Introducing new puppy to the barn

Hi all!

I’m bringing a new golden retriever puppy home in a few weeks and I’m so happy!! She’s just the sweetest and I can’t wait to make her my adventure buddy.

I was allowed to take her to my barn a few times by the breeder, just to see how she reacted. She was great! If anything, she was a little too comfortable around the horses…

If it weren’t for my being quick with dragging her out of the way and the horses paying close attention, she would’ve gotten herself killed already. She literally ran headfirst into my horses back legs and fell over underneath him.

She just has no fear of the horses, and I’ve never experienced this. All the other dogs I’ve taken to the barn keep a good distance and the biggest issue is recall and eating poop.

Is it her age? She’s also the youngest pup I’ve introduced to the barn, but only by a few weeks. She’s 18 weeks.

What can I do to ensure her safety near the horses? I can’t always depend on my horse knowing where she is and not reacting.

TIA! And don’t worry about her, she’s not going off leash or near the horses anytime soon until I figure this out.

Yeah, puppies usually have no native fear or respect of horses and it’s just one step to really damage them. You keep them safe by only putting them in safe situations. When they’re tiny, that really means no access to horses directly. As they get older & bigger & better trained it’s easier to make sure they don’t wind up underfoot and in danger.

Congrats on your new baby!


We brought home a new pup to our farm 2 month ago. She of course also had no fear around them and we watched her like a hawk. Totally agree with Simkie - just always keep them in a safe place. If you cant get to your pup (as in you are leading and are too busy/can’t get close to a pup) keep them locked up. We put our pup in our tack room as soon as we turned out or brought our ponies in. As soon as they were in their stalls, we would bring her out.

When we went to a paddock, our girl was always on a leash as she would try to go in the paddock to eat some poop and would be all around our ponies legs if we let her.

She’s now 4 months old and is very respectful of the ponies. She stays away from them as we bring in/turn out and she won’t go in the paddocks if they are in there at all. She is not scared of them, but shows a lot more respect than she did at 2 months old, thats for sure!

Congrats on your new pup as well. I hope we get to see lots of pictures!

Is this your own barn, at your house?

Or is this a boarding barn?

To be honest, I don’t allow my dogs to be loose around my horses (I keep them at home). It’s just not worth the risk. They occasionally get through a gate or something, and my horses are not really interested in them. But still, not worth it. Not to mention, unless your fences are goat-proof, they are not dog proof. If my dogs can get out of the barn area, they could get into the road, etc. so I don’t want that either.

For me - they are left in the fenced yard, the house or the kennel when I’m in the barn.


I board at a friend’s house. So while it’s not my property and several of the horses aren’t mine, it’s still very intimate and it’s not like a boarding barn. She’s perfectly happy to let me bring the puppy out as long as she’s respectful of the animals, which is a given.

All of the horses are very familiar with dogs, the property owner has 3 who are always in the barn/pasture. But familiar with dogs doesn’t equal harmless of course.

I understand there are risks to being off leash at the barn, but I’m doing my best to mitigate what I can and I accept the rest of them. We’re really lucky to be in a dog friendly area, it’s super rural - almost no traffic, minimal roads, neighbors know our dogs, neighbors dogs know our dogs and come play, etc.

I’ve had dogs with horses for almost 10 years now, I think I’ve just gotten lucky with naturally horse smart dogs in the past. To be fair to them, they were also all around much more timid then my new pup.

You said this is the youngest dog you’ve ever had–and this is just what comes with puppies. They’re babies! Babies require A LOT of close supervision. It gets easier as they get older, and the baby phase doesn’t last that long.

I also have a brand new puppy. I have a couple options when I’m in the barn: I can leave her crated in the house. Or I can close the aisle, and give her toys, but I’m RIGHT THERE looking at her every couple minutes, and she has zero access to horses. (It’s my barn, there aren’t any other people there.)

Baby dogs–in the house or the barn–need to be in a safe space, or they need active attention. If you want to take the puppy to the barn, she’s going to have to be your focus, at least at first.

Not the youngest I’ve had, just the youngest I’ve introduced to the barn. I’ve had much younger puppies who’ve shown much more awareness of their surroundings and much more self preservation.

She’s a puppy still I’m aware, but she’s almost 5 months. I would’ve expected more awareness by this point, and other commenters on this thread have indicated that their fearless puppies are starting to stay away by this point.

She’s brand new to me, but she’s an older puppy.

There’s a BIG DIFFERENCE between a dog that’s been raised around horses since 8 weeks and one that meets them at 18. That’s not just innate maturity, it’s a hell of a lot of learning that happens in that time. You’re actually going to have to train your dog to be smart around the barn. Until she’s got that handle, ensure she’s safe by not putting her in a situation where she’s not.

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Gotcha. I didn’t realize that much happened in 2 weeks, like I said the 20 week old puppies I’ve taken have been reluctant to go near the horses from the start.

She’s for sure going to be on the leash until I’m positive it’s not an issue. She’s not going off leash until her recall is better anyways, and that’s going to take a while. So it may just work itself out and I’m making a big deal out of nothing.

Have you had a Golden before? It’s been decades since I’ve had any; they were all super friendly, obedient, and very laid back. At my dog school I’ve been going to there are lots of Goldens and they do well in the obedience ring but man, they will maul anyone outside the ring for love and affection. I seriously watch them and think, how are you getting obedience titles with these dogs uncontrollable outside the ring? I just mention that, because it’s possible your pup is so filled with Golden love and enthusiasm that it can’t (and may never) comprehend that everything it meets doesn’t want to share the love.