Alpacas Meet Pyrenees LGD


Most livestock producers who use Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) work out a method of introducing the dog to new stock. But what happens when that stock is another species? Premium-wool producers, Eva Estermann and Jan Vanatta of Sebastopol, CA wanted to add a pair of Alpacas to their flock of sheep. However their Great Pyrenees, Lucy, had never seen alpacas, and the alpacas had never met friendly dogs.


Lucy and Eva

Lucy - a 3-yr old Great Pyrenees LGD with Eva


Alpacas get out of van



The yearling alpacas arrive at their new home in style.

For safety's sake, it was decided that all animals concerned should be on-leash. The introduction took place inside the barn, where distractions could be minimized. At first, neither dog nor alpacas were sure of what their reaction should be. Since Lucy was on leash, she knew that Eva was "in charge" so she didn't act aggressively toward the strangers.


Alpacas look at dog

Lucy turns her head away from the alpacas as they try to decide whether or not she is a threat.

dog and alpacas meet

Inside the barn, they are brought face to face. Lucy begins to look directly at them.

Once they were brought face to face inside the barn, Lucy, perhaps feeling her space was being invaded, looked directly at the alpacas. Then she barked at them. The fawn male whirled and kicked her just as Lucy was sharply corrected by Eva. The "double whammy" was enough to convince Lucy that these critters were to be welcomed, not barked at.

A series of "de-sensitizing" walks began within the confines of the barn. Lucy started at one end of the barn, the alpacas at the other and they passed each other several time. Each time, dog and alpacas were brought a little closer to each other.

Dog is walked by alpacas

In the above picture, while the alpacas are still concerned about the dog, Lucy has begun averting her eyes as she is led past them. She makes no further attempts to investigate or bark at the alpacas

The next step was to walk dog and alpacas in front of, then behind, each other, then side by side. By the end of a half hour, the alpacas had calmed down enough that they were able to be put in a stall with feed and a couple gentle sheep for the next step in acquainting them to their new environment.

Lucy relaxed in front of alpacas

A couple days later, the alpacas were released into the pasture and they and Lucy accepted each other completely.