Can Any Dog Be A Farm Dog?
Can Any Dog Be A Farm Dog?
There are so many dogs in shelters today that are looking for a second chance for a happy life. If you are going to rescue a dog to live on your farm and you want it to be a working dog, there are some characteristics to look for when choosing your farm dog. If you are going to a reputable breeder to buy a specific breed, the same characteristics are good to look for in a puppy.
You want to look for a dog that is going to be easily trained. One that doesn't show aggressive behaviors and seems alert and calm. Dogs that seem excitable around other animals may not be the best fit. You don't want a dog that will lunge or pounce on small animals. You don't want a dog that is going to bark incessantly at large animals like cows, horses or goats. Curiosity is a good trait, one that seems interested in the animal but isn't in an offensive stance ready to attack.
You want to look for a dog that isn't fearful of touch or sensitive to being handled or petted. A working farm dog will be around small and large animals. It is easy for a dog to get nudged, pushed or even stepped on by other animals. You want a dog that does not react aggressively if livestock should give them a shove or should step on a paw. A good way to tell if a dog is okay with touch is to get it on it's back and rub it's belly. If a dog is content to roll over for you and doesn't fight and squirm in fear, you know the dog is content to be touched and petted.
A good characteristic in a farm dog is the ability to focus and pay attention. You will have to train your dog and you want them to be able to constantly learn new things and focus on your commands. That being said, obedience training is very important for a farm dog, as well as any dog for all situations. You want your new dog to learn what you are teaching so they know what their job is on the farm.
Look for a dog that isn't needy for human attention. If you are getting a dog for a livestock guardian farm dog to protect livestock, then treat the dog like livestock. It should be prepared to spend most of it's time outdoors with the animals. You will want to provide proper shelter near the animals you want them to live around and protect. You can't turn a couch potato dog into an outdoor dog easily, so get a dog that is meant to be an outdoor dog and likes to be outside.
Common Livestock Guardian Dogs
If you are looking for a specific breed of livestock guardian dog, there are many to choose from. There is a difference between a flock guardian dog and a herding guardian dog. You want to make sure you are looking at the proper breeds that will compliment your farm and livestock.
The Great Pyrenees is a wonderful flock guardian dog. It's breed is an excellent independent guard dog and is known for protecting a range of livestock, including poultry. It is best known for protecting sheep. They do bark a lot and require periodic grooming due to their thick, heavy coat.
The Akbash Dog is a dual purpose livestock guardian dog. It is a flock guardian as well as a herder. This dog is strong and protective with a maternal instinct which makes it ideal around small animals like poultry but a great protector of horses, cattle, goats and sheep. This breed is very sweet and gentle around family members and loyal to the animals it protects. But, it will take on larger predators such as bear and coyotes and will risk it's life to make sure it's livestock stays safe.
The Anatolian Shepard is a flock guardian breed that requires a strong owner and a lot of training because they become very protective of their livestock. They do well protecting large animals and take their job seriously.
The Australian Shepard is a wonderful herding dog. They are family oriented and friendly dogs. They work well with animals in the pasture that require herding like horses, cattle, goats and sheep.
The Border Collie is an all around great breed for herd protection and for a family pet. They are one of the most intelligent breeds of dog. They work well with pastured animals like cattle, horses, sheep and goats.
The Australian Cattle Dog is a great herder and never gives up when working with large animals in the pasture. This dog is also known as a "Blue Heeler". Don't let its smaller size fool you it's strong, agile and quick. It is also a very intelligent breed.
Whether you are going to try integrating a mixed breed to your farm or you want a specific full blooded breed to work with your livestock, you must continue to work with your dog and train it so that it becomes an effective farm hand.
Do You Have A Farm Dog?
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Fencing In Your Farm Dog
There are many opinions on fencing on the farm. Do you fence in your farm dog? I must say that all animals need proper fencing and your land should be fenced with the proper fencing to keep animals safe. If animals are able to roam free they will go places they should not go and can get hurt or killed. There are laws that protect farmers against other peoples dogs on their land. Each state has their own laws so research the state that you live in when getting a farm dog. You don't want a neighborly feud over an unruly dog.
I am a big fan of wire welded livestock fencing. It works for most types of animals and isn't as expensive as some fencing like chain link. Dogs can learn their boundaries and you want your livestock fenced in and learning their boundaries as well. A four foot small weaved wire welded fence will keep the animals in and requires posts and fencing and can be put up fairly easily with two people. You want to give your farm dog freedom to run your property, so general fencing around your entire property should be done before you bring your first animal home on a farm. Once fencing is applied, building your farm and adding your animals becomes as easy task.
Before you bring your new dog home and get ready to teach it to become a valuable asset to your farm, make sure you have the proper equipment.
- Proper housing, keeping in mind that they need ventilation in the summer months to stay cool and they need warmth in the winter. Even heavy coated dogs need to be kept warm in freezing temperatures.
- Grooming tools. Brushing dogs is important to keep their coats healthy and their undercoats from becoming matted. Nail clipping may not be necessary but having clippers on hand is a good idea in case they crack a nail or need a trim.
- Food and Water bowls
- Collar and Identification
What Does A Farm Dog Need?
Before you bring your new dog home to become part of your farm you want to make sure you are prepared. You don't want to get a dog on an impulse and not have everything prepared and planned. When you get a farm dog, it's not like bringing home a house dog. You don't want to teach your farm dog the wrong things from the start. Don't bring the dog inside the house and treat it like a house dog. You want to have it's house ready and in the area you want it to live with the animals that it will protect. Having a pen or fencing up is important. You want your new dog to see and adapt to the animals it will live with, but you want to keep them separated at first so that the dog will adapt to it's new living situation.
Feeding your farm dog when you feed all the other animals is important. You want to keep your dog on the same schedule as the other animals so that it knows the time of day it needs to return home, if out wandering and protecting from predators. There are some that feed their farm dogs on a raw meat diet. Others use dry dog food, and whichever method you feel inclined to use for food keep with that diet.
Make sure your dog has access to water at all times. It is good to have several areas where water is available for all your farm animals.
Make sure you have a good collar with identifying tags attached so that if your dog wanders, someone can get in touch with you. I like the reflective collars s that they can be seen in the dark easily.
Make an appointment with your veterinarian to get your farm dog started on vaccines. Especially rabies, you don't want your dog to contract rabies if it should come into contact with a rabid predator.
If you get a small puppy to start out you want to make sure they are protected from predators just as you would your livestock. It will take a few months before a puppy is big enough to protect itself, so make sure the puppy has safe fencing around their shelter.
What Is Most Important?
Feed and care for your farm dog well
Start training the first day.
Don't beat or abuse your dog.
Groom when necessary
Teach the dog commands and obedience.
Do your homework and get a dog that fits your needs so that it doesn't end up in a shelter.
Make sure the dog is vaccinated and protected from disease
Make sure you teach your farm dog what it's job is so that it understands how to work well for your farm.
Spend a lot of time with your farm dog so that it knows you are in charge and it can learn properly.
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