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 Alpacas and Dogs
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46 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  11:52:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have what is probably a ridiculous question, so bare with me. We just got our alpacas a couple days ago - they are SO much cuter then I had remembered, pictures do not do it justice! We have a 2 1/2 year old dog who we knew might be a little bit of a challenge, she and our cat have just recently come to terms and finally have an amicable relationship. We decided last night to put Bella on a leash and sit her next to the outside of the fence so we could see how she would react. The alpacas came right over, of course, and Bella barked at them and lunged (on leash). Hubby pinned her down and growled at her so she'd get that her behavior was NOT okay. After about 5 minutes, she laid down next to us, wiped the look off her face and started to relax.

I know that Alpacas biggest enemy is dogs -- has anyone had success training their dog to respect the alpacas / fences? Our fencer is going to be hooked up this weekend so until then we are being really careful. We also borrowed a remote shock collar so we can try to discipline bad behavior.

This is making me super anxious - any words of wisdom or training advice? She is the sweetest dog and calm with us and the cat. I am willing to put in the training time so this works - just wondering what you all have found!

Thank you for your time!

New to Alpacas - in Vermont


4103 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  12:45:22 PM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Morgan - congratulations on receiving your new "best friends." I know you'll love having them.

When you say your "fencer" will be hooked up this weekend, I assume you mean that you're electrifying your fencing. What type of fencing are you using? If it's regular field fencing (woven or welded wire), and you run a hot line around the exterior about 6-10" (depending on the size of your dog) from the ground, he'll quickly learn to respect the fence. However, you will have to be very careful that visitors or small children are kept away from the fenceline.

Depending on the breed and the temperament of your dog, he may or may not learn to respect the alpacas, and alpacas have been known to stomp dogs that find their way into the pasture, so it would be best to keep them apart and not allow your dog into the pasture for the safety of both alpacas and dog. You can work with your dog, of course and he may well learn that the alpacas are part of the pack and not to be trifled with. Or he may not. Dogs are like people: each is an individual, so you can't really generalize about how they will behave.

We're glad you took the time to consider this issue and to ask for advice. I'm sure there are competent and knowledgeable "dog people" on this forum who can give you some advice on training and working with your dog to give you more confidence in your ability to develop a comfortable, safe relationship between dog and alpacas.

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
LadySong Farm Bolivian Suri Alpacas
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
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922 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  1:00:50 PM  Show Profile  Visit Paradise's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Maybe you can get Cesar, the Dog Whisperer to come; it would make a great episode!!

Laura Hillman
Paradise Alpacas
Hempstead, TX
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373 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  1:05:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As a dog-lover and advocate of positive dog training, I'm going to put in a plug for a gentler approach to this issue.

My guess is, unless you have evidence that your dog is aggressive (e.g., she's been known to attack and try to hurt/kill other animals), her reaction to the alpacas is probably based more in fear than aggression. If that is the case, punishing her or frightening her or causing her pain and anxiety around the alpacas is probably not going to get you the result you want (at least not without a lot of unnecessary trauma to your dog).

I would take her out on leash to a point where she is definitely aware of and perhaps just a bit worried about the alpacas, and then stop and feed her nice treats for any attention she gives to YOU instead of to the alpacas (if she doesn't look at you, then you are probably too close and should back up some, or try better treats!). Each time you try this (which could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks, depending on your dog) you should be able to move closer to the alpacas before you stop and treat. Your goal is to eventually be able to get right up near them and have her relaxed and her attention on you. Hopefully, this will change her response to the alpacas from "Oh my GOSH what the heck is that thing?! Make it go away!" to "Cool! Alpacas! Where's my treats?" Once she has decided that alpacas are a good thing (and not likely to harm her), I suspect she'll mostly just ignore them (at which point you can use the treats/training less and less until they just go away and get replaced with occasional verbal praise). Until then, leashes and good fences are your best security for both animals.

BTW I would NOT use the shock collar until you try other things first - they can do more harm than good, especially in the hands of an inexperienced trainer. Probably the best thing you can do is to stay calm yourself. If you are worried or anxious, your dog will assume that there is something to be worried and anxious about! Speak to her quietly and calmly, don't reinforce "bad" behavior but don't punish it either, and look for calm behavior that you can praise and reinforce.

I know a good dog trainer in the Lebanon, NH area. If that is anywhere near you her website is (tell her I sent you). She has a background in both positive training and in training police dogs, and specializes in dogs who have aggression issues.

Hopefully both your dog and your alpacas just need some time to get used to one another. Feel free to give me a call if you want to talk through some of this (I'm not a professional trainer but I have had some first-hand experience with this type of behavior). 603-335-2831

Good luck!

Lisa Cadieux
Wit's End Farm Alpacas
Rochester, NH
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46 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  1:33:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the responses!

For the record, our fencing is 4 strand wire (what the prior owner was using). We probably should have fenced part of it in "no climb" fencing but we were fencing such a large area, it seemed like a huge expense (and a little silly seeing as eventually we'll section off part of it for a horse).

I was sort of thinking the shock collar might be a last resort, you know how it is when you're worried for everyone's safety, though! It's definitely not what we want to do - nothing worse than hurting a pet! And we will certainly try your suggestions. She's a wonderful dog but we find when she gets hyper-focused on something, she seems to drown us out. Maybe we just need better treats.

And your suggestion about Caesar Milan is NOT that far-fetched! How cool would that be!

New to Alpacas - in Vermont
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Heidi Christensen

4211 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  2:22:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit Heidi Christensen's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have 3 Australian Cattle Dogs - they won't even look at the alpacas or chickens or ducks when I am around (ala the Dog Whisperer). I accidentally left one of their dog crate doors unlatched a couple weeks ago and heard a squirmish out on the portch. Got there just in time to see my Huston making a grab at one of my chickens as it cleared the fence to get away from him.

