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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wanted to get some opinions on this. About three years ago we adopted a Great Pyrenees from a local rescue to be our LGD. He was found wandering around in northern AL, and had been placed with a foster family who raised goats while he awaited adoption. He has seemed to be a good dog, albeit a bit of an escape artist. But something has happened recently that has made me a little uneasy.

GPs are called "Gentle Giants" because they have very sweet, gentle and protective temperaments. Our dog has never been aggressive toward our goats, thankfully. However he has recently killed two of our cats.

The first was a kitten we got about 6 months ago. She wandered into the pen one day and before we knew it the dog had her in his mouth, shaking her viciously (not playing, killing). She died pretty quickly. I thought maybe it was a flukey thing, perhaps he hadn't seen a cat in awhile and freaked. She obviously wasn't a threat. So fast forward several months and we got a new kitten and adopted an older cat as well. Well yesterday I looked out the window and lo and behold, the dog had gotten ahold of kitten #2 and killed it. :( He just set it down on the ground next to where he was laying and went on with his day.

I'm very concerned that he would kill our kittens like that. Ever since I saw him shaking that one kitten in his mouth I couldn't stop thinking about what if he did that to my child? Ever since then I've been a little nervous having my baby around him.

Do you think this is a legitimate fear, or am I overreacting? I don't want to have to worry about my child around my dog. Or my cat for that matter. I am seriously thinking of getting rid of the dog and getting a guard llama. I'm not much of a dog person anyway.

Hey, and any thoughts on guard llamas?

Bess
 

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Is it possible that hes taking the kittens as like a mouse almost or something. If you have older cats and hes not killing them then it may be something with the kittens. Our dogs hunt for mice and little animals all the time. Its kind ove odd that he kills them but isnt aggresive to them. Just a guess :) sorry about the kittens though ;(
 

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How soon after you bring home the kittens does this happen? If they are going in his field, it may be perceived as a threat since he doesn't know them.
 

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So sorry for your losses....if it were me, I would get rid of him. I guess I am just at a point where I have little to no tolerance for behavior problems of that nature. If it sends you a message that makes you unsure about your child, I would take no chances. Just not worth it.Besides, Llamas are way cooler IMO :)
 

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The problem is a guard animal is supposed to kill any strange animal that comes into their field. Unless you properly introduce new pets, that is going to continue to happen.

A truly good guard llama will do that too. When I had a guard llama, she didn't let anything strange be in her field. She even intimidated people who came into my field that she didn't know. There would be no way I would have allowed children in my field without me being right there.

If you are concerned about children then I would have no guard animals at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We did make sure to introduce our dog to the cats. Each time he was allowed to check them out while we held them, had several weeks to observe them, see me with them, watch me feed them, etc. That is an interesting thought, LamanchaAcres, about him perceiving the kittens as rodents or something. That makes sense. He has always been a sweet dog, it just seemed uncharacteristic to me that he would kill kittens in cold blood like that. But he is an animal.

I have just started doing research on llamas as guard animals, and that was a thought I had, Karen. Llamas are a whole lot bigger than my dog (who is pretty huge anyway, about 125lbs), and I wouldn't want a llama stomping on my kid either.

Unfortunately we live out in the country and have goats, so we kinda need a guard animal. :(
 

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You holding a kitten and a kitten on the ground are 2 very different things from a dog's point of view. I always introduce 2 animals with one being something that I can hold like that, but when the other animal seems good with them in my arms, I will put them down at my feet, so, if needed, I can scoop them fast, but the other animals can see what that animal is suppose to look like walking around. Then as the other animal seems good with the first animal, I will start putting distance between me and them. It sounds like your dog is seeing the kitten as something in the same arena as a rabbit, groundhog, or other small animal that should be killed. If he is not eating it, chewing it up, or playing with it, he sees it as another part of the job.

