Sallson Maremma As Pets
It’s important to remember the origin of the Maremma breed to understand what will be needed to be able to live with your puppy happily ever after in a pet situation.
I recommend any person who is intending to take one of these beauties into their home as a pet also takes some time out to have a look at how they work in both large and small farming situations. It is for this reason all of our pet owners are given detailed notes and articles which they can browse as they prepare for their new puppy to come home as well as the following notes on Sallson Maremma Puppies as Pets.
My family and I have been very lucky to have been able to live with these beautiful animals as pets and as working dogs for more than 2 decades. It has enabled us to get to intimately know the breed and observe it in many diverse and challenging situations.
We have some living in and around the home “working” at looking after the family and the beagles and cats and other Maremma which work and live with their flock every minute of every day.
We have successfully placed puppies which have enriched the lives of families and working dog owners alike.
They have become necessary to us being able to ensure our sheep, chickens, family and property are kept safe from predators and we can’t imagine ever living without at least one as a pet.
Maremma are different, to most other breeds and people accustomed to the more popular breeds such as Labradors, German Shepherds, etc. and assume that the upbringing of any dog is the same no matter what breed it is will need to re-think what they think they know.
The Maremma was originally bred in Italy to guard sheep and has been selected for thousands of years to be left on his own with the flock to protect it from danger. Because of this, they are independent and able to think for themselves.
This has to be kept in mind when living with a Maremma as a pet. Young dogs of any breed need to learn the ground rules and be taught what is expected of them. They are quick to learn and take cues from their family’s routine and body language to determine what makes them happy. They quickly learn what is normal and accept everything the family accepts as part of everyday life.
The difference between other breeds and a Maremma is, that having learned those ground rules, and the parameters you expect your dog to stay within, as it grows there will be times when you wonder if any of it made a scrap of difference.
This is not the breed to select as a pet if you want a dog that will fetch a ball or a stick and though most times it will come when it’s called sometimes it will decide its better to decide for itself.
Inside my yard with all things being normal mine are well trained and come and sit and do as I ask of them but if they perceive a possible threat they think about whether they will do as I ask or not.
Understanding what the original purpose of the breed was helps you to live with them easier in a pet situation. In the paddock they won’t leave their flock unattended to chase off a predator as that would leave the flock alone and vulnerable to another predator attacking their family whilst the dog is taking on the threat. So they will give as much warning as possible and back up to their flock always placing themselves between the flock and the predator and doing all they can to warn off and threaten any perceived threat rather than attack – because attacking leaves the flock unprotected.
This behaviour within a family shows in several ways which is decidedly different to behaviour we normally expect of other breeds of dogs. It’s rare for example that they will do more than threaten any person or animal coming into your home with barks and hackles raised and their basic instinct is to keep themselves between you and the visitor until they can see the visitor is welcomed and not a threat.
I always remember being at home on a 500 acre property with young children and being used to living with other breeds I opened the door and told the dog to go out and see what the noise was – scare whatever it was off so to speak. But when I opened the door and told the dog to go out she stood up and moved to the doorway of the kid’s bedroom.
She wasn’t going to leave what she saw as the most vulnerable of the flock to chase off the predator. If that predator got past me and as far as the house there was no way she was going to move from that doorway.
Understanding that as part of her makeup rather than seeing that as her not following my orders makes me love her more and it’s much easier to live with her as part of our family.
The Early Days at home for your Sallson Pet Maremma
When your puppy first comes home please try to remember that in a working situation everything he does from the minute he is introduced to his new home and new family is designed to make them see him as no threat and so he will behave as if he frightened and submissive. Many farmers who see this behaviour and who are used to working breeds of dogs wonder if they have bought home a dud because the behaviour they see when this pup arrives is exactly the opposite to what they are used to seeing in their kelpies or border collies, cattle dogs etc. So you expect similar behaviour in your new pet puppy in the very beginning.
As a breeder we have tried to make this transition easier for you and the pup as he will have been treated as a pet puppy rather than one which is going into a working environment to help the process along a little.
