With fine weather, hikes in the Alps are increasing. Walkers thought they would come across patous in the mountain pastures. Sheepdogs bred to protect herds in the mountains. So how do you react when you come across these dogs that may seem hostile?
They are called patous, a name that may sound cute, but when you meet them, these dogs are rather hostile. It is indeed a working dog trained since birth to protect his herd. It is known to hikers who come across it regularly in the mountains, but much less so to tourists. This dog can be aggressive, even go on the attack if he considers you a threat to his herd. ” On perceives him as aggressive at first, but he also perceives us as aggressive and above all as a threat. But as the meeting with the animal progresses, he realizes that we are not there as a danger for his herd and we realize that too.» explains Damien funnelstay advisor at the Saint-Gervais-les-Bains tourist office.
If Damien tells us that, it is because he has received training to apprehend and above all to discover this dog. This training is intended for professionals, tourism stakeholders, but also police officers and elected officials. The objective is toinform these actors of the Alpine territory so that they can then retransmit this information to tourists.
Anthony Rouillon organizes these trainings and explains to us how to behave when we find ourselves in front of a ptrump : ” When we meet a guard dog in the mountains, he will come towards us barking. This must be accepted. It’s a way of telling us, I saw you. Then we will stop, and this will allow the dog to come very close to us. It can be very impressive, explains Antoine Rouillon, but we will then accept that this dog comes to smell us. Know that he can smell us a few tens of centimeters or a few centimeters away. There, you rather propose the profile of your body, not your back, not to be from the front. Instead, adopt a modest posture that will allow the dog to come into contact with you. Then, we will tell the dog that we are moving away from the herd he is guarding. And as soon as we see that the dog drops in pressure, decreases barking, decreases its mane on the back and that its tail begins to beat again gently, then we can move away. And by reacting like that in the majority of cases it will be fine. “He adds, “if really, we are a little worried, we can put a cap or a hat between us and him, backpack, but very gently without threatening gesture. »
For shepherds, dogs patous are essential, especially with the resurgence of wolf attacks in recent years: “we are torn in all directions, we have the wolf on one side, so we have to protect ourselves, but there, we are surrounded by houses and the patous cause a lot of noise pollution, especially at night. But we love our animals, we take care of them and therefore we want to protect them so that they are not attacked.”
Last year, 130 incidents involving guard dogs were reported across the whole of the Alps.