We did make sure to introduce our dog to the cats. Each time he was allowed to check them out while we held them, had several weeks to observe them, see me with them, watch me feed them, etc. That is an interesting thought, LamanchaAcres, about him perceiving the kittens as rodents or something. That makes sense. He has always been a sweet dog, it just seemed uncharacteristic to me that he would kill kittens in cold blood like that. But he is an animal.

I have just started doing research on llamas as guard animals, and that was a thought I had, Karen. Llamas are a whole lot bigger than my dog (who is pretty huge anyway, about 125lbs), and I wouldn't want a llama stomping on my kid either.

Unfortunately we live out in the country and have goats, so we kinda need a guard animal. :(
 

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It could be too he just doesn't like cats. I have known dogs that just hated cats. They got along fine with other animals and other dogs and people but just hated cats. I don't know what to tell you. If he has otherwise been a good guardian dog for you and isn't aggressive to your goats or people I would probably give him another chance and just not have any cats. But then I am not really much of cat person, so it wouldn't be any sweat to me to go catless. If however he has EVER shown any aggression to a person especially a child I would probably re home him.
 

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Im in agreement with the others, he is just doing his job.
One of my LGDs has put an end to a few wandering barn kittens. The adult kitties he doesn't bother.
 

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We did make sure to introduce our dog to the cats. Each time he was allowed to check them out while we held them, had several weeks to observe them, see me with them, watch me feed them, etc. That is an interesting thought, LamanchaAcres, about him perceiving the kittens as rodents or something. That makes sense. He has always been a sweet dog, it just seemed uncharacteristic to me that he would kill kittens in cold blood like that. But he is an animal.

I have just started doing research on llamas as guard animals, and that was a thought I had, Karen. Llamas are a whole lot bigger than my dog (who is pretty huge anyway, about 125lbs), and I wouldn't want a llama stomping on my kid either.

Unfortunately we live out in the country and have goats, so we kinda need a guard animal. :(
If you don't want a guard animal, you could do what we do-> granted, our goat pen isn't HUGE but it's good sized... We wound a couple small pieces of electrified wire around the outside of the pen (held up by poles, but NOT touching the goat's fence).
We live out in the country too, and get a lot of critters, but this keeps them out of the goat pen!
The great thing about having the goats is their maaaaaas keep critters away more than anything! Since we got the goats, the critter count at our house has seriously plummeted!!!
 

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We did make sure to introduce our dog to the cats. Each time he was allowed to check them out while we held them, had several weeks to observe them, see me with them, watch me feed them, etc.
Ok, I have no experience with guard dogs, but it seems to me that a kitten OUTSIDE of the goat pen is going to be entirely different than if that same kitten wanders INTO the goat pen unsupervised by someone that the dog knows and trusts.
 

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If you don't want a guard animal, you could do what we do-> granted, our goat pen isn't HUGE but it's good sized... We wound a couple small pieces of electrified wire around the outside of the pen (held up by poles, but NOT touching the goat's fence).
We live out in the country too, and get a lot of critters, but this keeps them out of the goat pen!
The great thing about having the goats is their maaaaaas keep critters away more than anything! Since we got the goats, the critter count at our house has seriously plummeted!!!
We currently run goats on about 30 of our 55 acres- so, not a huge pasture either, but fairly good sized. We don't have a guard animal, but have debated back and forth on getting one. At the end of the day we've decided the hassle isn't worth the benefits, and have heard a few too many horror stories about donkeys stomping kids to death, dogs getting loose and harassing neighbors, and llamas that were eaten by the coyotes (better the llama than the goat I suppose). We do have a Jersey heifer that runs with the goats, but she's not really big enough to be a guard. :D

We've put up decent electrified fences, and have got the goats into the habit of coming up to the barn at night. We do have a yard light out there as well. We also have some nifty shotgun shells- they're blanks that have a firecracker in them, and we have fired a few of those on nights when it sounds like the coyotes are *really* close. We're in southeastern Kansas, so coyotes are fairly prevalent in our area, and we're close enough to Missouri that I wouldn't be surprised if we get the stray mountain lion that wanders through every now and then.

