Back in October I had a couple of blog posts about our Maremma livestock guardian dogs, including the two puppies Joshua and Maggie playing with their uncle Aaron. The boy in the middle of the photo above is Jordan, our other Maremma puppy, and that's Joshua in the background. There in front is one of our Boer bucks, Polar.
Jordan was a replacement puppy for Aaron's brother, who we had to euthanize last year just two weeks after we got the two of them because of congential medical problems. Though Jordan came from the same breeder, he is from different bloodlines, and we could tell right away that he was going to be more of a handful than Aaron or the others. He was hyper, seemed to have attention deficit disorder, wouldn't eat enough, and was obsessively barky, too. To be honest, he drove us crazy when he first arrived.
Interestingly, he also drove Aaron crazy, too, and the big guy was always having to roll Jordan over and teach him some manners. Jordan's hyperactivity kept the entire group of dogs in a state of semi-contained chaos, and the dynamics were all off. Jordan also was too pushy with the goats -- not in an aggressive way but always charging up to them in his puppy exuberance and sending them scattering. It wasn't good for the dogs or the goats. So one day we pulled Jordan out and put him in a separate pen by himself, next to Polar's pen.
But he still barked like mad, not at any "threat" in the nearby woods but just because he was bored, had too much energy, and didn't know what to do with himself. One day, fed up with his nonstop barking, I walked out to his pen, clipped a leash on him, and moved him in with Polar. This sweet Boer buck came to us this fall as a back-up breeding buck, and he had never been around livestock guardian dogs. So I wasn't sure what to expect, but as I stood there watching him with Jordan, I could tell immediately it was going to work.
Jordan fawned all over Polar and Polar nuzzled the puppy. I could see the pent-up energy in Jordan just start dissipating. Whenever Jordan became too much for Polar, the big buck would lower his head and his horns and motion in Jordan's direction, as if to say, "Hey, kid, don't forgot I've got these things." With a swish of his head, Polar would show Jordan where the "boundaries" were, and Jordan would comply.
The barking stopped. He began eating normally. He became focused. We'd go out in the morning to feed Jordan and Polar and find them waiting side by side at the gate, sometimes with Jordan standing up with his front paws on Polar's back.
While those two were hitting off, Aaron and Joshua's relationship was starting to get rocky. Again, it seemed like it was partly just too much puppyness, but we also think Aaron didn't like having another male around with Maggie and Gina. (Aaron is neutered.) Joshua also started playing a bit too rough with a couple of the young goats, and since they were off in a distant pasture during the day and we couldn't monitor his behavior and correct it when it happened, we had to intervene.
The answer was to put him in with Jordan and Polar, and that turned out to be magical. Polar taught Joshua manners, and Jordan and Joshua had each other to roughhouse with all day long. All three bonded in one tight little unit. We've moved the three of them into a barn for the winter and we take them out to pasture during the day when the weather's nice. When we walk Jordan and Joshua out first on leashes, Polar starts bawling from the barn. When we bring the boys in from pasture in the evening and then go back to get Polar, the boys rush up to him when he gets to the barn and start nuzzling him as if they haven't seen him all day.
Polar was never trained to walk on a lead rope, and he likes to have a tug-of-war sometimes. So to train him, right now we leave a lead rope on him in the pasture -- when he steps on it, the rope goes tight and he can't move. He learns that when there isn't tension on the rope, he can move. In theory, he'll figure out in time that when being led, if he just walks with us and the rope is relaxed, all is well. If he resists and the rope goes taut, he can't go anywhere.
Here are some more photos that I took last weekend ... in this one Jordan is pawing at his goat friend (he just adores Polar):
In this shot it looks like Jordan is saying something and Polar is listening intently:
That's Jordan in front and his pal Joshua:
Finally, here are the two boys having a grand time together:
Once we get past the fall breeding season, we will put all three of our bucks together with the boys. (During breeding season you need to house the bucks separately because there would be too much crashing-of-heads.) The bucks will browse and graze as one small herd in different paddocks from the rest of the goats next year, and Jordan and Joshua will be their guardian dogs. Aaron and Maggie and Gina will guard the main herd.
Final 2013 Shelter Challenge Underway
The final round of the Shelter Challenge for 2013 began on October 28th and runs until December 22. You can vote every day here. To search for us, type in our name, Rolling Dog Farm, and Lancaster, NH 03584. We just won another $1,000 in the previous round, so your daily votes do bring in serious money for our disabled animals!
Please note that I cannot help with technical or voting problems. I also do not have an "inside track" to anyone at the Shelter Challenge, and I don't know any more about the contest than anyone else does. So if you find yourself having issues, please consult their FAQ page here and their Rules page, which is a pop-up you can find linked on this page.
Thanks for your votes!