Guardian Dog While Hunting

edited September 2014 in General
So I'm still a novice "to be" hunter. I've gone out on a couple of hunting trips but it resulted in nothing more then a stamina building hike. I'm working on going through the hunter's safety course. For awhile, in the beginning, I will (continue to) hunt with another human companion. Eventually, I will start hunting small game alone and then given more experience (and my own equipment)...go after larger game. I plan on hunting with my Shikoku and Malinois. I am interested in acquring a West Siberian Laika once I get my ranch. For now I will hunt with 1 or 2 dogs but at some point...I think I would like to have a "3 dog team". 2 dogs for hunting (namely Shikoku but to include Laika in the future) and 1 dog (probably Malinois) to act as "guardian" for both myself and my other dogs. The 3rd dog can also help to track and take down prey but main purpose is to protect us from any dangerous wild animal. Fight if absolutely necessary but will serve more as a distraction for our escape. In California I think the major concern is Mountain Lion and maybe Bear.

Anyone else hunt with a dog to serve as guardian? Or has a dog that serves as both hunter and protector? I'm just curious. Also, aside from Wolves...what other animals do you consider dangerous while out on a hunt?

Comments

  • edited September 2014
    You really don't want to rely on a dog for personal protection, no matter the breed. Truly dangerous wildlife encounters are rare, and you really don't want to test your dog in such situation to know if it will protect you or not. There are lots of people who claim their dogs are good against bears or other predators, but if one watches videos, the predators don't give any indication they were interested in attacking the dog or the human.

    Hunting is one thing, but protection is another. I had a bull-moose charge at me last winter. Lost a lot of my stuff in the snow. There was no way of knowing if Pavel would had came to my rescue or not.

    Fortunately, he did. If he didn't, I would had been ran over. He could had been afraid of the moose; or worse, more interested in hunting than protecting his partner. But I had no idea if he would protect me or not, it was the last thing on my mind when I scrambled.

    Remember, all the glory stories you hear are the ones who fortunate to survive. The ones who didn't are the stories left untold.

    Get the dog for hunting. If it ends up protecting you in a dangerous situation, then the characteristic is an asset. If it doesn't end up protecting you, then... well, hopefully you weren't depending the dog as a safety-line in the first place.

  • edited September 2014
    I am not saying Laikas are not good protection dogs. There are countless stories about protecting Siberian hunters against brown-bears. However, I have to wonder, with all the successes-- how many actually didn't protect their masters. Is it 90% of the time the dog will protect? 80%? 60%? 40%?

    My girlfriend has this fantasy in her head that Pavel is the uber bear-dog who will protect us from predators on our hikes. It's nice she has such confidence. It allows her to boldly venture into areas where she normally would be afraid of, even though statistically, those encounters are highly unlikely. That aspect is nice because then we can go to really beautiful places which other people normally wouldn't.

    Anyone who truly has been a life-or-death situation where they were close enough to see the attacking animal in the eye, they might think twice. Only then they realize how easily life can be taken away, and how in that moment of time, everything hits the fan and the outcome doesn't matter and how everything is based on probability and luck. You are left pissing your pants unsure if you are alive or dead. It's only then one realize it's really stupid to depend on a dog; even if the dog does end up protecting you.
  • I am not saying Laikas are not good protection dogs. There are countless stories about protecting Siberian hunters against brown-bears. However, I have to wonder, with all the successes-- how many actually didn't protect their masters. Is it 90% of the time the dog will protect? 80%? 60%? 40%?
    This reminds me of one of the stories the trapper in Happy People told the camera men. He was protected by one of his laika and unfortunately she paid the ultimate price. I think he mentioned crying as she was one of his best dogs.