We've adopted some pretty simple security measures, but have yet to lose a goat (although you can bet I'm knocking on wood as I type this). I'd agree with the prior posters- it sounds like your dog is doing his job BUT if you don't feel comfortable around him, or you don't trust your children around him then it's time for him to go to a new home. These guys are bred to be dominant, intelligent dogs that are largely independent, and their size doesn't leave much room for error. He's going to pick up on the uncertainty you have FAST and then then you're really going to have a problem...
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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There is something wrong with this dog. The whole great sense of smell debunks the idea of him thinking its a rodent. And I think its just a matter of time before he starts in on the goats. Maybe next year it will be a new born baby goat? Then again, I have no sympathy for dogs. Our dogs get yelled at for chasing anything but mice and other rodents. If they messed up like that here, they would be covered in dirt, taking the long nap.
 

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We just got an LGD a few months back, and she came from a house with a cat, whom she got along splendidly with. A few days after we got her home, one of our kittens followed my daughter into the pen and Sandy, the dog, killed him instantly. We do not allow that behavior at all. I was worried, since she had never been aggressive towards cats before, and then one day she got out of the goat pen and decided she lived at the house with people and not out with the goats. I was very nervous about the future of our remaining three kittens, but Sandy has not bothered them at all. They even all sleep on the porch together. I'm not sure why she killed that one that day, unless in her mind it was a threat to the goats and chickens.
 

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Some dogs have a prey drive, and no amount of training will make cats safe around him. If you really want a cat, I would keep it inside the house at all time, otherwise the dog will see it as prey and kill it. It is not "hungry" - it just sees it as something that needs to be disposed of as part of its duties.

My first ever dog was a German Shepherd mix with a high prey drive. All the cats in our neighborhood literally ran for the nearest tree whenever they heard our screen door open. Anything that was not human or canine was prey, and needed to be killed. The neighborhood gardeners all loved her, as no woodchucks were anywhere near their gardens - until more than ten years after her death. But we never were allowed any small animals as pets for that reason (among others).
 

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I have a GP in with my goats . She has been with them since a pup. She will kill anything foreign that gets in the goat pen PERIOD! That's EXACTLY what a live stock GAURDIAN/ PROTECTER is suppose to do. They DO NOT make exceptions unless you find a way to introduce something new to them as mentioned by a previous reply. My LG does NOT let strangers around her goats >> whether it be strange people,or other animals. Sounds to me like you have a good LG, and your LG is doing his JOB. Also >>NO PUN INTENDED by saying this..>>but...a goat pen/field is NOT a place where young/small children should be, without being accompanied by an adult anyway. Don't forget..>> goats are cool, and fun, but GOATS also are STILL ANIMALS/LIVESTOCK. And as we ALL KNOW that ANY ANIMAL CAN BE UNPREDICTABLE AT TIMES. In my opinion, a herd of any type of livestock is NOT a place that ANY UN-EXPERIENCED person should be around. There is just way too much that could go wrong.. I recommend that you, and anyone else that thinks your LG did ANYTHING other than "HIS JOB" by NOT ALLOWING a foreigner around your goats >> Step-back, and re-think the whole REASON of having a GOOD Livestock GAURDIAN/PROTECTOR is meant for. If I ever witness my LG making EXCEPTIONS, and letting ANYTHING FOREIGN around my goats she will no longer have a place here PERIOD! The way I see it is >> If an LG will let ANYTHING FOREIGN ..I mean >>ANYTHING<<..whether it be a strange kitten/cat, another puppy/dog, a strange kid/person, etc.. whos to say the next stranger they ALLOW AROUND the goats wont be a coyote, or other PREDATOR?? Take a step back, and look at "The BIG Picture"..
I have NO DOUBT.. that if I go out and find a dead, or injured goat in the morning from a foreigner getting in my field...I will be digging the first grave for my LG >> "THE GREAT PYRENEES" << because I KNOW she was doing her job, and she lost her life protecting her herd 100% to the BEST of her ability way before ANY goats went down!
 

