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PROTECTIVENESS

This is based in the Maremmas ability to react to any deviation from their normal routine. The Maremma will bark at anything he senses to be out of the ordinary or in any way threatening. The Maremma uses tactics on predators that are designed to confuse rather than threaten back, and have been proven to be very effective. Typically, the Maremma will rush out, tail raised barking, then suddenly turn, tail between legs and run into the herd. This may be repeated several times and can very suddenly end in attack.

The important point here is 'their normal routine'. Socializing a maremma and introducing him to many different situations allows them to become 'normal' to him.

To illustrate the difference between 'normal' and showing protectiveness -

Dione lived most of her life in the back hills of my farm, interacting only with her goats, chickens, pony and our family. To her, anything outside of this is 'not normal'. She found being removed from the paddock stressful, and was not interested in interacting with people for more than a few minutes at a time, often seeming to only tolerate much attention.

Briana was obedience trained by her first owners and well socialized. She had lived in three homes before coming to me, all in very different circumstances. She lives in the house area, interacts with visitors, and even comes out with us to different places.

What is 'normal' to Briana would not be normal at all to Dione! But this is fine as Dione and Briana have different functions on the farm, and the two make a good 'blend' covering the whole property.

However, they both show the same degree of Protectiveness. It is not something that is taught or trained into a maremma, but something bred into them, and you have to understand their desire to guard. If the maremma is to interact with people, then they need to learn social skills in the same way you would teach social skills to a puppy of any dog breed.

Dione showed a deep level of protectiveness towards her herd of goats and the property. She would urine mark the property every day and be the first to rush out barking at any perceived threat.

maremma sheepdog rushing forward at a perceived threat to her livestock. this is typical livestock guarding behaviour and shows a protective dog doing her job
the maremma progresses to giving warning barking behaviour which is often then coupled with suddenly running back into the centre of the her to confuse predators
when a maremma is displaying protective barking they often have the head held high and the tail up to increase their size and indicate their seriousness at the situation

In these photos we can see clearly the barking and rushing behaviour of a livestock guardian.

Briana showed a deep level of protectiveness towards her human herd. She would insist on inspecting visitors arriving at the property for the first time, and would not allow them to touch family members until she was satisfied they were 'safe'. Once this was established she was very social with people, even strangers, however we did call her the 'manners-police' as she did feel that it was terribly important that everyone 'played nice'

True protective behaviour develops with maturity, and is directly related to the degree of trustworthiness and attentiveness the dog has shown as a pup. In other words, a maremma that has bonded to their charges will always display a deep level of protectiveness as they mature. This makes it important to ensure that pups are raised well and are not put in situations they can't handle - for example a single young pup should not be expected to protect a large herd with a serious level of predator activity in the area.

This article is broken into topics for your convenience:

 

male maremma playing with his pups displaying the loving nature of these livestock guardian dogs

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