    When it comes to personal protection from wildlife, a handgun or shotgun in experienced hands would be a better bet than a dog. Many mushers I know will carry one on their runs as moose attacks are a big thing by them, even a team of 8+ dogs can have a hard time stopping a pissed off moose.
  • When I lived in Wyoming I had bear come close to my camp while backpacking. I had a working type siberian husky (Seppala type) used as a pack dog that kept a bear from coming in my camp at night. Not sure if black or griz, and not sure if the dog actually saved me or not for the bear maybe would not have tried to attack me, but what is for certain the bear was distracted enough from the dog that I am still here to talk about it. In reading the first post on this thread something to consider some laika do not do so well hunting in a three dog team as mentioned. My opinion is that a good hunting laika will naturally protect from animals that pose a danger. However I know of a guy again in Wyoming who had a Karelian Bear Dog and a griz came into their elk hunt camp and the dog ran from the bear and it was the stock dog (blue heeler) that harrassed the bear out of the camp and not the Karelian Bear Dog. He was very upset with the dog and got rid of it. Actually I think he might have shot it. In my opinion this is a product of a dog who may have some breeding for show type puposes rather than for hunting qualities. Perhaps his dog did not come from good solid hunting lines. I have no doubt that one of my KBD would be on a bear in a heartbeak back when I lived there and had KBD.
    I hunted with a Shoshoni Indian on the Wind River Indian Reservation (WY) for mountain lion, we did not get a big cat, but I remember him telling me that it doesn't take too much of a dog to move a big cat as they typically hate a barking dog no matter what kind of dog. He had hunted a fair number of mountain lion and had some hands on experiences with the big cats.
  • edited September 2014
    The KBD's poor performance on bears might have to do more with the fact most of them are bred for moose-hunting, not bear-hunting nowadays since the harvest opportunity is limited. There are now more Karelian Bear Dogs living in kennel-runs in Scandinavia than there are hunting tags issued for bears. Combined with the fact that there are numerous breeds competing for the same niche: Plott Hound, West Siberian Laika, East Siberian Laika, Norwegian Grey Elkhound, Swedish Elkhound and several others, the number of actual Karelians working bears is even lower. One would have a better luck trying to get a dog to work on moose. On top of that, there's quite a few imports which are from blood-lines only proven on boars from countries like Poland.

    Teemu Siikamäki once shared some interesting statistics at one point, provided by the hunting club of St. Petersburg, about how only handful of dogs would work a brown-bear on a chain with the majority of it being afraid. From that dataset, only half of the dogs with certificates on a chained bear are able to track one in the wild. Not good news for people who are interested in importing "proven" Laikas.

    Other Scandinavian hunters in the Laika Facebook page also have seen their fair shares of Laikas being afraid of bears-- even imported ones from "good hunting lines".
  • Yes, perhaps what you refer to was the situation with that KBD I learned about when I lived in WY, or it just came from a line that was not really bred for any hunting purposes other than that of the showring. In either case one never really knows how a dog may react until one is in a real situation as even a bear on a chain is not the same situation as a laika protecting his master while in the woods in a natural set of unfolding circumstances.
  • edited September 2014
    Thing is KBDs have been bred for moose-hunting almost exclusively since the 1950s. Even the old-time spitz-men with Finnish Spitz and Norrbottenspitz in Finland complained that Karelians lost their ability to tree birds in pursuit of breeding moose-specialists.

    While visiting Finland, I was told to forget about considering KBD and look at Elkhounds from Sweden or Laikas from Belarus. There are more proven bear-dogs within Swedish Elkhounds and Norwegians in Sweden than in KBDs from Finland. it's only in recent years, the natural population of brown-bears in Scandinavia have increased. The opportunity is so few, even bear-hunting lines of Swedish Elkhounds have switched to hunting boars since there are more use for a dog good on boars than on bears.

    So, it shouldn't really be a surprise if the North American population of Karelians is already quite dilute and doesn't live up to the reputation.
  • Hmm...I guess it seems like a lot to ask for with controlling 3 dogs. I suppose I might be okay with 1 or 2 dogs in a much safer hunting zone. Going to specifically Laika...they do better alone or are okay in pairs? My pack will already be established by the time I introduce a WSL puppy to the pack.

    Perhaps in more dangerous territory I could hunt with just my Malinois. Who is guaranteed to protect but problem would be to make sure control is there otherwise dog might attack said dangerous animal and not let go! Then get really hurt or killed in the process. That is also a scary part and downside of hunting with dogs. True that I can rely more on a hand or shot gun rather then my dog, if necessary and we cannot escape. I would like to have as many options available for any such potential situation.

