Frustrations With Guardian Dogs

I’m just in from checking and tucking in the flock. The sheep were gathered on their usual hillside, numerous ewes already bedded down. A few determined ewes were still nibbling at nearby bales. Usually I feed guard dogs for the second time in the day. But tonight only Lady was present. The other four dogs were nowhere to be seen or heard. When the dogs are gone we know to check things out. I traveled the entire piece of pasture, which is a 160 acre piece, thinking perhaps there was a small group of ewes who were seperated and the dogs were with them. I found nothing.

It is times like this that I curse guardian dogs. Each spring we go through a few days of the guard dogs wandering further afield. Often they travel out when they are pushing on a predator and then return shortly. It’s tough to condemn them for that but you can’t favour the choice either. Usually it is one dog, maybe two who leave while the others hang back. Never have four of them gone before.

 What we have done in the past when any dog sets to wandering, is put a collar on them with a long wire cable and anything to act as a weight on the end. Not a heavy weight like a tire, which is often suggested, but just a small, solid weight. We use a foot long piece of one inch diameter steel rod or something similar. The point is not to tie the dog down but to deter them from jumping/crawling through fences. A simple line with a weight on it will often hold them up, especially the jumpers, but still allow them plenty freedom of movement otherwise. Another option is a triangle collar constructed of PVC piping. I haven’t tried that one yet.

There is not much to do to bring them home as the landscape is vast and they could be any direction. Travel by vehicle will not flush them out in a timely fashion as there are too many vehicle inaccessible places. The only thing to do is return home and hope there are dogs with the flock in the morning. And hope they have not caused someone else undue trouble. It’s a small comfort to know that Lady is with the flock but one dog caring for so many sheep in such a vast space puts the odds against her for the night. 

Lady Moving with Flock Fall 2011


  1. I hate that too! Our one dog started out wandering to go after coyotes but then it became fun for him and he was just traveling. I'd spend my whole day trying to find him. He only did it when our 2nd dog could go with him. We only have 75 acres so we strung hot wire around it. If he gets out now, the other one won't follow so he doesn't go anywhere. Knock on wood, it's been 5 months since he's traveled.

  2. It's so easy for the dogs to wander in these large spaces. Glad you had an easy fix for your boy. Hope it is a permanent one. It is so much more reassuring to know the dogs are home and reasonable safe rather than out and about.


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