Informal poll--Farm Dogs


To Finish Is To Win
11 Years
Jun 8, 2008
NE Michigan
On Mother Earth News' website, they had this topic posted. I thought I would start it here to see what others think.

Should dogs be allowed to run free on the farm? (not confined to a kennel or house or on a leash or tether)

I'm lucky in that our property is surrounded by very dense forest so it forms a natural border. Our lab/husky Trailblazer, or Blaze for short, roams our property during the day and comes in at night. She keeps deer from our garden and wild rodents from our chickens. I had to live in a suburban area last year and when we returned up north, Blaze was starting to go out on little forays to the neighbors so we had to start keeping a closer eye on her though after a few weeks she returned to her usual self. I know others are not so lucky--Blaze's sister Cleo for one who was shot by a hunter when she wandered off my friend's 80 acre farm during rifle season. Another friend of mine lost her German Shepherd in similar circumstances. Some people I know in southern MI cleverly designed their chicken run/sheep pasture with a "dog moat" so their aggressive dog would not run at large but could still protect their chickens and sheep.

Anyone else?
I have 2 labradoodles and 50 acres. They run free BUT only when I'm out with them otherwise they are in the house. This is because one was hit by a car when 6 mos old and had a bad leg fracture. He had surgery and is fine now but I'm not taking any chances. If I put in a wireless fence in the front, I'd let them stay out. The 50 acres are fenced except the front. They don't bother any of the animals.
Tricky Question. If the dog has killed or chased farm animals then no they should not run loose. If the dog is not fixed, then it needs to be penned up. If it wanders off, another reason to pen it up.
I HAD dog problems.
My Rat Terriers are in and out of the house all day. When I'm outside, which is most of the day, they are outside loose.
They rat the barn, outbuildings, and surrounding fields. If they were penned or tied they wouldn't be able to do their job.
Having said that, I don't have any close neighbors and we are on a dirt road with very little traffic.
I have 6 Rat Terriers and have started each one of them as puppies. I start taking them outside at 6 weeks old without leashes and just walk around with them. I wait for them to get distracted and then I step behind a tree or something so I am out of their sight. At this age they are afraid to be alone. Once they notice I am missing they start whining and looking for me. I give them a minute or two to get worried then I step out and call them to me. I call them to me frequently and always make a fuss about what a good pup they are.
What this does is teach the pup that it is their job to keep track of me. If I were to put them on a leash and pull them around they would learn that it is the persons job to keep track of them. It is so simple and easy to do, but the training sticks with them throughout their lives.
From there the training goes to the barn while I am doing chores. I allow the hens to give them a good peck and scolding for getting too close to their chicks or nests and that lesson stays with them. I have six adults and free range chickens and they don't chase the birds or harass them.
That's why my dogs, even in their small pack, can be loose outside with farm animals. Even when they are running the field, they are aware of where I am and come running when I call to them.
It takes training. And living in a more rural area to be able to have your dogs loose. Even then, I wouldn't leave here while they are outside.
I do have a aussie/border collie mix that came here as an older stray. He was well trained when he showed up here. He knows all of the obedience commands and even falls over dead when I say bang. But, he does roam. Which is probably how he got lost in the first place. I put found ads everywhere but his owner never showed up. He is only allowed to run in the fenced in pastures when I am right with him because he will sneak off and I don't know where he goes and don't want him getting into any trouble. He is kept on a tieout inside of the barn at night. And during the day he is on a 30 foot tieout. I move him around several times a day to keep him happy. He must have worked as a herding dog at some point because I have used him to bring my goats and when I had calves here in from the pasture. He is good with the animals, he doesn't nip their legs or butts, he bumps them with his nose.
Anyway, I wouldn't let any dog just roam. It's not right to just assume they aren't getting into trouble at other farms.
We've had 2 Saint Bernards. They were both allowed to the run of the farm. Most of our neighbors are not close so they didn't go visiting and the one that they did go visit wanted them to visit (closer and can't have dogs due to allergies but, liked a visit from one once in awhile and I think encouraged it). We live almost at the end of a dead end road and most of the traffic comes into our yard so the road isn't really an issue. If, however, one of them were to have caused problems they would not have been allowed run of the farm.

We just lost our latest Saint and will be looking for a new puppy before long. We will be doing the same with the new puppy as we did with the other two.
Last edited:
We have a Golden Reteiver and a Black Lab....we use a underground electric fence ( he has about 3 acres) for our Golden and plan on training our black Lab....we have a neighbour that is close..and feeds there dogs outside.....and plus we have problems with Coy Dogs....when we do go back into the woods he's off leash but he comes when called ...the Lab does not move fast ...she is a couch potato....but does come when called...

I have good neighbours who all watch their dogs that are off leash and should there be a mishap or problem they're quick to make it good.......but thats a country dog....different from a city dog....when family and friends brings there dogs out from the city and they think the horses are really large dogs...and chickens are fun to chase ...
Okay I was going to post about this but I didnt want to hijack the OP. YES I have four farm dogs on over 40 acres and they are all "put up" for their own good.
We kennel our dog when we are gone. In the evenings or weekend he is allowed to be out and about except for a few hours when the chickens free range!
I have three acres and two large dogs. My dogs have free run of our place while I am home. When we are gone, they are inside our garage where they have their beds and food and water. They do not wander, and they are trustworthy around all my animals. If it ever happened tht they wandered, or whatever, i would have no problems restraining them--probably with an invisible fence. We are also on a gravel road with not much traffic, and no near neighbours and the neighbours don't have any livestock.
It depends on the dog and on your setup.

I grew up on a farm that included about 100 acres with a main road dividing part of it. We let most of our dogs have the freedom to roam, but we had our share of issues. We lost 3 because they chased cars and were hit. One dog loved to roam the hills and meet up with neighbor dogs to chase down deer in packs. That was before our deer population boom. We found that dog shot on the back of our property.

There is also the issue of males leaving to find females or stray males coming to visit your female if your dogs aren't fixed. Can create neighborhood issues.

More recently we had 2 dogs that we let roam all day and fenced in at night. They rarely crossed the property line and didn't chase cars. But they were both rather timid in nature.

The outside dog I have now cannot be off leash. He's a social bunny. He runs, leaving the property, and doesn't return until tired out. He also chases cars, deer, rabbits, etc. He's sweet and good with my chickens, so I keep him on a run line beside the coop where he has a full shade tree and a dog box under a roofed shelter. In winter he often prefers to sleep in the snow. Because he is right near the garage, he gets daily attention from people, in-house dogs, cats, etc.

My neighbor's dog likes to come visit my dog, and they have wrestling matches. I don't mind because she is a good dog and ignores all my poultry. My neighbor is more upset (embarrassed) by it than me. Now if she was tormenting my animals it would be a different story.

So, it depends on the nature of the dog and it's relation to its environment on how much/how often it needs to be restrained IMHO.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom