Livestock Guardian dog breeds (LGDs) are not dogs one should own without first having done one’s homework, true of all breeds, actually. The operative word with these types of breeds is “guardian” because their nature is to protect their flock, herd (or family), and they do it in three major ways: Territorial exclusion, disruption, and/or confrontation. These methods are further “enhanced” with vocal intimidation, establishing boundaries by marking, posturing that falls short of direct physical aggression, and/or displaying aggressive behavior. Every ranch or farm has unique livestock protection needs, every dog has its own personality, and every LGD breed has its own “style” of working. Generally speaking, if a presence poses a threat, it is dealt with. If the dog determines that an intruder means no harm or poses no threat, most guardian dog breeds return to their herd (or what they were doing) fairly quickly.
This is nicely illustrated in the video below that was shared with us by the Kuvasz’s owner, Robin. The dog is practicing scent work when an unexpected interruption surprises both handler and dog. A Kuvasz with a correct temperament will apply a response appropriate to the level of the threat, and once dealt with, will resume what s/he was doing before the intrusion occurred. As you can see here, Ch Taliszman Irish Cream at Rebel Ridge CAX BCAT TKI SCN RATI aka “Bailey” responds to the interruption, but then resumes her scent work:
We’re reminded of the Jim Croce song, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim:”
With apologies to Jim Croce, we’ve taken liberty with his lyrics:
You don’t tug on an LGD’s nape
You don’t spit on his chin,
You don’t pull his hair if you are a stranger
You just don’t mess around with him.
Image: Photo of Robin and Tony Miller’s Ch Rebel Ridge-Taliszman Heart of the South FDC TKI CGC “Scarlett”