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Introducing Your Dog To Your Livestock

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Labrador alongside livestock

For those of us living on or near farms, it can be very important for our dogs and livestock to exist side by side without any dramas. However, this isn’t necessarily an easy task. These species are not natural allies. So, how can we encourage a relationship whereby they can both co-exist without stress to either party, or ourselves?

If you haven’t already, I would advise you to read this article first: Before Introducing Your Dog To Livestock And Horses

This information is not in relation to those of you that use your dogs to herd livestock (I can’t profess to know enough about that training, although I’d love to), this is for those of us that simply need our livestock and dogs to exist in the same space occasionally without any issues.

These approaches are largely based on the livestock themselves already being familiar with dogs.

Go for the pack approach: If you already have dogs that are comfortable around cattle and will ignore them for the greater part, fantastic. It could be as simple as bringing your new dog out with the other dogs and allowing him/her to model the behaviour of the pack. This is how all my new dogs and puppies are ‘trained’ now and, touch wood, I’ve never had any issues.

Non-short dexter calf

Treat them just like part of the scenery: If this is your only dog, then it all comes down to his/her individual temperament. Take your dog into a large field, with the cattle at the far end. Ignore the fact that there are cattle there at all. Walk your dog as you usually would, gradually getting closer to the herd – obviously, respecting their space as you would normally. As you get closer, your dog may want to investigate these large, new creatures. Personally, I allow my dogs to do so when they first meet, recalling them if they get too close for comfort (just as I allow my new calves to ‘investigate’ my dogs). It’s all about the animals having a healthy respect and indifference to each other, whilst also satisfying their natural curiosity. I don’t want my dogs to be fearful of the cattle, but to respect their space. Equally, I don’t want the cattle to be fearful of the dogs or be uncomfortable in their presence. It’s a balancing act that you need to judge in the moment, using your knowledge of your individual dog and livestock.


Related Articles:
Introducing Your Dog To Your Horse

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