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Yukon Meets the Goat Girls! - How To Introduce New Livestock To An LGD

Yukon is an eight-month-old intact Maremma. He has been a full-time working LGD almost all of his life. The goat girls, Party and Pearl, live with their own pair of LGDs. Their behavior is very predictable to me because of their level of experience. Yukon is a great dog. But, even given all this, there can be surprises. I am a big believer in being cautious when introducing dogs to new livestock.

I had moved the girls into this pen two days previously to give Yukon a chance to get to know them. My thought, today, was to see if Yukon could handle being in his big field with them because I had the time to keep an eye on them.

Well, Yukon was unconcerned about the goats, but he was having trouble just living in his own skin! Just one month ago, Yukon was a more relaxed, steady dog than he is right now as he struggles with his rising testosterone levels. His partner, who recently had surgery, is housed next to him, but not in with him. He is not happy about this, neither dog is. Last night two new dogs arrived and were housed in the pen just behind me. Nyssa, Yukon's partner, was very provoked by their proximity and her situation. This morning, I moved them and put an adult Maremma in this pen instead. This is another change for all the dogs. I also have two visitors, just out of camera range, that are new to the dogs. Because of life happening in the way it can, I have not spent as much time with Yukon as I typically do over the last two days.

Lonely dog! Frustrated dog! When Yukon was younger, he put his feet on me often, but he hasn't done this for a long time. In this training session, I gave him multiple opportunities to get his "learning" brain back, as I call it, by redirecting him and starting over. He just could not give me what I hoped he could, so back to his field he went - no harm, no foul.

As my visitors and I worked around the dogs over the next few hours, Yukon looked better and better, so I tried the introduction again. No problem at all. Out the gate and into the big field we all went, including the visitors. The three of us wandered with Yukon and did click/pay stuff for easy behaviors. Yukon did beautifully, although he was still pretty busy. But he purposefully went to each of us, expecting to be marked and paid for eye contact, feet on the ground, etc. Indeed, pretty boy! Baked chicken!

I left Yukon with the goats for a couple of hours and then put everybody back where they started. Change is hard on these dogs so I will adjust my requests of them accordingly over the next few days. In doing so, I will protect my investment of time and training in all of them.

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