Our Spanish Mastiffs, love their kiddie pools! We have them in different areas on the property for our dogs because they work hard guarding our livestock, poultry, and home and ask nothing in return. They are brave, loyal, and are wonderful companions as well as guardians. One of our ways of showing gratitude is to make their job a little more comfortable and of course it’s always so much fun to watch them play!
A really great benefit of raising puppies in a pack atmosphere is that there are usually one or two dogs who act as mentors to puppies. During the first few months, this is a fairly easy job. However, as puppies head into adolescence they require more attention, especially if there is only one. Because they don’t have a puppy partner in crime, they usually have one or two lambs or kids who are willing to jump around and play with them. As cute as this seems, it’s a bad habit that must never be allowed to get started. While I love hearing from my buyers how well their 14 week old babies are doing, the real test comes between the ages of 6 months up to around 18 months. This is when they really need to be supervised, because they’re big enough to actually injure a lamb or ewe and to develop chasing behaviors that quickly become very difficult to break. Cabo, our 8 month old Spanish import, has been toying with the idea over the past week or two, so he is now in with Sele and Oso during the day. Oso, is kind dog, he will place himself between lambs and Cabo, if they look like they’re getting feisty, but keeps things pretty cool. Sele, on the other hand, is a little more proactive. In this video, she had just put Cabo on the ground for being too forward with these lambs, and is watching to make sure he doesn’t repeat the livestock foul. Watch the body language going on between all three dogs, excuse the occasional fingers in the shot, and enjoy the video!
I love walking out in the afternoon to this scene, and I get it in some form on a daily basis! No puppies, kidding, or lambing until Spring now, it’s not yet time for Fall breeding, we just have a few weeks of down time for everyone, and really, it’s too hot for anything else! Sele and Oso don’t even have to supervise Brava and Cabo at the moment because they’re passed out in the shade too!
In this first video, Cabo and Brava have just entered the ewe and lamb pasture after breakfast. They always take a walk through before settling down for the day. Notice they are calm and both sheep and dogs are a little curious, but not afraid of each other. Sheep like these are very important when starting puppies, as they are accustomed to having dogs around them all the time, so do not panic or run which would give the puppies a reason to follow and eventually encourage chasing behaviors. We love our sheep because they are so calm. We even have two ewes who will gently butt an over zealous puppy away if the need arises. Guest appearance by Oso, who along with Sele, helps to supervise these two youngsters. He decided the last shot really should be all about him.
I am so impressed with how calm Brava is specifically with these 4 to 5 month old lambs, who are very curious about this new girl and so spend several minutes getting acquainted. She is not only calm, but shows no fear when confronted with several lambs at once, and even greets them on her own terms. I love her stable steady personality!
The puppies have bonded! Cabo will be 8 months old on the 13th and Brava was 3 months old yesterday. One of my favorite things is watching how calm and relaxed they are wandering through the sheep every morning before it gets hot and everyone beds down for the day. I am so happy to see this relationship as I worried about Cabo growing up as a single puppy, and wasn’t sure that Brava would be old enough to keep up. It’s so important to both their physical and mental development to grow up in pairs or groups. As illustrated in earlier videos, the puppies are more inclined to play with each other rather than their livestock. They are also able to learn about and use each other’s strengths in a more effective way when a threat appears, because they’ve been practicing since the very beginning! As you can see in this video of Brava and Cabo playing in the back yard early this morning after breakfast, Brava is keeping up with Cabo just fine!