If you want a Maremma for livestock protection it is very important to do it the right way from the beginning.
Please, please never buy a pup that has been born in the paddock, this is cruel and the correct animal husbandry and socialisation cannot have happened.
It is worth investing time and effort at this stage, it will save you a lot of heart aches in the long run.
To start a puppy your aim is to produce a happy livestock protection dog that is easy to handle well socialised with all the things that will be part of his working life.
Some of these things include living with livestock, meeting new livestock, meeting visitors and neighbours, travelling in the car, going to the vet, being groomed, walking on a lead, being tied up and learning not to go through fences this can be life threatening so it is very important.
So the starting point is a safe yard, with good fencing that the pup cant get out of, if they learn to go through fences at this age it is very hard to stop the habit and of cause adequate shelter is also needed. This should be a yard or a puppy creep within a small paddock big enough for your new puppy and a few friendly livestock, hopefully ones you are planning to keeping long term as the bond produced with these animals will be very strong and beautiful to see.
At first your puppy should be in the yard or creep by it self with the livestock on the other side of the fence. It is very important to ensure your pups safety, you would never put your pup straight out with livestock.
When you are there you can start taking your pup out on a lead in amongst the livestock for the first few times so you can ensure that the livestock will not attack it or the pup will not run at the livestock then slowly start off lead.
Some pups just seem to do every thing right from the start others need a little guidance so you have to take this at your pups pace don’t try to rush. The more time you put in now the better the out come and do not be afraid to go back at step if needed.
I have a few friendly goats that I know are good with pups so I will start by putting these in with pups while I am out there working and can keep am eye on what is going on, when I am happy they are getting on well I will leave the goats in with the pups for the night, my theory is that at night they will sleep but you must be sure your pup is ready to go on to this step.
Then when the livestock are accepting the pup and the pup is behaving itself with the livestock you can open the gate so the pup can mix with the livestock but can still get through the gate without the livestock getting in with it, so if need be it can get away from the livestock.
I like to see how my pups are getting on with the livestock so I spend a lot of time sitting watching, this is time well spent as if things are not going well this is the only way to find out why.
Slowly the aim is to get livestock happy to be with the pup and as the pup grows up into a livestock protection dog they will start to turn to him or her for protection.
One of the first sings of this is that they will all be asleep under the same tree in the hottest part of the day.
It will not happen over night but with a little work it will and it will be worth it!
There is nothing more beautiful then seeing a mob of goats sitting under a tree with a big white dog in amongst them.
Here is a link to some dogs working
This one is in Italian but its, great well worth watching