View Full Version : Great barn dogs from my past... born? made?

Jan. 23, 2010, 07:25 PM
I was just reminiscing about the dogs at the barn in Massachusetts where I kept my gelding for 12 years. I took riding lessons there for about 10 years before getting my own horse, so I got to see about 6-7 dogs in residence, usually 2-3 at a time.

The BO always made sure to get a young dog when the older "experienced" dog was beginning to slow down but was still on the ball enough to teach the Barn Rules to the youngster. They were all from the pound and were mixed breeds of the shepherd/collie/lab variety. All female except one male who (despite having been neutered) wandered. He was rehomed to a family with a fenced yard; the stable property was not fenced and the barn dogs were expected to stay in or around the barn, period.

In this odd suburban barn setting, the BO's home was a very short distance from the barn. The dogs alerted the BO to anything out of the ordinary day or night -- horse out of stall? Bark. Horse rolling in stall? Bark. Intruder or person not where person belonged? Bark. Usually quiet and inobtrusive otherwise, though they did bark when we drove in (along with lots of tail wags and wiggles). They thrived on carrots and one big can a day (each) of generic dog food, served on the barn floor still in can shape and devoured in one big gulp.

What I want to know is -- how did the original barn dog learn to bark at the right things and not at the wrong things? Did they just get used to the normal way things worked -- thus they barked at things that were not as they should be? With no wise old dog to do the teaching, is there any hope of me getting this type of behavior from a dog? I couldn't hear barking from the barn to the house but if I thought the dog would be a help, I'd put in a baby monitor. I just don't have any idea how to go about it, or if it is innate. We don't even leave the current "barn dog" loose in the barn when we are not there, so even that would take a leap of faith (or stupidity).

What is your experience? What can YOUR barn dog do in terms of noticing and "reporting" things that are out of whack?

Jan. 23, 2010, 08:44 PM
We just had to put down our good barn dog, so I am really curious what the responses you get to this question.
We got our dog from the pound, and at first she went thru the chewing, chasing stage but she learned quickly and we really didn't have much trouble training her.
My FAVORITE trait of hers was that she only barked if there was a reason, like coyotes around, strangers, or varmits. We never had a raccoon or possum on this farm.
Our current dog we got about two years before losing Belle, but he doesn't have that protective nature and is pretty much a wuss- he also does that irritating yapping bark if he's left in the kennel and he knows we are here.
I will be looking for another one to "take care of things" around here very soon.
Oh, and our girl was (we think) a lab, weimeraner cross.
I really miss her.