” The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog. ” – Mark Twain.
Have you ever heard of this saying ? I grew up as a child with this quote stamped on a magnet on our kitchen fridge ! It’s a saying that has stuck with me for many years, and has left me at times in complete agreeance with it ! In this article you will be learning everything you need to know about, ‘ the benefits to owning a dog – off grid.’
Most of us have all grown up with a family dog/s and understand their deserved place in our lifestyles. As puppies, they whelp, litter, chew and destroy all that is in their world ! Remember those favourite shoes you once had ?! hmmm ?
As they develop with age and grow into their paws and skins, they then become not only a’ patched in’ member of your family or pack, but also hold a rank and valued position to which holds many benefits to you and your family.
After reading this you will be equipped with important knowledge and also information you need to know in regard to which breeds are more suitable to the off grid lifestyle and how to avoid certain problems that may arise with dogs living off grid, including basic health advice.
I invite you to ‘paws’ for a moment and em’bark’ with me.
THE MANY BENEFITS TO OWNING A D.O.G – ( DOG OFF GRID ) !
1. PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
It has been tested, studied and proven that increased interaction with dogs reduces the symptoms of depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Dogs are used in many health related fields and programs ranging from disabled children and adults, to dysfunctional teenagers and to also those suffering Alzhiemer’s disease.
Here’s a brief but interesting story for you ,
We have a program here in Australia, where dysfunctional teens that are close to jail, are given a last chance with working on a community farm and are assigned a puppy. ( Australian Border Collie or Kelpie )
A system in which, the teenagers all sit on arrival, the puppies are let out, and after time is allowed for all, the puppy eventually chooses the owner or teen. This is in regard to the familiarity or match of energy fields emitted by both, teen and puppy. A law in which this particular program takes seriously. Maybe Its true when they say ” Let it come to you ” ?!
Through support, the teens are to then raise and keep the dog. Importantly here is the fact that the teens have to train the dog for the prestigious event of competing and winning the Australian Dog Jumping Championships.
This responsibility not only provides purpose for troubled teens and beneficial interaction with the dog, but reignites the fire in the hearts of the less fortunate or those needing direction. Its an incredible example of service provided by the good will of people and more to the point ‘canines.’
How many children or adults going through some form of anguish or impairment, smile and shift their current state of negative awareness to that of the opposite, when a dog has been brought into their presence or space?
“Dogs are hugely beneficial to health, but also to aid in the healing and recovery of certain conditions or diseases. For someone to recover and heal, it is of optimum importance, that their mental state or well-being is operating in a mode of positivity and recovery. This can be supported and activated by simply having a dog present” !
Is there anyone you know personally, that would benefit from having a dog visit or sit beside them ?
2. IMPROVED PHYSICAL HEALTH
Owning a dog will put you in the position where you will have to tend to it. Apart from the feeding, the watering, the washing and the bedding, you will have to engage in exercise and activities with the dog. This is the good part ! By becoming active with your dog you begin the process of being active yourself. You end up doing the “E” word ! “Exercise”, without really being aware of it.
Whether you are throwing a ball, a stick, walking, running, playing, wrestling or chasing your dog, then you are exercising.
“How many times have you had to chase after your dog after it escaped the gate or slipped the collar? You should be thanking the dog as it just provided you with a good quick cardio workout”!
Depending on your type of dog of course, the amount of exercise the dog requires will vary between breeds. This will also be relative to how much exercise you will be getting at the same time when exercising the dog. Taking the dog for a walk is an excellent way to gain low-impact exercise and cardiovascular conditioning.
Studies have also shown that interaction with dogs lowers stress, blood pressure and accelerated heart rate.
By simply changing your morning or afternoon routine to involve walking your dog, will greatly help with your physical and mental well-being. The time spent with the dog is a time for your dog to get its much needed exercise and time for you to refresh, regather or unwind whilst exercising ! It’s a ‘Win-Win’ situation.
