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Having a working dog on your side can be a great help, be it herding or guarding. Even so, farm safety comes first, and this means getting your dog familiar with the animals they’re supposed to protect for starters.
It won’t do for your dog to start barking excessively at livestock only for a stressed animal to lash out against them. Aside from socializing your dog, you also need to make sure that he or she doesn’t accidentally wander into any places where animal feed or pesticides are stored. If you want to create a safe but productive environment for your farm dogs, here are some tips you can keep in mind.
In order to maintain a good relationship with the farm animals and your dog, they need to be introduced to each other first. You can start by socializing your dog, either by having them walk around the farm or letting them get close to the livestock.
This needs to be done slowly and preferably with your dog on a leash. This serves as a precaution in case they start barking or acting aggressively towards your farm animals. If this happens, it may be best to move him or her to a neutral area to calm them down. Socializing your dog will take time, but it’s best to do so in order to minimize negative reactions in the future.
A farm will always have places where dogs can’t go to. These include places where pesticides, fertilizers, and livestock feed are stored. Despite dogs mostly preferring meat, they can also eat grains. This can pose problems especially since livestock feed may cause gas buildup and loose bowels in your dog.
Not only should you keep dogs away from these areas, but the chemicals and feed should be stored out of reach for further safety, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a US Federal agency that monitors and prevents large-scale disease outbreaks. That way, you can minimize the risk of toxin ingestion or even your dog sneaking in to take a quick bite of food meant for your livestock.
Working in a farm has its fair share of risks with pests. Mosquito bites, fleas, ticks, and rats are some of the things to watch out for, as these can transmit diseases to your livestock and working dogs.
One of these diseases to watch out for is leptospirosis, a disease transmitted by water contaminated by rat urine. According to Dr. Paul DeMars from the Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, this bacterial disease can enter through things like small cuts in the skin. This can cause fever, liver and even kidney failure in dogs, which can be costly in terms of treatments and post-recovery care.
Thankfully, transmission can be minimized by practicing proper pest control and regularly monitoring the health of your livestock. Having routine veterinary exams and vaccinations for brucellosis, leptospirosis, and rabies can also help prevent the spread of parasites and other illnesses.
Working in a farm requires constant diligence in maintaining it, especially if you’re raising both livestock and crops. Doing so will help keep the place safe not just for yourself, but also your working dogs.