Starting With LGD Pup, Crow
We had a five hour trip home so when we arrived I placed Crow in a dog run at the yard to stretch his legs. As soon as he realizes I’ve walked away he erupts into yipping and screaming which he persists with for quite some time. A sure sign of a pup familiar with people.
When I take him to the lambs, he doesn’t seek them out as little Wren did, but he doesn’t act afraid of them either. While Wren came in eager to say hello, he's a pup finding out where he is and what they are. He follows me more than anything and when by chance he wanders through the lambs it is in a curious way. They smell appealing to him and he starts to investigate who they are.
Wren is on the scene immediately and she distracts him with a pushy greeting. I let them meet and greet but interrupt the bullying. The oldest lambs sense Crow is a bit unsure, and he’s new, and he’s marked differently than white, fluff ball, Wren. They give him tiny head butts if he gets too close. He hardly seems to notice though, and doesn't react at all.
After watching him for awhile I decide the plan for this puppy. He is very sure he should follow me everywhere and there is little hope I’ll be able to leave without notice. He’s never been with sheep and I want him bonded to them but not so much to Wren if I can help it, and definitely not to me. Given how upset he was at finding himself alone for a short period earlier, I decide to take full advantage of his need for company by putting him with lambs on his own; seperate from both Wren and me for the first few days.
I select five of my smallest lambs and lead them and Crow back to the dog run at the yard. All of them toddle right along behind me in a very Mary-had-a-Little-Lamb kind of way. It was sweet and I wished life with these pups could just stay this way for a little longer. Raising guardian pups takes time but also happens so fast.
This time, he yips a few times when I walk away but soon settles into doing a more thorough check of the new litter mates he finds himself with. By nightfall he is curled up in the dog igloo with the lambs. Over the next few days I walk him out to the barn paddock to spend time with Wren and her group of lambs while I supervise, and then I bring him back to the dog run and his group of lambs to stay on his own.
The downfall of this approach, is that he’s in the yard hearing and seeing me, possibly forming an association with the yard, and the going back and forth is still encouraging him to follow me. I don’t want him to gain an association with the yard, so after seeing how settled he is with the lambs already, I decide to move him up to the building where Wren is. The one hiccup is that Wren is a boisterous pup all around and might be a bit much for him. I give him plenty of supervision at first and then decide I can leave them be.
Another option to consider is setting him up to be on his own with lambs in a separate area from Wren but away from the yard as well. I could have gone either way, and it may be that I separate him and Wren at some point. I lean toward keeping them together though because truth be told, it’s simpler and I like anything that’s simpler, but also because it’s my intention that these two work together. The risk is that his bond to the sheep takes second place after his bond to Wren - another canine. But that’s not a given, I also think it’s very possible that the two develop a secure knowledge of all things sheep and protecting them, by working together.
Wren is helping him adjust to being here. In contrast to Crow, Wren stayed at the breeder’s place a week after her litter mates left so she experienced time without her litter mates but with sheep while in a familiar place. She has no issue with being left on her own and no desire to follow me away from the sheep. Since being placed with lambs for a few days on his own, and now with Wren, Crow hasn’t once fussed upon my leaving, nor tried to follow and that’s pretty promising given how upset he was on day one.