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Best paw forward The making of a well-behaved sheepdog

When hikers come across herding dogs in the Swiss countryside, the animals can appear aggressive and  threateneding The Swiss authorities have decided new measures are needed to make these dogs more human-friendly. (SRF,

Christian Mühlethaler from Meinisberg, canton Bern is one of 20 breeders in Switzerland working with livestock guarding dogs.

At the end of December 2017, one of his dogs had a litter of 12 puppies. As part of new measures introduced by the authorities, Mühlethaler’s dogs will have to undergo training before they are one year old, after which they will be tested on how well they interact with humans.

As recently as five years ago, it was common practice for herd protection dogs to be separated from their mothers when still puppies. They were growing up exclusively among sheep, and only rarely coming into contact with people. As a result, such dogs were unaccustomed to human contact and in certain situations could react aggressively to people such as cyclists or hikers.

The decision was therefore taken not to restrict the socialisation of livestock guard dogs only to sheep, and to get them used to people as early on as possible. 

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