3. DOGS, KEEP PESTS AND VERMIN AWAY FROM YOUR HOUSE
Another benefit to having a dog around the house is the fact they keep vermin such as rats and mice on their little toes. Some dogs are better at hunting and catching rodents than others but overall not many critters are going to stand up to a dog.
This will help with the control of pests externally, along with your indoor cat if you have one. The dwelling will be comfortably free of pests. Suitable dog breeds for rodent catching are the smaller breeds like Jack Russell Terrier, Yorkshire and Norfolk Terriers.
In Australia, the frequencies of snakes around the house and adjoining yards or paddocks, increase in the hotter months. Dogs will usually bark at, and harass the snake until it decides to relocate, which is sooner more often than later.
Obviously encouraging the dog to do so wouldn’t be a good idea, from my experience I have come across the odd occasion of a dog attempting to bite or kill a large venomous snake. ( My dog putting her paw up for this ! and lucky to be alive ) Most dogs are smart enough not to get too close to the lunging serpent, however some dogs have a different idea at the time ! ” Naughty Jess ! ”
4. FAMILY, HOME AND PROPERTY SECURITY
That’s right ! What is some of the best home security defences or deterrents to use ? I hear you say ? You guessed it ! Our 4 legged security guards ! Here are some facts about the 5 senses of a dog and why it makes for the perfect security system.
- The part of a dogs brain that is developed to analyze smells is around 40 x greater than that of a human.
- A dogs hearing is its second strongest sense. They also have the ability to hear frequencies that are too high and too low for the human ear to receive.
- A dogs sense of taste is surprisingly its least developed sense. This gives understanding to, how dogs can eat things that smell not very nice.
- A dogs sense of touch is highly developed as with its finer senses. The entire body of a canine is wrapped with sensitive nerve endings. Paws included.
- The eyesight of a dog is not as advanced as the human eye. Dogs have greater peripheral vision than us and also are better adapted to night vision.
- Dogs view the world in tones of only a few shades, research suggests that they are able to see colours and shades of yellows, blues and greys. A dogs eye only has 2 colour sensitive cone cells within it. As opposed to humans, who have 4.
“Now with all these unique senses it no wonder why dogs are so good at being the first alarm in defence when someone foreign is at your property or home. After a while you are able to get familiar to the barks and tones and hear a pattern to the things they bark at.“
For example: I always know when a certain person or people are arriving at my home without even seeing them, due to the type of bark my dog voices. ” Good girl Jess ! ”
Now, when I mention the word hunting some people are horrified. I do not condone hunting when it is unnecessary, cruel or uncontrolled. I’ve been involved with dogs hunting wild pigs for many years. Not only are dogs a crucial element of catching meat source, but they are also used in the eradication of these animals, when they develop into ridiculous plague numbers of damaging proportions.
Australia is home to some of the most introduced feral animal numbers on the earth. Feral pigs will always be an issue for the environment here, as they are devastating on the environment, farming and also farmed animals. Unfortunately I’ve personally seen, feral pigs feeding on new born lambs and even calves.
“For this reason, I’m quite ok with dispatching feral pigs and using the quality meat for personal consumption, with much thanks to dogs for aiding in the catch.”
Depending on your location on the planet and what particular legal species of animal you’re hunting, you will find a dog that is perfectly designed to either help or take control of this aspect.
A lot could be said here but I would like to leave this section with you, to fill in the blanks! Dogs make excellent companions ! Think about the times when you were a child and the times you had with that certain dog. They are special times and for that reason the companionship provided to you by a dog is a bond that is of enough significance for it to remain a memory. That says it all. Some dogs have been more memorable in my life, than some of the people I’ve met !
THE BEST SUITED DOGS FOR OFF GRID LIVING
The reason these dogs have been selected and suited to ‘off grid’ living, ranges from temperament, adaptability, family suitability, physical and training ability, intelligence, health considerations or issues, endurance and willingness to work.
Below is a compilation of dogs that have earned their way into the hall of “off grid fame” ! They are not listed in any particular order of priority or preference. Each breed has it’s own uniqueness.