Introduce him to his new home as early in the day as possible as this enables him to check out his new home before bedtime.
He has left the only surroundings he knows, been taken from his mother and siblings by strangers and placed in a completely strange environment. As puppies this breed seems to have a much higher chance of being stressed and showing symptoms of travel sickness and that may need to be taken into account as well.
By getting him to his new home as early as possible he will have the majority of the day to get used to his new place and family before bedtime.
If you have decided to take a Sallson puppy several weeks before it is ready to come home and placed a deposit when it is young we will do all we can to handle the pup and introduce it to normal family interactions and routines so the settling in period will be easier for you and the pup to manage. We will try to replicate the environment the pup will be living in and sleeping in when it is at your home before it leaves our home.
It’s important for you to interact and handle your Pet Maremma as often as possible playing, cuddling, training, feeding and grooming and keeping it close are all good. The whole time the pup is learning from you – taking notice of your body language, your tone of voice, the expressions and routines which are normal family behaviour he is learning what is expected of him. What pleases you and what doesn’t.
Maremma are naturally clean dogs and house training is generally easy but you need to put in a little time and effort and remember to allow him to walk outside to go to the toilet and don’t carry him out or he won’t know how to go on his own.. Use lots of praise once he has ‘performed’ and he will soon learn.
If everyone in the house knows what will be the rules and what is and is not O.K. and it is consistently carried out life will be much easier. For example. If you don’t want a 50kg dog sitting on your leather lounge suit then it’s not O.K. for it to sleep there when it is only 6 kgs as cute and as beautiful as it may be.
This also means that sometimes they will want to guard their food. It’s better to be sure and safe than sorry so from day one, stroke your puppy whilst he is eating and tell him what a good dog he is at the same time.
You don’t need to do this every single time he is fed or for the whole feed time period he is eating, but its better to do it on a daily basis for several weeks until you are confident that he will not react in an adverse manner. Also pick his food bowl up, fork the food around, praising him, hold it a minute then give it back.
Stroke and pat him around the face area, if you get a reaction, you can reprimand by firmly saying ‘No’, in a stern voice which is all that is usually needed. .
I know some people advocate simply leaving the dog alone while it is eating and that training it this way is cruel but no one wants a fully grown Maremma who objects to you or your children’s presence even near him, or touching him whilst he is eating, you need to know that you can take any object away, if you want to without fear of reprisal even if it is a nice fresh bone and its much better to do that from the minute he comes homes than it is to attempt it when it’s become a problem.
Maremma respond well to tenderness and kindness. The more affection you show them the more they love to respond in kind .They love to play and chase and to be chased but he also needs to know his boundaries and a simple, stop and gruff “No” is all you need to allow him to learn what is and isn’t O.K.
Be careful not to go overboard with discipline or punishment. The dog needs to understand he can trust you, that you are his mate and if you abuse his trust they have a long memory and it’s not so easy to get it back.
Be consistent fair and kind and your relationship will flourish with the dog understanding what does and does not please you.
Your puppy has been raised predominately on a raw food diet but he has also been introduced to some commercial foods as well to enable the settling in process to be easier regardless of what you eventually choose to feed.
As a breeder I would prefer that he is fed a BARF diet but I understand that sometimes this doesn’t suit. My best advice to you is to feed a lot of variety in small amounts. If you choose to feed commercial food please consider adding a child’s multi vitamin, dietary enzymes such as thrive D and some pro biotics.
As adults, Maremma do not require vast quantities of food, as they are not burning up calories like for instance Border Collies. Maremma lead a more sedentary lifestyle with food requirements to match. This is not to say that some of them do not have large appetites, but this is not the same as requirement! Bend your wrist toward the inside of your fore arm and run your hand over the back of your hand. This is how you want to be able to feel your dog’s ribs. Growing too quickly and having too much weight on isn’t good for young pups so use this as your gauge to ensure you are not over or under
As adults it’s normal for them to have a big feed of raw meaty bones one day and not eat at all for a day or two. If you are feeding your puppy raw meaty bones such as raw chicken wings you will need to feed him twice per day when he arrives home. If you feed commercial food he will need 4 meals per day.
