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I live on a hobby farm with free range 8 chickens, 7 people, 5 horses, and 1 cat. I want to throw a dog into the mix, but I want him/her to be able to roam free around the place (we don't really have fences), and the chickens and horses were there first: I want there to be peace in the kingdom so to speak. Anyone have any tips about training ideas and/or particular breeds to look for or avoid?

My instinct says two things: 1, to stay away from herders. I don't want anyone nipping at a horse's heels and wind up kicked in the head. 2, stay away from hunters. The hobby farm depends on eggs from the hens (although, they strut around like they own the place and I can't imagine they'd have difficulty pecking at a snout to teach a dog a lesson...even the cat is afraid of them!).

Also, is there anyone who can give me general tips about training "free range" dogs? I grew up in the suburbs with dogs who were always in a fenced yard or on-leash. I know it CAN be done, but I don't want dogs disappearing across the field and never seeing them again!
 

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No dog will just randomly stay on the property. It takes a lot of consistent training, and even then, some dogs are never reliable unfenced.
Personally, I wouldn't get a dog, if I couldn't put up fencing to contain it and wasn't willing to take it out on a leash.
 

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Spotted Nikes, I respectfully disagree that no dog will just stay on the property.
Mine do.
I couldn't begin to suggest what breed would be best for your farm Donex.
I'll leave that to the more experienced people on the forum.
 

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How big is your hobby farm? 5 acres, 20 acres, more? If you want a dog that will stay on your property, it will take training. My dogs usually become consistently reliable after two years, I live only on 1 acre, but in my subdivision we can't have fencing, and I don't want invisible fencing, so my dogs have always been boundary trained.
 

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yes eventually you will find the right ones may have to go through several fails.. Do you live near any main roads or interstates,, that is where I have seen several of my neighbors dogs laying on the side of the interstate 3.5 miles from home. but he always gets new ones.. There are dogs out there as individuals that can and do, do it just fine.. I would just approach it realistically . Getting them use to the animals even high prey drive breeds is a matter of tight supervision/containment when you can't be with them for at least the first two years so they don't develop the bad habits towards the animals.
 

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Spotted Nikes, I respectfully disagree that no dog will just stay on the property.
Mine do.
I couldn't begin to suggest what breed would be best for your farm Donex.
I'll leave that to the more experienced people on the forum.
Did you miss the "training" part? Getting random dogs and letting them loose right away will guarantee that most will get lost, stolen, hit by a car etc. Not sure how ethical it is to use dogs as guinea pigs to go through them until you find one that hangs around generally.
 

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Thanks for the replies! Our lot is small, a quarter acre or so. We live near the intersection of two country roads, and the nearest highway is about 8 miles away. A lot of that is bound in an electrical fence for areas for the horses, but a dog can learn to go under it. I've got plenty of time to train a dog, but how do you go about boundary training one?
 

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The idea that a dog unattended at-length is going to stay on an open quarter acre seems like wishful thinking to me, tbh, even with training. You might luck out and get one of the rare ones who won't wander much even for something interesting, but you're probably going to go through some lost or dead dogs first if you insist on doing it with whatever dog you happen to get. My advice would be to put up a fence, or don't get a dog unless you're willing to keep it indoors if it turns out it's got a normal dog quantity of wanderlust.

When I was a kid we had a pair of free-ranging GSDs and as adults they were pretty good about staying on the property (which was much, much larger than yours, and not near any major roads or neighbors). One of them got run over by the snowplow and died a really gruesome death. After that we put up a fence.
 

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Thanks for the replies! Our lot is small, a quarter acre or so. We live near the intersection of two country roads, and the nearest highway is about 8 miles away. A lot of that is bound in an electrical fence for areas for the horses, but a dog can learn to go under it. I've got plenty of time to train a dog, but how do you go about boundary training one?
I will fight for your right to have a free range dog.

That being said, the advice/opinion I gave people who have called through the years to have me train/produce such a dog for them was simple and direct "A loose dog ends up too many times a dead dog" I then tell them that I'm sure some where there is a trainer that will accept (steal) their money to train such a dog.
 

