Kangal Dog Puppy

Kangal Dog Puppy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


                                                          December 17, 2012

In my last post I mentioned how I was soon going to put the main flock in with Sarah.  Well it didn't happen right away as the weather turned inclement and I wanted to wait until dryer conditions. 

A week or so later I brought them in and began the introductions.  At first I only let Sarah loose with them while I was present.  After some days of doing this I let her out unsupervised.  After a little bit I heard Sarah doing a lot of barking so I went to check it out and found that she had a couple ewes isolated down by the pond and was harassing them pretty bad.  Barking and lunging at them as they kept their backs to the water.  One of the ewes was one that I was concerned about because she is was always the trouble maker when we still had Arie.  She is bossy with dogs and is obsessed with head butting them.  Sarah has not exhibited the chase behavior like Arie had so I strongly suspect that this bossy ewe instigated Sarah's actions.  So I went and got Sarah, as soon as I called her she immediately gave up her barking and came to me.  I put her away to try it again another day. 

In the mean time as I waited for more bonding to occur I would let her with them but only if I was present.  Then I tried it again unsupervised, again we had problems with her chasing and barking at the ewes.  I still suspected the bossy ewe was the instigator. 

This repeated itself every time I'd let her with them unsupervised, then one time she took chase while I was present.  I scolded her verbally and put her away.  Sarah responded to the scolding being very sensitive to it.  Unlike Arie, Sarah will quit the bad behavior when spoken to.  Arie would ignore me and continue the chase with a blood lust.  Sarah is not like that at all. 

I've continued letting Sarah with them while I am present and I quickly give her verbal reprimands at the slightest infraction and she responds well to that. 

Finally in the past week I've let her have extended unsupervised time with the flock and she has been much better.  The worse thing she has done was to try and get some of the ewes to play with her.  She would paw at them and prance around much like a dog would do with another dog to get them to play, only thing is, the sheep of course don't want to play, and simply walk away.  I watched this with binoculars and did not interfere, wanting to see how it would play out.  Sarah gave up so I called that a success.

My aim is to keep doing this and let her have unsupervised access  for longer and longer periods. Until eventually they can co-habitate indefinitely. 

 I still feel very much like a novice as far as training an LGD, since my only experience in it has been with Arie and she was a challenge to say the least.  But, I think now my biggest obstacle is getting the sheep more used to Sarah.  Our Shetland sheep tend to be flighty and once they stop bolting over the slightest move Sarah makes I think things will settle down. 

But, I am still quite impressed with Kangal Dogs.  They are some very impressive animals.  I like having a big dog like Sarah out with me because I know she always has my back.  The two kangals I've had it seems are always aware of their surroundings and easily notice things out of the ordinary. 

We are asking a lot out of dogs to live with livestock, it's very much like the "wolf and the lamb" lying down together.   At least with a dog like the Kangal they have been bred for millennia to do just that.

(For anyone new to checking out this blog I should clarify that I started it to chronicle our experiences with our first Kangal Dog Ariella, that we got as a puppy.  But Arie got out and was killed on the highway and now we have a new 3 year old female Kangal dog named Sarah and I am now using the site to tell about our experiences with her and of integrating her into our livestock and farm.)


Saturday, November 10, 2012

A new view of the farm

Last week I took this video of Sarah getting used to a different spot on the farm right next to our chicken yard. Our daughter had the house dog out for a walk and Sarah was checking them out and barking at them.

We still have not introduced Sarah and our golden retriever Tucker since I am still not sure what I think about mixing the LGD with the house dog.  According to some the two should never mix, I'm not sure of the reasoning behind that however.  Until I understand more fully the true dynamics of an real working LGD I'll hold back on the introductions. 

This is still all new to me, but so far Sarah seems to have correct LGD behavior as far as I can tell.  She is WAY easier to handle than was Arie.  The "measured" response which I have heard about of a good working Kangal seems certainly true of Sarah.  As you can see in this video Sarah barks, but does not go ballistic like Arie used to do.  Sarah does not throw herself against the fence, which is something Arie did regularly.   Sarah barks and keeps on the alert, but still minds her manners all at the same time.

 Tomorrow I plan to introduce Sarah to some members of the main flock, she has done well since we brought her home with two rams and two buck goats that we have.  We are going to rearrange things going into winter as we breed the ewes for spring time lambs and the rams and goats will be relocated. 

