Thursday 25 September 2014

Puppy Follow up

I have just sent a follow up email 
or had recent Facebook contact with the owners of the last litter of the pups.
Just checking how things are going and answering any questions the owners may have.

The pups are 4 months old now and all probably very blond with fluffy ears,
long lanky legs, higher in their hip than the front, muzzle too big for their head,
coat short as it is transitioning.
This is the ugly duckling stage and age!
The biggest issues at this stage (4 month old pups) are perhaps dealing with:
food aggression
 and rambunctiousness

So, let me talk for a minute about food aggression.
It is normal.
Most pups will try to be possessive about their food and they will tell you to back off by a growl, snap, lip lifting or tensing up their body.
It is their form to communicate to you.
Some, will stand over and guard their food, almost hugging the bowl.
However, you do not need to be told by the upstart to back off.
It needs dealing with now.
Some pups  may be okay with people around their food,
but will probably want to chase off all other dogs at this stage.
Neither is acceptable.
Food aggression does need dealing with before it escalates and there are a number of ways to deal with it.
The most important thing I have found is simply to make feeding time a non issue.
I will feed my dogs separately,
as we feed outside,
 I will most of the time chain each dog up and away from each other so that they can eat their own food in peace and not bully the other dogs for their food.
Each dog has time and peace to eat their own food.
Some dogs in a home situation,
 may need to be fed in another room, outside or in the garage. j
Just feed them alone and leave them be, until they are done.
Remove all bowls and left over food.
No stress, no aggression and no problems.

Work on a "sit and wait until I put the food down" training, stroke the pup while eating and do not tease or mess with his food.

Escaping.. aah that age where they want to explore the world.
Now, is the time to work on respecting fences and boundaries.
Ensure the fence is good, plug holes,
teach the pup not to barge through open gate ways,
teach them now, that electric fences need to be respected,
add a hot wire top and bottom if needs be.

This is THE time to teach fence respect.
Never stand on the other side of the fence to pet them or even talk to them,
as this encourages jumping up on fences.
it is also not fair if you do run a hot wire,
 to then talk to the pup, who  happily wants to great you and then gets zapped.
Go into the fenced area and talk to the pup
and when you are on the other side, just ignore them.
Most going through fences starts with the pup wanting to meet and be with you
and learning to climb up on the fence.

Rambunctiousness, the pups are maybe a little wild, and racy and may want to jump up against you.
It is all great while they are little but it is not a joke when they are grown up and the jump up and wrestle with you.
Teach the pups to greet you respectfully, come calmly to you, sit and get petted.
No jumping, no knee breaking runs into you, no mouthing, no taking your hand while you walk, no tripping you up,
no dragging you around on the end of a leash, no pawing you.
If you make these boundaries clear now,
 your pup will be respectful and mindful of you
and that behavior flows over to the stock as well.

The two pups left here, Shara and Nina are doing really well.
Shara is the pretty one and Nina has the brains, so together they make a great team.
They are in their ugly duckling stage and are also testing some boundaries.
Every day is a learning curve for them  ( and me).
They have always been very respectful of the stock, they move out of the way if a sheep wants to go somewhere, they are polite to the rams and things are looking good.
Neither pup is over playful and that is something I like to see.
The remain in the fences really well, with the odd dig under the fence trick attempt.

This week I thought Nina was a genius pup,
then again, most parents think their kids are genius..
Well, the pups were turned out into a bigger pasture, that has one side with electric fence.
( I am teaching them that electric fences need to be avoided and respected).
They love to explore all the new sights and smells.
Nina found a huge old bone,
and considering that most shars are genetically prone to hoarding,
this bone needed to go into the stash.

The problem was, that I had closed the gate to their "normal" pasture and Nina could not take her bone to the hoard.

Shara was eyeballing the bone and was plotting a bone stealing expedition.

Nina, needed to safe guard her prize.

