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Hi everyone,

I have just registered in this forum as it looked to me from the questions and answers here that I could find support and answers to my own questions. We have 4 children of different ages including a baby, run hobby farm in Canada, ON, with goats and chickens, and just recently got a beautiful present - Golder Retriever puppy, who is 5 months old. He is with us for 1 month already. I never had dogs before in my live so this experience is quite new to me, but I enjoy this little puppy. We called him Mart.
Here is the basic dilemma that we are facing and could not agree on (even after reading about the breed) - whether to raise him as a family companion or a helper with animals. If we decide to raise him as a family companion and watch dog, we will still have to keep hip outside the house in a shed, or a dog house. So here are few questions that I would appreciate to get answers for:
a. Is it better to raise Mart as a family companion or a helper with animals?
b. If we have to keep him out of the house would it be better to put a dog house close to the entrance of our house, or to put his house in the area where animals and birds are?
c. Could Golder Retriever be trained to watch the small flock of chickens and turkeys ? (He seems to get along with goats all right, but we did not introduce him to birds yet)
d. Taking into consideration that we do not have any fencing (we are among the fields), is it worth to train him to be on a leash when we are not around?

I would appreciate your comments, answers and may be links so that I could start from something.

Thank you,
Anna
 

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Why does he have to stay outside either way? I have a golden retriever and I couldn't imagine making her live outside, or any breed of dog. I just don't agree with it. Goldens are very family oriented dogs and she would be miserable.
 

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a. Is it better to raise Mart as a family companion or a helper with animals?
I'm not a farmer. What is the difference? Are the two exclusive?

b. If we have to keep him out of the house would it be better to put a dog house close to the entrance of our house, or to put his house in the area where animals and birds are?
Again, the answer is going to depend on the answer to the first question and probably on geography. If the dog can see the animals and birds from the house and thus watch them I don't see an issue with either. You may discover that the dog doesn't even use his house regardless of where you put it.

c. Could Golder Retriever be trained to watch the small flock of chickens and turkeys ? (He seems to get along with goats all right, but we did not introduce him to birds yet)
I'm not expert on goldens, but bear in mind that they are bred to be hunting dogs. Their instinct is retrieve birds from water and possibly kill them as well. I don't know how this will translate to chickens. What do you mean by "watch the flock?"

d. Taking into consideration that we do not have any fencing (we are among the fields), is it worth to train him to be on a leash when we are not around?
Why wouldn't you do that? All dogs should be trained to walk on a leash IMO. Personally if you have no fencing at all I wouldn't let the dog loose unsupervised and unleashed. An untrained dog could easily run off and never be seen again or be hit by a car or picked up by a stray or attacked by another animal or some other bad thing.
 

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Goldens make lousy guard dogs. They may bark at strangers, but they can easily be befriended and/or poisoned by miscreants. Suspiciousness is not on the list of common traits in Goldens.

I'm not sure how much help a Golden would be with farm animals--unless you need help keeping the livestock amused. If your pup is anything like my Golden, he will never quit bothering the poultry. He may endlessly retrieve them for you, but left to his own devices, I would expect him to develop a taste for chickens and turkeys. Even if he doesn't kill them on purpose, he would probably injure many.

You don't get a terrier to be a playmate for a hamster, and you don't get a bird dog to guard your birds. There are always exceptions, but you are swimming upstream if you try it. Especially if you expect to do it without a lot of supervision.

Goldens need people. They can be housed outside--if they have sufficient contact with their humans. "Sufficient" is the key word here. They are definitely the kind of dogs that "goose" you when you stop short. Independence is also not on the list of common Golden traits.
 

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a) Go for both. I'm not sure how good a helper with the animals she will be, but working dogs can be good pets as well.

b) If she is living outside (which is perfectly OK as long as she gets lots of people time as well) and you have all these other animals you may want to put the house in a simple dog pen (fenced in area maybe 20' long and 8' wide with reasonable shelter from rain, sun, etc.) May also want to insulate the dog house if you are in Ontario.

c) I've no idea. Instinctively he may be more prone to chasing/retreiving them than watching them. See 'dog pen' above, LOL.

d) Depends how much land you have, where the roads / neighbors are etc. Generally you can train a dog to stick pretty close to home in a rural setting with no problem. Again, a dog pen is preferable to tying him up, if that is what you meant.
 

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Also, if you're worried about the dog wandering I would suggest having him neutered. Generally speaking neutered dogs tend to wander less.
 

