Some Handy Tools
This month’s article is going to be a “how to” make a few training tools for
your livestock guardian dog (LGD). I am often asked how to make a yoke or a
jump through gate or even a zip line. I know that for those on a range
situation these items may not be necessary, but on some smaller operations,
these tools could be helpful to your operation or an aid to help working and
training your LGD.
|A young dog who really enjoyed digging under my fences, got to wear a yoke for a few weeks. This taught him quickly that he as simply too big to get through the holes he dug.|
A yoke is a temporary aid to help stop an LGD from digging under or going
through a gate or fence. It does not
prevent a dog from jumping over a fence. It is useful for young dogs who like
to dig out of a pasture to escape. The yoke works by making the dogs head and
neck area larger and in this way prevents the dog from crawling through or
under the fence. Some people use a similar approach with goats where they duct
tape a wooden plank on the goats hors to prevent them getting their heads stuck
in the wire fence. I have found a yoke to be highly effective and after a few
weeks, and with the LGD not having any success at escaping, it can usually be
removed. It is important to ensure the dogs safety and well being while wearing
a yoke. It looks unwieldy but I have found our dogs can move around, sleep
naturally, chew bones and importantly protect their flock while wearing a yoke.
|Yoke design |
3 pieces of 1-inch pvc pipe, cut to a length of about 16 inches.
3 nuts, bolts and some washers, long enough to go through both pipes.
Optional: zip ties
Overlap the three pipes in a triangle shape. About 4 inches from each end,
drill a hole through both pipes and bolt together, (I like to squish the pipes
together in a vice and then drill through them.) Do, 2 of the three sides. Take
the yoke to the dog and ensure it fits snugly around the dog’s neck. Mark where
the last bolt needs to go. Drill holes and bolt together. You can attach the yoke to the dog’s collar
with zip ties if you want. Ensure the dog can move freely, and that the yoke
will rotate somewhat.
The yoke fits snugly around the neck, making his neck and head too big to fit through holes and small spaces.
|jump- gate design |
On smaller places many people like the idea that their livestock guardian dog
can move easily between pastures and various groups of livestock, this way, the
dog can have access to multiple areas, while the livestock are contained in
their designated pasture. If you teach
the dog it is okay to jump the fences, it might be hard to contain the dog on
the property as it will learn to come and go as it pleases. Making a specific
jump-gate for the dog may be a solution to this problem. The most successful
jump-gate I have heard about is the inverted triangle gate.
Wire cutters or saw, depending on the existing material of the fence.
6 pieces of wood, each length about 20-22 inches long.
Optional: latches and hinges
Cut a hole in the wire/ or wood where you would like to make the jump gate,
clamp the wire between two pieces of wood in an inverted triangle shape, screw together. The inverted triangle makes it harder for a
sheep or goat to jump through, while a dog can usually put one leg through and
then the other, and then angle its shoulder through the opening. We all know
that LGD can shape shift through impossibly small holes so a jump-gate should
not be a problem. Some people make some
fancy designs where they use another triangular piece to make a door that can
be closed to stop access for the dog. Other people have made stand alone jump-gates
that can be placed between electric wires or nets. Some people use this design for a dog feeding
station, so that the dog can go into a feeding area with a self feeder that the
sheep or goats cannot access. We have never used one, but I know producers who
have, and many say it works very well.
|A new LGD on our place get used to the zipline for safe stock interactions.|
This is a great way to keep a dog in with the livestock, without giving it
total freedom. Some young dogs may need to be tethered at times. By placing the
dog on a zip-line it safely contains the LGD in the pasture with the livestock.
A zip-line provides a lot of movement and interaction with the livestock while
keeping the dog contained. I sometimes will place a male dog on a zip line if I
am concerned, he might want to jump a fence to get to a female in heat.
I usually lay the zip-line over the ground. I have found the sheep and cattle
learn to step over it and we can drive over it with the tractor or truck. I
never make it too tight so that it does not become a trip line.
14 gauge airline cable
2 rings or washers
10 ft chain
I clamp the cable around a post or tree, and then lay it out on the ground to
another pole or tree. I like to do about 150 feet. Before clamping around the
next post, slide on 2 rings or larger washers onto the cable. As the dog moves up and down the zip line the
rings will wear through, by having 2 it helps wear a bit slower. I then attach
a swivel and attach the 10 ft chain for the dog. As the dog can wrap himself around a tree I
general screw on two pieces of wood on the end to make a “stop”.
The dog then has 150 feet length to move and 10 feet on
either side of the cable. This gives him a lot of freedom, and yet remain
contained. I will make sure he has a shelter and some shade places. I use a zip
line if a fence is down, or for a young dog who might need more supervision or
when introducing a new dog to our place. I prefer a zip-line to a kennel as some dogs
can become very territorial of their space, a zip-line still allows for
livestock interactions. If the zip-line
is attached to an existing fence, the dog might jump the fence, ensure your
“stop is placed far enough away that he cannot jump a fence and get hung up. Do
be aware that a dog on a zip line can be vulnerable to predators.
|Swivels zipline: how the dog chain attaches to the cable.|
|Zipline: wooden stop and attachment to tree for a zip-line.|
If anyone has some other good nifty ideas and wants to share them, please them
to me and I can share them in a future article.