This is a video of West Siberian Laika (вест сибериан лайка) “Ike” treeing a Bobcat. Initially I thought it was a young Mountain Lion but upon further inspection after the video stopped I realized it was a medium sized female Bobcat. This is the first Bobcat Ike has treed. Very proud of him! 🙂
Here’s a nice video on the use and effectiveness of Livestock Guard Dogs.
Livestock protection dogs (LPDs) in the United States have helped to protect livestock herds from certain predators, but expanding large-carnivore populations pose new challenges, and the number of LPDs killed by large predators is increasing. We conducted a literature review to identify LPD breeds that may be more suited for use around large carnivores, such as gray wolves. The use of spiked collars to increase the survivability for LPDs in areas of coexistence with large carnivore populations is also discussed. This paper advances the adoption of techniques and LPD breeds used outside of the United States in areas where large carnivores exist with livestock production.
Today I was watching Ike play with Masha. They have a very dysfunctional relationship. It seems they both want to play but have trouble communicating, which leads to frustration on both sides.
Also, Ike seems to have a major crush on Masha, so there are a lot of attempted-humpings in these Ike-Masha interactions.
Because of all this, these interactions usually lead to Masha ignoring Ike and Ike becoming frustrated at her. How does Ike respond to this frustration? By barking toward her. I wrote “toward her” because he doesn’t really bark at her, he bark above her… Like he’s barking up at an object.
This made me realize something: he was displaying a similar behavior seen when a dog trees game.
Ike is a West Siberian Laika, which is a breed that has been used through history for treeing small game. So this type of behavior is very much “built in” for Ike – it’s a innate behavioral pattern.
This makes me wonder: is this behavior pattern the product of selecting treeing dogs to be extra sensitive to frustration and extra vocal (and loud)?
Then I started to think about all the times I have heard Ike bark. You know, he doesn’t bark all that much, but when he does it’s usually out of frustration.
For example, when I leave him in my car while I run in a store real quick – he responds by barking. When I walk out in the yard and he is on the other side of a fence, he responds by barking. When Jen or I give affection to another dog while Ike is around he responds by barking. There are many other examples, but they all seem to center around Ike being frustrated.
Basically, the behavior chain looks like this: Ike gets frustrated > Ike barks…
If the barking results in him not getting what he wants (negative punishment) > his frustration builds > Ike barks more.
If the barking results in him getting what he wants, i.e. he’s no longer frustrated (positive reinforcement) > he stops barking.
Based on that bit of logic, is treeing behavior in hunting dogs simply a negative punishment loop?…
The hunting dog chases game up a tree. The dog gets frustrated at the game in the tree and barks. The game moves further away up the tree (or stays still) due to the barking (negative punishment), which frustrates the dog more, and the barking increases.
Eventually the hunter comes and shoots the animal, which drops to the ground allowing the dog to interact with it (or at least see it), which acts as positive reinforcement for the loop.
This has to be an artificially selected behavioral loop as wolves don’t bark, and if they did, they wouldn’t bother staying at the base of a tree barking pointlessly at a small animal. That’s a horrible waste of energy, and wolves need to conserve their energy the best they can. Also, a wolf doesn’t have a human companion to come along and kill the animal in the tree for him/her, and certainly barking (you know, if wolves barked) isn’t going to get the the critter out of the tree.
To learn more about PADS, check them out on the web at www.pads.ru. To learn more about the six native Japanese breeds (the Nihon Ken), check out The Nihon Ken Forum at www.NihonKen.org.
Special thanks to everyone that helped with the article and allowed me to use their photographs!
We are very proud of Mr. Grym and his owner, Lindsay.
I’m a big fan of most of the Russian dog breeds, especially the aboriginal Laika. So, in an effort to help bring the Laika community together, the way the Nihon Ken Forum (www.nihonken.org) has for the six native Japanese breeds, I have launched The Laika Forum.
If you are a Laika fan and would like to be part of the community, please take a bit and join The Laika forum: www.laikaforum.org