8 Barn Dog Safety Tips

What your dog needs to know before he can become a reliable barn dog.

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No matter where you are, here are our top 8 safety tips for your barn dog to keep them out of trouble:

  • For our first tip on barn dog safety, your dog should know how to reliably come when called and greet strangers without being aggressive or overexcited before even coming to the barn.
  • If your dog is a barker, you’ll need to train a “quiet” command.Even if you have your own barn or your boarding barn allows dogs off-leash, keep your dog on a leash for the first several visits. It’s a new environment, and even well-behaved dogs can get excited by all the new people, animals and smells.
  • Use a short leash, around 6 feet. Don’t use a retractable leash, which can get entangled and cause injury.

    Corgi dog on a leash
    Even if your barn allows dogs off leash, keep your dog leashed at first while he learns the ropes.

  • Introduce your dog to horses slowly, preferably using a horse who is already familiar with dogs. If your dog shows any signs of aggression, back off immediately but calmly, and refocus your dog’s attention on something else.
  • Remember that if your horse—or any of the horses at your barn—aren’t used to dogs, they may become scared or even aggressive at the sight of yours, so always be vigilant and pay attention to what’s happening around you. Don’t let your dog greet horses unsupervised, even if he’s used to your horse.
  • Dogs like to eat some pretty gross things, including hoof trimmings and manure. Some types of equine dewormer or medication are toxic to dogs, and an enthusiastic dog might hoover up a horseshoe nail while snacking on hoof trimmings. Don’t let your dog treat the barn like a buffet!
  • For our eighth tip on barn dog safety, no matter how well-trained they are, some dogs will never be totally reliable around horses due to their herding or protective instincts. Don’t force it. If your dog or horse are agitated and nervous at the sight of each other, everyone will be happier if your dog stays safely home while you’re with your horse.

Read more about caring for barn dogs and barn cats >>


This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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Leslie Potter
Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, KY.Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.

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