Napoleon’s Day Out

Dogs
This is Napoleon on the left and his father Cinnamon on the right. Napoleon is the spitting image of his father at the same age and his grandfather Coy at that age. Holly found a old photo of Coy from a long time ago when he was a young pup like Napoleon here and they are indistinguishable. It is truly remarkable.

Napoleon was the smallest of his litter of seven aside from little leaping Lili. He got his name because of his attitude as a puppy. He was very alpha and didn’t let his small size get in the way. Fortunately for him the biggest two of his litter were gentle and took his bossiness in stride.

Later, when he was larger and he mistakenly tried to boss the big dogs he got strongly corrected. Kita didn’t rip his head completely off but I’m sure Napoleon wondered just for a moment when she wrapped her jaws completely around his skull. He never tried to boss her again. Or Saturn or Cinnamon when they corrected him. The adults are not overly harsh but he carried a scar on his nose from Cinnamon for a while. Most importantly he learned how to be part of a pack, a team that works together rather than a bunch of individuals shooting off in all directions. The older dogs model the right behaviors and correct the pups when they get out of line. This socializing is very important in working dogs.

Napoleon has just started to put on his adolescent muscle mass, to bulk up in the shoulders. His coat is losing that baby downy feel and putting on the thick undercoat that is characteristic of his whole family. It serves him well, keeping him warm out in our cold winters. Cinnamon still out weighs him by over 20 lbs but when he is full grown he’ll probably be around 80 lbs just like his father and grandfather. They are big powerful dogs. In addition to herding and guarding the livestock and us they also pull dogsled over the road and fields. Both of them have been great leapers and fast runners as well as being excellent with children and livestock. Napoleon already shows great potential.

Recently he has been earning roaming privileges. He is now often out unattended by any human person for half an hour or more under the watchful eye of his elders Kita, Saturn and Cinnamon. He checks on the pigs, sheep and chickens with Kita on her rounds, catches mice in the field and sticks around. This is a major step in his education as a Guardian Obedience Dog. No fence less than 8′ tall can hold them. The world is a wonderful and interesting place. Running off beyond the boundaries is a very tempting activity and it has been done. The woods and the marsh beckon. There are rabbits to be tracked, grouse to be hunted yet he has learned to stick around. Getting to this stage where he can be trusted alone on his own without the eye and voice of a trainer is a big deal for a young dog. As he trains I gradually fade out and he becomes a working dog in his own right.

Each in their strength – together stronger.

25째F/12째F, 1″ Snow, Partly Sunny

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About Walter Jeffries

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12 Responses to Napoleon’s Day Out

  1. Urban Agrarian says:

    What a handsome pair, and clever Napoleon grabbing the higher ground in the photo.

    Great photo. I always have such a difficult time trying to photograph two dogs together.

  2. Emily says:

    Hi Walter! Those are beautiful dogs. I imagine that you must work very hard at training them. What breed are they? We’re just starting a very small (tiny actually – 2.65 acres) scale operation here in southern NH, and I’m wondering whether it should include a dog or two, especially for guarding. More research to do I suppose along with all that I’m already doing for growing vegetables & herbs, poultry, and dairy goats! Any recommendations?

  3. They are a mix. Cinnamon’s father’s exact ancestory is unknown, he looked just like Cinnamon. His mother was half black lab and half german shepherd. She looked like a black german sheperd. The other female that we had in the lineage is Tika and she looked basically the same as Cinnamon but white. Her daughters Kia and Kita are tricolored – you may have seen their photos gracing these pages time to time. White, red, black, white-black, white-red and tri-color are the color morphs we’ve seen over the years.

    In other respects, body form, fur, tail, ears, weight, etc they are basically all the same except for Hagrid the half giant who was 7′ long andstill growing last I knew. He could stand on his hind legs and look me square in the eye. Sometime I’ll have to put a photo up of him. I think he was a sport.

    Kia and Lili are at the other end of the spectrum. Technically according to the registration papers they are big dogs at about 50 lbs but they seem tiny compared with the others. :)

  4. Emily, I would not be without dogs. Life would seem strange. I like having cats around too so I’m not just a dob person. For homesteading they are vital if you live in a rural area. They are doorbells, security guards, keep the deer out of the gardens, hunt mice, watch over the livestock and help herd. We have very heavy predator pressures here and the dogs make that almost a non-issue. Depending on where you are this may be important or not.

    Where are you located in southern NH? I have family in Walpole, Keene, Stoddard, Dublin, Jaffrey and Peterborough. My sister now lives near Manchester.

  5. Emily says:

    Walter, we live about 15-20 minutes southeast of Manchester. Like most of this part of southern NH it’s growing too fast and we’re thankful to have our little bit of land. Behind us and to the side are several dozen acres of woods so I imagine we’ll be having predator issues from an assortment of animals: fishers, coons, foxes, etc. There is also a bird-brained dog across the street who is constantly getting loose and I fear for my future flock of chickens!

