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We are considering buying a larger piece of property outside of town to build on in a few years. We've run across several properties that have a creek flowing through them; we are in central/southern Texas.

Say we buy a 10-15 acre property that is fenced in; undeveloped, trees, brush, cactus, some flood plain. What kind of dangers would we have to look out for letting our GSD run? I would not want to totally clear that size property- I am envisioning selectively clearing an acre max at the highest elevation (out of the flood zone) for a house and a little grass, then pick out an area around the perimeter of the property like a daily walking path to cut-in over time. A colleague said snakes and cactus are the biggest problems around here for pets / hunting dogs. Does anyone live in a similar situation and have thoughts / lessons learned they might be willing to share?

We are still in the "thinking about it" stage. Might be a good time to invest in property depending on what the economy does.
 

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I grew up on a farm in South Mississippi, so while it's not Texas there might be some similarities. Our dogs were always free to run around the farm where they wanted, but they always stayed close to the house unless we were outside with them. The only danger that I can think of is one time a coyote seemed to be playing chase with our dog (it had come up close to the house). We went out and scared the coyote off - I've heard that coyotes will lure dogs away and then attack them. That was a pretty rare thing, though. Snakes are also a problem in Mississippi, but luckily we never had a dog get bitten by a snake.
 

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Snakes would be a concern. Although rattlesnakes have more potent venom, copperheads are more frequent biters.
Central/southern, I'm not sure what is the closest town or city? My mom's best friend has a family farm near Hallettsville. Her son found two copperheads near the house. As in, definite, pit viper, triangular head, distinctive hour-glass patterned copperheads, not just harmless snakes who happened to scare him. Now, while I'm not crazy about discovering snakes where I don't expect them, I am also not a reflexive snake killer. They do good work in keeping rodents down. But they don't always coexist with dogs very well. I've heard of drills to teach dogs to leave snakes alone. Maybe there is a thread on this forum??

My grandparents had two Australian shepherds, one after the other. The second suffered a snakebite, most likely from a copperhead. Caused some swelling and listlessness, loss of appetite. They took him to the vet, and the older, more experienced vet pronounced him snake-bit. He recovered, but it seemed touch and go for a couple days. It's often a matter of chance encounters. Same property, earlier of the two dogs ran all over every square foot of it, constantly chasing stuff, never encountered a poisonous snake. The snake-bit fellow was much more laid back for an Aussie, more of a home-body. And my brother and I played on the same property for much of our childhood, rarely encountering snakes.

You mentioned a creek. . . . depending on where in Texas, you might have water moccasins/ aka cottonmouths. Not every snake who swims is a water moccasin. They have (usually) a stumpier, thick body, large head, and swim (I'm told) with their entire body on top of the water. If you get closer to them than I care to be outside a zoo, they have cat type pupils, and a pronounced indentation, so called "pit" close to their snout. Also when their mouth is open, it is often whitish, hence the cottonmouth name.
They don't seem to bite as many people or pets as copperheads. Maybe people are more vigilant when they are close to water, and they perhaps don't venture as much into people's lawns and flowerbeds.

And since you mentioned a creek--depending on how close it is to the alligator zone of east Texas, that might be a big concern.
Used to be they were limited to a few counties around Houston-Beaumont, etc. Their range has spread out some.

Finally, are there feral hogs in the area?
 

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Unlikely to be alligators, but definite possibility of feral hogs- good question!

My coworker's husband manages a game ranch and did snake avoidance training with his hunting dog which rides/runs around with him often. I saw a few threads on here about the training and pros/cons of the rattler/snake-bite vaccination.

Hard to tell if the person who was warning me was just being negative, or whether these are frequent problems that would prevent me from walking the property with the dog off-leash. If we couldn't do that, the positives of having several acres might not be worth the work it will take to maintain a property that size.
 

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We used to live in SC. We lost a dog to a rattlesnake and most everyone we knew lost at least one dog to those snakes. Ours was a small dog, but a very tough one. She tried to attack the snake and it didn't work out well for her, especially since it was a huge snake.

There was an alligator that lived in a nearby pond and it would take advantage of small dogs that wandered by.

Heat stroke is a very real possibility. A friend almost lost her dog when she brought it to our farm and let it run. It got overly excited and took off after something. We found him lying nearly unconscious and managed to revive him by immediately hosing him down and as soon as possible putting him in a tub of water with lots of ice cubes. We needed to get his body temperature down as quickly as possible. Luckily he survived, but always seemed more subdued after that incident. She never turned him loose at our place again.

There were plenty of copperheads there as well, but they don't seem to be so lethal to dogs, unless the dog is bitten in the nose and the airway swells shut. Our vet recommended Benadryl for dogs that were bitten by a copperhead. That usually did the trick. You might want to keep some on hand for that possibility.

There are fire ants as well, but those aren't normally deadly unless your dog has an allergic reaction to them.

We have always lived on acerage and I can't imagine living on a small plot of land. But our dogs have never run loose. They have always been where we were. When we weren't home, they were inside the house where it was warm or cool, depending on the weather, and safe from people coming onto the property.
 

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Good point, PAWSED, I should have clarified that I wouldn't expect to leave the dog loose outside while we were gone. Like many others, our GSD is spoiled and stays in the AC most of the time, lol; that and I don't trust my current neighbors... :rolleyes:
 

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I should have said that our dogs were loose, never leashed, but they were always where we were. They weren't turned out on their own. They could run all over the property as long as we could keep them in sight, but they never ventured far from where we were.

Neighbors can always be a problem, no matter how much land you have.
 

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Other thing besides snakes are bobcats, cougars, coyotes, skunks, and any number of other wild animals that carry rabies.
 

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I think you are wise to weigh the dangers. But I'd also say many dogs love having some additional land to explore, even if they do it with your supervision rather than roaming on their own. And some of the hazards are also common to suburbs and even urban neighborhoods. There was an article on snakes in Texas Highways magazine a couple months ago. It described one suburban neighborhood around Dallas where four people have been bitten by copperheads in the last decade or so--all in their lawns, around their mailbox, etc. In my own neighborhood, a small toy type dog got taken by a coyote, and we had many sightings during their breeding season, and I live 5 miles from downtown Cincinnati. If there is a particular property you are looking at, maybe get the realtor to allow you to really walk it, with some boots on, and see whether it seems like you could develop it to your taste. All rural parts of Texas will likely have some snakes, but some just seem to have a greater concentration, due to more attractive habitat, more of their natural prey, or whatever.
 
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