Australian Border Collie
Regarded as one of the most intelligent on the list, the Border Collie is an exceptional dog to own. They are highly active and very easy to train. They make outstanding family members and are excellent with children. A very physically able and adaptable breed. They possess attributes of endurance and have good guard dog like qualities. This breed has ‘working stock’ bred into its’s bloodlines. Their exercise requirements are medium to high. A dog that ticks a lot of boxes.
Jack Russell Terrier
Don’t let their little legs give you false sence of cuteness ! These “pocket rockets” are the solution to vermin issues and pests. Also suited to those that enjoy having a dog live inside. They are a compact, robust sized dog with a short coat which reduces mess and are a very good in a family environment. A great alarm dog. Small in size but large in nature. Exercise requirements are medium to low, so is the amount of food that they require. The Jack Russell is a social and friendly dog and come in many different colours.
Labrador / Retriever
The world famous Labrador is also one of the best off grid dogs you can own. They are highly intelligent, adaptable and trainable. This breed is used all over the world for companionships and health programs such as aiding the blind.
They are a larger breed and require medium levels of exercise. Not to mention a larger feeding requirement. They also serve as great dogs to patrol and protect your home or property and have a solid deep bark which will warn any intruder that caution should be taken with further entry. A loyal and loving breed. They too are a very social breed and thrive with company.
The German Shepard is also a larger breed that has earnt its way in the recommended list. Coming in a few different variants ranging from short to long coat and many different colours. These loyal and devoted family dogs have excellent security presence. No one will get out of the car if one of these dogs is barking at their window ! They are also great with children and are happiest when involved in play. Medium to large exercise requirements, including diet. These dogs need to run !
Australian Cattle Dog
Trying hard not to be biased here ! but personally this is my favourite breeds for off grid living. They are regarded as one of the most hardworking, adaptable, strong and independent dogs walking the planet. They are a medium sized animal that have outstanding guard dog abilities. In all of my years my family has always owned this particular breed, we have never encountered any type of breach in household or property security. They are fearless and social.
This breed is intelligent, loyal, fun and thrives best when involved with working stock. They have medium to high exercise requirements and seem to have stronger immune systems than most breeds. Very little inherent issues, however the cattle dog can be snappy with strangers, please be aware. This breed also has endurance and comes in many types of sub variants, ranging from red in colour, to tan and blues with black and white markings.
The regal Beagle is a sure contender for the off grid lifestyle. A small to medium sized dog displaying intelligence, trainability and sound behaviour. An excellent addition to families with children. They are used widely in hunting as their sense of smell is regarded as superior to most canine breeds. Exercise requirements are medium. They are a very social dog in and out of the pack. Making a loyal companion, the Beagle has many qualities which suit it to off grid living. An inquisitive and friendly breed.
Mixed breed dogs or ” Mutts “
Some of the best dogs I’ve owned are mutts. This is basically a name referred to dogs that have mixed breeding with other breeds and are not that of pedigree decent. In Australia they are also affectionately know as “Bitza’s” ( bit of this, bit of that ! ) This particular variant of canine interestingly has, very few inherent disorders that pedigree breeds possess. Their immune system also reflects this. Your choice in dog for off grid living just became customized ! By inspecting what the parents are of certain mutt litters, you can get an idea of how the dog will, serve, look and behave like when mature.
Bouvier des Flandres
Originally from Belgium and used for working with cattle and sheep. The Bouvier is now used as police and security dogs. A larger breed with excellent training, strength and physical ability. They do however, posses a ‘double coat ‘ or a very thick coat. This may be an issue especially when living near dense bush land or scrub as this coat will collect burrs, prickles and the like.
Making an excellent guard dog and a loyal, serving member to a family with children. The Bouvier will thrive in activities with people and exercise. A sure and worthy contender. Just to note: If you were to cross breed the Bouvier with a short coat dog, this would be a great example which may possibly resolve the thick coat issue.
