LGD Training Overview
The training of LGDs is specialized training. Even people who have trained companion dogs for years will encounter a learning curve as they begin to work with LGDs. I see this as a dynamic opportunity for personal growth, as a trainer.
“LGDs are not pets.”
If you’ve been working at becoming a well informed LGD owner you have no doubt encountered this statement, probably many times in fact, but what does it really mean? Here are some things to consider.
Animals learn when they are exposed to stimulus. Stimulus can be a product of the animal’s environment or it may come from a human. That human may be purposefully making training choices in managing the dog (in our case) or the dog may be learning from the human just by observation. A lot of the training humans do with animals they do by accident! An example of this would be a companion dog that learns what will happen next when his owner picks up the car keys.
Learning happens when an animal is motivated. Physical comfort is motivating. Pain and fear are motivating. Understanding what motivates an animal allows a trainer to make well informed training decisions. Traditional training methodology employed pain and fear as ways to encourage a dog to change his behavior. Thankfully, science has shown us a better way!
LGDs have specialized priorities in life that are not common to most pet dog breeds. I offer these three examples:
LGDs are nocturnal workers.
LGDs are property managers; they own real estate, as they see it.
LGDs have been genetically selected to work independently of human instruction.
These are three LGD traits that come to mind at the moment; indeed, there are many more. But if you look at just these three traits, from a training and motivation standpoint, it is easy to see that what motivates a Maremma may be very different than what motivates most pet dogs, including what motivates most of the working dog breeds, such as border collies, as an example. As just one of these points, most of the companion dogs breeds (border collies, for sure) have been genetically selected to accept some degree of instruction from humans.
I have found success as an LGD trainer by viewing training as two separate pieces: I need to understand how dogs learn and I need to understand what LGDs care about so that I know how to motivate them. If I can motivate them, I can influence their behavior. That gives me the greatest likelihood of being able to develop our working partnership on my ranch; with livestock, with strangers, and with changes in their environment such as the occasional necessity of getting in the car to go see a veterinarian.
Here are my suggestions as to how to become a well-informed LGD owner/trainer:
Complete the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Foundations Course. Through completion of this course you will learn how dogs learn. This will allow you to communicate well with your LGD, and, in fact, with every animal in your life! This course is a game changer. I feel strongly enough about this that I wrote a training manual specific to how to apply the course to the training of LGDs. You will find the manual available for purchase on the link below.
Read the information found on the Foundations Training page on my web site. This page details our training program with pups raised here, but it can be implemented with pups produced by other breeders. With some adaptions, this training can be used with LGDs of any age.
Take advantage of the extensive blogs library on my web site. The Breeding Blogs will teach you a lot about how we train puppies. You can use this information to make training plans for puppies purchased elsewhere. The Training Blogs are specific to training done with LGDs. Most of the training blogs include videos of actually training being done here on my ranch with our Maremmas.
Watch for two new projects that are under development: Our Curriculum and LGD Curriculum.
If you’d like even more assistance….
Under the Training Services menu you will find additional services. We do accept pairs of pups into our training program. I also offer private Zoom training sessions.
Have fun! Happy training!
Please let me know if I can be of assistance.