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(a) I don't believe these choices are mutually exclusive, but Goldens were originally bred as water retrievers, not farm dogs. You can train almost any dog to do almost any job, but that does not necessarily mean they'll be good at it. Livestock guardians are typically 'imprinted' with their flock at 8 weeks; at 5 months, I believe it's too late to imprint him with your animals, but I'm a city boy and really can't say with any first-hand knowledge.
(b) If you want to use him as a livestock guardian, I would guess that he would be sleeping close to the flock. He should still have a covered, protected, and possibly heated/cooled home to himself.
(c) It's certainly possible, but unlikely. Almost all dogs have a prey drive, particularly with small animals like birds, and Goldens in particular were bred to retrieve downed birds from the water. It's already too late to imprint him into your flock, so it's going to take a lot of work to counteract his instinctive behaviors.
(d) A dog should always be trained on a leash. At some point, you're going to bring him to town, or out to visit friends/family, or to the vet. When it happens, you're going to need a leash, and you don't want that to be the first time for the both of you.
 

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If you want a dog to guard your flocks or livestock then you need a Livestock Guard Breed not a breed that's hardwired to retrieve birds. Your Golden will make a wonderful family companion but, as already mentioned. it would be an uphill battle to get him to act as either a home or flock guard and you'd most likely be unsuccessful as, unless he's an unusual representative of the breed, i't just not part of his nature or his instincts.
 

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I have always thought any breed of dog can be trained to do things that they were not bred for if they have the physical attributes to do the job. This does take some working dog knowledge from owner/trainer etc. I just don't believe that this is possible with a 1st time owner. I get the feeling that OP prefers dog outside(I could be very wrong) At the very least pup has to be in home for some bonding etc and training added to program. A retriever puppy introduced to chickens etc running around is very similar to the term Chinese fire drill.

I'm not gonna add more to thread just,
Good Luck
 

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As a puppy he should be in the house as much as possible, as an extremely family oriented dog I do sincerely hope you reconsider the outside dog situation. At this young age do NOT leave him outside unattended, he could become a coyote snack...really.

That being said. I live in Ontario..our winters are harsh and our summers VERY hot. Dogs not built to live outdoors have a very hard time regulating their temperatures and this can be dangerous to the dog (especially a puppy or a senior dog) so IF it is assured that he is to be an outside dog you must invest in a professionally built heated/cooled/insulated doghouse and a good pen. Tying him out is not a good idea for his health, safety or for his emotional well being.

Where in Ontario are you? Maybe I can assist in finding you a trainer that can work with you, show you how to make your dog "animal safe" and how to make him a good pet who is able to spend time with your family in the best ways possible.

You say this pup was a gift..was he a "planned" gift? If not, you may be in over your head. Puppies and dogs are an investment in time, money and attention and you need to be able to provide what he needs to make him a well adjusted addtion to your family. The first two years of a dog's life involve a lot of dedication, it's not that hard if you decide to put in the work and it is HIGHLY rewarding but if you do NOT do this neither he nor you will enjoy each other, and that would be tragic.

And yes, he needs leash training, basic manners training, critter training and recall training. Both for his benefit AND yours.
 

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I'm going to be the real negative voice here and say this is a train wreck ready to happen. :( 4 kids, a farm and a 5 m/o GR. The OP seems to not want the dog inside at all, something I don't condone. No one will have time to spend with Mart and he will end up a very lonely and sad dog. I don't hold out much hope but wish them all the luck in the world.
 

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I do agree.

Cracker
I sure hope you can get OP to get back to you as help is definitely needed, it's nice you live in area as you know what OP is facing with the outside living conditions etc.
 

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Only problem I really see is a golden around poultry.

If the dog can be taught not to harass and eat the birds all will likely be well.

No reason the dog can't be a family dog and a helper both at the same time. Just needs to be trained what to do.

Neutering is mandatory IMO for a free roaming farm dog you want to live long, non neutered dogs will take off and travel miles for the faint scent of a dog in heat. Many farmers/ranchers will shoot a strange dog hanging around their place on sight.

I've know lots of rural dogs that lived happily to ripe old ages loose on small farms, sleeping on the porch and only coming inside to sleep when it got too cold out. A small farm a dog gets to hang out with kids outside and mom and dad working outside all day. It's a good life if the dog is trained well enough to not be a problem. In fact just having a dog or three present is good for keeping coyotes at a good distance and away from the house and animals provided they are as big or bigger than a coyote..

I've also known several non neutered males that disappeared never to be seen again.
 

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Thank you very much for your answers and comments and your prompt responses !!!
My mind is much clearer now. It was very important for me to get all your opinions, because we did not plan this puppy - it was an unexpected lovely present.

We would raise this Golden Retriever puppy to be a family dog and would rather fence poultry appropriately. In winter we would keep the dog in the house then as we do not spend too much time outside.
The only reason we did not want to keep dog in the house is because we are getting a lot of visitors with little children during the summer, and a lot of children now days for some reason are allergic to dogs' or cats' fur or even smell.

Few more questions, if I could:
Is there anything I could read or may be you have your own experience on how to train the dog to stay close to the house, and since what age is it possible to let him loose that he could consciously stay around the house when we are not outside? The closest neighbour houses from us are in about 5 mins walk and the closest road about 300m away. But we have coyotes around which sometimes travel in packs.

