Livestock Guardian Behavior with Sheep


Much is said of LGD and their interactions with livestock.  The next two videos show Baavgai trying to dominate the sheep.  This first video shows him, if you look close, taking hay from a sheep’s mouth and eating it.  Dogs don’t normally eat hay.  Really he is asserting dominance over the sheep in a way sheep do to one another and dogs do to each other.

As a year old dog he is trying to figure out where he belongs.  He also has a lot of playful energy.  Sheep do not normally play with dogs unless the sheep grew up with the individual dog, and then generally just for a limited period of their lives.  Baavgai and these sheep only know each other for a couple of months.

The next video shows Baavgai trying to initiate play, but at the same time dominance ( much play between dogs is like that as well).   He does a bit of chase behavior to play but also to push the sheep from an area just because he wants to have that place.

If you watch video close you see that i correct him with a remote vibrating collar.  This is to interrupt his behavior and remind him its not acceptable.  Why do this?  Why not let him play?   Its because the sheep don’t play that way and any chase behavior might become a habit for the dog, even the slightest bit of that behavior.   Plus we want the sheep to always trust and be comfortable with him.  Sheep take offense quickly and forget slowly.

It is important to note however, is that Baavgai’s chase behavior and other good livestock guardian dogs is NOT the same as a herding dog which used “eyeing”, a prelude to chase and kill in predators, to move livestock.  This behavior in Baavgai is play invitation, very different and based in kinship and nurturing, not predation. This distinction between herding dogs and livestock guardian dogs can confuse people, but their expected behaviors and uses are quite different.
Please keep in mind theses LGD don’t think they are sheep, and sheep don’t think they are dogs or a dog is a sheep.  They all know who they are, so to speak.  But there is common ground in behaviors that they use to communicate.  Baavgai is just trying to learn the language they all will eventually share.

-Bruce Elfstrom

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