Don’t fall into the trap of leaving food down for the dog to serve himself. Even though this is normal for Maremma which live in the paddock with automatic feeding stations when they are working, in a pet situation it is better to place the food down , leave it for 15 mins and what isn’t eaten in this time should be removed. In a domestic back yard leaving the food down creates vermin problems and teaches the dog poor eating habits.
Basic training is the same as with other breeds but Maremma do seem to learn more quickly as puppies. It is only as they get older that they sometimes question your commands.
Puppies have a short attention span and will become easily bored after a short time so keep your training sessions short 5 minute sessions twice per day is good but realistically remember you are really training your pup all day and every minute they are in your company.
One hour of training before your puppy is six months old is worth one hundred hours after the age of six months. No point in not attempting to put a leash on your pup until it is 6 months old and then expecting it to give no resistance to a collar and lead.
Maremma Puppies are much like children, and the early training is easy to imprint on him for life.
Maremma are not as motivated to do as they are asked with a food reward as most other breeds and definitely the other end of the scale for this as our beagles are and I get a better response by simply telling them ‘well done’ rather than treating them when they do the right thing.
Your voice should be lower in tone for commands (do not ask him to do something, tell him). A higher encouraging tone of voice should be used for praise.
Maremma are happy to stay in one place as it is here they can more easily sort out what is and is not normal and therefore see potential threats to their family more easily so if you do intend to take your dog out of his yard on walks and visits to other places when it gets older you need to introduce your puppy to this NOW.
Take him out and socialise him if that’s what you want him to do as he grows. I don’t mean take him for long walks, which he shouldn’t be doing as a baby but meeting other dogs and people, especially children – and getting others outside of home to handle him gently will make life much easier as the pup gets older also get as many people as possible to visit you and make him understand that if you say a person is allowed into your home so must he.
Some people shut their Maremma away until a person is indoors and sitting down, this is not necessary but the dog will consider what is normal, so you need to begin as you want to live with this dog when it is fully grown.
Make your guests understand that your dog needs to take his time to accustom himself to them, and at least at first he has no desire to make friends with them at first but usually, once a Maremma has made friends with someone, they are friends for life unless that trust is abused.
We have placed one with an elderly lady and if someone on the outside places their hand on the door handle to attempt to open the door the dog yells, hackles up, teeth showing and stands between the door and the owner. If the owner places her hand on the door handle as if to open the door the dog simply moves aside and allows the visitor to enter without comment.
You need to get to a point where if you say it’s OK then it is OK, no argument but its much easier to get that message across if you are aware of your tone of voice and your body language and don’t make the dog feel you are stressed.
Even though, Maremma are a large breed they don’t need huge amounts of exercise. Watch a flock of sheep and you see the lifestyle they are bred for.
At first your puppy will want to keep you in his sight, he will gain confidence as he gets older and may go out of sight, but they are not really wanderers and as long as you are away from roads and he is not able to get in with livestock, don’t worry, he will always return to you. However, it is really important that they have a good boundary as when they reach adult hood they may want to guard a larger area than your property and this can be problematic.
Sallson Maremma Check their owners
Even though sometimes it may appear otherwise there is never a long period when the dog isn’t checking on its owner but if you do want to get your dog’s attention, just get him used to a particular word or expressions like, ‘This way’, or from a distance you may want to wave to an imaginary person or speak in another direction which will bring him back to you though, use this rarely or they soon come to know that there is no reason to come back.
You may find that your dog views certain people with suspicion, you have to be aware of this and reassure very firmly that all is OK, don’t allow your dog to jump up at you or other people, a firm ‘No’ then praise when the dog responds is all that is needed.
A bored Maremma doesn’t just bark when there is something genuine to bark at, and if this happens you need to be looking at what is wrong with his lifestyle. More attention is a possible solution. If he isn’t living as part of and working with his family “flock” he is more likely to be barking when he shouldn’t. You may need to consider allowing him to sleep inside with the family rather than running the yard of an evening.
