The coexistence between wolves and human activities does not only pass through good prevention practices put into practice by breeders, but also through the behavioral rules that every mountain visitor should adopt when meeting dogs guarding the flocks.
To better understand how to relate to these dogs, however, it is necessary to understand how they work and what are the behavioral rules that we must put into practice when we meet them on our path.
LGDs are large white dogs, often identifiable with the breed "Maremma shepherd from Abruzzo”Whose job is to monitor and defend the flock or herd from any threat, such as predators.
This characteristic is part of their natural instinct, which leads them to identify their family in the flock to defend: in fact they are often born in the stable and have been selected by shepherds for generations to carry out this type of work.
These dogs are animated by a strong spirit of independence, they are courageous and autonomous in making their own decisions, and it is this characteristic that guarantees them the possibility of protecting the flock 24 hours a day, in any condition, representing a help for the shepherd. basic.
When strangers, be they animals or people, approach the pasture they are guardians of, they take action, heading towards the "intruders" to warn them, often through energetic barking, that that area is under their control and that they are not it is the case to get closer.
When this happens, if our behaviors are the right ones, it will be very difficult for a LGD to attack us.
The rules to follow at this time are simple and must be interpreted with a view to reducing any comparison with them:
- If we spot LGDs from a distance, do not approach and if possible go around the pasture.
- If we have dogs in tow, keep them on a leash and do not approach them.
- In the event of an encounter, stay still or retreat slowly.
- Do not try to cross the flock or herd.
- Avoid interactions of any kind by showing both aggressive and friendly behaviors.
- Do not feed dogs.
- If you are on a bicycle, stop and get off, possibly moving the bike by hand.
More generally, the purpose of these behaviors is to allow these dogs the necessary time to understand that we do not represent a threat to their "family", that we have understood that they are in defense of that area and that they can safely return to the their flock.
Once the dogs have calmed down we can resume the transit, always following the appropriate rules mentioned above.
These are actually gods practical advice which must be interpreted from time to time, knowing how to evaluate what is happening, understanding the behavior of the dogs and the place where you are.
They are therefore not infallible rules but they represent the best way to relate to these animals, increasingly widespread throughout Italy, whose use is allowed by Veterinary Police Regulations - art. 83 and by 'Order of the Ministry of Health of 6 August 2013 which delegates any further specific regulations that we do not mention here to local realities.
But why do we have to "bear" the presence of these dogs during our excursions?
Not only because the dogs in custody of the flocks are essential to avoid predation to the breeders who, let's not forget, are working, but also because the presence and maintenance of the pasture is very important for the environment.
It is an ancient practice of which these dogs, given the presence of the wolf, are indirectly the guardians, which not only guarantees the well-being and protection of the animals reared, but which allows them to continue to obtain traditional and healthy products with a unique taste. helping to maintain an increasingly precarious human presence in marginal areas.
Furthermore, the grazing action of farmed animals also plays a fundamental role in maintaining suitable habitats for many animal and plant species that need open and grassy areas which, as we can easily observe in many mountainous and hilly areas where animals do not graze. moreover, they are very quickly invaded by the wood, which inevitably modifies the landscape, the views, sometimes even obstructing the starry vaults that attract us to the ridges.
Grazing is therefore also an essential practice to be preserved because it promotes and maintains biodiversity, generates useful forage for domestic and wild animals, creating a complex trophic chain that we all benefit from!
It is therefore increasingly important to respect and disseminate these rules of behavior and acquire the right awareness without ever forgetting that we all have the responsibility to commit ourselves to respecting the work of these dogs (and breeders) who indirectly guarantee a subtle balance in maintaining mountain biodiversity, guaranteeing the wolf to stay on our mountains, the shepherd to bring home all the animals of his flock and for us to be able to enjoy healthy and traditional products, in a synergistic work that has its roots in the centuries past and that should be valued and respected even at the cost of changing the path.