Code of Practice - Care and management of farm (working) dogs

1. Introduction

This Code is a guide for people using dogs for agricultural purposes. The Code recommends minimum standards that ensure the health ad well-being of working dogs.

The basic needs of dogs are:

1.1 Accommodation that provides protection from the elements.

1.2 Freedom of movement.

1.3 Readily accessible water and appropriate food.

1.4 Timely recognition and treatment of disease and injury.

1.5 A safe transportation system to and from places of work.

1.6 Adequate exercise.

2. Responsibilities of the owner

The owner of working dogs is responsible for:

2.1 Providing accommodation and equipment suitable for the size

2.2 Providing adequate protection from adverse environmental conditions and climatic extremes.

2.3 Providing sufficient space for dogs to stand and move freely at all times, including any periods of transportation.

2.4 Providing appropriate food and water to maintain good health.

2.5 Reasonable protection from disease, distress and injury.

2.6 Providing prompt veterinary treatment in the case of injury or illness.

2.7 Maintaining hygiene in the premises where dogs are kept.

2.8 Supervising regular feeding and watering.

3. Housing of Dogs

3.1 Kennels

3.1.1 Kennels should be provided to protect dogs from adverse weather.

3.1.2 Kennels should be situated so that a chained dog can reach the kennel and the water supply.

3.1.3 Kennels should have adequate ventilation.

3.1.4 Kennels made from metal should be situated out of direct sunlight or should be effectively insulated.

3.1.5 Chains used to restrain dogs near a kennel should have a swivel set between the chain and the securing clip. The swivel should be maintained in proper working order.

3.2 Pens

3.2.1 Pens should provide enough space for each dog to sit, stand, sleep, stretch, move about and lie with limbs extended.

3.2.2 The pen must be of sufficient size to allow the dog to urinate and defecate in an area well away from feeding and bedding areas. alternatively, pens may be raised above the ground with a slatted area for urination and defecation.

3.2.3 Pens should provide adequate protection from weather through the provision of a kennel or other shelter.

3.2.4 Pens and kennels should be well ventilated to maintain an environment free of dampness and noxious odours but without draughts.

3.2.5 Pens should be drained appropriately to allow water to run off.

3.2.6 Faecal or urine contamination of earth in dirt pens should be avoided. The surface of the pen should be sealed or graveled if it becomes muddy.

3.2.7 A separate pen should be used for any whelping bitches.

3.3 Running chains

3.3.1 Running chains should be designed in a way that prevents entanglement. Dogs should be able to reach shelter and water without the dropper chain becoming entangled in any obstruction along the running line or its attachment points.

3.3.2 The chain, swivels and running line should be regularly checked for signs of wear.

3.3.3 The running line should be of sufficient length to allow reasonable exercise.

3.3.4 The dropper chain should be of sufficient length to allow reasonable sideways movement and must incorporate a swivel between the clip and the chain.

4. Hygiene

4.1 Pens should be kept clean for the comfort of dogs and for disease control. Faeces should be removed regularly.

4.2 Every effort should be made to control pests including fleas, ticks, flies, lice and mosquitoes.

4.3 Dogs should only be treated with chemicals registered for dogs and only in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

5. Health care

5.1 Dogs should be regularly vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus. A program for the control of internal and external parasites should be established in accordance with veterinary advice.

5.2 Health and welfare should be routinely checked in the daily management of working dogs. This should include observing whether a dog is eating, drinking, urinating, defecating and behaving normally.

5.3 Veterinary attention should be sought if a dog shows any signs of ill health.

6. Diet

Dogs should receive appropriate, uncontaminated and nutritionally adequate food and water. The food must be in sufficient quantity and of appropriate composition to provide for:

6.1.1 The normal growth of immature dogs.

6.1.2 The maintenance of reasonable body condition in adult working dogs.

6.1.3 The requirements of pregnancy and lactation in breeding bitches.

6.2 Feeding of uncooked offal should be avoided to prevent the spread of tapeworm and hydatids.

7. Exercise

7.1 Dogs should have the opportunity for regular exercise.

7.1.1 To allow then to urinate and defecate.

7.1.2 To give them contact with humans and other dogs.

7.1.3 To allow them to be observed for any problems.

7.1.4 To let them stretch their limbs.

7.2 Dogs that are not working should receive sufficient exercise to maintain their health and fitness. Ideally, all confined dogs should be given at least 30 minutes off the chain or out of their pen each day.

7.3 Active or old dogs may require more or less exercise than specified.

8. Transport

8.1 Stock transporters should provide dust-free but well ventilated accommodation for their working dogs on trucks.

8.2 Any vehicle regularly used for transporting dogs should:

8.2.1 Protect dogs from injury.

8.2.2 Have non-slip floors.

8.2.3 Protect dogs from exhaust fumes and extremes of temperature including hot metal floors.

8.2.4 Kept clean.

8.3 Water should be provided during transportation.

8.4 Muzzling of some dogs may be required for their own protection or that of other dogs.

8.5 Dogs restrained on the back of a moving vehicle should be kept on a sufficiently short lead tp prevent movement beyond confines of the vehicle. Hanging over the side of vehicles must be prevented.

9. Special requirements for sentry/peg dogs

(All other aspects of the Code apply)

9.1 Sentry/peg dogs must be supplied with adequate food and water.

9.2 Sentry/peg dogs must be provided with shade in hot weather and shelter from wind and rain.

9.3 Sentry/peg dogs should be chained in such a way that they have dry ground or dry bedding for sleeping.

9.4 Sentry/peg dogs should not be left unattended for longer than 24 hours.

9.5 Appropriate exercise should be given to sentry/peg dogs, preferably on a daily basis.