EPISODE 4 - A summer on the alp
What is it about livestock guard dogs?
The livestock guard dogs are part of the herd. It's probably too much of a stretch to say they think that they are sheep. They probably don't think so. In any case, you often see a dog lying somewhere, then a sheep comes and snuggles up to the dog and then they both lie next to each other. This is quite an enchanting picture. Except when the dogs eat, they also defend their food against the sheep. But otherwise they are always with the sheep, the sheep are not afraid of the dogs and they just run around with them.
How is your relationship with livestock guard dogs?
My relationship with the dogs is definitely like this: I'm the boss, that's clear. Well, I'm also the boss of the sheep, and the dogs know that too. I can definitely drive the sheep with my dog. They know my dog and they just run with the sheep. But still it's not a domestic dog relationship what I have with the dogs. In any case, I give them a little cuddle and feed them, but then they go their way and do their thing again.
How is the day for the livestock guardian dogs?
So during the day they just run with the sheep and when the sheep start eating somewhere, they lie down for a sleep. Actually, their job is more at night, when it's dark, then they bark at everything that moves in any way, regardless of whether it's chamois, ibex or even wolves. But their main job is actually to permanently mark the area. No matter where sheep go, the dog marks, or a dog marks, because the wolf is inherently conflict-averse.
That's the calculation, that the wolf notices, "Okay, there are dogs, then I'll find something that's easier." But the dogs aren't trained to kill the wolf or anything like that.
Are there wolves in your area?
There is definitely a pack near Chur and they had 9 young a few years ago and that's why this is definitely an area where you have to deal with it. There was a wolf on the neighboring alp 3 weeks ago and killed 18 sheep in one night. They didn't have livestock guard dogs and luckily the wolf passed me by.