Finding the Right Rescue Farm Dog
Farm Dogs (Storey, 2016) by Janet Vorwalk Dohner is an in-depth guide to different dog breeds, while telling the history of dogs and humans working together for survival. She goes through each breed and how they each have been bred throughout history to be utilized on farms. In the following excerpt, she explains how to find your perfect rescue farm dog.
When considering a rescue dog, it is very important to know why the dog is looking for a new home. A working dog who needs to be rehomed because his owners are relocating or selling their stock or farm is a good possibility. Dogs who transfer from similar situations and stock are more likely to adapt. Be very wary of any dog who has not been socialized or is difficult to catch and handle. Retraining a nearly feral livestock guardian dog, an improperly trained herding dog, or a poorly socialized terrier is not a job for an inexperienced person. In all cases, make sure the dog can be safely handled.
Many herding dogs and terriers are handed over to rescue organizations for the following reasons:
“Too hyper” or “needs too much exercise.” “Hyper” dogs usually just need lots of exercise, as much as two hours a day for some breeds. It is important to remember that this is not “bad” behavior — these are the desired working traits of a herding dog or terrier. A dog who has already demonstrated his need for activity can be a good choice for someone dedicated to providing for his needs or engaging in dog sports.
“Impossible to control.” An “out of control” dog is most often lacking appropriate training and handling; it may have been left alone too much without enough attention. A rescue dog will probably need retraining with an emphasis on consistent commands. An experienced owner may be able to provide the appropriate situation with consistent routines, rules, and expectations.
Herding dogs in particular want leadership as much as they want to impose order themselves. Most people are not equipped to train a dog who is capable of distinguishing among a multitude of commands with varying verbal terms, body language, or gestures. Terriers are independent, dominant, feisty dogs who are challenging to train. LGDs have very particular needs to be met and must be brought along slowly in a new situation. You must be willing to enroll in obedience training or work with a professional trainer if that is called for.
Biting, nipping, or snapping, especially with children. A dog who has nipped, bitten, or frightened young children may do better with older children or adults who understand not to run from a barking or nipping dog — especially one who is trying to herd — and who can learn to control the dog as well. Such a dog from a herding or terrier breed may never be trustworthy with groups of children because the instinct to chase and control cannot be completely trained away. Some terrier breeds are especially sensitive to touch or movement, and are often unsuitable for homes with small children. Some breeds are protective and territorial by nature. These breeds belong in homes that desire watchdogs and are equipped to handle them.
Destructive or obsessive behaviors. Many destructive issues displayed by working dogs, particularly terriers and herding dogs, can be traced to a lack of regular hard exercise. A dog who has engaged in destructive behaviors needs for his energies to be redirected. Such a dog may be an excellent choice for an owner who is able to provide work or participation in dog sports. Some obsessive behaviors in herding dog breeds may need the assistance of a trainer familiar with herding-dog behavior.
Dog aggression/chasing or killing other pets. Dog aggression is an aspect of terrier temperament, in particular, though many other breeds may also have issues. And most terriers are hardwired to chase and kill small, furry animals, which unfortunately can include family cats or other pets. For any dog who is not socialized to other animals and dogs, or is unable to get along with them, a home without these temptations is going to be a much better fit.
Roaming or hunting. Dogs that escape yards to roam or to chase people, other dogs, bikes, and cars, need better fencing, fewer irritations or temptations, neutering, and more exercise and activity.
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Excerpted from Farm Dogs© Janet Vorwald Dohner. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.
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