I wanted Sarah to have a closer view of the main flock before tomorrow so tonight I brought them over by her in our mobile sheep pen.  However it didn't go quite as I planned.  Sarah came a little too close to the electric fence to check out the new comers and she got nailed.  By this point it was dark and foggy and she disappeared and would not come when I called.  So I went out to look for her and found her as far away from those sheep as she possibly could get in that paddock and was not about to come any closer.  It seemed she associated the new comers with the zap, which is not at all what I had hoped for. But I hope in the light of day tomorrow when we bring them in she'll see that they're just fine and she has nothing to worry about.

We have owned many of the working breeds over the years and  I find Kangal dogs to be something just a little bit different as far as dogs go.  The closest in personality to any other dog we've had is probably that of a Canaan Dog that we had for 14 almost years.  Only the Canaan Dog is a fraction of the size.  A Kangal is also a little bit like a Siberian Husky we used to have as well.  Kind of a blend of the two.  They seem to have a "wild" aspect to their dispositions, very unlike a Doberman, German Shepherd or Rottweiler which live to "please". 

I've owned and trained the three working breeds I just mentioned in years past and with those guys you could train in an almost robotically programmable fashion.   They thrived on that kind of attention, Kangals can be trained to do some things but, act as if they simply "tolerate" the training and seem to get bored with it.  This aspect of a Kangal makes me just a little bit uneasy in that if a situation ever occurred, they would be a whole lot of animal to have to physically restrain if it didn't want to listen.  In this respect a Kangal in the city is certainly not for everyone.

But, I'm happy with Sarah, so far she seems to have far more of the LDG characteristics I had read and heard about concerning Kangal Dogs.  However it still feels like kind of a balancing act in setting up the living arrangements for two opposite species to cohabitate together.  Basically we are forcing the "wolf" and the "lamb" to lie down together and expect everyone to live as one big happy family. 

Tomorrow should be interesting but, we'll be kind of starting over.  Sarah has proven to be reliable with the livestock so it will be more on the part of the sheep to get used to her in the coming days and weeks. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This video I took from the seat of our tractor and is of pretty poor quality, but I wanted to show how Sarah is getting more comfortable with her place and is very alert with what's going on around the farm.  It's the first time she's seen our tractor so was checking it out, then at the end she spots our house dog which was out for a walk and then runs off to bark at him. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sarah's getting adjusted


I've been taking it slow with getting Sarah integrated with the farm not giving her too many new experiences too soon.  The other day she got to really meet the whole family for the first time.  She did very well and was a perfect lady. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Introducing Sarah

By God's providence we were recently able to acquire another Kangal Dog, a female named Sarah. 

Her owners Donna and Mark were unable to keep her due to a job change, so last weekend we drove over 700 miles one way to go get her from them in Kansas. 

Sarah was originally from Misty Acre's.   Her sire is Majestic Sampiyon Misty Acres and her dam is Odaci's Hediye.

After losing Arie there was no longer any reason for me to keep making posts to this blog but, now that we have Sarah I will use this space to chronicle our experiences with her and any other livestock guardians we might acquire in the future for that matter.

It was a fast trip to go get her and we did not have a lot of time to get introduced having a short visit with Donna and Mark, very nice and pleasant people by the way, and we were on our way back to WI with Sarah securely stowed in the back of our Chevy suburban.

 Since Arie was the only Kangal Dog we have ever been around it was natural to immediately start seeing the striking similarities and also contrasts between the two dogs.

Understandably it was asking a lot out of Sarah to be whisked away into the night by two total strangers in a totally foreign vehicle.  At least she had her own dog bed to lay on that Donna had sent along which was something that was familiar for her. 

After some time along the journey we attempted to make contact with Sarah during our first stop by getting close to her and talking to her.  She replied with a growly disposition towards us which gave us a clue that she wasn't very happy about this sudden relocation.  In fact the entire trip back to WI she would growl out her displeasure every time we attempted to get her to warm up.  This was very understandable since Kangal Dogs are bred to be guardians and she was only doing what comes natural and was guarding her space against these two total strangers to her. 

Finally Kelli got the idea to share some of our lunch meat with Sarah and that did the trick it began the warm up which we needed to effectively interact with her along the journey to her new home in  northern Wisconsin.  I told Kelli, "she's just like me, the way to my heart is through my stomach and she's exactly the same"!  My wife of almost 28 years heartily agreed.

