Placement Policies

Our pups are not right for everyone…

I am looking for buyers who seek a profound partnership with their LGDs. Not every buyer desires that. Some LGD owners prefer that their dogs stay in the background. Dogs like that won’t present themselves asking for attention and are more difficult to steal. They are also less versatile and may not be as safe to be around for visitors and children.
Our pups love their humans and work hard to please them, and they LOVE their job as working livestock guardians. They are watchful of strangers but accepting of them if coached by their owner. They are great family dogs. Our pups are accepting of changing circumstances.
So, please consider what traits your dream LGDs will possess….and let me know if I can be of assistance.
***It is worth noting that it is completely realistic for even first time LGD owners to be successful with our pups, due to our ongoing support and the considerable blogs library***

 I only place pups in WA, OR, ID, and CA, due to my commitment to be able to continue to support them after they are placed in their new homes.

Pairs only:  I believe LGDs should be allowed to work in pairs. I am committed to that premise to the extent that I will not place my puppies in single working dog situations.
LGDs kept as single working dogs often exhibit these behaviors:

  • They bark excessively

  • They “play” with livestock or become aggressive with livestock

  • They guard resources (people, food bowls, sleeping space, etc.) excessively and inappropriately

  • They become aggressive towards household pets

  • They climb fences or dig under and leave their appropriate territory


I want my dogs to have rich, rewarding lives doing the important work they were bred to do. I believe that single dogs do this work at their emotional expense and increased risk of physical harm from predators. If you would like to see more information about how I view this issue please see the “One Dog or Two” blog on the Blogs page. Click here to read Blog post.

Livestock: I place puppies in working situations only. There are many, many breeds that are appropriate as companion dogs. In my opinion Maremmas are not one of them.  I am currently the secretary of the Maremma Sheepdog Club of America. At least weekly I receive phone calls from frustrated and disappointed owners who want to relinquish their dog(s) to our rescue organization or a shelter. Most of the time when I ask enough questions it becomes evident that many of the “problem” behaviors stem from the time the dog was kept at a pet. I don’t want to see any of my dogs in this situation.

To purchase dogs from me you must first own mammals for the puppies to bond with and guard. Small, gentle livestock such as hair sheep are ideal.

Fencing: Woven wire fencing is essential and must be at least 4’ tall, preferably with an electric wire along the top. This fencing must go tightly against the ground in all places. I have not found Maremmas, kept as pairs, to be problematic in terms of staying where I ask them to work but since good fencing can save a dog’s life it is critical that the environment the puppies are asked to work in be well prepared for their arrival PRIOR to their arrival. I do ask for proof of both the presence of livestock and the quality of the fencing. In many cases using Google Earth makes this easy.

***Note: Single strand New Zealand electric fencing is not safe and appropriate fencing for LGDs..

I do not ship puppies/dogs: I sometimes provide ground transportation for my pups, so please feel free to ask me about that option. I much prefer to deliver my pups myself and tuck them into their new homes.

I place puppies in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Age of placement:  I place my pups as trained adolescent dogs only. They will be at least six months old and have had PennHIP testing completed. Giving my puppies significant training prior to them leaving me increases their likelihood of success and the satisfaction of their new owners. This helps to keep my puppies safe in their new lives. Benson Ranch is now an LGD training facility, so as well as raising livestock and producing outstanding Maremma puppies we offer training on a per month basis. Buyers of my pups have the option of leaving them here with me in training beyond the minimum age at which they can leave. I think placing started pups at six to nine months of age is ideal.

Preference given to visitors of the ranch: I seldom place puppies with buyers I have not met, however I make this decision on a case-by-case basis. Because the purchase of puppies from me is the beginning of a long-term mutual relationship it is important to me to choose buyers I feel some commonality with and can communicate well with. Getting a feel for this is often much more difficult using only e-mail or phone calls.

Completion of the Karen Pryor Academy Foundations course: This course is an online canine behavioral science course. It is well presented and can be completed at a leisurely pace. Puppy buyers who have completed the course can attest to its value to them – and to their pups.  I am dedicated to the safety of my pups and to the satisfaction of their buyers. When pups fail in their new home everyone loses; the buyer suffers a financial loss as well as an emotional one, the puppies are damaged, sometimes so much so that they can no longer have a future as working livestock guardian dogs. Good intentions are not enough. At least a beginning understanding about how canines learn is essential to new owners of my pups. This is true even for experienced LGD owners because I do not train my pups in an industry standard manner.

If you would like more information about this course please click here:

Continuing Education - Foundations Course

Other than my personal hands-on experience in managing dogs and livestock, the single most important contribution to my own education as a manager of LGDs, and now as a trainer, is the online course listed below. Honestly, I felt my world shift as I learned the behavioral science behind how dogs learn and how I could improve my communication with them, as well as with other animals. Pandora’s box opened! This was the first Karen Pryor Academy course I took, but not the last! I am a continuing student through further online, and in person, coursework as well as private coaching from a variety of trainers across the country.


The $249 online Foundations course is designed to span three months but can be completed in much less time if you choose to take on the animal training exercises after having completed the online portion of the course rather than at the same time. I suggest that you take advantage of the opportunity to improve your relationship with the dogs you have now, and those you will have in the future, by completing this course.

This coursework is the basis of the training of our pups. In completing this course you will have taken a big step towards ensuring your success with our pups. Contact me for the discount code provided to buyers of our pups.

Price: $2500, sold with Limited registration  

This price is for a six-month-old pup, with PennHIP testing included. Additional training for pups produced here is $200 per month. Training is also an option for pups purchased elsewhere at $250 per month. The price of my pups increases as they mature; a six-month-old pup is priced differently than an eleven-month-old pup.