There Be Giants

Remus Working

It is good when your work is your play. Remus, son of Lili, loves working with the piglets. Here he has carefully and gently grouped them all together. This is a natural behavior both for the pigs (herd / prey) and the working dog (predator hunting / guarding / herding). The dog’s guarding and herding instincts relate back to hunting. Think of them as the original ranchers.

Remus Eyeing Low

The pigs learn to pay attention to the dogs from their early interactions. The dogs teach the livestock to move, reinforce the grouping up behavior and mutually they learn how to work. The dogs give the alert when something is wrong. The geese also serve this function. In fact the geese will call the dogs in to deal with predators they can’t handle. Is this on purpose or are the geese simply raising a ruckus and the dogs going into territorial defense mode? Either way the coyote gets eaten. Change of venue, change of menu dear wild cousin.

Remus is barely eight months old and still a puppy but he is now taller than all of the other dogs in our pack. He’s going to be a big boy. That fence behind him is 43″, I’m above him a little which makes him look smaller in the top photo and he’s lowering himself a little so as not to overly intimidate the piglets. In the second photo he’s doing that even more – a technique the dogs use to prevent livestock from scattering. You may be able to see how that would relate back to hunting.

Remus is long and lanky. In about two year’s he’ll be fully muscled. It will be very interesting to see how he turns out. Remus reminds me of a cross between his great uncle Hagrid and his uncle Baloo. Hagrid, the half giant, measured seven feet from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. Baloo was big too but not that huge. Baloo has the same goof ball grin that I often catch Remus sporting. I suspect that Remus thinks the world is quite amusing.

Hagrid’s sister Kia could literally walk under his belly and likewise Remus has a sister Romula who can easily walk under him. She’s only 30 lbs or so, just a handful that I can easily scoop up. But don’t let her size fool you, she’s a master at moving the big pigs. In fact, she took to the job earlier than Remus.

Romula and Remus were named for famous twins who were suckle by a she-wolf and went on to do various interesting things. Hopefully she won’t kill her brother.

Outdoors: 80°F/66°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 73°F/67°F

Daily Spark: Sacred Cow: Moo doo Voo Doo.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to There Be Giants

  1. J Jaeger says:

    I am always fascinated by your dog blogs. Thanks!

  2. Henwhisperer says:

    I’ve got an 8 mo Black Lab that weighs about 80 pounds right now. He is a huge goof, Labs take longer to grow up. I wonder at what weight he will top out at.

    Grace, the Border Collie, is suddenly smaller than Sprout (that’s his name). She is my partner at putting the chickens away at night. She does that same pose as Remus and the chickens are starting to understand what it means. And she is starting to understand my verbal commands. Her reward for doing a good job is to play at game.

    Sprout just disrupts the process so he isn’t involved in it yet.

  3. That is so neat that your dogs herd pigs. I can honestly say I’ve never heard of using dogs to herd pigs, just goats and sheep. Very neat!!

  4. Patricia says:

    I have been curious to find info online on how to train a dog to herd. My older female was animal friendly when I got her, so she tries to herd us, she goes nuts when the family is not all together, especially my daughter. But she won’t herd animals. She was trained to not bother them, which is very nice. My younger male, the son of this female is very smart like his mama, but I have taught him not to chase my chickens successfully and he is about 5 months old. He’s going to be big, a Rott/Lab/Husky mix. I read somewhere you have to start them young to train to herd, so I wondered if there was hope for this one? It would be nice to have the dog go get the errant critters.

    • It is best to start at a young age but I have trained several older dogs. It takes a lot of time and patience, a year or more. Unfortunately, if you’ve already trained a dog to avoid an animal you are now fighting your previous training and that makes it much harder. It is still doable.

      Start with basic obedience, then exposure to the animal with you there in a calm situation. That alone will keep you busy for the next half year.

      As to chickens, well, they’re the hardest animal for a dog to work. Chickens just scream “PREY” to a dog and the mix you have is going to hear that scream loud and clear.

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