Livestock Guardian Dog Bonding Research Underway

Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center in San Angelo is the site of a study on what types of bonding pen experiences produce a better livestock guardian dog. Six puppies in the study will spend approximately three months in bonding pens of an acre each, with both sheep and goats. Once the bonding process is complete, the dogs will graduate to much larger pastures where they will guard flocks or herds. They will continue to have their behavior monitored until they are approximately 18 months old. Bill Costanzo, Texas A&M AgriLife Research livestock guardian dog specialist, believes bonding from birth to 16 weeks of age is probably the single most important thing to do to establish a strong foundation for future success as a livestock guardian dog. This study is exploring whether dogs become better livestock guardian dogs when raised in bonding pens with a sibling or solo, and is testing how much human interaction is optimal for an effective livestock guardian dog.