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Anatolian Shepherd Dogs International, Inc.

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Introducing the 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 farmer.
   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.

[Picture of: Zarif's Hazine]
Zarif's Hazine ("Zina"), of Fox Meadow Anatolians, with her flock.

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