Another question is - we have noticed that this puppy has very weak hind legs. Previous owners kept him in a condo and he was going outside only twice a day for a very short walks. How may we exercise him to strengthen his hind legs?

Thank you beforehand,
Anna
 

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I'm going to be the real negative voice here and say this is a train wreck ready to happen. :( 4 kids, a farm and a 5 m/o GR. The OP seems to not want the dog inside at all, something I don't condone. No one will have time to spend with Mart and he will end up a very lonely and sad dog. I don't hold out much hope but wish them all the luck in the world.
Thats rather harsh / judgemental. There's a lot of very happy well adjusted dogs living on small farms. Yes they are outside but on a farm people are outside quite a bit too. I'd say that the average hobby farm dog I've seen (not that many but some) has been significantly healthier / better adjusted than the average city dog, spending his days sleeping on the carpet in the TV room. These people may be first time dog owners but they obviously have experience in caring for animals and she is doing her research on how to address her dog issues.

As far as Coyotes, thats tricky. Definitely a danger while she is a pup. When full grown she will be safe from a lone coyote but they sometimes try to suck dogs out 'to play' and attack them in a pack. Keep the 12g handy!
 

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Another question is - we have noticed that this puppy has very weak hind legs. Previous owners kept him in a condo and he was going outside only twice a day for a very short walks. How may we exercise him to strengthen his hind legs?
What particular behaviors have you noticed that indicated weak hind legs? This could have nothing to do with exercise and everything to do with genetics.
 

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Few more questions, if I could:
Is there anything I could read or may be you have your own experience on how to train the dog to stay close to the house, and since what age is it possible to let him loose that he could consciously stay around the house when we are not outside? The closest neighbour houses from us are in about 5 mins walk and the closest road about 300m away. But we have coyotes around which sometimes travel in packs.
I don't think any dog, no matter how well trained, would stay near a house if not watched over a long period of time. Even if I had the world's obedience champion under my care I would not leave him outside without a fence overnight. The coyotes sound very dangerous as well.

Would it be possible for you to at least build him a run or some kind of shelter where he can be confined?

It is possible for you to train him to stay near you when you are outside with him, but honestly, to ask him to stay near the house at all times without a leash or a fence is slightly unrealistic.
 

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My husband's family have a small farm opertaion in Ontario, they board and breed horses. They currently have one pooch (a staffi) who has more then a few years under his belt and lost another recently to old age (border collie). The dogs they've had on the farm have been happy and healthy and wander the property without fences or leads. The dogs come in at night but seem happier outside during the day for the most part, I say dogs because I haven't been there since the collie past so in my mind I still see both pooches *smiles*. While I don't know the dog training techniques they use, or how they got to the comfortable stage they are now, it does work well for them..... mind you they don't have birds *wink*. They train horses so they have a good mindest for behaviour in animals so I imagine that helped with the dogs, no roaming or jumping on people and they have lots of traffic because of the folks that board thier horses there.
Basically I don't know how to make your situation work, but without a doubt it's possible. Your choice in breed and full intent may be extremely challenging, going against instincts won't be an easy task.... what do you plan to do to the dog should he go after a bird like he was born to do?? And I wouldn't make a dog sleep outside in our winters, a dog house just ain't gonna cut it here when it gets truly bitter and cold. So those are my biggest worries... but yes a dog can be happy on a farm, with a job and lots of time outside rather then inside.
 

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... to ask him to stay near the house at all times without a leash or a fence is slightly unrealistic.
Actually its not unrealistic at all. Lots of people with farms/ranches/hobby farms just have their dogs kicking around outside totally loose unfenced 24/7 and the dogs just stay within a little zone (acre or two) of the house, even if the owners drive away. Not sure if they are trained to do that or it just happens but thats definitely how it works.

Our dog (which is 95% of the time in the city in our house or fenced yard) will not wander off when we go to our cabin. We can leave him outside for a couple of hours on his own and he never has wandered more than say 100 yards away (and is usually just sitting on the porch).

Can be different for different dogs and breeds I guess ..... but its definitely not unrealistic to expect on a farm. Its common.
 

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My grandparents live in a rural area with several acres of property and no fence. I've watched them have a few dogs over the years, including the one that I knew the best- a yellow lab. She stayed outside mostly, and was always on the property. I was young, so don't know specifics of her training, but knowing my grandparents, she didn't likely have much training. I also can tell you that she seemed completely content and happy. She lived a long life and died at an old age for a lab. Of course, I can't begin to speak for all dogs, but that's my experience.

To the OP- best wishes with your new puppy! I hope you find the answers you are looking for and applaud you for caring enough about this little guy to do your homework :) Unfortunately, not everyone does.
 
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