Maremmas are selected for their unique ability to follow other animals.
Now it's true that other dogs display some of this behaviour - a dog will follow and stay with his owner for example. However the amount of attention a dog pays to his owner is usually connected to the depth of the bond between them. For example notice a family pet that is 'bonded' to his family. Will he show the same amount of attentiveness to every family member? Usually it will depend on how much time individuals spend interacting with the dog, or doing things the dog enjoys being around them for, and how dynamic the interaction is between them. In fact a dog may be more attentive to a family member who often scolds the dog or removes it from family situations. You have all seen this type of behaviour - one family member walks in the room and the dog who was relaxed and in the middle of things, stiffens and moves to a corner then keeps a one-eyed watch on that person. The dog however will be attentive to this person in a negative way and this kind of attentiveness is not the subject of this page.
Again, it is certain that some dogs will bond to another dog, a cat or other pet and display attentiveness towards that animal. However this does not mean that if you obtain a second pet the dog will be sure to bond to the new one as well, it could be quite the opposite in fact.
The attentiveness displayed by livestock guardians is a direct result of the dog bonding to a group of animals of another species.
These dogs not only follow a flock or herd for a while, but will follow
them 24 hours a day.
They will bond to the herd, and even though you can often notice that they have favourites in the herd, this is only a part of normal social interaction with them having a place in the herd or flock. What is truly important here is that the maremma bonds to the group. This means that if you add more animals to the group, apart from the new animals possibly having to adjust to the close presence of a dog, the dog accepts the new animals in rapidly. If you remove animals from the group, even the dogs favourites, the dogs bond and therefore attentiveness to the group will not change. Quite remarkable when you really think about this!
They will be seen loafing amongst the livestock
during the day, and may seem lazy and inattentive, but they know when
the danger is greatest, and are alert instantly. In fact a maremma that is napping in the day is often still surprisingly aware of its surroundings. By night, they are much
more active patrolling the boundaries, urine marking and sounding out
their warnings. During daylight hours, the approach of a stranger will
often see the dog retreat into the herd. This behaviour will be discussed in more depth in the page on Protectiveness.
No single dog will be the full culmination of every desirable trait. That just isn't a real situation. In fact as well as the 3 livestock guardian behavioural traits, every individual dog also has a base personality. This is also important as when you use a pack of livestock guardians you will soon notice that there are many parts to the job of guarding a large group of animals and a pack made up of blend of individuals with differing natural talents will become the most efficient pack.
This article is broken into topics for your convenience: