Anatolians and other livestock guardian dogs like the Great Pyrenees are my passion. I just find them absolutely fascinating, and I could not imagine life without them. They are large and powerful, yet they are also extremely agile and fast. It is breathtaking to see them in action, and it is amazing how nothing escapes their attention.
I have always been very interested in dog behavior. For a while I owned a dog training business, but after a few years I had to admit that I was more interested in dog behavior than teaching people how to train their dogs. A lot of new and very informative books on dog training and behavior have become available in the last ten years, but one will find very little about livestock guardian dogs or Anatolians.
Anatolians aren't like modern dog breeds that have been mostly developed to work under human direction. This is a primitive breed that functions independently of human direction and has hard-wired behavior patterns. It is a breed that is in tune with its pack, which can include humans or other animals.
Many of them exhibit surprisingly maternal behaviors towards other pack members, especially young children, young animals and other individuals who need special care. They don't need to be taught how to do their job; they are hard-wired for it. It is interesting to watch a little puppy, that previously would go out and be rather unconcerned about its environment, going into full alert mode as if a switch had been turned on that tells them to look out for trouble and to be alert to changes in the environment. From that point on they will usually more and more prefer to sit in a place that they deem best to keep an eye on their surroundings.
When my beloved Simba passed away and Leydi came to join us, it took only a few days, and she had scouted out the best place to keep an eye on the neighborhood - it just happened that it was the same spot where Simba used to sit, too. And actually not just one spot, but three.
When I say these dogs do not need to be taught how to do their job I do not mean that they do not need supervision and guidance as puppies, especially if there aren't any adult livestock guardian dogs to teach them.
One thing I would like to add here is ASD temperament. To be an effective guardian does not mean that the dog has to view each stranger as an enemy, nor should a dog have to be locked away to bring visitors on the property. Even visiting dogs don't need to be threatened with their lives. My personal ideal Anatolian temperament is a dog that has the ability to determine what is a threat and what is not and who acts accordingly.
For example, my 9 month old ASD Ayla was alone on one side of the property. She was unable to see that I let in a contractor. When she heard a strange voice she came into view, and she was barking. As soon as she saw me walking next to the man she went quiet. When I opened the gate to let him in she was eager to check him out, and she then accompanied us around the property. She kept an eye on him all the time, happily accepting and soliciting attention. I trust her, that should somebody start acting threateningly, that her demeanor would change, and she would take steps to let somebody know that their behaviors are not appropriate. Proper behavior in such a situation would be to step between me and the visitor, possibly barking or even a warning growl.
An Anatolian should always use the least amount of force necessary to deal with a given situation. In most cases it is enough to let an inappropriate human or a predator know that they are being watched to make them think about what they are doing. Other temperament traits of my "ideal Anatolian" are lack of food aggression, lack of aggression towards dogs of the same sex in the same household, calm and confident attitude when off territory, which includes no aggressive behavior towards people and other animals, unless such behavior is warranted, an observant and curious nature, ability to make independent decisions and to work through problems in an intelligent fashion.
If you think you are interested in adding an Anatolian to your life, please learn as much as you can about this breed, meet some of the dogs and talk to responsible breeders to make sure that this is the right breed for you. You may also want to consider joining e-mail groups such as ANATOLIAN-L www.anatoliandog.org/asd-l.htm , PYR-L or LGD-L www.anatoliandog.org/lists.htm#LGD-L to learn more.