    I still would like to hunt but do so as safely as possible and be smart about it. Thank you so much for your knowledge and experience!

    What about coming across other hunters or people? Or I suppose it depends on the area one hunts in and the mentality of the people who reside nearby? Chances are I am most likely to need protection against a domestic human then a wild animal, lol. In which case...maybe the Malinois must come on all hunts! I have heard of things being stolen from vehicles. Not so much a problem though if they target that and not direct evil motive contact with another human flesh?

    Perhaps I have just seen way too many scary movies or have heard a few "Texas Chainsaw" like news. I don't think it hurts to be a little extra cautious and leery of other humans. I think regardless of what one does the main priority is to stay alive and eventually go home.

    Thoughts? I like to travel as light as possible but perhaps in addition to my tactical gear or bow and arrrow...I can go ninja status too (albeit difficult with a Malinois and Laika, lol)? Again...I must keep all of my options open. Once I am out on the field...regardless if I catch anything or it's just a lovely outdoor adventure...I'm going to shift over into survival mode...period.
  • edited September 2014
    May I ask why you are skeptical of wildlife and people?

    I mean there are backpackers who have hiked the wilderness in the backcountry for 50-plus years with far more extensive off-trail experience than most hunters, hikers or bush-workers. They are often armed with nothing more than a knife or trekking poles. Even the trail users don't really have much more than that either.

    A lot of the backcountry hunters don't have a dog with them-- both women and men. Many are armed with nothing more than their own rifle. Some carry sidearms, but most consider those as unnecessary weight while packing elk or moose where every ounce translates to pain.

    This is the first time I heard of someone needing a protective dog to go hunting. I have heard of one person using a Central Asian Shepherd to protect for hiking purposes, but that's about it.

    Just curious to hear the rationalization behind this.
  • I dont think its necessary to have a guardian dog. A malinois wont draw attention e.g. at a bear attack and then dodge. I think laiki are particularly good at buying you time by "baiting", annoying it, then dodge and run, repeat.

    Also, I dont know your dog, but some untrained non-hunting dogs can just set you back, slow you etc, especially if he is away from you with the laiki, "protecting" them.
  • Malishiku
    you may want to take a look at my website it might help you a little more with your questions.. perhaps it may help you in some way.
    www.huntinglaika.com
    most laika tend to do best alone or in male female pairs.
  • edited September 2014
    Temperament is highly variable in Laikas. Seeing that West Siberian Laika is the most popular hunting breed in Russia, it's hardly a surprise considering other popular breeds such as Labradors have highly variable temperaments as well. With about 20 000-plus dogs at any given time, the temperaments are not going to be consistent across the entire breed.

    According to the JTO ("General Breeding Strategy") of the Finnish Laika Club, West Siberian Laikas are the most sociable of all the hunting spitzes, and many Russian hunters breed their dogs to get along with other strange dogs.

    A friend of mine once told me a story about how his female laika joined up with a random Swedish Elkhound to pursue and chase the same moose. He said this is quite typical of Laikas from Eastern Europe where boar-hunting is the main focus of a person's breeding program. Boar-hunting demands dogs to pack up well without fighting.

    Then you have people like Alexandar Zubov who hunt with 3-4 dogs at once for fur-bearers.

    On the other hand, aggression toward other dogs and to some extent, humans, is accepted in Scandinavian hunting culture. A lot of the Finnish breeds are considered as "hermits' dogs" by non-hunters for this reason. One dog, one hunter. In acknowledging this culture, the Norwegian Laika Club forbids dogs which are human-aggressive from being awarded a certificate in their unofficial trials.

    With all of this in mind, one hunter in Norway; or was it Sweden? Not sure who said it. He stated if the wolf-problem continues to worsen, then Scandinavia might have to abandon the tradition of using only one dog and adopt the same strategy as Russian hunters in wolf-territory: that is, hunting with wolf-wary dogs, or in packs of two or three.

