Saturday, February 25, 2012

Heidi, The Great Pyrenees Puppy (Feb. 25 update)

Heidi is 14 weeks old today.  I skipped a week because I didn't really have anything new to offer.  Updates may now come at more intermittent intervals, partly due to the heavy demands on my time as goat babies begin arriving and partly because Heidi is at a stage where weekly changes aren't as dramatic.

 I am happy to say that she seems content to stay in with the goats and has grown enough that she can no longer walk through the fence.  It is definitely difficult for novice LGD owners like me to figure out exactly how to manage this puppy.  So far she seems to be forgiving of my inexperience.  And she seems to like our cat.

We continue to practice our manners and our "who's alpha" training.  I feed Heidi in the goat pen but I always feed the goats first.  She has learned to sit in her feeding area and wait patiently for her food.  I make her "wait" once I set the bowl down and she watches me for her "okay" signal.  This is a big improvement over pawing at the goats while I'm feeding them.  I occasionally remove her bowl while she is eating so that she knows she gets food at my discretion.  She is also slowly learning that goat-pen cleaning time is not her play time.

I spend 15 to 30 minutes daily walking her on leash.  During this time we walk the new pasture fence boundaries. I will be moving goats to this new area once vegetation begins growing so I want her familiar with this larger enclosure. Sometimes we walk out to visit the bucks in the back field.  It accomplishes leash training as well as teaching her boundaries.  She is learning leash-walking cues such as watching for my left foot to move as her signal to begin walking.  She also automatically sits when I stop.  Having had experience training large dogs before, I am so thankful that she is catching on to these things before she weighs 80+ pounds.  I'm sure during her adolescent phase she will challenge everything I try to do as she exerts her independence that the breed is known for.  I am also sure that all she learned during these early lessons will return to her as she settles into her role and accepts her humans as alpha.

By this time next week, some of Heidi's does will begin kidding.  The puppy will no longer have free access to these goats but will continue to live with the three does who will kid in April.  Because the goat kids will only weigh 2 or 3 pounds and Heidi will weighs 30+ pounds, she will only be allowed supervised visitation.  A playful pup may accidently hurt a small kid and there is also risk to the puppy from protective goat mothers.  I do want Heidi to learn to act appropriately around the babies so it is important that she be able to interact as guardian of the herd while I'm there to supervise.

A young livestock guard dog (LGD), however, is not trustworthy with  young stock until they are mature and can demonstrate appropriate behavior.  Until then, Heidi will have to settle for being a LGD-in-training.


  1. Not so much but the cat LOVES our other dogs so I think they'll be buddies after Heidi mellows a bit.