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When it comes to reducing conflicts with wildlife, dogs may just be a landowner’s best friend. Whether protecting human and livestock safety in the yard, pasture or open range, dogs are versatile tools. Different physiological and behavioral traits among breeds create advantages for personal or livestock protection in different settings. Yet choosing the correct dog breed to fit your specific context and needs can be challenging. In this series of articles, first reported during a working dogs workshop in Choteau, Montana, co-organized by the Rocky Mountain Front Ranchlands Group and Western Landowners Alliance, On Land finds out more about the three main types of conflict-reduction dogs from three landowners who use them.

A livestock guardian dog watches over a flock of sheep on a hillside.

Leave them alone

Working dogs are integral parts of a livestock producers’ operations, more akin to employees than pets. If you are recreating in an area that has livestock and encounter a dog you don’t know, do not approach it, offer it food or attempt to “rescue it.” This is dangerous for you and potentially costly for the rancher: if you remove or distract the guardian, nearby predators may smell an opportunity. In addition, in many Western states it is a felony to remove livestock guardian dogs from the range. We can all help make this tool for reducing conflicts between wildlife and livestock more effective.

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