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Quietest Livestock Guardian Dog
Alrighty then … Here is a quote from a person on the Homesteading Today Forum Link to article at bottom of page) :
our LGDs don’t bark much. They will bark at specific things and howl as well but it is language. They are marking their territory against predators, letting me know what is going on, calling each other in to deal with something, warning off people. Just watch out when they’re totally silent and walk out you with that stiff legged march, head down…
On the other hand, I’ve heard plenty of dogs, most who were not LGDs, who barked incessantly. Usually it is because they’re lonely. People tie or cage them up and fail to train them. Sad
So there you have it -> Normally LGD’s don’t bark excessively
Is the Quietest Livestock Guardian Dog a Good Thing
A quote from a person on the Homesteading Today Forum Link to article at bottom of page) :
As for barking, yes, it’s awfully noisy around here at night, but that’s the point. The coyotes around here are thick as thieves and my neighbor 1 mile south has had coyotes come right into his barn and kill full grown ewes, yet I have not lost a single goat to coyotes since getting the dogs. In fact, I haven’t seen a coyote on our land in years. The two boys loose in the yard at night are all the protection my chickens need, too. Their run is covered with netting but the pop door into the shed doesn’t even have a door on it.
Thus -> Having a too quiet LGD May not be very desirable
Whether livestock guardian dogs can be effective if they don’t bark depends on several factors, including:
- The purpose they are serving for you
- How large your ranch is
- How spread out your livestock are
- How high your predator load is
- Other means of protection available for your livestock
If, for example, you’re looking for a livestock guardian dog to protect livestock primarily during the daytime (like chicken owners who lock up their flocks at night), your dogs can be trained to bark only when it is absolutely necessary. Their mere presence in the chicken yard, as well as their marking behavior, will be a powerful deterrent for most predators. See more on training below.
Which Livestock Guardian Dog Breeds Bark Less Than Others?
Some livestock guardian dog breeds do tend to bark less than others, but again, please remember that every dog is an individual, and there are never any guarantees that your dogs will bark more or less based on their breed.
If you’re looking for a much quieter livestock guardian dog, one of these two breeds might work for you:
Polish Tatra Sheepdog
If you’re concerned about excessive barking, and want a breed of LGD that’s more easily trained to only bark when absolutely necessary, consider one of these (click on the breed for more breed info):
Anatolian Shepherd – however, read this article for an example of the opposite, just another reminder that you never know what your new dog will be like
These breeds tend to bark less than most other livestock guardian dog breeds on average. They don’t naturally “warning bark” as much – they typically bark when there is a predator very close by.
Why LGD’s Bark – Quietest Livestock Guardian Dog
The role of the livestock guardian dog is to deter predators from approaching livestock. There are many ways this is accomplished. One is by leaving scent or sign, by defecating and urinating around the perimeters of the dog’s patrol area. By marking his “turf” an LGD sends a powerful message to any interlopers or intruders: “Be gone! And stay away from my flock!” LGD breeds have been bred for generations to do this.
In Barking: The Sound of a Language, Rugaas writes: “In the scattered farms throughout Europe and other places with lots of space and few people, early settlers preferred dogs who (sic) barked when strangers were approaching, as a warning. Today, if you get a dog like a Great Pyrenees, you will find out that they are still very good at barking in similar situations. They are genetically dispositioned to do it and it would be cruel to punish them for it.”
Barking is part of how LGDs do their jobs. There are 3 main types of barking.
- Patrol Barking: “Hey, any predators out there, I’m just letting you know I am here & on duty! So don’t even think about it!”
- Alert Barking: “I think I see/hear/smell something amiss!”
- Call To Arms Barking: “I need the cavalry on the south perimeter, STAT!”
Some LGDs will even bark to let you know there is something amiss with the stock, like a newborn calf in trouble, or perhaps a goat with its head stuck through the fence. As you get to know your dogs, you will learn to readily identify the sounds they make & why. Most of the time, if your LGD is barking, there is a good reason.
Warning & Guard Barking
Besides marking territory, another way of telling predators to “steer clear” is by barking. A warning bark is usually one sharp bark notifying you, the owner, that something is amiss. Or there may be danger afoot and your LGD wants you to know about it.
By guard barking, the LGD ends a message to hungry coyotes, wolves, bears or other predators to not come any closer, because this is the LGD’s territory and it is protecting it.
A dog’s sense of smell and hearing are much more acute than that of a human. Thus they typically smell and hear things we cannot. This is why dogs often seem to be “barking at nothing” to the average observer, when in fact, they hear, smell or even see something that escapes human detection. They are actually warning or guard barking.
It’s prudent therefore, for the LGD owner to first go outside and check what it is that his dog is barking at, rather than simply yelling at them to stop barking.
Can You Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at Night?
Training your livestock guardian dogs to not bark at night is essentially training them to go against their instincts. You can use the training techniques detailed above, but this will mean many late nights for you and that may not be practical.
If nighttime barking is your primary concern and you cannot put in the time and effort to train them, you may need to bring your dogs in at night and find another means to protect your livestock at night.
What to do when LGD barks a lot at people
To get the best out of your LGD, it is recommended that you invest time in training basic manners, such as come, stay, wait, and quiet. It is also important that you handle your LGD regularly, so that when a trip to the vet becomes necessary, it will not add further stress or possible injury to either you or the dog. Many people fear that by handling the LGD, it will become too ‘people friendly.’ However, in these days of urban expansion, including subdivisions on the outskirts of small towns, having a more ‘people tolerant’ LGD is not necessarily a bad thing. It is also helpful that your guardian dog does not chase away farm gate business!
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