discussion / Conservation Dogs  / 27 May 2021

Crop Protection Dogs: Advice Requested

Dear All,

Just a hybrid subject between conservation dogs and human wildlife conflict.


I wanted to know if some of you experienced "crop protection dogs" to deter elephant from crops and alarm farmers by barking. Dog are already well-used to protect herd from predator. In the same idea I would like to train dogs (a small group 4-5) to deter elephant.


Do you have feedback on the community motivation and implication in this type of project?

The aim is to work with local dogs (basenjii) in Congo, what are the information we should look at before implementing such project?


All the best,


Hi Antoine,

I have worked extensively with livestock guarding dogs (Anatolians) in the past. The effectiveness of this conflict mitigation method depends largely on how well the dog and the livestock bond to each other. It makes use of the pack instinct of the dogs, bonding to the livestock as his pack to defend from attackers (including other predators).

So the first question would be what typical dog behaviour do you want to exploit for your "crop protection dogs"? I would assume that you want to use territorial behaviour as the basis of the dogs protecting the croplands as "their" territory. So your training should focus on this (not sure how you would do it, though). The second issue could be that the dogs might not recognize elephants as intruders into their territory; i.e. they might be come used to the presence of crop-raiding elephants over time -- I really do not know dog-elephant interactions well enough to make a prediction on how this might play out.

A third  potential issue that you need to think about, is exactly how effective the barking dogs will be as deterrents. Even if they warn the local farmers, will the farmers be able to drive the elephants away without danger to themselves? And will the dogs be effective in deterring the elephants, or rather be an irritant that makes the elephants (more) aggressive? I don't know. Will the dogs actually attack the elephants, or be scared of them (and maybe run away towards the village while being chased by the elephants)?

I think if you can address all of these points effectively, there is a good chance that this approach will succeed.



Dear Chavoux,


thank you for your reply, you perfectly summarize the challenges of this project. I will add another one: dog care, community in Congo are not used to take care of their dog and guarding dogs will probably have to be feed.

As you said, all the point have to be addressed.

In order to partially answer, I will give a story from one of the village around Odzala:

An old man in the village was using his dogs to protect his crops, it seems that the dogs were going to the crops each night and deter the elephant from it. This solution seems to have work during several years and elephant would prefer to go to other crops (displacement of the problem). Unfortunately, one day, the dogs disappear one by one, I don't have all the information yet, but  this could be the results of elephant attack, neighbour's jealousy, limited dogs care?

So it seems possible to actively use dog to protect the crop from elephant.

Regarding farmers, for some of them, they are already guarding their crops, but it has a heavy impact on their live. Dogs could improve this situation by alerting the farmer sleeping in his house nearby. He could sleep properly and be awake only when there is a real threat.

All the best,