Equine and canine—they go together like peanut butter and jelly…peas and carrots…you get where we’re going with this. Walk around any horse show, anywhere across the country, and you’ll find dogs of all sizes, breeds, and personalities escorting their four-hooved counterparts.
It’s nice to have your dog with you—it’s more than just a fashionable thing. Your dog can provide a sense of companionship on those long, lonely hauls to the trail or the show. Or, they’re a built-in security system for the farm. And, maybe for others, it’s a matter bringing home with you wherever you go.
But having your dog at the barn can be a distraction or a safety concern, unless you consider a few basic principles:
- By having your dog on a leash, you eliminate the possibly of the dog getting too far away and putting himself in harm’s way. The best advice for having a dog stay by your side is a leash. There are options for leashes that attach to the body that give the owner hands free options for keeping their dogs tethered.
- Take your time introducing your dog to your horse and the barn area. You don’t want to overstimulate your dog by bringing him out while the horses might be running around the pasture because they were just turned loose, as that might turn on your dog’s instinct to chase prey.
- If you have to do something that involves you taking your attention away from Fido, place him in a crate where he can watch, or a stall. But if your dog barks a lot in his crate, typically covering the crate will help keep the dog calm and quiet.
- Talk with your veterinarian about what vaccines, if any, you should consider giving your dog if he’s going to be around the farm more than the typical canine.
- Keep items like ivermectin and moxidectin (dewormer), phenylbutazone (Bute) paste, and concentrated pyrethroid products (fly spray) away from your dog’s reach. These items are poisonous and potentially deadly for your dog.
- Ensure your dog has a good recall—meaning, if he runs off he will return immediately when you call his name. Start by rewarding your dog each time he looks at you when you say his name, then add distance.
- Looking for a quick fix? Unfortunately, there isn’t any.
“Electric collars and spray collars are both management tools and don’t actually fix the problem. Determining the triggers for the barking is first and foremost,” says Mandy Eakins, a dog trainer based in Lexington, Ky. “Is movement of people or things a trigger? Work the dog at a distance, rewarding the dog for quiet behavior. Slowly move closer and closer to the trigger continuing to reward the dog for calm and quiet behavior. If the dog should start to bark, turn and walk away from the trigger and at the same time stopping all rewards. Start again at the last area of success.”
Teaching the Basics
What are the basics you can teach your dog before hitting the barn? Trainer, Mandy Eakins, shares helpful hints you can work on at home:
- A strong sit behavior
- Eye contact with the owner on cue
- Leash manners – this includes bathroom behaviors on leash, sitting to greet a stranger, and loose leash walking
- A strong stay behavior
- Crate manners – this makes hotel stays, trailer time, stall time, etc. safe, enjoyable, and less stressful for dog and human.
“The American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen Program is a great blueprint for being able to take a dog into public,” Eakins suggests.
You can go to the AKC website and learn more: www.akc.org