So after checking if the gate to their pasture really was closed,
she checked out the rest of the fence to see if she could get in another way.
This was not possible, so she did a smart thing.
She laid her bone down and then pushed it with her nose under the fence into their normal pasture.
She could then go and check out the rest of the field and not be concerned about Shara stealing her prize.
I thought that was a smart thing to do.

Life on the other side of the electric fence.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Calender 2015

Last year I made a Sarplaninac calender on a whim,
the idea was to make one for myself and a few as gifts to friends whom,
I felt needed a dog and sheep calender in their lives.

I intend to make one again this year,
with images of our livestock guardian dogs, doing what they do best,
that is; 
hang out with the sheep,
sleep with the sheep,
go our exploring with the sheep...

I know a few people have asked about them,
but making a calender is always a little risky,
will I be able to sell any?
 Will I get stuck with a bunch of them?

So, I intend having a limited number printed,
if you think you may like one, 
then it would be a good idea to let me know,
so I can ensure you get one.

At this stage I am not sure on exactly what the cost and postage will be,
but am thinking probably around $25 each.

So, if interested drop me a note by sending me an email,
 or send me a FB message,
phone me,
or snail mail me.

Friday 19 September 2014


~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Of all the seasons of the year,
Fall is my favorite.

The crisp mornings,
the beautiful balmy days,
the wind,
the mist banks,
the stunning sunrises,
the harvest
of course the changing colors.

Fall also brings a certain urgency with it,
the need to get ready for winter.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Big Willem

We bough a bull,
his name was Big Willem,
he has now become,
a Big Mac.. 
That is the short story, here is the somewhat longer version...


We needed some fresh blood so decided to buy an older Red Angus bull from a well established herd.
The only problem really was that Big Willem, as he was affectionately called,
was on the far side of old.

He flunked his semen test, but despite that,
we decided to let him have a shot at some breeding,
in the hopes of getting  one or two bull calves from him.

Yes, we do have a back up bull,
just in case Big Willem was firing too many blanks.
This is Blackie, the buck up bull.

So, in he went first with the heifers,
while Blackie serviced the cow group,
then we did a switch,
to ensure all had the bovines had exposure to 
both BW and Blackie.
Just in case..

So, with breeding season done, it was time for Big Willem to leave.
As, Jess decided to leave us and run off to college, on the other side of Alberta,
I was short some help in gathering and moving the cows.
So, Roy had to "cowboy up", pull his boots on and get with the program...

We gathered the heifer group where Big Willem was still hanging out,
we gentle pushed them to the corrals.

Once corralled. we moved BW into a smaller pen
and let the heifers go back out to graze the last fall grass.

The truck was lined up and would come the next morning to collect BW to take him to the auction.

Big Willem was not amused and was,
 in fact getting progressively grouchy about this arrangement.
We decided to feed and water him in his pen to try and calm his anger.
When Eric got there with a hay bale,
Big Willem was in the process of hoping over the cattle panels to rejoin his herd.

Eric ran to stop him from clearing the final panel,
but there was nothing to do to stop the old bull. ( He is 9).
he was up and away.

He disappeared into the sunset,
and with that,
 delayed his fate with destiny by a week or two.
So, round two.
The herd is in our sights, once again..

Roy and I repeated the above  mentioned process of gathering, corralling and  penning,
 the big difference this time is that BW did not get to hang out in his own pen,
he got loaded directly onto our trailer.

He had to hang out in the trailer for a day or two before
making his last, and inevitable trip.

And, that is how Big Willem, became a Big Mac.
The End.

PS: We hope to have a few little Wills running around our pastures next spring.
To be continued, next year.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

LGD behaviour ( as regards feeding time)

One of the reasons why I like to feed meat and bones to the Sarplanianac dogs,
is to discourage the sheep from eating the dog food/kibble.
Sheep really love kibble and will make every attempt to get it from the dogs.