We arrived at our place by around 5 pm Sunday night which didn't leave a lot time to interact with Sarah before having to turn in for the night and get ready for my work week the next day.  But with treats we were able to get Sarah to do what we wanted and get her safely secured for the night in Arie's old house.  I had built a hoop style addition just for Arie on what used to be a horse shelter.  It was pretty much ready to go for Sarah, so that is were we put her for her first night, and closed her in.  I did not want to take any risk of Sarah taking off since she had no attachment whatsoever to her new home.  She had no idea at all that this was her new home and we were her new people.  I did make sure that she could see and hear some sheep and goats that were in close proximity so that she would not feel isolated and alone.   And since those particular livestock where used to spending time in that building it is very likely that they might have even touched noses with Sarah during the first night.

Sarah took up her guarding duties right away.  She barked at another dog which was barking at a neighbors down the road and she barked at some coyotes that were yipping out in the woods.  And she would bark at any of us as we approached her house, but then she would stop after we went in an she assessed that we were OK, especially when we gave her a tasty treat, then she really knew we were fine. 

Yesterday which was Tuesday, was day two, I don't really count Sunday because it was in the evening when we got home and she never left the shelter, I brought her out yesterday for the first time to go on a family walk so she could get to know the rest of the family better.  We figured on taking a lengthy hike which we are accustomed to doing but, once we got out of sight and scent of Sarah's new home she all but dragged me right back to her house.  She did a complete 180 and was going back with or without me!   Not wanting to freak her out I obliged her and we went back.  I was very impressed with this behavior.  It means she is a real homebody.  Sarah has a very distinct awareness of her territory.  She doesn't realize right now that there is WAY more to her new domain than just her little place that she is currently getting used to.   But I reckon that will come with time. 

 On that note I'll mention some of the similarities and dis-similarities between Sarah and Arie.   From a distance they look almost identical.   But, up close  we can tell that Sarah is slightly taller at the withers than Arie was.    Arie was thicker.  She had a thicker neck and broader head than Sarah.   However Sarah's front shoulder is way larger than Arie's which might account for the extra inch or so in height.  Also Sarah is a little longer in the leg, but with smaller feet.

 Physically it is uncanny the similarities.  And some of the personalities are similar.  Sarah loves a good petting just as much as Arie ever did which is remarkably the same.  Perhaps this is a strong trait in Kangal Dogs , but I don't know.

On the opposite end of the spectrum Sarah is WAY more mild in her guarding than was Arie.  Arie was a hunter.  She was born a hunter and died a hunter.  In my opinion Arie was on the extreme, very gamey.  I strongly suspected this before, but now after observing Sarah I am completely convinced that Arie had a very strong prey drive.  Sarah is a lot more mellow in that regard, which makes her much more trustworthy and reliable.  So far, when Sarah sees something to bark at, she does not throw her weight against the fence, she just stands there on all fours and barks, she doesn't put her whole body into it like Arie did. 

If I had wanted a hunting dog Arie would have been without peer.  She was indeed a natural born "hunting mastiff".  Lived and died to hunt.  To Arie even white tail deer was fair game even though they are hoofed animals like what she was supposed to be guarding.  Arie  went after the deer with the same ferocity as she would with any varmint, which is what I am convinced she was chasing the night she was killed in the highway.   I think she was chasing deer. 

For a livestock guardian, as far as I understand this was an undesirable trait.  I know I've read in a couple different places where balanced LGD's  will pretty much ignore deer as they graze amongst the livestock being of similar kind of animal to what the dog is guarding and is bonded to.

Now Sarah is opposite in regards to Arie's intense killer instinct, which I am very glad for.  Sarah's personality is what I would deem an ideal LGD.   As far as I know she has yet to bark at the white tail deer that frequent our fields.  Sarah is highly observant and intelligent so I'm sure she has seen them even already.  Arie went berserk when she'd see a deer.

 In fact I am so confident of Sarah's temperament, that she has a strong sense of where she belongs that I did not lock her inside for the night last night.  However about 3 am I kept having flash backs, sort of, of the morning we found Arie dead next to the road that I got panicky and went out and checked on Sarah.  Of course my fears where unfounded and I found her happy and content to be where she was.

 I strongly suspected that Arie was not a typical Kangal, that her personality was strong in prey drive and now that I am getting to know Sarah I am completely convinced.  Sarah is a balanced and stable dog.  Measured in her response, as I have so often heard about Kangal dogs being.  "Measured" is the key word here.   Arie was anything but, measured.  Arie went from zero to kill in a split second.  Not so with Sarah, she takes a moment to assess the situation and of course uses an appropriate response.

Sarah is just a little older than Arie would be now so with the acquisition of Sarah I feel like we have not lost much ground.  It almost feels like Arie went away for a time and is now back, but way more managable and mellow.

Well, I will finish this post with a few pictures of us integrating Sarah to her knew home.