In our experiences, people do not “train” puppies to be livestock guardian dogs (LGDs). The puppies are born with an instinct of what their job is and how they are supposed to perform. Following are some do’s and don’ts for raising Great Pyrenees puppies to be LGDs.

When we sell Great Pyrenees LGDs (and we sell a lot of them), we recommend the buyer not pick up the puppy until it is at least 12 weeks old if they do not already have a LGD to teach the puppy its job. Our adult female dogs teach the young how to be guardian dogs; people do not train them!

Until the puppies are 5 weeks old, they seldom leave their bedding area. The next two to three weeks are spent playing around the goats and other animals. The next month is when they start to learn their trade.

We have noticed that the mom will take the puppies out with the goats and teach them to stay with the goats – and not to play. The mom will normally sit on the hillside nearby, watch what’s going on, and if the puppies start playing, she will come down and give them a stern warning before returning to her hillside resting place. If a predator or something disturbs the goats, she is available to take care of the situation. This normally goes on for a couple weeks. She will watch and take corrective action – leaving the puppies on their own for longer and longer periods of time. By the 12th week, the puppies are providing protection to the goats they have been left with but still are under the watchful eye of the mom.

If you must get a puppy younger than 3 months old, this is the advice we give all our customers:

1. When you take the puppy home, put it in a pen with some of your smallest, most gentle goats (yearlings are preferred). Some people recommend you put the puppy in a pen with your biggest, baddest goat so the puppy will learn respect. In our view, there’s plenty of time for respect; this is bonding time!!

2. Do not play with the puppy. Do not talk to the puppy. Do not pet the puppy. Your only "contact" with the puppy for the first 3 weeks you have him is to feed him.

“How cruel!!” you may say. Maybe. But you want the puppy to bond with the goats. You want the puppy to believe the only friend in the world he has are the goats he's living with. You want the puppy to think it is a goat or the goats are puppies. If you play with the puppy, the puppy will bond with you. This is great if you need a dog for protection, but this is not good if you want the dog to protect your animals.

3. After approximately 3 weeks (but definitely not before), you can begin to speak to the dog - teach him his name and to come when called. But still don't spend time petting him, and definitely don't play with him.

4. After you’ve had the puppy about 2 months, start to interact more and more with the puppy. By this time he should know what his duties are - who he is protecting and staying with. But if the puppy ever leaves his charges, discipline him with your harshest tone of voice; let him know, for example, that he is not welcomed in your yard or on your porch. Around this time, you do need to train the puppy to walk on a leash, not necessarily for the sake of the puppy but for the dog it will grow into.

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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168

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