Four good friends came out to visit yesterday - oh, I was so elated to have visitors. The first pair came out to work stock dogs. The second pair were out, along with two older children, for a taste of country air so I took them out to visit the flock and the guardian dogs.
I’ve never followed the trend that keeping your hands off the guardian dogs was necessary to making them good guardians. At first it was just because I couldn’t do it. Now it’s because I think the notion does more harm than good. All my dogs are handled and will approach humans. On the other hand I don’t assume the dogs and or the people will always be well behaved about the encounter. In this case I didn’t have to worry about the people, they were very respectful, but the dogs still amazed me.
My guardian dogs rarely, rarely leave the farm. They live in a pack and they work out in a pasture situation. They do not have regular encounters with visitors, dogs or human (except me and mine of course). Yet on the rare occasion that they do see strangers they behave better than most socialized, city dogs I know. They behave better than my stock dogs do when someone comes to the house.
When the visitors and I arrived on pasture each dog came to say hello, thoroughly sniffed the newcomers and accepted a few pats. Oakley remained at the Ranger with us and soaked up as much attention from the kids as he could, but the others trotted back to the sheep. No one jumped up, no one became anxious or excited at the prospect of visitors. They were just dogs and we were just visiting. Nothing more, nothing less. While I realize my LGD’s won’t walk down a city street without panicking they are still model citizens in their own right.
And that amazes me because I grew up in a world of over socializing dogs. In order to be a good citizen the dog needed to encounter every situation under the sun. I’m kind of glad I don’t exist in that world anymore. I’m glad that I’ve been blessed to view the dog world from the angle I have now. Living and working with both LGD's and stock dogs has turned so much of my previous dog knowledge upside down.