    East Siberian Laikas have a bad reputation in Finland for attacking strange dogs while hunting in a pack. The topic of the ESL's temperament always come up when talking to people who have hunting breeds with no personal experience of Laikas. If I remember correctly, the Norwegian Laika Club acknowledged this temperament can be found in Moscow's population of ESL, which most of the imports originated from, but not in the aboriginal population of ESL where the dogs are more likely to get along in packs. There's also zero-tolerance for human-aggression in aboriginal dogs as well.

    Then you have Russo-European Laikas which are considered the powder-kegs of all the Laika breeds. One person compared them to Putin. Running in a pack is a rare sight within this breed. Hunting in pairs, however, is not that uncommon.

    My own Laika had a dominance power-struggle with a male Norrbottenspitz and unsurprisingly he fought on a hunting trip since neither one was willing to give in. Any repetition would inevitably be unsuccessful.

    On the other hand, he had joined hounds in middle of a hunt who didn't challenge him for control of resource, and he got along just fine with them. My Vallhund and my Laika fought a lot until the Vallhund finally understood he is at a disadvantage and backed down. As long no one is willing to challenge him for the control of the resource, Pavel got along with other dogs.

    So, the only thing I can say is that since Laikas are extraordinary popular in eastern Europe and in Russia and every hunting kennel has their own goal and people have varying level of tolerance, it's best to ask the breeder. Some of them want hermits' dogs; others want pack-dogs.

    The breeder of Pavel told me that his Laikas get along with other dogs, but to expect nasty fights now and then. He also told me to break up the fight as soon as they occur, or there will be deep grudges. Lo and behold, what he said was right with Pavel.
  • @menk - I will check out that site, thanks!

    @Dave - I would lean more towards a pack driven Laika, I guess I will have to do some research on bloodlines. I understand dogs can get into arguments at times for whatever the reason. So I have no problem breaking up any fights whenever it happens. I have experience with that. And I'm sure by then I'll have more then enough hunting dogs to match proper pairings or teams.

    Regarding the Guardian Dog: I was just curious with what other hunters do. On a personal note...I often travel alone and sometimes end up in potentially dangerous situations or areas. My Malinois has come in handy many times as personal protection dog.

    I'm generally pretty trusting. I evaluate people and judge their character and motives (always have deemed people mostly good). It wasn't until I became an adult that I started to fear or distrust certain humans. I'm actually not very cautious at all - I'm the total opposite, lol! I can be reckless and clueless at times but I have enough family and a few friends telling me to be more careful and cautious about certain things. So I'm working on that and on increasing my awareness/alertness of my surroundings/environment. Especially if I'm going to start hunting then I should be as prepared as possible and take it seriously. I should always expect the unexpected so that I will know how to react in that particular situation versus trying to figure out if or when it happens.

    Plus...I always need supervision. I understand that I am an intelligent human being capable of making wise decisions...however, sometimes the dogs just know better then I do. I cannot explain but there are times in which I need to listen to my dog and was glad s/he ignored my command.

    Another good use for my personal Malinois guardian dog...is I can always strap a pack on to carry additional tools/materials (pack dog!). Also the Malinois has a reliable retrieve in the event that I get hurt and need assistance with anything. I might be able to stabilize myself to get back to the car and then my Malinois can "fetch" my Shikoku and/or Laika for me if necessary and walk them (hold their leashes). So I guess guardian/utility/assistance dog in my case.

    It may sound random and crazy but this is my world, lol. I don't always have another person to help me. So I have to do it myself or rely on one of my dogs to help me out.


    Thank you very much! I enjoy all of this in-depth information regarding hunting and Laika. It is insightful and appreciated. I look forward on continuing to learn more and on getting to know everyone here on the forum!

  • Well, no one messes with a hunter with a rifle. ;)
  • edited September 2014
    The more dogs there is on a hunt, the more responsibility one need to burden. Pack mentality kicks in. One of the members here had a case of pack-mentality that went horribly wrong.

    I would leave the Malinois at home since he's an irreplaceable and invaluable investment. Hunting dogs regularly chance losing their lives. I wouldn't hunt with him, period, since I wouldn't want to lose him to dangerous herbivores, predators, the elements, mistaken identity (someone might think he is a coyote), cars et al. Hunting dogs are not disposable, but anyone who is involved in this sport knows that there are unforeseeable events and should be prepared to part with their dog(s).

