The Guardian Way – March 2022

AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program Update

Our Spring 2022 LGD Field Day is scheduled for May 13 from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. in Crockett County.  The event will be held at the Crockett County 4-H Barn at 1301 Avenue AA, Ozona, Texas.  Contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in Crockett County at 325-392-2721 to register for the event.  Presentation topics will include health care, nutrition, and GPS trackers.  There will be a producer panel and tours of ranching operations utilizing LGDs to protect small ruminants.  Check out our Facebook page for more updates.

We are no longer hosting bimonthly webinar presentations.  With Covid-19 restrictions lifted, our in-person workshops and field days will replace some of our webinars.  Our next webinar in the LGD series will be held in November of 2022.  Check our Facebook page for more information as the event gets closer.

LGDs & The Bonding Project Update

Cold Weather

It’s important that young LGDs being trained have a good shelter and several lives

Wilma and Mike enjoying the cold weather in early February. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

tock to bed down with during severe weather situations.

The younger dogs do not have enough body mass to stay warm in freezing temperatures.  All the puppies in the National Sheep Improvement Center (NSIIC) bonding project fared well in the ice and snow in early February.  We were a little concerned this year with the extreme wind-chill factor this February, and the younger age of these pups.  The younger pups were running around enjoying the frigid weather each day we checked them.  They had plenty of bedding to keep them warm and 4-5 ewes to bed down with.  We also placed a small dog crate inside each shelter for extra protection if they needed it.

Betty wasn’t wanting to get leashed trained one day! (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

All eight puppies have been doing well with tether and leash training.  A couple were a little stubborn at first with the leash training, but they have all overcome their fears.  We started them off at two minutes for leash and tether training and we increase the time by two minutes each week.  All pups are also given a short truck ride each week to acclimate them to traveling to new locations in a vehicle.

Once they get released from the bonding pens, they will be introduced to herding dogs also.  It’s important to rotate the livestock in your bonding pens every few weeks so that the dogs bond to a species and not specific animals.  Bonding to specific animals may cause the dogs to roam looking for those animals later in life, if the stock are culled.

Round Three Pups

The TV Sitcom Stars and the Legends & Icons puppies from the third round of the bonding project all “graduated” last month from the

program and are officially adult dogs now!  Laverne, Squiggy, Doc, Wyatt, Thelma, and Louise, will no longer be tracked for data collection in the project.  The pups bonded in hot wire (Wyatt, Laverne and Squiggy) all seem not to roam or roam much less that the other three dogs.  Squiggy has not roamed at all, and Wyatt has roamed a couple of times.  He also showed up at the ranch headquarters once.  Laverne has roamed a couple of times but based on her tracker data it seemed that she was following some sort of animal.  Most likely it was a coyote as the producer had seen evidence of one in the pasture she traveled into.

Of the three dogs not bonded in hot wire, Louise seems to roam the least.  Louise was a single bonded pup and when she has roamed, the cooperating

Typical day for Doc (light blue line) and Thelma (light green line) on the far side of the ranch. The sheep are the pink & red lines. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo courtesy Costanzo 2022)

producer has always found her with another flock of his sheep that do not have a LGD yet.  Doc and Thelma were pair bonded and are roaming weekly to other parts of the ranch away from their sheep.  They often end up at another rancher’s headquarters about two miles from the Martin Ranch.  It seems that sometimes the dogs may be following AgriLife personnel that have done work in Menard when they leave the ranch.

The picture to the right is not one of those times.  The dogs have roamed to another part of the ranch that has two younger dogs guarding goats.   A few days after the picture above, Thelma had returned to her sheep.  Doc had returned to the west side of the ranch but traveled north onto another ranch.  Hopefully as Doc and Thelma mature a little more, they will stop roaming as much.

In closing

If you enjoyed this monthly LGD blog, please don’t forget to subscribe to it with this link The Guardian Way | Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at San Angelo.

To provide feedback on this article or request topics for future articles, please contact me at or 325-657-7311.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Livestock Guardian Dog Program is a cooperative effort by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas Sheep and Goat Predator Management Board.  Make sure to follow us on our social media sites and share them with your friends and family!


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