Anatolian Shepherd to Sheep
By Gayle Bouder
Anatolian Shepherd Dogs have been successfully guarding sheep in
their native Turkey for centuries. They are enjoying the same success, in more recent
years, in countries around the world, including the U.S. and Canada. When correctly
introduced and bonded to livestock, they are a great asset to the large rancher or small
The process actually begins before you bring the puppy home. Secure
fencing is a necessity. Electric wire at the top and bottom of your fence will help teach
a pup to respect the boundary. I keep a 6 foot and a 30 foot lead in the barn for the
leash and introduction training sessions. Also, the puppy will need to wear a buckle
collar. I never put chokers on young puppies. Never leave a choker on a dog when you are
not in attendance!
A young puppy should not have free access to the sheep. He should be
housed in an area adjacent to them. This allows him to see and interact with them without
allowing him to chase, bite, or pull wool. It also provides time for the pup and the sheep
to become acquainted.
Introductions should be done on-lead. Should he attempt any
inappropriate behavior, a timely correction can be made. Your new addition should
accompany you (on-lead) while you are feeding, watering, and doing the barn chores. Walks
through pastures are great for leash training, introducing him to other stock and fences,
and providing exercise to burn off some of his energy. This helps establish a routine and
gives the pup an opportunity to make mistakes that you can give immediate correction for.
When the pup demonstrates appropriate behavior to the sheep
consistently, allow free access for short periods of time in a small pasture. (I prefer to
use older ewes during this phase. Ewes with lambs are sometimes a little dog aggressive,
and lambs tend to invite play from the puppy.) Ideally, this should be supervised, as
well. If the pup begins any chasing, biting, or wool pulling, a stern correction should be
made, and he should be removed to his pen. As the puppy matures, his time with the flock
will lengthen. Generally, most Anatolians will be reliable livestock guardians between 12
and 18 months.
This is a general guide to introducing your Anatolian to sheep (or any
livestock). I would like to emphasize the importance of incorporating some basic obedience
and grooming into your daily routine, as well. Your livestock guardian dog is an
investment into your ranch/farm. Regular vaccinations, worming and physical exams, whether
done by you or your veterinarian, will be more easily accomplished with a cooperative dog.
Zarif's Hazine ("Zina"), of Fox Meadow Anatolians, with her flock.
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