How to translate text using browser tools
7 July 2023 Still a good dog! Long-term use and effectiveness of livestock guardian dogs to protect livestock from predators in Australia’s extensive grazing systems
Linda van Bommel, Chris N. Johnson
Author Affiliations +

Context. Livestock predation is a significant problem for livestock producers all over the world. Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) can protect livestock from predators, but little is known about the factors that affect their use over long periods of time.

Aims. Our aims were to investigate the long-term use of LGDs in Australia and determine whether their effectiveness remained high over time, and to establish the reasons for discontinued use. We also wanted to collect data on the fate of LGDs, and how using LGDs affected the use of other methods for predation control. Last, we wanted to estimate the rate at which the use of LGDs is spreading through word-of-mouth.

Methods. We re-contacted participants from a previous survey of LGD users in Australia and interviewed them about their long-term experience. We were able to include 82% (112) of the original participants, a mean of 8.9 (±0.08) years after the first survey.

Key results. Half of all original participants were still using LGDs, and in most cases the effectiveness of LGDs had not changed since the first survey. The main reason for ceasing use of LGDs was a change in business that made the dogs unnecessary, followed by unwanted behaviour of dogs, and problems with neighbours. Most LGDs that died prior to old age were euthanised, fell victim to lethal predator control, or were killed by wildlife. Farmers with LGDs reduced other forms of predation control. Informal information transfer among farmers is leading to a net increase in the use of LGDs in Australia.

Conclusions. LGDs can remain an effective predator control method in Australia with long-term use, and their use is spreading. However, a substantial number of livestock producers experience difficulties in properly training and managing LGDs, leading to failure of the method in some cases and presumably limiting uptake.

Implications. Given the effectiveness of LGDs for predation management and the many advantages gained by their use, Australia could greatly benefit from programs by government or management agencies both to promote uptake of LGDs and to reduce the incidence of problems by providing farmers with advice and information on best-practice management.

Linda van Bommel and Chris N. Johnson "Still a good dog! Long-term use and effectiveness of livestock guardian dogs to protect livestock from predators in Australia’s extensive grazing systems," Wildlife Research 51(1), (7 July 2023).
Received: 24 January 2023; Accepted: 12 April 2023; Published: 7 July 2023
human–wildlife conflict
livestock predators
predator control
red fox
Get copyright permission
Back to Top