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Caring for Shepherd Dogs

Bernese Mountain Dog

Tatra Sheepdog


Caucasian Shepherd

Pyrenean mountain dog



Large Swiss Mountain Dog

If your dog belongs to the group of large shepherd dogs

He is quite independent and likes to lie at doorways, home entrances and observe his family from a distance. This dog does not run very dynamically or chases or plays with toys, and brings balls for a long time. Likes to bite, but probably prefers to do it alone and away from family, enjoying delicacies alone, keeping an eye on the family. If you have a large shepherd dog, it is big and strong. These dogs also have a dense double coat that protects them from bad weather. On hot days, your dog is usually sleepy and prefers to lie in the shade rather than move. Protect them from overheating. Its silhouette is defined as massive - teddy bear, which translates into a line of special food adapted to large-breed dogs such as Robust.

Walking and playing with herding dogs

The mobility needs of the Shepherd Dog underlie their interesting origin as a typical working country dog. Shepherd dogs were bred for year-round livestock protection, often outdoors. Shepherd dogs love open spaces and have historically accompanied long-distance journeys when animals were seasonally driven to new habitats. They will be happy to risk an expedition to the most exposed places even in the most difficult conditions, which means that the area they live in should be well fenced. Winter in our climatic conditions is not a problem for a big shepherd dog. Cold and wet weather will not stop your canine friend from going outside to patrol the garden or just lie down and watch the world around him. Outdoor dogs should have a spacious, insulated kennel with a vestibule, sheltered from the wind.

Your sheepdog is very hardy and enjoys long walks together, especially at a young age. The dog will often want to spend time walking and sniffing around the garden, but don't let this fool you - it will always be vigilant keeping an eye on where his family "herd " is.

Sheepdogs are happier when they have a lot of space, so the bigger the garden the better. For dogs kept at home or in an apartment, long daily walks that meet their active needs are essential for the proper functioning of the locomotor system.

Walking with a big dog

The Shepherd Dog is independent by nature, bred to protect livestock from predators and thieves in mountainous rural areas. As it may have a tendency to recede, practice summoning with it and equip yourself with a 10m long line and heavy-duty harness when outdoors. Unlike shepherd dogs such as collies, which work closely with handlers, sheepdogs were often left alone with their herd. Since they were left for many hours, or actually whole days, you need to remember to provide them with a minimum of 2-3 hours of extensive activity during the day. Therefore, your large herding dog is usually eager to take care of itself and behaves calmly when left alone at home - it is his duty to watch over!

Many working herding dogs usually have to find their own food during the day, hunting small prey and feeding on carcasses. Instead, the dogs got bread crushed with milk and sheep cheese from the shepherd. So how do you satisfy your dog's needs in a similar way? Leaving your dog in the garden tough and safe toys with flavors to find during the round is a good way to spice up his day and is similar to the tasks he would have as a working dog. Your dog finding and emptying the toy for treats will stimulate survival skills and exercise physical dexterity. Due to a calm temperament and love of independent play, it can be safely said that shepherd dogs are one of the most stable breed groups in the world.

Playing with a dog

Due to their independent nature, Sheepdogs are not as demanding to play as some other breeds, but that doesn't mean they don't like to play. When he is a puppy, the whole family should play with him and train him at the same time. This will help him develop a strong bond with everyone. In adulthood, the dog will become a little less playful, but don't let that worry you, it's nothing unusual. It will also depend on the individual temperament of the dog.

A young or active Sheepdog may enjoy playing hide and seek with one member of his family group. If you have two or more shepherd dogs, they will be happy to chase each other together, especially when they are young - it's great fun for them and great entertainment for us!

The dog's emotional bond

Shepherd dogs form a close bond with their family at an early age and take care of it naturally. You can always rely on them. However, don't worry if this is not noticeable to the naked eye. Unlike other dogs, herding dogs rarely show their love and devotion by wagging their tail or bringing slippers (unless taught to do so and reinforced by their handler). Instead, they show it in their own way - for example, sheepdogs are alert to any noise and protect you from potential threats. This is because they were bred as guard dogs to alert people to dangers. As they are part of the family, they usually prefer to observe everything themselves from a safe distance and make sure everyone is safe, often watching everyone from a distance from the side. It is necessary to work with such a dog and train regularly. A large shepherd dog can quickly become possessive enough not to allow strangers to enter its territory, which will become embarrassing for everyone.

Place some comfortable bedding or dog rest mats in strategic places around the house and garden, preferably where dogs can keep an eye on entrances, gates, doors and people. Painful calluses often form on the paws from lying on a hard floor, so pay attention to where and how your dog sleeps.

