mosesandrams

Moses is settling in so well, I’m really pleased. It’s a testament to the domestic dog’s remarkable adaptability that he has adjusted this quickly to an entirely different lifestyle and environment than he’s ever known. He seems very happy now, he’s cheerful all the time, and  enjoys playing with and hanging out with Bronte and dallying around in the pastures. And snoozing,  of course, what dogs do best!

His dependency on human entertainment is rapidly vanishing. In his first several weeks, he spent a lot of time standing at the gates looking for us, and barking a lot. I used a bark collar on him a bit, just to prevent a habit from starting. This seemed to do the trick, now he’s bark collar free, and only barking at things, and mostly valid things, which is what we need him to do. He’s happy to see us when we visit (especially with dinner), but he no longer seems to concerned when we leave. This is a lot more like Bronte.

He has the pastures and gates all mapped out, and knows how to get from here to there to do his barking at things. His natural guardian tendencies are coming through, he already perceives the place as “his” territory, and alerts on any potential intruders. If there was any doubt before about a trespasser, human or animal, being tempted to enter those pastures with one big white barking dog, there is no doubt now that all trespassers will steer clear with two of them! 🙂 Their favorite pastime is to notice all bicyclists, pedestrians, and stopping cars, bark like crazy at them, and run along the fence line tracking the progress of the passers-by until they are seemingly driven off. And then the two white beasts act triumphant about their perceived accomplishment. 😀

TwoLGDsSo this was step one in Moses’ introduction to his new job, was to get him feeling comfortable in both pastures to where he will guard them. Step two was to ensure that he and Bronte are friendly with each other, enough that they can get along when they are fenced in the same pasture.

Step three is to have Moses spend time with sheep, and begin to consider them adequate company. And to not eat them or play with them like toys! 😀 I have been testing him out in small doses, exposing him to the sheep close-up. The Kitchen Lamb is useful for that, since he’s tame and doesn’t run away from dogs. Moses first avoided the lamb, but has slowly become curious about him. So far, no obvious prey drive associated with them, that’s good! (But that could change as he gets more comfortable, so caution is needed.) A few times I’ve moved groups of sheep right by him. He is conservative, and doesn’t want to get involved with things he’s unsure of, so has mostly stayed out of their way.

So last weekend I penned him with the two adult rams in the “channel.” In that smaller space, I can monitor them, make sure they are close enough together to be aware of each other, and it’s not complete wide open space where massive uncontrolled chasing could occur. I think the most imperative thing about training a dog something new is to try to prevent the wrong behaviors from ever getting started. So far so good, he is fairly uninterested in them, and they are not afraid of him. But Moses wasn’t happy about being stuck with boring sheep for companions at first. He barked some in protest, and then twice squeezed under the gate to get back to hanging out with Bronte in her field! So, good that he likes Bronte, but bad that he thinks they need to be together all the time! 🙂

I’m relying on him to guard a second pasture so I can separate sheep part of the time, so he needs to learn this job, and accept sheep as OK companions. But that will take some time, as that is obviously a new concept for him. I added some wire to the gate bottom to prevent him from squeezing through, and he seems to have adjusted to this new reality and quit barking about it.

Now, next weekend, I hope to add a lamb and the llama to his group, and see how that goes (under close supervision of course).

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