Monday, September 20, 2010

Working Dogs on the Farm

By Suzanne Alicie

Dogs are known as man’s (or woman’s) best friend, and they are excellent pets and companions. However, many dogs are also hard working family members who more than earn their room and board. Farm dogs are one of the many working dogs that have a lot more to do than be a playmate. 

Originally, most all dog breeds were trained and bred for a purpose other than being pets. There were guard dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, and dogs that pretty much did it all. Farm dogs fall into the last category, as they often have several jobs they are responsible for.

There are many working farms still around today which utilize these special dog breeds to herd, to protect, and to perform other important tasks. These working dogs have the natural instincts bred into them over the centuries, and go through extensive training to become trustworthy farm dogs.

Some of the breeds that are familiar with farm work  such as herding livestock and guarding herds include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Kelpies, Belgian Shepherds, Sheepdogs, and even several mixed breeds such as the German Shepherd/Rough Collie hybrid.

These working dogs get plenty of exercise as they help round up and move herds of cattle, sheep and other herd animals. They also work as guard dogs for chicken coops, herds of animals and the farm in general. A typical day for a working dog begins early and ends late, but a farm dog always has energy to play fetch, show some affection and be a pet as well as a hard working dog.

Farm dogs do face some dangers on the job, though. They are at risk of being trampled by livestock, getting snake bites, fighting with wild animals to protect a herd, and disease from other animals. These hard working dogs should be vaccinated thoroughly, examined regularly, and treated for fleas and ticks on a regular basis. A farmer is more than a responsible pet owner – he or she also has to be a good employer. More often than not, a farm dog is a common sight around the farm but is seldom found indoors. Their job isn’t over when the family turns in for the night; even when sleeping a farm dog is ready to sound the alert if something or someone trespasses where they shouldn’t be.

Problem solving and intuitive skills make farm dogs easy to train, and gives them the ability to easily and quickly decide when they are needed to round up a stray cow or save a chicken from a predator. A good farm dog that has been trained will perform their job, whether their human tells them to or not. That is the dedication and the work ethic that makes farm dogs reliable guardians of all you hold dear. They are paying attention whether you are watching them, or not even on the premises.

If your children are interested in dogs and other farm animals there is a wonderful website called Kids Farm that will teach them all about farm life, farm dogs and other animals that are found on farms. This site is a wonderful way for children and adults to learn about the type of jobs working dogs have on a farm.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

1 comment:

  1. That's a great story. I never realized that dogs were used like this.


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