PROTECTIVE: Marion Carrick credits her two maremma digs with preventing wild dog attacks on her animals.
PROTECTIVE: Marion Carrick credits her two maremma digs with preventing wild dog attacks on her animals. Contributed

Two guardian dogs credited for protecting livestock

MARION Carrick is certain the reason the family's livestock have not been harmed by domestic or wild dogs is because of her two flock guardians.

The family has sheep and chickens on their property just outside of town, which also house two maremma dogs.

Although Ms Carrick has never witnessed an attack, she found dog bite marks on one of her maremmas about 18 months ago.

"We don't know whether that was a wild dog attack or a domestic dog attack,” she said.

"We've never seen wild dogs on the property, but we have seen roaming domestic dogs.

"It happened overnight but (our maremma) did her job and she protected her sheep - they didn't have a single scratch on them.

"Judging from her wounds and from what the vet said it was actually a multiple dog attack on her.”

Like other common farm dogs, flock guardians form bonds with their herds of livestock, however there are key differences in behaviour.

"(Maremmas are) very independent thinkers, they need to be independent thinkers because in order to do their job and protect their flock ... they need to have the thought process and come up with strategies or ideas without relying on us mere humans to tell them what to do,” Ms Carrick said.

"It's a partnership. It's a team effort between the owners and the dogs.

"If you look at dogs that are normally seen in this region, like blue heelers and kelpies, they're very owner-directed. They rely on the person to give them directions, whereas maremmas don't.”

Ms Carrick said although maremmas were protective by nature, they also had a softer side to them.

"If you're in the inner sanctum you won't find a more loving dog than a maremma with you,” she said.

"Like any dog their temperament varies. They tend to be fairly reserved with strangers.

Ms Carrick said one of her maremmas would send out a sterm warning to people who approached her flock, barking to send a message.

"It's a warning, letting people know they shouldn't hurt her sheep,” she said.

"The other one is a lot friendlier, he's a lot more social - but again, I wouldn't want to cross him, I wouldn't want to be a predator trying to hurt his sheep.

"Maremmas and other flock guardians do think differently to other breeds so you do have to treat them differently.”

Ms Carrick encouraged anyone with livestock to consider getting a pair of flock guardians but to ensure they researched which breed was the most appropriate for them and their property.

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