Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 38, Number 6 (November 1985) by Subjects
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Navajo Use of Mixed-breed Dogs for Management of PredatorsSeventy-two Navajo ranchers were questioned about the role of mixed-breed dogs with their flocks. Navajos call their dogs "sheep dogs" but, unlike sheep dogs used by other ranchers to assist in herding and moving the flocks, Navajo dogs function primarily as guardians of sheep and goats to whom they have developed social bonds. This attraction is a result of raising dogs essentially from birth in visual, olfactory, auditory, and tactile association with sheep and goats. A minimum of handling of pups reduces the likelihood that they will bond strongly to humans. Mixed-breed dogs of the Navajo appear to exhibit all behavioral traits believed to be important in protecting flocks from predators, especially coyotes: they are attentive, defensive, and trustworthy. If ranchers choose to employ dogs, the rather simple Navajo recipe for training may serve them well. Mixed-breed dogs could be quickly deployed in a variety of ranching situations to help reduce predation on livestock.