    Stick with one or two dogs, regardless of breed. Easier to control them. Don't have 3 or more unless the trade-off is worth the risks (going further, jumping a deer and killing it, selective hearing, attacking strange dogs et al.) Even the most biddable breeds get out of control when hunting together.

    When setting up a pack of 3 or more, take into careful consideration why you might need each dog. Like some people like one Bluetick Coonhound as a "strike dog" (to catch wind of a bear), and two Airedales to pressure them to the tree as soon as possible. Others like the prolonged chase and use 6-plus hounds. Some like one Laika and one Norrbottenspitz for treeing birds and squirrels because the smaller one regularly gets harassed by coyotes. Don't base it on theoretical; base it on trial and error. The truth is, the more dogs you have, the harder it is to control them.

    They may or may not protect you in a close encounter, but they are usually sufficient deterrence to keep wildlife at a distance.

    Besides, I am under the impression, you just want to keep bears away rather than the theorical possibility of spooking a dangerous wildlife in the alders. That is how I got charged at, the animal was bedded down and the dog was somewhere else and I waded through a bush and scared the moose. No dog could had made that situation avoidable. Only I could, and I chose to push through the thickets. I didn't have to.

    But on the other hand, bears are relatively easy to keep away. I have no doubt most dogs can do this.

    Get a good rifle or shotgun, bear-spray with a chest holster, multitools (eg. Swiss Army or Leatherman), a skinning knife, a sheath knife and a pair of carbon-fiber trekking poles (for lightweightness, stability while walking, avoiding falling with a firearm and making yourself look bigger) and you have a comprehensive toolbox for self-defense in all situations. All of these have multiple purposes. Sidearm optional.
  • The more dogs there is on a hunt, the more responsibility one need to burden. Pack mentality kicks in. One of the members here had a case of pack-mentality that went horribly wrong.

    I would leave the Malinois at home since he's an irreplaceable and invaluable investment. Hunting dogs regularly chance losing their lives. I wouldn't hunt with him, period, since I wouldn't want to lose him to dangerous herbivores, predators, the elements, mistaken identity (someone might think he is a coyote), cars et al. Hunting dogs are not disposable, but anyone who is involved in this sport knows that there are unforeseeable events and should be prepared to part with their dog(s).

    Stick with one or two dogs, regardless of breed. Easier to control them. Don't have 3 or more unless the trade-off is worth the risks (going further, jumping a deer and killing it, selective hearing, attacking strange dogs et al.) Even the most biddable breeds get out of control when hunting together.

    When setting up a pack of 3 or more, take into careful consideration why you might need each dog. Like some people like one Bluetick Coonhound as a "strike dog" (to catch wind of a bear), and two Airedales to pressure them to the tree as soon as possible. Others like the prolonged chase and use 6-plus hounds. Some like one Laika and one Norrbottenspitz for treeing birds and squirrels because the smaller one regularly gets harassed by coyotes. Don't base it on theoretical; base it on trial and error. The truth is, the more dogs you have, the harder it is to control them.

    They may or may not protect you in a close encounter, but they are usually sufficient deterrence to keep wildlife at a distance.

    Besides, I am under the impression, you just want to keep bears away rather than the theorical possibility of spooking a dangerous wildlife in the alders. That is how I got charged at, the animal was bedded down and the dog was somewhere else and I waded through a bush and scared the moose. No dog could had made that situation avoidable. Only I could, and I chose to push through the thickets. I didn't have to.

    But on the other hand, bears are relatively easy to keep away. I have no doubt most dogs can do this.

    Get a good rifle or shotgun, bear-spray with a chest holster, multitools (eg. Swiss Army or Leatherman), a skinning knife, a sheath knife and a pair of carbon-fiber trekking poles (for lightweightness, stability while walking, avoiding falling with a firearm and making yourself look bigger) and you have a comprehensive toolbox for self-defense in all situations. All of these have multiple purposes. Sidearm optional.
    Great post, one thing I personally dont aggree with is that some part of it can come off as valuing the Malinois and his life more than the Laika's.
  • edited September 2014
    Not about valuing one life over another. Service-dogs are in a different class. The amount of time put into training one is extensive and costly. If they die, it is a huge loss and set a person back for years. Ask any blind person. Some of them experienced waiting 3 years or more before getting a replacement and the consequence is damaging the person's wellbeing and quality of life. The procedure to replace an aging dog must take place a year or two before its retirement.

