Working LGD provide a crucial role in protecting livestock and demonstrating that we can coexist with wildlife. We need these dogs and advocate for their use and proven management methods.
Research from Texas A&M Livestock Guardian Dog Program and the
American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Recommended Best Management Practices for Livestock Protection Dogs explain the benefits of management methods such as providing basic care, microchipping, vaccinations and dewormers, spay/neuter, and proven socialization and bonding.
When these recommendations are not put into practice, it can result in dogs that are stolen or left behind and taken to a shelter. If the dog is feral, it is at risk of being culled. Unfortunately, many LGD are not fitted with identification. This results in economic losses to the owner and impacts underfunded animal shelters and the communities they serve.
Farm flock owners and homesteaders can also have conflicts with neighbors. Recommendations for use of an LGD to protect homesteads are the same. When the recommendations are not followed or other non-lethal predator management methods are not used in combination with the LGD, a "failed" LGD may result.
Fortunately, this is a problem that has a solution. Livestock guardian dogs in need could be minimized, if not entirely eliminated, by implementing recommended practices and enacting basic protections that address the root of the problem. Working livestock guardian dogs provide a crucial role in non-lethal predator management, protecting the livestock and demonstrating that we can coexist with wildlife.
Microchipping/collar and sterilization for dogs used on open range would ensure that no litters are left behind and lost dogs would be quickly reunited with their owner and return to protecting their stock. Combined with the use of proven bonding and socialization practices, the need to cull feral and unwanted dogs would no longer be necessary.
These practices are proven to improve the well-being of the working dogs, increase protection of livestock, reduce conflicts on public lands and with neighbors, protect the safety of the public and prevent economic losses.
By following ASI's recommended guidelines and employing other proven predator management methods, LGDs can succeed in their working environments in farm flocks, homesteads and open range.
1) Inspire and educate large and small producers, homesteaders and
the public on the benefits of improved management methods such
as sterilization, proven socialization and bonding methods and GPS collars. Our goal is to inspire the use of livestock guardian dogs as they were originally intended ….. as partners, not tools.
2) Develop partnerships with supporting associations and individuals in the ranching community to create sheepherder training and livestock guardian dog certification programs, both of which are encouraged by the American Sheep Industry Association and the Bureau of Land Management.
3) Encourage agricultural operations to achieve A Greener World's Certified Animal Welfare Approved certification.
4) Encourage support for basic protections and microchipping and sterilization for LGD used on open range. When laws to protect working dogs are lacking or nonexistent, it devalues the life and role of the working dog and communicates to society that they are not relevant to the well-being of the community. As with Police K9's, service dogs and SAR dogs, we advocate for the use of herding and livestock guardian dogs and we believe that they deserve well-founded protections parallel to the incredible service they provide.