I would never trust any of my dogs alone with any of my critters. They are fine with me out there - I actually have a couple hens who will steal dog food out of their bowls as they eat. The dogs know the world will end if they go after my chickens, but the incident with Huston convinced me that no matter how good they are with me around, they are a danger to my livestock. So the are always seperated.

Heidi Christensen
WingNut Farm
Graham, Wa
(253) 846-2168
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2967 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  2:36:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

I have a guy who lives down the road a few miles who also uses just strands of electrified wire, I believe he has 5 strands. When he 1st got his fiber boys about 5 years ago I asked him how he likes the fence and did he have any problems with it. He said he liked it fine and it worked really well. Last year he lost a boy because during the winter he somehow got a leg caught in it and froze to death during the night.


Bob & Vicki Blodgett
Suri Land Alpaca Ranch
3288 Halter Avenue
Newton, Iowa 50208
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663 Posts

Posted - 07/14/2010 :  7:47:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Morgan - I originally boarded my animals and that farm had 2 alpaca guard dogs. Those 2 dogs were never trained properly. As a result, the 1 dog bared her teeth at people, lunged at crias and bit fur off female alpacas. Before I left, that same dog killed several kittens born in the barn.

So I personally would never let any dog around the alpacas unless it was a trained alpaca guard dog. Having said that though, I do know another breeder that has non-electrified strand wire that has boarder collies that have free roam. His dogs seem very well trained and I've never heard about any issues.

Roxanne Goss
Lands End Alpacas LLC
Vermilion, Ohio 440-225-4138
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3320 Posts

Posted - 07/16/2010 :  09:23:55 AM  Show Profile  Visit nyala's Homepage  Reply with Quote

I commend you for really working on this issue. We have a rescue newfie and he's a total wimp but if it runs he'll chase it. He's caught the neighbors chickens who fly into our yard more times than I can count. He licks them and eventually lets them go. However even though he's a pretty gentle doofus I'd never trust him with the sheep or alpacas because if they run he'll chase them. They seem to know he's doof and afraid of them but I just would not ever trust them together. I think I'd take suggestions here for training and then do you best to make sure they each stay on their own side of the fence.

On electric fencing I do think it can be dangerous. My horse has a nice scar on her back leg from a fence, I know of several sheep and alpaca deaths from electric fence. We lost a boy mysteriously and necropsy results were inconclusive but I still wonder if it was related to fence contact at some point. I also know of animals that got hung up in no climb and wire fencing too including one of our guys. All types of fencing are trade offs. Your choices depend on what you are trying to keep out and of course how much you can spend on it.

congrats on your alpacas!!!!


D. Andrew Merriwether, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Biology, Binghamton University
Ann and Andy Merriwether
Nyala Farm Alpacas,Vestal, NY
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4103 Posts

Posted - 07/16/2010 :  09:54:11 AM  Show Profile  Send Judith a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
If you'd like some commonsense, objective comparison of the pros and cons of various fencing methods, check out Premier One Supplies ( They sell all sorts of fencing materials and are very upfront about the hazards and risks of each type, as well as the benefits. I love Premier One's integrity and do business with them as much as possible because of it.

Judith Korff
AlpacaNation Forum Co-Moderator
LadySong Farm Bolivian Suri Alpacas
Randolph, NY 14772
Cell: (716) 499-0383
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2830 Posts

Posted - 07/16/2010 :  4:44:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When I first got into alpacas, the boys were agisted at the farm from which I bought them. They had electric fencing as well, and before I could bring my boys to my farm, the best one of them, a beautiful white, got caught in the electric wire and died--most likely from shock. They found him lying outside the fence with a wire wrapped around one of the legs. Fortunately, I had him insured at that time. They then put up no climb fencing.

Christiane Rudolf
Tanglewood Farm
19741 Victory Lane
Fayetteville, Ohio 45118
(513) 875-3739
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46 Posts

Posted - 07/16/2010 :  10:36:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Geez.... does anyone here use electric or even just non-electric wire? I mean - anything is possible and they can probably hurt themselves somehow in no-climb too but are the odds that good that they will injure themselves with just wire?


New to Alpacas - in Vermont
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3204 Posts

Posted - 07/16/2010 :  10:44:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have high tensile wire to divide the pastures I rotate through - even though I know of a farm that lost a cria to the same type of fencing. All fencing has risks - you need to evaluate the risks and make your own decisions. Having said that, I do not think that five strand electric or anything similar is a safe decision for alpacas. I can think of far more ways for them to be killed or injured by it than by no-climb (which is what our perimeter fences are).

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
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161 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2010 :  12:45:41 PM  Show Profile  Visit Apomerantz's Homepage  Reply with Quote
My dog (a cocker spaniel) LOVES to bark and scare the alpacas from outside the fence. But a few years ago he almost got stomped by the boys, so now he stays RIGHT by me when he is in the pasture
As a side note, my dog and I met Ceasar Milan when he was on the local television show (they used my dog on the show). Neat guy and he is soooo good with the dogs, I was amazed!!! He walked into the green room, dropped Big Daddy's leash and BD just layed there the whole time Ceasar worked with our dogs!
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116 Posts

Posted - 08/17/2010 :  12:49:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit katy's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Everyone keeps talking about how unsafe electric wire is as far as an alpaca gettin cough in it. Where I live it is not used for alpacas because of unwanted animals getting in and maming or killing alpacas.

Katy Holland
Alpacas of Holland Acres
32749 800th ave
olivia, MN 56277
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