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Dog Kennelling – Building new dog kennels or thinking about an upgrade?.  Caroline RobertsonDog Kennelling – Building new dog kennels or thinking about an upgrade?. Caroline Robertson

Our dogs are not only very hard working members of our farm team, they are also real characters which give us a lot of enjoyment (and strife on a bad day) .They hold a special place in our farming community and they are great companions in an often lonely job.

So what can we do to make things better for the team and also improve their performance and fitness to work?

Last year as part of the Waipukurau farm dog vaccination run we ran a very successful “Pimp your

Kennels “competition. The photos that were sent in were great and we were really pleased to see the innovative things farmers were doing to make great housing for their sheepdogs.

Kennels elevated off the ground with grating – Elevation is really important to keep dogs off the ground as this reduces worm re- infestation from dog pooh. Elevated kennels make cleaning easier and slatted floors allow waste to fall away. Make sure that the slat size is small enough not to cause leg and foot injures and large enough to allow faeces to easily fall through.

It’s safe to say that the old chain to a dog kennel system is no longer seen as good practice and there are a number of reasons for this. You do get collar rub and leg chain injuries with this type of kennelling which is totally avoidable. The close contact between dogs with no partitions for protection from dog fights is also a major concern as is the direct contact with grass/dirt acting to increase worm re-infestation. There are difficulties in providing water containers that do not get tipped over when dogs excitedly strain on their chains. Shade and protection from wind is often also an issue.

Concrete pads - A lot of the kennels in the competition were also sited on concrete pads which make cleaning easier and also helps with environmental control of fleas.

Kennel size and runs – We saw a number of different versions. Draft free well-made kennels are important and more and more farmers are using batts to insulate their kennel walls and roofs to keep the dogs warmer. If you are building new kennels this would be a great idea as it is smart to keep your dog’s warmer in winter as they then use less of the food you give them to just keep warm and more of the food to give them energy to work – a win win situation.

A number of kennels had both front and back access doors. This improves cleaning and makes removing old bones, dog bowls etc. from kennels an easier job as well as enabling sick dogs to be assessed more easily.

Extra points were given for clean and tidy well-functioning kennels. It’s also a good idea to have safe rat trap areas to reduce rat infestations which can carry diseases such as leptospirosis.

There were also a number of farmers who had thought to make access ramps to the kennels for older working dogs and injured working dogs. This is a great idea for when you have a convalescing animal or to reduce the wear and tear on older sheepdogs exhibiting arthritic signs.

Water supply –There were a lot of great photos showing automatic reticulated water systems for the kennel. This would be an easy thing to fit into existing kennels as well as into new builds.

Shelter from sun, rain and wind - This was the final judging criteria that we used and was one in which there are lots of gains to be made. Often when we plan to build kennel areas we think easy vehicle access and clear, open space but this by its very nature often leaves the kennels exposed to the elements. Utilising existing buildings for shelter, planting wind breaks, using shade cloth and attaching corrugated iron over the runs for shade are all reasonably easy ways to improve this.

Bedding in kennels and dog coats - Although we did not use this as a criteria there is definitely a move towards providing bedding in the kennels and dog coats especially in the winter and for older dogs who are a bit stiff. Of course previously bedding had a bad reputation for flea infestations but with the new products now available this is no longer the issue due to their persistent effect which effectively breaks the flea life cycle.

We were very happy with the fantastic response to our “Pimp your kennel” competition. Thanks to all those who entered and a big congratulations to Charlie Graham, our overall winner!

The challenge now is now for all of us to look with fresh eyes at our own kennel set ups and to check what easy fixes we can make to keep our teams happier and healthier this winter.


Keeping fit through the Winter. Annelise Enslin

Read more >Thursday 23rd of April 2020: As winter rolls along Iâm sure the working dogs are looking forward to a well-deserved rest. Unfortunately, as for any other athlete, too much of a good thing is not so great.
If they are kept from daily exercise they often become a little heavier and obviously unfit.
This is a reminder to keep working dogs fit during the off season. Come spring, we usually see an increase in orthopaedic cases at the clinic. Huntaways often more so than Heading dogs (as they would have had a fitness head start during lambing).

Duck Shooting 2020, if you are allowed that is! - Beware of unwanted surprises. Dan Lynch

Read more >Thursday 23rd of April 2020: Itâs almost that time of the year again when many farms will be having visitors for the duck shooting season, both two and four legged, well hereâs hoping with this level 4 lock down at present we donât know what the future may bring. If duck shooting is a goer for 2020, to reduce the risk of an unpleasant surprise on kill sheets in coming months sheep farmers who have duck shooters coming onto their farms are advised to establish some requirements before the visitors bring dogs with them.

