homestead: raising a LGD

This girl. I’m telling ya, there is nothing like an effort-filled family adventure than the addition of a puppy.

I should clarify. Ours is not an ordinary puppy. In the words of a random stranger I met on a dog walk, even the owners of LGDs (large guardian dogs) are rare breeds. Naturally I had to ask for clarification. BRAVE, she said. Indeed.

When once I was infatuated with raising chicks, endlessly reading and researching, I realized I should have invested all that reading and learning into Large Guardian Dogs.

So, I’ve been making up for lost time. Our Violet requires it.

What is it about an LGD that is so much work?

She’s acclimating to outdoor noise.

Or learning what noises she needs to guard against, and which ones are just the wind, a squirrel, the cat, a cross-river barking dog. She’s fierce if she hears bear or cougar. Also fierce if someone unannounced arrives. During the warmth of the day, she keeps a late night.

She’s acclimating to trespassers.

AKA people we invite to visit, guests, family, friends — but who she perceives as stranger danger.

She is learning to follow.

On a lead. With a double click of the tongue and a pull of the lead, she’s taking our lead. Some moments, she’s not motivated to go anywhere and she’ll give you THAT look: “You seriously want me to go with you? But I’m tired…it’s cold…I had other plans”…kinda like a teenager. Oh wait, she is actually a teenage dog.

She is learning to stay.

Okay, that’s a misnomer. We have to make sure she stays by keeping her on a lead, or she would definitely not stay. She does know how to sit, lay down and I’m told by one of the kids, being taught to roll over. It didn’t take us many months to discover that this gal likes to roam. Her breed is built to wander. This is neither useful for her safety, nor neighbourhood happiness. Twice she’s disappeared and neither time did she find her way back like Lassie; we had to find her. So our gal gets frequently walked and moved, even access to the river and a zipline, but she is on lead all the time.

She is learning to relax around chickens and cats.

Well, one of the cats. The other one is petrified, despite having awe-inspiring mice hunting skills. The appearance of ‘petrified’ in another animal somehow signals play to this canine gal. The rooster-abused chicken we own is fearless as she clucks around Violet, even nibbling at Violet’s food bowl. Violet does nothing about this dog-food-chicken-stealing hen. This is a remarkable shift from her early days.

Alas, the benefits of this breed outweigh its disadvantages: This story, filled with baby pyr pups, is exactly why we love our dog.

“Asking a Pyr not to bark, is like asking a fish not to swim. Pyrs are bred to bark to keep potential animal and human intruders away. It is their way of letting everyone know they are on duty.”

What I wouldn’t give to share with every annoyed neighbour, “We’re no more eager to tick off the neighbours than we are to walk down the street nude. In fact, we’re generally likeable people who want you to like our dog, not despise her. We’re working on this gal, in a dozen ways, but her fierce barking commands neighbourly attention, and we’re working on that too. And she is one challenging cookie.” In the meantime, she’s keeping the bear, the cougar, the coyotes and even some deer from being your neighbourhood nuisance.

Yet, no question, this is a challenging dog to train. Love her as I do, the effort required to train her has been uphill mountain climbing all the way.

But ain’t she cute?

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