Perceived effectiveness of livestock guarding dogs placed on Namibian farmsScientific Papers
Evaluations of 117 livestock-guarding dogs placed on Namibian farms between January 1994 and November 2001 were conducted as part of a study aimed at reducing livestock depredation rates on both commercial and communal farmland. The perceptions of livestock farmers were evaluated in terms of their satisfaction with the guarding dogs, the level of care given to the dogs, and the attentiveness, trustworthiness, and protectiveness of the dogs. Guarding dogs were very successful in terms of reducing livestock losses, with 73% of responding farmers reporting a large decline in losses since acquisition of a guarding dog, and the same percentage seeing an economic benefit to having the dog. Farmer satisfaction with the dogs was high, with 93% of farmers willing to recommend the program, and the care given to the dogs was also good. The dogs exhibited high levels of protectiveness and attentiveness, although trustworthiness was relatively low. The level of care provided by farmers was lower for older dogs than for younger dogs, and older dogs appeared to be less trustworthy than young dogs. There were no obvious differences in effectiveness between the sexes, or between dogs placed on communal farms and those on commercial ranches. The majority of dogs exhibited behavioral problems at some stage, particularly chasing game, staying at home, and harassing livestock, but corrective training solved 61% of the reported problems. We conclude that with the correct training and care, livestock-guarding dogs can be an effective method of livestock protection on Namibian farmlands.