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In the month of November of the past year, the board of the Park Authority approved the project "The guard dog in the National Park of Casentino Forests, Monte Falterona and Campigna".

The guard dog is a traditional instrument for the prevention of damage and the protection of livestock from predator attacks. The use of guard dogs belongs to the cultural heritage of many rural areas. In Italy, this tradition has never been lost, especially in the central Apennines where the presence of wolves has always been constant.

The full functionality and correct integration of the guard dog in a zootechnical context implies the implementation of conditions and procedures that are not simple. It is necessary to have a good level of knowledge on canine behaviour and to carry out an attentive and constant control especially during the critical phases of selection, breeding, growth and insertion of the dog in the flock; the functionality of this method depends on factors of different nature (the genetic characteristics of the dog, the social and environmental conditions of breeding, the type of management of the flock, the grazing areas, etc.).

The correct management of the guardian dog is extremely important both for effectiveness in the protection from predators and for a peaceful cohabitation with all users of the territory.

In order to avoid an "uncontrolled" diffusion that could create new problems of an ecological, social, and handling nature it is necessary to put a project in place for the correct pastoral integration of the dogs to defend the flock, the former having suitable behavioural characteristics and coming from breeding stock selected for their function of defending the flocks. The technicians of the Agency will periodically provide an aptitude assessment of the dogs for the protection of the flocks, determining the attitude of the subjects employed in the project on the basis of the species-specific ethogram specifically compiled for these dogs.

The Agency will also provide correct information to the users of the territory about the presence of these dogs, their ethological characteristics and about the behaviour to be followed in case of encounter. This information work will be developed through:

- informative leaflets that will be distributed at the Visitor Centres and the facilities of the National Park;

- fixed signs placed at the beginning of the paths and mobile ones, supplied to the farmers themselves, near the grazing areas.

A video clip shows the rules of behaviour to be implemented in the presence of dogs protecting the flocks. In order to facilitate their work on the pastures for the protection dogs of the flock, it is necessary to respect their work and follow specific rules of behaviour.

> Watch the video