  6. Emily, regarding the dog next door in particular my best suggestion is to do good 42″ high tensile woven wire fencing around your property. 2.65 acres is small enough that you could fence the entire boundry fairly easily.

    I would add a high tensile electrified smooth wire at the top 6″ above the fence and one on the bottom just about the ground and 2″ below the fencing and 4″ above the ground. In the winter with deep snow the bottom wire may be turned off. This will give you about a 54″ fence.

    Use a good charger, say 1.5 joules on house power. Tighten all wires with daisy strainers and use good secure corner posts. This will keep your livestock in and stray dogs out as well has helping with most predators.

    Label the fence “Electric Fence” to warn off people and any animals that can read. There are inexpensive small yellow signs for that purpose from the fence companies.

    Doing high tensile fencing is not very hard. Start by doing a small project like a garden to learn on. I use the twisting method of joining wire. Once you get the hang it is easy, fast and strong.

    Kencove sells good fencing and I’ve been pleased with them. I have also bought from Premier 1 but I’m currently boycotting them for their pro-NAIS stance. I’m discussing this with Stan, their owner. Perhaps that will change, I hope so.

  7. Leslie says:

    Walter,

    We have two big dogs, about 80 – 100 lbs each. They were pets when we lived in the city and are still pets now that we are in the country.

    Can dogs be trained as livestock guardian dogs when they have historically snoozed in front of the stove in a warm kitchen? Or would you get a young dog or two and start them as LGDs from the beginning?

    Our dogs are a German Shepherd and a Briard. Both herding dogs, though the GSD has a big prey instinct and the Briard doesn’t much care to chase prey.

    How did you learn to train LGDs? Are there books on this?

  8. Leslie, Can your house dogs be trained to be guardians or herders? Maybe. I don’t know what a Briard is like. The German Shepherd has the gene memory from generations of selective breeding for the job so it may have the aptitude sleeping in its mind. Perhaps you can awaken it. It is worth a try.

    Ideally you start with a puppy before it is born. The parents are already working dogs and have the right aptitudes. Note I do not say they are pure breds. Rather they are doing the work you want. The pup is born in a den near the target species of livestock that it will eventually learn to guard. As it gains its senses of smell, hearing and sight it is stimulate to the sensations of those animals so they are familiar and part of its in-group.

    For guardian dogs the dog should grow up with the target animal species. Adult dogs and humans should be around to teach correct it so that it learns the proper behaviors. At just a few months of age they are already doing duty although by no means trained. With continued exposure, if they have the right temperment, then they’ll be ready to work independently by a year or two of age.

    Herding is different than guarding and takes much more training. Some dogs will show the aptitude but you want to mold the predator behavior that is the basis of herding into something that protects the livestock. Some people say to wait to start training until the dog is 18 months old for herding. We start much earlier.

    For herding you must already have the dog’s attention. Begin with getting down basic commands like come, good, bad, no, sit, stay, heel, etc. Lots of short sessions are far better than long training sessions. Ideally you’ll have an older dog who knows the ropes and can model the behaviors. Even without that with patience you can mold the dog’s natural instincts into herding behavior.

    I learned by doing what worked. I use behavioral mod training, emphisis on the positive as much as possible and learning how the animals think and react. I use food rewards, considered a no-no by some trainers. I also use a lot of praise as well as negative when needed.

    I have not yet read a book on training herd dogs. I say not yet because I just started one I borrowed from a neighbor. Bob Hinds is the author. Much of what he has talked about so far is like what I do. It will be interesting to learn what additional ideas he has. Ironically, he uses dogs to herd pigs – same as us.

    Note: if a dog kills a chicken or sheep, do not destroy the dog. It can probably be trained. Contrary to what some people tell you the taste of blood does not turn the dog into a killer and even killers can be trained. Just ask Kita who was once my problem child when she returned after nine months of being chained in someones yard. Talk about ADHD! Now she is a free roaming guardian. Someday I’ll tell her story.

  9. Emily says:

    Thanks for the advice, Walter; I’ll run that by my husband and see what he thinks. Sounds like a viable solution, though. As long as we can swing it financially that is! Have a blessed day!

  10. Cindy says:

    Beautiful dogs, I liked reading your comment about not destroying dogs if they kill chickens. I have a five month old husky retriever mix that killed two of my hens today. I love this dog, but I love them too. What in the world do I do now?

  11. Cindy, see my Killer Kita post. Cheers, -Walter

  12. Your narrative is a beautiful picture of a dog’s life in a natural world. I however long for the companionship a dog would bring, but I’m a loner myself, who leaves his empty apartment for 8 hours to work an engineers job in an office. For a dog to sit there and wait, asking the eternal question…”is he back, is he back, is he? is he?, is he back, is he back” you see, the dog will see me as his alpha, the one, the exceptional one, the only one, his king, and he wants to know where I am, all the time. I will never own a dog, I love them too much you see, and I know I will fail at being the one, the only one for 8 hours each day.

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