Guard dogs are unique compared to most types of working dogs as they often spend much of the daylight hours confined to their sleeping area and the nights free to roam a property.
In addition, they often have little interaction with humans, and for single guard dogs, they may not socialise with other dogs.
The following provides some basic information about the minimum standards of care that must be provided to dogs guarding non-residential premises.
- Owners must provide their dog with proper and sufficient food, water, shelter and veterinary treatment
- Dogs must be treated humanely
- Dog fighting or luring (with live animals) is illegal.
Dogs must be provided with food that contains sufficient nutritional value to meet their daily requirements and maintains their body condition at an 'ideal level'.
Adult dogs must be fed a minimum of once daily.
Pregnant and lactating bitches and puppies six to 12 months of age must be fed a minimum of twice a day and puppies six weeks to six months of age must be fed a minimum of three times per day.
All food must be provided in a suitable receptacle and uneaten food should be removed on a daily basis and replaced with fresh food.
For multiply housed dogs, each dog must have it's own food bowl.
Dogs must have access to clean drinking water at all times.
Water containers must be checked daily and maintained in a clean condition.
Water containers provided should not be easily tipped over and should be large enough or refilled often enough to provide access to water twenty four (24) hours a day.
Water containers should be of a design that is easily cleaned and does not cause injury to the dog.
Bedding should be replaced and washed regularly and faeces should be collected and removed on a daily basis.
All food and water receptacles should be cleaned at least weekly.
Disinfection along with parasite and rodent control of sleeping and living areas should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure the dog maintains good welfare.
Health and disease
The dog's health and welfare must be checked daily, this should include examining the dog's physical condition, any signs of ill health and that the dog is eating, drinking, toileting and behaving normally.
Veterinary advice must be promptly sought for dog's showing signs of injury, ill health or distress.
Dogs must be treated regularly for internal and external parasites and vaccinated against common diseases. Frequency of treatment will depend on the product used and life stage of the dog.
Dogs should be groomed regularly especially breeds with a long or thick coat. Flea allergies, mange and other skin disorders need veterinary treatment.
Dogs must be provided with a weatherproof sleeping area and shelter from sun, wind and rain.
Kennels must be large enough for the dog to stand, turn around and lie comfortably.
Enclosures or restricted areas must meet the minimum housing size requirements.
Enclosures need to allow dogs to move around freely, to urinate and defecate away from the sleeping and eating areas and be cleaned daily so that enclosures are free of faeces.
The bed must be raised off the floor and not made of concrete or metal. The bed and sleeping area must be sheltered from the weather and dry at all times. Metal kennels must be kept in a shaded area.
All housing areas for dogs must be maintained in a safe, clean and hygienic condition at all times.
Where more than one dog is housed in an enclosure, dogs must be socially-compatible to avoid fights. While female or desexed dogs can usually be safely housed together, care should be taken if housing entire males with other entire males (due to conflict issues) or with entire females (to avoid unplanned pregnancies).
For multiple-housed dogs, each dog must have its own sleeping area.
Extreme heat causes significant stress for dogs.
The provision of a plentiful supply of clean, cool water and shade is essential. Ice cubes in the dog's water can assist to keep the water cool.
Sufficient water containers for all dogs to drink at once should be provided. Water containers should be firmly fixed so they can not overturn.
Dogs need to be provided with shelter during extended periods of extreme temperatures.
All kennels should have an area in the shade for the whole day.
Dogs that are tethered or confined to a run must be located in a position where they will have access to shade and water during the heat of the day.
Identifying heat stress
There are many signs of heat stress that you can look for in your dog, some of the signs include:
- dry nose (caused by dehydration)
- muscle tremors
Treating heat stress
If your dog is showing signs of heat stress, the following actions can be taken to cool them down:
- Move them to the shade immediately, preferably somewhere with a breeze. If dogs are too stressed to move, pick them up and move them or provide shade where they are.
- Offer plenty of cool clean water, but encourage them to drink small amounts often, spray them with cool water, especially on the legs and feet, or place them in buckets or troughs of cool water. Clam shells work well on hot days.
- Contact your local veterinarian for assistance.
- Do not leave dogs tied up in the sun in extremely hot weather, or standing on concrete or asphalt.
- Light-coloured dogs can get burnt, so protect them with sunscreen when your animal will be outside in the sun for an extended period of time. Put sunscreen or zinc on exposed areas of pink skin. Dogs with long coats should be clipped to increase comfort in hot weather.
Dogs need to be provided with shelter from wind and rain during extended periods of extreme weather. All kennels should be waterproof and raised off the ground to prevent flooding. Kennel openings should be facing away from the direction of the wind. Raised beds should not be made of metal or concrete. Soft warm bedding should be provided in cold weather.
Dogs with short hair or susceptible to cold, such as Dobermans, Rottweilers and young and old dogs, may be provided with a dog coat in cold weather. If the dog is required to work in the rain, a waterproof dog coat would be advisable.
However, the provision of a coat should be carefully assessed depending on the environment. It may be safer for the dog, particularly in an area with machinery that the coat could catch on, to ensure they have appropriate warm shelter.