Maremma Husbandry

Our dogs work hard for us.

We do our part to keep them healthy and thriving!

Adults

All dogs are on a consistent heart worm and de-worming schedule.


All dogs are kept current on their age appropriate vaccinations.


All dogs are groomed frequently, and from an early age are taught to be comfortable with procedures such as brushing and toe nail trims.


Our dogs are fed high quality dog chow. Pregnant or lactating dogs are fed Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dog Chow. Puppies under six months of age are fed Science Diet Large Breed Puppy Chow.


Our sixteen adult dogs work in pairs in spacious fields guarding a variety of livestock including Miniature Donkeys, mini cows, and hair sheep on our 360 acre Southern Oregon ranch.

Puppies

Our puppies are whelped in a clean, safe whelping box set up in a stall surrounded by all the sights and sounds of the livestock they will learn to protect.


By the time they are three weeks old our puppies are carefully introduced to our gentle hair sheep puppy trainers. The pups begin to spend part of each day living with the sheep. They learn how to anticipate sheep behaviors and how to keep themselves from being stepped on! We make sure the sheep are kind to them during this delicate transitional period.


At four-five weeks of age the puppies being to live with their sheep full time.


At six weeks of age I being to give the puppies more challenges and responsibility by moving them, with their little flock of sheep, into fields of increasing size and complexity.


From the time the pups are three weeks old they also receive significant additional training; this continues throughout their time at the ranch. For more information about my training program please visit the Training page. 


I keep our pups here in training until they are four to five months of age. Their PennHIP testing is completed prior to the puppies leaving the ranch in most cases.

Our pups are whelped inside this stall. They begin life in their safe and spotlessly clean whelping box. At two weeks of age they open their eyes and take stock of their new world. By the time they are three weeks old they are ready for some adventure. I open their whelping box and put fencing across the front of the stall. This allows the pups to get brave and look outside, or not, as they are ready to do so. It usually takes the pups about a day to figure this out. Then I move the fencing back to give them about the first six week of this covered area so that they can go inside as they wish or play outdoors. At this point I also begin to feed a couple of my most gentle sheep some tasty alfalfa placed directly against the outside of the pup's area.In a few more days I give the pups half of the covered area, and then the whole thing. By the time the pups are four weeks old they are ready to meet the sheep without the protection of the fence between them.

Introducing the pups this way using consistent and careful supervision allows me to foster their early bonding with livestock while making sure they are never hurt, and that they know they always have the choice to retreat for any reason. Throughout ALL my training with my dogs I leave it to them to set the time frame for what they are ready to learn. When I would with a group of dogs, such as with a litter of pups, I always train to the one who is still unsure or needs more time. The over achievers can wait a bit!

These four week old puppies are meeting Panda for the first time. They have been getting to know her from across a fence for a week or so. Panda knows and accepts them calmly. She is familiar to the puppies so they feel safe enough to follow their curiosity and are rewarded by Panda's calm curiosity of them. Within a couple of weeks from this point, if there are no setbacks, the puppies will be allowed to live with 2-3 gentle ewes during the daytime when I can keep an eye on them. Most of the sheep that I use for these oh so important first introductions were bottle raised among litters of puppies so they are wonderfully accepting of the bouncy pups.

When the puppies are six-eight weeks of age their mom often chooses to spend quite a bit of time away from them so I can set the interior of the stall up so that the puppies can get to their own bedding and food, but the sheep can't. Usually from this point forward the puppies ignore what used to be where they slept in favor of piling around the sheep! My kind girls are good about allowing this. 

Notice that the puppies can come and go through the openings of the gate panels. They still have access to their heat lamb, dry puppy chow to much on if they want it, and the introduction to a crate. This begins their early crate training. When the puppies are four-eight weeks old I feed them a warm, sloppy gruel four times a day. This allows me to monitor their appetite and to begin to teach my puppy recall.

Sheep setting gentle boundaries with the maremma puppies

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Location:

Gold Hill, Oregon

Telephone:

541-855-5503

© 2019 Benson Ranch Maremmas