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A complete study (on the Luberon, with comparisons to the Pyrénées) about dog attacks on mountain sheep (PDF):
http://www.pyrenees-pireneus.com/Pastoralisme-ChiensErrants-EtudeCERPAM.pdf

Some important conclusions:

First of all, the study concludes that stray dogs (chiens errants) are very rare.

11.5% of herders experience at least one dog attack per year, 21% less than one attack per year (on average). During the 4 year duration of this study, 74% did not experience a single attack. 74 + 21 => 95% of herders almost never experience dog attacks (the study reaches this conclusion, not me).

However, 70% of attacks concentrate on 5% of herders, who are, quote: "traumatized".

It concludes that there are however a greater number of herd displacements due to dogs, which concludes that dogs not on a leach are a hassle more than a danger.

Finally, 90% of the dogs identified in sheep attacks are residential dogs from surrounding areas (10% are the dogs of trekkers). Attacks caused by stray dogs are extremely rare. So maybe our shepherd should focus first on people in his own "country" ...

Note: the same website states that tourists should tie their dogs when approaching a herd because it can make the herd panic.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 11:00:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most dogs are not going to attack sheep, especially when they know they are "with" their owners. Attacks aren't the problem. The problem is that dogs can try to herd the sheep, or just scamper about, possibly barking, and set them running, that this can scare and stress the sheep, and in some cases put them in danger. The shepherd's job is to watch over sheep that are as calm as possible and fully engaged in the process of quietly feeding or tranquilly ruminating. Two or three episodes of interruptions by perfectly nice dogs a day, and the shepherd is losing out in his work.

The fact that you can see animals or not isn't necessarily a criterion. Just round a mountain flank there may be five hundred sheep, and your dog may get there first. Up in the rocks, heads down into the shade, there may be a number of sheep that a doggie movement and bark may set on the move over potentially dangerous ground.

To be honest, I've often walked in the mountains with a dog (or friends' dog) off the leash. But if the dog's obedient, he should be kept walking close to his owners. If he's not obedient, or not trained, he should be on a leash. There are heaps of web references to advice to mountain walkers to keep their dogs on the leash in the alpage (the cow and sheep parts of the mountains), along with all the places where it is obligatory (some national parks) or dogs completely forbidden (other national parks and nature reserves).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 11:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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