Maremma guard their flock – as a pet that means that not only will he want to protect you but every member of your family living in his home, including other animals, whether they be other dogs ,chickens or guinea pigs as they are part of his flock. You will need to understand this natural instinct and allow him to do his ‘job’. He will accept as normal all that you accept as part of your everyday life.
There is no point in getting angry with him for barking he is only doing what comes naturally to the breed. Maremma hate being shouted at and it makes them concerned and feel that you are being threatened and it will spoil its trust in you. .
In the paddock in a working situation the Maremma needs no grooming and it isn’t something that is an absolute necessity if it doesn’t come inside the house when you live with them as pets. They do shed and being able to brush out the fur keeps any fur in the house down to minimum.
The degree of shedding will depend on several factors including whether your dog has been desexed or whether it lives and sleeps in a reasonably constant environment and temperature.
Dogs shed more after they have been in season and more if they have had to have more fur during winter to keep warm.
As pets it’s a good idea to get them used to grooming every few days as it is an ideal way for you to develop a bond between you and your dog and will keep housekeeping to a minimum.
Start the day after you bring the puppy home, five minutes a day is all you should do at first. Gently get your puppy to lie down, using persuasion, not force and make the grooming sessions gentle and fun. You can speak softly and re assuring during these times or reward with a little treat when you are finished. It’s a good way for your puppy to know he can trust you not to hurt him and time spent with grooming will pay off later as grooming and any other activity which may require you to handle him such as apply first aid etc becomes a pleasure and not something you can both enjoy.
Check regularly behind the ears and under the ‘armpits’, where the fur sometimes gets tangled. Maremma have a thick undercoat and a slightly harsh topcoat and they do not need any trimming.
Maremma prefer to spend a lot of time outside, even in very cold weather, however they don’t like rain much or wet conditions and you should make sure he has somewhere dry to go if he wants to.
The coat dries off quickly because of its texture, and a quick rub with a towel is all that
is generally needed if he has been out playing in the rain.
The best brush is a double sided brush, with one side having wire tines, with protective bobbles on the ends. If you use one without these, use it carefully.
The best way to test it is to brush it over the back of your own hand first and if it doesn’t hurt its O.K. to use it on your dog.
The other side is of these brushes has a bristle brush and is really only of use for finishing off purposes.
Two combs, are best – one large one with long tines and a double sided comb, one side the tines are set slightly more apart whilst on the other side they are closer. It is also handy to have a stripping out brush especially if your dog is outside during winter and sheds heavily in springtime.
A slicker type of brush for finishing off or preferably a hand slicker, is also handy. This is a brush with a strap on the back they do take some getting used to, they give a polish to the coat.
Puppies should only be groomed with a soft brush and moving up slowly to the adult brushes.
For older Maremma start the sessions with the wire brush gently draw the coat forward in the right direction. Because of the space between bristles you also need to use the combs, so start with the largest and most spaced and finish the close toothed comb. The close toothed will be difficult to use when the dog is in full winter coat. But it is needed for getting the last of the coat out when the dog his moulting heavily.
Don’t worry if it seems to be coming out in great clumps as this is quite normal.
It helps in times of heavy moulting to bath your dog giving the coat a good massage to loosen it.
Don’t forget to comb the shorter hair on the legs, ears, top of head and around the face, you will be amazed at how much comes out and your dog will certainly act happier to have the dead fur out.
When combing the tail train your dog to stand, hold the tail in one hand whilst brushing with the other hand, and don’t forget to do the underside, finally, lift the tail up and brush down starting at the base and work towards the tip and finish off with the combs.
Although it sounds like lots of time and hard work its quite easy and very enjoyable for both you and the dog if you have done these grooming sessions with your dog from puppy hood and unless they are left for really long periods they don’t matt very easily. Remember to check between toes, as matts can develop here sometimes and of course checking ears and teeth on a regular basis is important for any dog.