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Response of bonded and non-bonded sheep to the approach of a trained Border Collie

By D. M. Anderson, C. V. Hulet, W. L. Shupe, J. N. Smith, L. W. Murray

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Intra- and interspecific association of cattle and bonded or non-bonded sheep was observed under free-ranging conditions preceding, during and following the approach of a trained Border Collie dog. A bonded sheep is one which consistently stays in close proximity to cattle as a result of a continuous close association between the two species, which began when the sheep was a young lamb. The dog treatment provided insight into the response of livestock to an aggressive, threatening canine. Sheep bonded to cattle remained together as one interspecific group when threatened by the dog. Interspecific space decreased and the sheep positioned themselves among the cattle and away from the dog. Cattle aggression, i.e. kicking and charging the dog, was only observed when the dog approached the heifers. Non-bonded sheep and cattle reacted as two distinctly independent intraspecific groups. The non-bonded sheep reduced their intraspecific space and moved away from the cattle when threatened by the dog. The protection that bonded sheep receive from cattle appears to result from the close association with the cattle, which poses a threat to predators.

Date 1988
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 21
Issue 3
Pages 251-257
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address U.S. Dep. Agric., Box 30003-NMSU, Las Cruces, NM 88003-0003, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Dogs
  4. Mammals
  5. peer-reviewed
  6. Pets and companion animals
  7. predators
  8. responses
  9. Sheep
  10. Social behavior
  1. peer-reviewed