Thinking about purchasing a new working dog? Jess Nielson

Read more >Thursday 23rd of April 2020: When you buy a working dog, you often find yourself looking in a hurry so you can get on with your day to day activities.
Although you may be feeling pressure to purchase a new dog quickly, a little patience and time may save a lot of heart ache in the long run.

Did your family get a lock-down puppy? Kathryn Sigvertsen

Read more >Thursday 23rd of April 2020: Having a new puppy is exciting, and if you are at home with kids right now the pup will no doubt be getting lots of quality attention. There are lots of fun tricks you can teach a new pup, and some important life skills too.

To all our VSHB Clients Regarding the Covid-19 outbreak…

Read more >Friday 20th of March 2020:

Colic - What a Pain!

Read more >Friday 31st of January 2020: 'Colic', a word that strikes fear into the heart of every horse owner! But what is it and what can we do? In the simplest sense, colic is a broad term used to describe abdominal pain and the behaviour that we see associated with that pain.

Wound Management

Read more >Friday 31st of January 2020: As every horse owner knows, lacerations and traumatic injuries are not uncommon in horses, particularly involving the lower limbs. These are usually related to mishaps with fences, gates or wire. Wounds on the lower limb â below the knee or hock â are always a potential problem. This is due to the unique anatomy of this region.

Equine newsletter – Pre-purchase examination

Read more >Friday 31st of January 2020: Shopping for a horse or a pony can be a minefield.

First is the finding of a suitable horse/pony, then follows the input from friends/family, your trainer or coach, and the seller; you can be left feeling a little overwhelmed. Throw in a dishonest seller, and you can be left in a real situation.

Pet Insurance

Read more >Monday 18th of November 2019: Many people know the importance of insuring their items, their house or car, even their own health. Fortunately we are also able to insure pets, for not only medical and surgical care but in some cases routine visits can be covered (including vaccinations and wellness checks/blood tests).

Retired Working Dogs

Read more >Monday 18th of November 2019: Retired Working Dogs NZ is a registered charity that works to find homes for working farm dogs if they are unable to work due to age, injury or have no interest in stock. Retired pig dogs and hunting dogs are also included!

Dogs in Hot Cars - New regulations

Read more >Monday 18th of November 2019: New regulations are in force meaning that if you leave your dog in a parked car and it is showing signs of heat distress you can receive a fine and a broken car window. Dogs quickly suffer and die in hot cars, so please leave your dogs at home.

Preparing yourself and your pet for euthanasia. Your pet’s final journey

Read more >Monday 18th of November 2019: We always fear losing our pets. Nevertheless, sometimes it is inevitable that we need to make this decision.

We hope this article helps answer any questions you may have and gives you a better understanding of what to expect for you, your family and your precious pet when it comes time to make that decision.

What are the signs of heatstroke?

Read more >Monday 18th of November 2019: Dogs do not perspire the way humans do; in fact, the only sweat glands that they have are on the pads of their feet. Dogs pant to cool themselves. If the surrounding air is not considerably cooler than the animals' body temperature - as in the case of a hot, stuffy automobile - the cooling system will not work and heatstroke can occur.


Read more >Thursday 5th of September 2019: To be skinny despite continuously eating, is that not the dream for a lot of people? Unfortunately for our furry friends it can be a sign of something more sinister lurking beneath the surface - hyperthyroidism.

Pyometra - The silent sickness in your old entire bitch

Read more >Friday 30th of August 2019: What is this disease we are talking about, that in some cases, you may not even know is happening in your own dog until she becomes very sick and compromisedâ¦.

Pyometra (pyo) is effectively a pus filled uterus that can develop in an ovary intact bitch.

When being cuddly is not cute…

Read more >Friday 30th of August 2019: Much like the human population, companion animals are becoming increasingly overweight. In New Zealand the statistics are alarmingly high and a significant proportion of the patients we see on a day to day basis are overweight.

High blood pressure in cats – the silent danger

Read more >Friday 30th of August 2019: Middle aged to older cats can suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension). It occurs when a cat's arterial blood pressure is continually higher than normal. This can be the result of worsening renal function or hyperthyroidism (elevation in thyroid hormone) but mostly we just don't know why it happens.


Read more >Tuesday 27th of August 2019: The most common form of Rat Poison used is one that contains a warfarin type anti-coagulant compound, which causes fatal haemorrhage in the rat, or a dog, about 5-10 days after ingestion.

Understanding those things we don’t always want to understand…

Read more >Tuesday 27th of August 2019: There comes a time, where all good things must come to an about a grim start to an article, but what I am wanting to talk about, is how we don't want those good things to come to a grim end.

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