    With hunting dogs, or any kind sport-dogs, the risks are accepted. The owner knows beforehand what can happen and acknowledge it's part of the responsibility of owning such dogs. For most, performance-based activities is a recreational venture. Very few people are subsistence-dependent nowadays. Even then, most of those people are always rearing a puppy to replace lost dogs or dogs past their prime. Not uncommon for hunters to have three dogs in rotation: an inexperienced young dog, an older dog who is still learning the rope and one who is in his prime. Those who are past their prime either live out its retirement with the hunter's family or they get rehomed as pets. Sometimes they are put to sleep if suitable homes can't be found.

    Neither diminish the value of the dogs: they adhere to different economic realities.
  • About guarding against bear and other predators, I would bet on Laika. Not sure about guarding against humans. Probably Malinois would be better. Possibly some of the livestock protection dogs would do both against predators or humans. Your family and animals would become his "herd" to be protected. However, they act by instinct, just like Laikas at hunting, and make their own decision, which may be inconvenient in a crowded environment. Besides, they are huge. However, smallest individuals among them sometimes are the best. May be Malinois would fit better in a crowded environment.
  • Livestock protection dogs should not hunt, except within immediate proximity to what they guard. No chasing or wandering very far. The dog is for protecting his "herd": sheep flock, you and your family with your pets, etc. This is his home and his job for life. However, he may dig and kill rodents or any varmints showing up on his protected territory. This is what it is in ideal picture. Together with Laikas or Malinois they may show different behavior, because dogs learn from each other sometimes.
  • edited September 2014
    I have the Akbash that is excellent for what you mentioned. I don't like Laikas for hiking with the family. The Akbash walks with us and she has a natural protective state. Nothing enters our property or around it that she does not let us know. She is watchful and is vey intimidating to strangers. She gives low growls to warn us of anyone approaching that is unfamiliar to her. She also goes to school with me and she is awesome with the staff as well as the students. You have to pay attention because they are dog aggressive by nature. She is well socialized but I keep her on an e-collar if she is not leashed. She was excellent with the pups and after they reached a certain point Kilbe let her watch over them. Some of my friends have had her for periods of time to watch over their stock and they never lost another animal while she was on watch.

    Only on two occasions have I ever seen her aggressive. One her and my female Laika got in a dispute over something the other wanted. I have never seen a Laika back down from another dog, but in a couple minutes when I went out to break it up the Laika was running for her life with a very large Akbash in pursuit. The other time a home inspector walked on my property at the lake to inspect the house. He thought we were not home and when he came around to the front of the house; he was met by an angry Akbash. She was chained but my daughter had to put her up because she was afraid the dog was going to break her extra large chain. She said in her thick Southern accent "Daddy I thought Hosaba was going to rip that old boys guts out!"

    I know Brad has another type and the dog was massive when I met him in CO. Impressive monster and no one would even think about coming around. I believe it was a Kangal cross of some sort.

    I agree with Vladimir on having the two breeds is a perfect match. When we get to Alaska I think we will be in good hands from large predators or moose. I don't think my jagdterrier will make it back she will bite off more than she can chew and is not capable of distinguishing what is too big.
  • edited September 2014
    I second that Laikas are not so nice to handle while hiking. He's okay on a leash, but he tends to pull hard if there are game which is okay going uphill; and very unpleasant going downhill.

    Off-leash hiking is mixed success: his behaviours is acceptable in the backcountry, but in a well-used area, he has a tendency to intimidate people by baying them. Oftentimes he is out of sight when he bayed. Not something you want when some people have a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later.

    I try to minimize these kind of occurrences since it doesn't take too many reports of nuisances for dogs to be restricted; or banned.

    Not sure if that's something is warranted in a "protection dog". He does have protective qualities, but I am not really sure if they are an asset or not. It's circumstantial if they are helpful or life-saving; or if they are annoying and perhaps hazardous.
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