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I've got plenty of time to train a dog, but how do you go about boundary training one?
The way I have done it is, when puppy comes home it is always supervised outside, of course, then at about 12 weeks or so I start attaching a drag line to puppy so when I say, "puppy come!", puppy will always come to me, either willingly or by being reeled in by the drag line. I always reward puppy for coming to me and I never say come more than twice without making puppy come to me. Also, my dogs only exit and enter the property on the driveway or by the phone box in the back yard, even if we are going to the neighbor who lives right next door. So there is an invisible barrier around the property to the dogs.

I don't let the dog wander off the property or let people call the dog into the street to pet her.

I also take every dog I own thru 2 years of formal obedience training and this is something we practice ongoing even though we are no longer enrolled in classes.

I don't let my dog out and then not pay attention to her when she is outside, that's how they wander off. It takes a lot of consistency to boundary train your dog, and even then something could happen.

Over the last 20 years I've owned a Min Pin, 2 Dobes and now a Bernese Mountain dog, all have received the same training, all were boundary trained. The Dobes ran off chasing a rabbit and ended up on the bike trail by my house once, because I was lax on keeping an eye on them. They were gone for about 30 minutes, found them, they were covered in deer feces (which is the most god awful smell) and I learned my lesson.
 

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I live on 10 acres and once upon a time my land was not fenced in except for the horse e- fencing. I had the goats, chickens, ducks, horses and other such critters. At that time I had 2 rotts, a sheltie and a rough collie. All stayed on the property except for the male Rott who would go next door to the one and only neighbor and wait for one particular dog of theirs to come outside. Then the 2 of them would go for a walk around the property. It was kind of cute. None of my dogs bothered any of the other animals. I will say that my female Rott was the best of the bunch. She would be laying on the hay while the little bantam chicks would be pecking around her. She was even good around the pesky little ferrets. Would or am I suggesting this breed to you. NO! It was just that she was an exceptional dog. I boundary trained my dogs but I did not leave them outside if I was not home or outside with them. I have seen basic mutts do the same thing. Some dogs do ok with staying on the property while the majority thinks it is greener on the other side of the fence. My property now is fenced in with a welded wire fence, e-fence for the horses top and bottom of the wire fence and an e-fence for the bigger dogs.
 

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If you're going to go the free range with training route, please neuter your dog. We have a few free range dogs in our neighborhood whose training goes out the window when there's a bitch on season. It's not fair to responsible breeders to allow an intact male to range. And it's plumb stupid to allow an intact female to range when she's on season.

Dogs are very very respectful of electric fence. Putting on a lower wire or two will probably do a good job of containing your dog.

As for chickens and horses: if you start from puppyhood and work at it, you should be ok unless your dog has (inherently) very high prey drive.
 

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the high prey drive is not an excuse for lack of training / supervising while in training.. and training should last as long as they need it.... 13 + years of an exceptional farm dog is well worth the first 2 or 3 years of training to get there.. My guys will hunt and kill any small vermin on the property, as 3 and above year olds they don't even notice the livestock... And 2 of the current ones did kill or damage the smaller livestock when they were pups in training.. especially chickens jumping fencing into the back yard, or getting in their kennels in the barn with them... As older dogs no worries with them even when the chickens get in a dog kennel with them and is flustering around trying to get out.. That and using their dog house full of straw to lay their eggs..
 

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Where do you put 5 horses on 1/4 acre? My house in town has almost a full acre and I still wouldn't want 5 horses on it. Or do you mean that's your part of the hobby farm? Anyway, yeah, 1/4 acre is tiny; I'd just fence it.

Lots of people here who live outside town have free-roaming dogs. They also usually go through 5 dogs in 5 years, and then get lucky and find a dog who learns the ropes without getting killed and lives to be elderly. Then they begin the process over again and go through 5 more dogs in 5 years :/. I suppose it depends how attached you want to get to the dog.

