Understanding Dog Attacks

By Deb Haines


Dog attacks are not isolated incidents, Dog attacks are on the rise.

April 2017 USDA issues report on Goat and Kid Death Loss in the United States

For losses due to predators, coyotes and dogs accounted for the highest percentages of goat and kid death losses in 2015. Overall, coyotes and dogs accounted for almost 80,000 goat and kid deaths, or about 65 percent of all losses due to predators. There was also a smaller number of goats and kids (about 14,500) that were injured but not killed by predators.

Livestock, especially goats and sheep can be in trouble when dog owners think their household pets or farm dogs would never kill livestock and they let them run wild instead of keeping them at home. However, dogs of all breeds, sizes and temperaments are potential predators. Predatory dog behavior as the experts call it, is hard-wired into what makes a dog a dog. Under the right circumstances, most dogs will chase and kill livestock, unless it’s a dog trained to guard livestock. usually one of the well known guardian breeds.

Many believe their dog would never kill a goat,sheep or any young livestock , You could be wrong. Many dog owners often think that only packs of dogs attack livestock. Dogs attack all types of livestock including poultry with goats,sheep and chickens being the majority of livestock killed. Dogs often attack the hindquarters, flanks, and head of livestock. They rarely kill as effectively as coyotes. Normally, little flesh is consumed. Dogs are likely to wound the animal in the neck and front shoulders; the ears often are badly torn. Attacking dogs often severely mutilate the victim.

Understanding a little of dog behavior

Dogs chase prey for fun. Instead of killing and eating a single sheep or goat, for instance, they pursue the entire flock/herd at top speed, ripping off ears and faces, peeling off huge strips of hide, and generally mutilating but not outright killing their prey. Most sheep or goat die later from injuries or exhaustion; chased ewes and Doe often abort their lambs and kids. These animals flee wildly when dogs attack, and this is the type of action that feeds predatory behavior.

Is there a solution? Never allow your dogs to roam at large, keep them at home on your farm. It’s also worth noting that dog owners are responsible for damages when their dogs kill or injure livestock on someones farm, and in most states, farmers are legally empowered to shoot any dog harassing their livestock. Love your pet dog ? Keep it home.

If you have livestock on your farm, remember: You must protect your livestock from your own dogs, too. You never want to experience the aftermath of a dog attack, especially when your own pet dogs are involved. Securely fence dogs away from livestock areas and only allow your dogs among the livestock when you’re around if even then. Many cases it’s the Family pet dog that is guilty of their own livestock deaths.

Animals die when dog’s run free

Preventing a dog from attacking livestock animals is part of being a responsible livestock owner, and has nothing to do with being labeled as a dog hater . The size does not matter a dog can be as small as a Rat Terrier to a Great Dane These dogs are usually friendly and approachable by people, which is why approximately 90% of all dog owners refuse to believe their dogs have ever attacked or could possibly have killed livestock. There is not one dog that is not capable of chasing, tracking and retrieving everything in front of them. And unfortunately, it is not always the favorite toy or a ball. When a pet dog attacks livestock, not always are the animals killed instantly. The dog or dogs have a tendency to run them to death. This is done by chasing the animal through barbed-wire fencing, the stress of being chased causing early births or aborting the fetus in pregnant livestock, sometimes causing the livestock to enter highways or roads where both the attacking dog and the livestock may be killed. Many times goats and sheep are cornered in their own living quarters and no way to escape. All this leads to a painful situation for the animal being attacked and most of the time death.

All dogs, regardless of age, breed or temperament,have the capacity to cause harm or injury to another animal or person. A dog’s likelihood of biting depends on at least five interacting factors: 1) Heredity genes 2) Breed 3)Early experience 4) Socialization and training 5) Health (physical and psychological)

Understanding the difference from the family pet and a true Livestock Guardian Breed. (LGD)

Keep in mind….Predator behaviors occur in this important order: orient – EYE – STALK – CHASE – GRAB – BITE – KILL– BITE– DISSECT. If you think about the various groups of dogs – herding dogs, hunting dogs, and others – you can see exactly which predatory behaviors they display. Border collies “eye” and “stalk” even at a very early age. Sight hounds excel in “chase” and terriers “bite” and “kill.” Protection dogs will “grab” on command and hunting dogs will “orient” and “eye” but not “chase” and “grab” without command, and never “dissect.” The very best livestock guard dogs don’t display any of these predator behaviors toward the animals they protect.

Some livestock guard dog puppies will display behaviors such as chasing or grabbing baby goats or lambs. If they occur, they appear at 5 to 18 months of age, but they can be corrected if the critical socialization and bonding period was successful so that the young dog formed social behaviors toward livestock. If an adult working dog or a human stops these wrong adolescent behaviors when they happen, they most often disappear by adulthood. A good livestock guardian puppy that seems to be practicing predatory behaviors with livestock may also be attempting to play rather than exhibiting true predator aggression. An adult dog or a human should stop these inappropriate behaviors just like you would stop any other undesirable behaviors in a pup.

This is what is crucially important to remember – the livestock guard dogs breeds have been selected for centuries for a very low or non-existent prey drive,( other dog are not this way ) a longer period of social bonding than many other breeds, and a physical appearance that suggests “friend.” They have also been selected for attentiveness, trustworthiness, and protection of their livestock. When a good LGD is aggressive with outsiders or predators, it is not hunting for prey but protecting its pack/herd mates. They possess instinctual responses to first warn off threats rather than immediately attacking. All of these traits can be so strong that some adult LGDs who were never socialized with livestock will still make outstanding guardians.

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