While most dog-lovers can agree virtually every pup is adorable and best-friendship-worthy, not all dogs are created equal. Although similarly sweet and loveable, barn dogs and house dogs are practically different species. House dogs thrive off of the comforts of home, while barn dogs prefer a working environment to achieve maximal fulfillment.
These dirt-loving, cattle-nipping, open-space-roaming pooches find plenty of ways to have fun on the farm and tend to make some unusual pals along the way. If given the opportunity, your friendly fido may form a fast companionship with the nearest bronco since dogs and horses enjoy social activity, express affection similarly, and share common interests when it comes to playing.
If you’re already swooning over thoughts of your two favorite furry friends frolicking in the pastures together, be sure to take care as you introduce your dog to new environments and animals. Ensure your pup has an excellent recall, is even-tempered before throwing them off the deep end, and keep a leash handy for unexpected situations. Additionally, take your time and be patient—it may take a couple of rounds before they’re comfortable with each other. Once the two of them are ready to spend time together, consider these safety tips for keeping your barn dog out of harm’s way.
Consider the best barn dog breed
Although any dog is workable with the correct skillset, shepherds, terriers, and collies make excellent working dogs. While you can train many breeds to become barn helpers, consider making your selection from this list of dogs best suited for the task:
- Jack Russel Terrier
- Australian Shepherd
- Australian Cattle Dog
- German Shepherd
- Border Collie
- American Foxhound
If you’re struggling to find a breed that fits your needs, you can think outside of the box and recruit a Labrador Retriever to become your full-time barn dog. Once you’re in the market to purchase, you ought to complete breed research, establish your budget, and begin visiting breeders. You can even engage in some virtual exploration by watching puppies live on available live-streams.
Strategically socialize the animals
Your dog and horse feeling calm and comfortable around one another are of vital importance to their safety. After all, even just a few moments of anxiety or uneasiness can result in an aggressive encounter. Acknowledge that your dog, no matter how even-tempered or well-mannered, is the descendant of a wolf and may act on animal instinct when agitated.
Start by taking your dog somewhere they can see a horse from afar, and then move on to an on-leash encounter. Reward your pup with treats or toys when they are near the horse to encourage a positive association with horses, and repeat the process several times before leaving the two animals together.
Don’t be afraid to bring out the crate
While you hate to see your free-spirited dog cooped up in a crate, kennel training your barn dog will provide much-needed refuge from potentially dangerous situations. Crate your dog when you can’t keep a close eye on them, like when you’re grooming your horse or performing other barn chores. Keeping the dog in its kennel when new animals are approaching will help prevent attacks or negative encounters with animals unaccustomed to being around canines.
Spend time working on obedience commands
Go back to the basics and make sure that your dog’s understanding of obedience commands is in tip-top shape. If you’re sure your hound can quickly respond to commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” you’ll feel much more confident that you’ll be able to dodge a confrontation between your dog and another animal.
Know what to do in the event of an emergency
If your furry friend is injured, share photos of the injury with your veterinarian so that you can immediately decide what level of medical attention is necessary. Have a 24-hour emergency vet clinic on speed dial, and prepare a first-aid kit with bandages and sterile lubricant.
By implementing a few simple practices and prioritizing the safety of the animals you hold dear, you can keep your canine companion happy, healthy, and at your side for years to come.