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We currently run goats on about 30 of our 55 acres- so, not a huge pasture either, but fairly good sized. We don't have a guard animal, but have debated back and forth on getting one. At the end of the day we've decided the hassle isn't worth the benefits, and have heard a few too many horror stories about donkeys stomping kids to death, dogs getting loose and harassing neighbors, and llamas that were eaten by the coyotes (better the llama than the goat I suppose). We do have a Jersey heifer that runs with the goats, but she's not really big enough to be a guard. :D

We've put up decent electrified fences, and have got the goats into the habit of coming up to the barn at night. We do have a yard light out there as well. We also have some nifty shotgun shells- they're blanks that have a firecracker in them, and we have fired a few of those on nights when it sounds like the coyotes are *really* close. We're in southeastern Kansas, so coyotes are fairly prevalent in our area, and we're close enough to Missouri that I wouldn't be surprised if we get the stray mountain lion that wanders through every now and then.

We've adopted some pretty simple security measures, but have yet to lose a goat (although you can bet I'm knocking on wood as I type this). I'd agree with the prior posters- it sounds like your dog is doing his job BUT if you don't feel comfortable around him, or you don't trust your children around him then it's time for him to go to a new home. These guys are bred to be dominant, intelligent dogs that are largely independent, and their size doesn't leave much room for error. He's going to pick up on the uncertainty you have FAST and then then you're really going to have a problem...
That's how our goats are, if there aren't people outside for a while, they generally will go inside. The only time they come out when it's dark is if I call them out or something falls in the barn and spooks them or if we get home really late, they'll come greet us :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you for the thoughts, guys! I appreciate it. I think, as many of you mentioned, that he just killed a critter that wasn't supposed to be in the pen. I'm really surprised he never bothers the chickens! :confused:

I have an 8 month old baby, and I still have new mother jitters about things. Which I think is a good thing--I'm a "guardian" myself nowadays!

He doesn't bother the older cat, so I'm just gonna refrain from getting any more kittens. We needed a barn cat, and got a pair. But one will do just fine.

Frank, I do know and appreciate what a good LGD is supposed to do. My family used to raise GPs, and I had just never been around one before that attacked cats. But then, growing up, our GPs were not gaurding a herd, they were family dogs. Also, just for the record, I don't plan on sending my young children in with the goats without me or my husband to accompany them. We have a VERY small herd (3 goats), but you can never be too careful. :)

Thank you again for the input and advice! I think what I am going to do is mull it over. I'm going to the SAFF next month, where I may talk with some llama breeders and pick their brains about guard llamas. We are planning on moving sometime next year, so we may make our change of guard at that point in time, if ever.

Bessie
 

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Not that this should affect your decision because it is my hang up, but Llamas scare me a little. The ones I have been around have been none too friendly and I know it isn't the same thing but a lady I knew of through a friend was stomped to death by her own camel. Llamas and Camels just seem to naturally dislike people. I know some of the people on here have fabulous guard Llamas and I am glad that they do, but I just feel like I would end up with one that would stomp me to death. I am leaning towards a donkey because I am used to equines a lot more than I am camelids. But I imagine the wrong donkey could kill a goat, or dog, or human for that matter, so I guess it is just a matter of careful selection and management no matter the type of guardian you get.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Not that this should affect your decision because it is my hang up, but Llamas scare me a little. The ones I have been around have been none too friendly and I know it isn't the same thing but a lady I knew of through a friend was stomped to death by her own camel. Llamas and Camels just seem to naturally dislike people. I know some of the people on here have fabulous guard Llamas and I am glad that they do, but I just feel like I would end up with one that would stomp me to death. I am leaning towards a donkey because I am used to equines a lot more than I am camelids. But I imagine the wrong donkey could kill a goat, or dog, or human for that matter, so I guess it is just a matter of careful selection and management no matter the type of guardian you get.
Me too--llamas are just so big and powerful, they definitely scare me a little. I'm looking forward to talking with some llama breeders at SAFF next month to get a better feel for if they would be safe, practical, etc.
 
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