As for breed, my aunt/uncle/cousins were the type of family who went through a lot of dogs. So I kind of got a good feeling for which dogs would last. Their Labs always wandered off once they reached maturity. Herders tended to chase cars, which usually caused an untimely end. Guardian breed types usually stuck around. Their best dog was a Collie/German Shepherd mix. English Shepherds supposedly are a good farm dog, or the generic "farm collies" that are popular in some places. Not so herd-y as to be a problem but enough to be useful in keeping the chickens at home.
 

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If you're going to go the free range with training route, please neuter your dog. We have a few free range dogs in our neighborhood whose training goes out the window when there's a bitch on season. It's not fair to responsible breeders to allow an intact male to range. And it's plumb stupid to allow an intact female to range when she's on season.

Dogs are very very respectful of electric fence. Putting on a lower wire or two will probably do a good job of containing your dog.

As for chickens and horses: if you start from puppyhood and work at it, you should be ok unless your dog has (inherently) very high prey drive.
I was thinking this too, a lower wire or two, one hit from that fence and they will learn their lesson. I had a dog who would NOT go under fences of any kind til the day she died after being hit by the fence once as a teenager (around 8 months) .

Now, as far as they type of dog, I was leanig towards LGD, like an anatolian shepherd or maybe a great Pyrenees, they would protect your other animals, not try to herd or harass them, or kill them the way a herding breed or hunting breed would.
 

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Where do you put 5 horses on 1/4 acre? My house in town has almost a full acre and I still wouldn't want 5 horses on it. Or do you mean that's your part of the hobby farm? Anyway, yeah, 1/4 acre is tiny; I'd just fence it.

Lots of people here who live outside town have free-roaming dogs. They also usually go through 5 dogs in 5 years, and then get lucky and find a dog who learns the ropes without getting killed and lives to be elderly. Then they begin the process over again and go through 5 more dogs in 5 years :/. I suppose it depends how attached you want to get to the dog.

As for breed, my aunt/uncle/cousins were the type of family who went through a lot of dogs. So I kind of got a good feeling for which dogs would last. Their Labs always wandered off once they reached maturity. Herders tended to chase cars, which usually caused an untimely end. Guardian breed types usually stuck around. Their best dog was a Collie/German Shepherd mix. English Shepherds supposedly are a good farm dog, or the generic "farm collies" that are popular in some places. Not so herd-y as to be a problem but enough to be useful in keeping the chickens at home.
Maybe the horses are stabled? or in small paddocks? I was under the assumption that the house itself was on 1/4 of an acre and the place was a total of 5 acres. That being said, 5 acres with 5 horses is still not a lot. We have 70 acres with 2 horses and we still see them putting a dent in our grasss if we dont get rain ... which in south texas, happens often.
 

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Maybe the horses are stabled? or in small paddocks? I was under the assumption that the house itself was on 1/4 of an acre and the place was a total of 5 acres. That being said, 5 acres with 5 horses is still not a lot. We have 70 acres with 2 horses and we still see them putting a dent in our grasss if we dont get rain ... which in south texas, happens often.
Depends on where you live. My horses probably have 8 acres maybe 7 acres for grazing. I have to mow all the time. My horses wear muzzles and are put away at nite. Sometimes I barrow my friends horses to get my pasture down instead of mowing it.
 

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main thing about the LGD's is they all have a tendency to expand territory wonder off property. and need good secure fencing to set boundaries.
 

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main thing about the LGD's is they all have a tendency to expand territory wonder off property. and need good secure fencing to set boundaries.
Yes I agree with this. Mowgli a gr pyr/anatolian wishes his territory was bigger and tries all the time to get it expanded. It is a constant battle between him and I to keep him here. My other LGD a female Anatolian stays on the property and does not even try to wander. Mowgli just wants to rid the world of coyotes is all. He hates them.

I will add that my Rotts and Collie were adult dogs when we got the animal farm going. The collie had lived her first 3 years in a kennel and became such a great farm dog.
 
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