Dog training

Shepherd dogs have protection in their genes, they can be distrustful of foreign people and animals, therefore a very important aspect in training sheepdogs is their socialization as early as possible. This, related to their size and strength, means that you need to take special care to ensure that your dog feels safe around other people and animals. Basic shepherd dog obedience training, especially the dismissal command, is important when the dog is walking off the leash in case of close encounter with something that may arouse the need for intervention. You may not necessarily find it dangerous, but your faithful dog will automatically want to step in!

Sheep dogs are usually quiet but when working as guard dogs they will behave loudly and menacingly to scare away potential predators and warn prey - which is why they are excellent watchdogs. The transformation can take place in seconds! In today's houses, as a watchman, they will just bark at people passing the house, which may mean that they are not very suitable for living in a block of flats with a lot of neighbors. Training a sheepdog at home will help teach your dog to be quiet with just one bark. If you teach your dog to bark on command, encourage it to do so at the right time and under certain conditions, the dog will enjoy barking on a walk when it is convenient for both of you. By teaching your dog to bark and not to bark on command, you will be able to easily silence him when he barking at the wrong time. However, remember that it is his natural need, so the annoyed will bark.

If your dog stays home alone for a while, give him adequate walks and activities in advance so he does not get frustrated. A bored dog can find entertainment for himself - in the form of destructive behavior, barking or trying to escape by scratching and biting the door. Leaving an appropriate dog toy filled with relish in the room or kennel will make it more likely to take a nap for a few hours and will not be a problem.

Sheepdogs will usually accept any family member they grow up with - including cats, other dogs, and livestock to keep an eye on. They are usually tolerant of strangers properly introduced to them by family members as well, but will chase the foreign cat so teaching the dog from a little recall command is important. If you are not sure about training your shepherd dog - go out with him on a long 10 meter rope. It will be safer for everyone.

Feeding a large shepherd dog

Many dogs in this group were bred as working dogs, so they had to be tough and take care of themselves if necessary - for example, hunting rabbits or other small prey, or foraging on carcasses to survive. The whole group also has a lower energy requirement than would be expected from their body weight. As a result, fed standard food, they may have a tendency to gain weight, which strains their joints and worsens the quality of life, making them sore. Therefore, it is worth the daily dose (on average 10-15% lower than for a standard dog of this size), divided into several smaller portions and served in various ways. The ingenuity of how to administer the daily ration will activate your dog's searching instincts as well as be busier than if he were given a regular bowl of food twice a day.

Spread one third of your daily dose of dry food in the olfactory mat so your dog can smell it with joy. Place the rest of the food in the toys for the treats and let your dog find them. Divide the rest of the food into two meals and feed your dog in a bowl twice a day, so he will continue to treat you as his host. If you are feeding your dog wet food, use more handy snacks as a reward in training, but remember to add them to your calculation when calculating your daily food requirement.

How to Feed a Shepherd Dog? (Click to learn more)

The dog should be fed at least twice a day so as not to overload the digestive tract with a huge single portion of food. The main meal should be half the daily amount of food, divide the other half into 4-5 small portions and hide them somewhere so that the dog has to actively look for them. Large guard sheepdogs belong to giant breed dogs that also have exceptionally high needs for food. On average, a dog weighing about 40 kg will eat about 500 grams of dry food per day, while a 70 kg giant will eat even 700-900 grams.

If you decide to feed with wet food (cans), the approximate amount will be almost 3.times more than concentrated dry food, i.e. between 2-3.2 kg of canned food (5-8 cans 400g per day). Make sure your litter bins are secured with heavy or lockable lids so your dog can't break into them and feed on leftovers that will surely find attractive to him and make him sick.

Regardless of your purchasing habits and your financial options, you can choose a balanced nutrition for your large shepherd dog. Some of you will be satisfied with foods available in supermarkets such as Purina® Friskies Maxi, others will need a more tailored pet food from a specialist pet store. Purina® Dog Chow® Adult Large Breed with Turkey is a food adapted to the needs of large and giant breed dogs, composed mostly of natural ingredients, without artificial additives and meeting the needs of most large dogs. If your large herding dog has sensitive digestion or skin, reach for a food proven by research, tailored to its individual needs Purina® Pro Plan® Adult Large Breed Robust OptiDigest or Optiderma ™. The cost of feeding such a dog, even on high-quality dry food, can be as low as PLN 10 a day, so it is good to adjust it to his needs. On average, a 40 kg dog will need 15 kg of food per month, while a 70 kg dog will need around 25 kg per month.

To keep your sheepdog in good health, follow the feeding instructions on your dog's food packaging. Large watchdogs tend to gain weight, also because they have a slightly slower metabolism than large, athletic dogs. Don't worry if the rest of the food feels small after scattering some of the food you want to look for. If the dog is on a balanced diet and receives its daily requirements, you provide him with all the necessary nutrients, thanks to which he will be properly nourished and in good condition.

For your herding dog to be happy, you only need to remember to meet its specific needs - thanks to this, it will be happy, loving and will follow you everywhere!

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