Most of the time,
 when I do have to feed kibble,
I will  remove the dogs from the sheep for about 10 minutes
so that they can eat in peace.
I do not like the dogs having to deal with pushy sheep, while trying to eat.

There are moments though,
 when that option is not available and I just have to feed kibble to the dogs where they are.
I do try and do it quietly, so that the sheep do not notice,
however that rarely works.
So, the sheep are grazing about a mile away from home.
I have 3 LGD dogs in with the ewes.
The sheep are fenced in with the orange, electric nets.
We usually will check the ewes and dogs in the morning and will then directly feed the dogs.

This little clip shows how our dogs deal with sheep while they are eating kibble.
The amount of "aggression" the dogs use is reasonable, fair and appropriate.

No sheep are harmed, 
they are just told off.
Now, the sad thing is that sheep do not really read the dog's body language.

The sheep do not respond to "the look"
Fena giving Vuk the look to back off.
Nor, do they really respond to the less subtle
"go away" signs.

What does work is a lunge, a snap and a roar.
That, usually creates a circle  around each dog and its kibble.

With raw, the sheep may come and look,
but the interest soon wanes.

So, this is one of the reasons, why I prefer to feed the dogs a raw diet.

Saturday 6 September 2014

So, what do LGD pups do all day?

Sometimes, people ask me what I do to keep the dogs from being bored.
Well, I do not do a thing.
I do not believe that dogs "get bored",
perhaps the dog,
 is in fact,
training you,
to keep him amused!

I spent an hour,
 a week or two ago,
 taking some pictures of our sarplaninac pups,
to see what they actually do.

So, let us take a look and see what they do!

Well, they like to check in with the rams.

Sometimes,  they just hanging out together 

Hoarding sticks is another favorite activity.
The one with the stick has the prize, the idea is to steal the stick from that pup.
Hoarding sticks and bones is another typical activity.

In the field we have a puppy feeder set up.
The pups can go in an get away from the rams and eat in peace.
They have shelter away from the rams.
The pups can come and go as they please.

Heading off to eat.

Mooching about with the rams is also part and parcel of being a LGD.

Group drinking at the bar, is a social activity.

A roll in the hay is very entertaining.

 Wrestling, MMA, Ultimate Fighter are practiced daily to improve their skills.

On patrol

What is there?

Visiting with Roy is definitely a highlight.

A conference is never a bad idea.

Aah, the prize  is a favorite today

More wrestling

 As with all siblings, things can go south in a hurry. 
They get a little irritable and snarly with each other.

Off somehwere

Coming to say hi?
Hi baby..

Quality time and also a very important part of raising LGD.

The gathering

Sometimes, lost in thought.
What would she be pondering?

More water

Snoozing at the puppy feeder

So, the conclusion is that the pups really do keep themselves busy.
The pups are in an area of about 10-15 acres,
they have about 15  mature rams to hang out with.
Having great stock to help educate the pups is also very important in the puppy raising stage.
The pups have old bones, some pieces of sticks and the odd food bowl they play with.
The can see other groups of sheep, the horses, the barn and watch the other dogs working.
They learn to respond to howling coyotes, they can run to the fence and add their barks to that of the pack.
They can observe and learn.
They have a safe area to hang out in and to be able to eat in peace.
There are plenty of smells and sights.

 Of course, having  each other for companionship also keeps them busy.
I do added in mature dogs to help teach them what they need to do.
This is the age they learn to stay in the fences, bond with the livestock, learn to tie up, walk on a lead, be handled, not barge through gates, not jump up etc
In fact, there is so much to do,
 that they spend  most of the day just hanging out.

As of tomorrow, there will just be two pups left,
for those following the pups,
the two who are left are the orange girl and the purple girl ( little Vuk).
Thank you, for (all the facebook) name suggestions!
I have decided to call the orange pup Shara and the purple pup Nina,
names derived from Shar-pla-ni-natz! 

So, here are Nina and Shara, practicing their "on alert"  LGD look.

Have a great weekend!

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