Older dogs who are raised with other dogs, will also read and understand a new puppy’s body language and should not harm it. It is unnatural for older dogs to kill or seriously injure pups. Pups may be corrected for being overzealous or not respecting the space or warnings of an older dog, but these corrections are rarely physically injurious. The pup might sound as though he is being killed, but generally only his ego is hurt. Stable tempered dogs will not harm pups and so introductions should not be an issue.
One of our LGD was serious injured during an inpack fight, it nearly cost this dog his life and cost many thousands of dollars in vet care. Today, despite some scarring and a half ear, he is still working.

When pack fighting occurs with LGD it can be serious and highly disruptive to the working ability of the pack. The dogs are so busy fighting each other, that they have no attention for what is going on beyond these pack dynamics.  In a study done by Robin Rigg’s in Georgia he noted that 4 dogs was the ideal number of dogs to have in a pack, larger numbers tended to be more focused ion trying to control and maintain their own pack dynamics rather than being attentive to their job. Similarly, I have found 3 to 4 mature dogs and a younger pup work well as a group. If the group is much bigger, the tensions do rise. This does not mean that it will always end in fighting, but I tend to see more signs of tension, particularly in posturing behaviour. If the dogs have a large area to work, then the tensions are diminished as there is enough space to get away and avoid conflict situations. Controlling things such as feeding time and attention will also reduce tensions among the dogs. 

Although all fighting looks the same, the reasons for the fight are often very different.
When bitches are coming into heat, the tensions escalate with more posturing between the females and claiming behaviour from the males. These fights are related to the changes in hormones and potential status of the bitch. 
The tensions are running a little high in this interchange. The female on the right is in heat, the male is “guarding her”, the younger female on the left is being deferential to the breeding pair.

Fighting over resources can often be easily managed by a shepherd, fighting over food can be resolved by tethering all the dogs separately until they have all eaten, or removal of a bone or toy. Whenever a resource fight occurs, removing the object or changing the management can help to avoid these fights. 

It is important to prevent fights from escalating, a fight over a resource, if not contained or corrected, could become fights over nothing. Dogs are not averse to a good brawl, so once fighting starts, the dogs do not mind keeping it going and continuously looking for a fight.  The reason why they start fighting initially, is not always the reason why they continue to fight. Dogs hold a grudge, so once fighting starts it is usually very hard to prevent future fighting. They do not need “a reason” to fight other than they hold a grudge. It is therefore vital to try and stop fighting before it begins and escalates to the point where the dogs have zero tolerance for each other.

Other fighting that can occur is because an older dog dies and this creates instability within the pack, this chaos within the pack can lead to fighting with new roles needing to be established.  The older dog could have been the “peacekeeper”, maintaining a stable relationship between the other dogs in the group.  Another scenario, a younger, bolder, sexually mature dog might want to challenge the older, dog over breeding rights, or resources. Sometimes, the older dog will acquiesce, and things will settle down. In a situation where the older dog does not defer, serious injury can result. In many shepherds camps it is these old warrior dogs that are  (who are well regarded by the shepherds) that get some added protection in the form of a wolf/spike collar to help prevent serious injuries due to in pack fighting.

This old Macedonian sheepdog wears a spiked collar to protect this dog from in-pack fighting.

In well structured packs, it is also prudent that we do not attempt to micromanage every interaction or disagreement between the dogs. They should be allowed to resolve their own differences through body language and dog communication, provided they are not fighting.  There is a big difference between allowing them to resolve their issues through displays of body language and fighting.

The common advice given out is “let them fight it out, they will sort it out”.   This is poor advice as most dogs do not actually “sort it out” or certainly, do not sort it out long enough to have stability in the pack. It usually ends with one dog being seriously injured or killed. In a good scenario this dog just leaves away pack to avoid been killed.  Once dogs start to fight, it rarely stops.  If nothing is resolved, these fights will escalate in intensity and frequency. It will come to a point where the two dogs can simply not even be in the same proximity to each other. This type of fighting does not resolve itself and ultimately, these dogs need to be permanently separated to avoid serious harm. Most often these types of fights occur when the dogs are similar in age, equivalent in strength, same sex and where the status within the pack is unclear. 

In many regions in Europe, a traditional form of dog fighting (wrestling) takes place with the guardian dogs. It is not the fighting we know of pit bulls in dog fighting rings.  For the shepherds it is to see which dogs display the most dominance (power and influence), bravery and courage. Many “fights” are lost or won by the displays of posturing. It is for many of the shepherds a way to “test” their dogs and breeding selection is based on the outcome of these fights. 

Pasture breeding is another form of selection, where the female is free to choose her mate, and the males fight it out for breeding rights. This is regarded by many shepherds as “natural selection”, the strongest, toughest dog will get breeding rights to the female, therefore producing strong and tough pups for the future. Although this type of breeding is often frowned upon in the modern world, it is how our guardian dogs have been bred and selected for hundreds of generations. 

In many cases, human intervention exacerbates the conflict between two dogs. The things we do could inadvertently cause more fighting.  Having too many dogs in a small area, not enough work for the dogs, or we encourage resource guarding by providing toys and bones or we intervene during a “communication event” (stiff legged walking hackles raised etc.). Sometimes we do nothing, when we need to intervene or intervene in an inappropriate manner thereby escalating tensions or causing redirected aggression. When tensions are high between dogs, we need to be very mindful of our own actions so that we do not trigger the dogs to fight.

There are things we can do to help manage in-pack fighting which includes staggering of ages in the dogs, making opposite sex teams,  spaying or neutering, having the appropriate number of dogs for the operation and livestock, feeding rituals (which can include tethering each dog while they eat or feeding far apart, or even self feeding systems), separation before escalation between dogs that are showing tension towards each other and selecting dogs that work well together. Sometimes, a dog simply does not fit in and is very disruptive to the pack, we have found rehoming such a dog helps keep the pack more stable. We focus on reducing stress and tension and in this keeps fighting to the minimum. 
Calmness and stability in a pack of dogs improves the ability of the dogs to protect the flock.

I think the golden rule is to prevention is better than curing. Stopping all fighting (attacking each other) is easier than managing dogs who are willing and wanting to fight with each other. With each fight, the chances for escalation increases and the ferocity intensifies. Teenage squabbling will often escalate into fighting, so we are quick to separate teenagers and place them in a field with mature adults. Fighting is bad for the stability of the pack; it is bad for your wallet as vets are not cheap and bad for the dogs as they can be seriously hurt or even killed. 

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