Natural Farm and Home Protectors

by Julie Adams

It it thought that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, ASD (Choban Kopegi) or Kangal Dog has been performing the duties of livestock guardians for man for over 5,000 years. Anatolians have been known to ward off both small and large predators here in the USA. Large predators include bear, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, wolves, domestic dogs, and cheetahs. Small predators include raccoons, possums, skunks, foxes, weasels, and birds of prey. They are not generally friendly toward human strangers without introductions from their owners and their size alone is rather intimidating.

ASDs successfully guard a huge variety of domestic animals and birds, including horses, cattle, sheep, goats, llamas, miniature horses, ponies, emus, ostriches, poultry, rabbits, and small domestics, such as toy dog breeds, terriers, and cats. Many also work as family and home guardians, and several are assistance dogs to their disabled owners, as they are sturdy enough to provide physical support. As with all breeds, a range of temperaments can be found within the breed. Some are better suited as remote pasture guardians where a daily routine is very constant, while some are good in situations where there is a high degree of variety and deal well in a small farm, rural home, or pet situation.

Though they have an instinctual guarding nature, socialization and training is necessary for most successful livestock guardians. Socialization and training dogs for livestock protection include many specialized techniques. There is a community of livestock guardian dog agricultural users who exchange information via Email lists (such as Anatolian-L and LGD-L.) articles in various dog publications, such as Choban Chatter (published by ASDI), and the Anatolian Times (published by ASDCA), and other independent periodicals, such as Flock and Field magazine.

Feral Child and Dato
In their native Turkey, ASDs primarily guard herds of sheep and goats, but are also expected to be home family pets and guardians as well. There they are expected to have enough intelligence to act appropriately and differentiate between home, village, and working situations. ASDs have played an important role in the livelihood of the shepherds in Turkey, who have harshly culled for a very specific temperament, intelligence, and athletic ability.

ASDs seem to have an almost mystical sense of threatening or dangerous situations. Many owners have been convinced to listen to and believe their dogs. ASDs can be very expressive of their needs and desires. They use body language, physical movements and sound to convey their messages. There are many owners who can credit their dogs for warnings about everything from fire to injured or ill livestock.

Our own dogs repeatedly warned us about two different neighbors. All the other neighbors were fine. The dogs look in strange cars to see if they know anyone inside as they drive by. These two neighbors and many who visited them were not just barked at, but barked at in a ferocious manner. One day we woke up to a swat team hauling one away for drug manufacturing and dealing. (Surprise to us!) ASDs are very uncomfortable around substance abusers. After the other moved away, other parents in the neighborhood exchanged stories and we are now pretty convinced that the father in the house abused his children.

At a park recently our dogs would not settle or sit when a strange man approached the playground. They stared at him for about a half an hour until I noticed his behavior as well. He had no children there and seemed to be following each child with his eyes until he could identify that he or she was being supervised. He would even stand up occasionally and follow a child to see where he or she went. I would not have noticed his coyote-like behavior without my dogs. They do not understand the restrictions or ettiquette rulesof polite society about staring. He left shortly after he noticed that he had captured our attention. The incident was reported to local police.

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