While some gamprs are successfully raised as pets, this page will mainly discuss training a gampr pup as a livestock guardian dog, as this is the work and lifestyle to which the breed is best suited.
Gamprs mature slowly and require regular interaction and guidance from their owners in order to do well. Up until about 2yrs of age, your dog may make mistakes or have sudden regressions in behaviour with livestock. It is best to set your dog up for success by controlling his environment so that the ability to make those mistakes is minimized. Puppies should not be left alone with livestock unsupervised (either by the owner or by an older mentor dog who will give corrections when needed). When first bringing home a pup (or an adult without previous experience), we recommend setting them up in an enclosed, escape-proof kennel area within your livestock’s larger enclosure for periods when you cannot be there to guide. This way, they can still see, smell, and become accustomed to their livestock family living all around them, without chasing, biting, or developing any other bad habits. For very small puppies, it is also important to offer them a safe protected zone to get away from livestock that may be overly rough or bullying towards the pup. When you are there, the dog can be allowed to be either loose with the livestock, if he seems trustworthy enough, or on leash with you. The dog should be calm, move slowly around the livestock, have his head low and nonthreatening, and generally seem to ignore the other animals. Any jumping, chasing, or overly-exuberant behaviour around livestock should be corrected instantly. Allow the dog to see you feeding and patting your animals, each time telling the dog, “Mine.” Gamprs are very intelligent and will understand who belongs quite quickly. Make sure to praise good behaviour and give lots of love and affection to your dog while in with the livestock. He will learn that all good things happen with the livestock, that he belongs there with them, and he will grow to love you and naturally want to guard what is yours.
Many gamprs resource guard their food against other animals, especially other dogs. As a preventative measure, it is recommended to feed your dog separately from other dogs and livestock. This way, your puppy can feel secure that his food is not threatened, and there is no need for him to develop guarding tendencies around his food.
Secure fencing is a requirement for gamprs. They will naturally seek to continually expand their territory and push back predators to keep you safe. Unless you are on hundreds of acres, this expansion will include your neighbours’ properties and dangerous roads. They can cover huge distances quite easily and quickly. We recommend a visible fence, plus a strand of hotwire at top and bottom. To train the dog to hotwire, place a piece of raw bacon on the wire, and walk away. You want the dog to know the fence bites, but not associate the shock with you. Usually, it only takes once for them to understand and respect the fence.
While your gampr puppy is small and easily managed, it is also a good idea to work on basic manners. Spend some time walking with your puppy on a leash, riding in a car, going to the vet’s, trimming toenails, learning Sit and Come. Anything that will be important for you to do with a 130lb dog, you should practice now!
Most puppies are initially accepting of all people, including strangers, but as gamprs reach maturity, some may begin to guard against unknown people. You can again use the word, “Mine” to indicate an accepted person, and most gamprs should defer to your judgment. In some cases, it may be necessary to contain the dog in a separate area while the guest is visiting. When off of your own property (such as when visiting the vet), even very guardy gamprs are usually accepting of strangers, since they no longer feel that need to defend what is yours.
We hope you have a long and rewarding partnership with your gampr. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.