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HOW LIVESTOCK GUARDIANS DO THEIR JOB

Guarding by a Maremma is carried out on three levels.

1. Barking. If something is sensed to be out of place (often beyond man's senses) the maremma will bark. This is possibly one of the main causes of problems with owners of maremmas - we need our dogs to do their job properly, but neighbours rarely appreciate a barking dog. It is definitely true that some maremmas will bark more than others, as part of their individual nature.

Maremmas are selected for their ability to bark at anything they sense is out of the normal.

If the predator (or perceived threat) moves closer, the barking will become more agitated, giving way to snarls and growls that warn of imminent physical attack when very close.

2. Scent Marking. The maremma will mark out its territory with urine that advertises to predators that they are intruding. This is a very powerful communications tool between canines and should never be underestimated for it's effectiveness. It is said that dogs see the whole world through their nose! The maremma will inspect territory boundaries daily, marking the boundaries to alert other canines that the boundaries are regularly visited. It is interesting to note that it is done by both male and female maremmas - even bitches will cock their legs and mark like a dog.


3. Patrolling. Maremmas are often perceived as sleepy and lazy during daylight hours, saving their energies for after dark patrolling of their territory during the time of greatest threat. However they do not sleep all day, and when you have a pack of maremmas guarding together they will split the duties up. They will inspect boundaries regularly, and will often be seen going ahead of their livestock to new areas of grazing for the day, inspecting it for safety first. It is amazing how people report that the livestock learn to follow subtle communications with their maremmas and will wait until the maremma has inspected and given the all clear, before moving to a new grazing area of a paddock.

The livestock develop a very special bond with the maremmas just as the maremma bonds to his livestock. They learn to depend on the maremma for safety, and appreciate the patrolling and warnings their maremma gives them. It is very common to see that when livestock hear their maremma give a sudden warning bark, they run to the maremma for safety. Maremmas are fast and as agile as any cat, and even as a pup learn to distinguish between familiar and suspect noises. However they are strong dogs and strongly built, but they must maintain agility to be typical of the breed.

They must never become heavy overweight dogs. They must always be able to fulfill their duties, cover their territory and face any threat. This is where the importance of breeding maremmas according to the breed standard is of great importance to the breeder of working dogs. The standard describes a strong large dog, able to match large predators. It describes a body structure that is capable of enduring harsh conditions, rough territory, and rigorous work. A maremma that has poor topline, leg and hip angles, feet placement and depth of chest is not fit for the work!

Remember if you invest in a maremma, you are investing in 10 - 14 years of robust guarding.

This was the first time Abruzzo, imported from Italy to Australia was introduced to young goat kids, and he took to them as though he had been taught how to gently look after baby livestock from the start!

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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