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Perceived Effectiveness of Livestock-Guarding Dogs Placed on Namibian FarmsMarker, Laurie L.; Dickman, Amy J.; Macdonald, David W. (Society for Range Management, 2005-07-01)Evaluations of117 livestock-guarding dogs placed on Namibian farms between January 1994 and November 2001 were conducted as part of a study aimed at reducing livestock depredation rates on both commercial and communal farmland. The perceptions of livestock farmers were evaluated in terms of their satisfaction with the guarding dogs, the level of care given to the dogs, and the attentiveness, trustworthiness, and protectiveness of the dogs. Guarding dogs were very successful in terms of reducing livestock losses, with 73% of responding farmers reporting a large decline in losses since acquisition of a guarding dog, and the same percentage seeing an economic benefit to having the dog. Farmer satisfaction with the dogs was high, with 93% of farmers willing to recommend the program, and the care given to the dogs was also good. The dogs exhibited high levels of protectiveness and attentiveness, although trustworthiness was relatively low. The level of care provided by farmers was lower for older dogs than for younger dogs, and older dogs appeared to be less trustworthy than young dogs. There were no obvious differences in effectiveness between the sexes, or between dogs placed on communal farms and those on commercial ranches.The majority of dogs exhibited behavioral problems at some stage, particularly chasing game, staying at home, and harassing livestock, but corrective training solved 61% of the reported problems. We conclude that with the correct training and care, livestock-guarding dogs can be an effective method of livestock protection on Namibian farmlands
Survivorship and Causes of Mortality for Livestock-Guarding Dogs on Namibian RangelandMarker, Laurie L.; Dickman, Amy J.; Macdonald, David W. (Society for Range Management, 2005-07-01)This paper reports upon the survivorship of 143 livestock-guarding dogs placed on Namibian rangeland between January 1994 and January 2002 as part of a study of techniques that could be used to reduce stock losses on commercial ranches and communal farms. During the study period, 61 (42.7%) of the dogs placed were removed from working situations. Deaths accounted for 49 (80.3%) of removals, while the remaining 12 (19.7%) were transfers out of the program. Causes of death varied by both farm type and age group. The most common cause of death for working dogs, especially young ones, was accidental, which accounted for 22 reported deaths, while culling of the dog by the owner was the reason for 12 working dog deaths, all of which occurred on commercial ranches. The mean survival time as a working dog was estimated as 4.16 (+/-0.40) years for males, 4.65 (+/-0.45) years for females, and 4.31 (+/-0.31) years for all dogs placed. Survival distributions differed slightly (P = 0.049) between farm types, with adult mortality less common on communal farms than on commercial ranches. There was no significant difference (P = 0.612) between the sexes regarding survival distributions. With good care of the dogs and sufficient information provided to farmers, guarding dogs can act as an effective and economically beneficial method of livestock protection, with implications for range management both in Namibia and elsewhere.