OFF GRID DOGS : CONSIDERATIONS TO PREVENT INJURY OR HARM
As off grid dogs will be exposed to more of the countryside, they will also be more exposed to ticks and other certain parasites. Always make sure your dog has been treated for ticks with oral tablets or a drench to minimize contact with them. By regularly checking your dog for ticks will also greatly reduce any problems. Using your hands to feel for them and visually inspecting the dogs coat is the best way.
2. WORMING AND VACCINATION
Ensure your dog is up to date with vaccinations and worming. Vaccinations are usually carried out at intervals of development from the dogs early age. If your dog has never been vaccinated it may be a good idea to see your local Veterinarian. Worming is also important as dogs will be in more contact with the parasite in an off grid setting due to certain issues of carrion or roadkill laying about.
3. EATING UNKNOWN OR FOREIGN MATTER
As dogs will be dogs, we can’t always be certain of ensuring it dosen’t eat something undesirable. If your dog comes home after an adventure and smells like it has eaten something strange, keep an eye on the dog for any type of symptoms, including salivating, vomiting or respiratory issues.
( To note: These symptoms can be congruent with snake bite also. Always think about the possibility of snake bite especially when your dog is exhibiting these symptoms ).
Usually dogs will vomit or regurgitate this foreign matter, as it soon discovers that their stomachs are in rejection to it. If you notice something that is of concern, always consult your Veterinarian for professional advice.
Dogs eat and roll in faeces of other animals as well, so before you go in for the big kiss and cuddle after “Toto’s” morning adventure, be sure to have a quick visual and sniff before letting the dog lick or come into contact with yourself or others. I have a couple of stories in regard to this but, I don’t think we need to go there !
4. CHASING STOCK
This can be a huge problem for stock owners and ultimately for the dog owner. If your dog chases stock, which with some breeds will come instinctively, then the dog will be at risk of being impounded by local dog rangers or worse still destroyed by the stock owner themselves.
In Australia if your dog is discovered chasing or hunting stock it will be destroyed without hesitation by the stock owner. No questions asked. This is a consideration that involves possibly keeping your dog fenced in, using a wire run, cage or tethering point at times of your absence, to minimize this type of behaviour from happening or escalating.
5. SPLINTERS, BURRS AND PRICKLES
As your dog is or will be living the country life it will be in more contact with the environment and as a result will be in more contact with foreign vegetation which includes prickles, burrs, spiny needles and prongs which some plants possess.
If you are regularly checking your dog then you will be able to remove these types of objects especially if they are providing discomfort or pain. I suggest having a basic first aid kit assigned to your dog or pets is also a great idea.
Here’s a brief story for you,
My dog was once attacked by a large feral pig that managed to remove a dinner plate size of hide off her stomach in that attack. One clean bite and shake from the pig, caused a huge amount of damage. Importantly to mention is the fact that we wern‘t hunting at the time. I had a basic first aid kit for the animals at home and managed to use sutures and saline solution from the kit, with the help of a neighbour to quickly treat the stomach of the dog in which the bowel ( intestine ) had also been exposed.
We were over 200 km’s away from the nearest Veterinarian and chose to go ahead with our own initial surgery to prevent further infection or death. Once she was inspected she was put on daily intra muscular antibiotics and her wound treatment took a further 5 months of recovery.
With the use of honey and ag lime ( an old school method to treat open animal wounds in Australia ) applied to her open wound twice a day, she recovered very, very well and in some places even managed to grow new hair back which was amazing to witness.
Still, to this day “Jess” the Australian blue cattle dog runs around, barking and living a free life !
6. ALWAYS PROVIDE CARE FOR YOUR DOG
As it should be mentioned it is important that your off grid dog has access to quality drinking water and nutrition. Your dog will burn up more energy naturally as a result of living a life with more freedom and exercise.
So make sure you keep the essential minerals and vitamins up to your dogs requirements for optimum health and a greater ability to heal in case of sickness or injury. Ensure your dog has good bedding and is out of wind, rain and direct harsh sun.
I hope you are able to take something from this article: The benefits to owning a dog-off grid .
“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source”. – Doris Day
I dedicate this article to “Molly” and “Bonaparte”. Two very special dogs that I grew up with.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to reply or help you out !