It is not uncommon for animal lovers to have pets from more than one species, but what happens when one of your pet species is a predator and the other is a prey animal? Does mayhem necessarily have to follow? Hopefully not! Many horse owners also own dogs, and they get along famously, but this does not necessarily occur without some work, training and assimilating the two companion animals from species with very different natural instincts. Remember herding dogs have a tendency to want to herd livestock and large dogs, especially from hunting breeds, may also be prone to chase livestock. Other dogs are just plain excited about being around a new animal and may jump at the horse or, if fearful, may bite out of fear. If you do not teach your dog that these behaviors are not compatible with being around your horse, you could be in for a wreck. There is a danger to the horse if it becomes frightened and the flight instinct kicks in--the horse could become injured in its panic to escape, slip and hurt itself or run through a fence, person, or other obstacle. Also, your dog can become hurt if a horse, being annoyed or harried by a dog decides to “fight”, a horse can easily injure or kill a dog by stepping on, kicking or even biting it.
Because horses are prey animals who tend to react by fight or flight to the presence of a predator, which technically your dog is, you will need to teach your dog to behave in a respectful, calm way around horses in order to avoid a confrontation in which your dog or the horse could be injured or worse. Ideally, a dog that is going to be around horses is introduced when young, but this is not always possible. If a horse owner adopts or acquires an older dog that has no experience with horses, some precautions and training will need to take place so that the dog learns to behave appropriately around his equine family members. If the dog has a history of aggression or chasing bikes, people or other livestock, teaching the dog to behave around a horse can be particularly challenging. Dogs need to not chase, jump at, or nip horses and should stay a respectful distance from the horse's feet. In order to not put themselves or the horse at risk, dogs need to learn to be calm, gentle and not make sudden movements around horses.
Before you introduce your dog and horse and start teaching appropriate behavior around horses, you should be aware of the temperament of both the horse and the dog, and whether either of them has been exposed to the other species before. If you have an excitable dog and your horse has never seen a dog before, you might want to introduce the horse to a calm dog first so the horse has a positive experience around dogs before introducing an excitable dog, and vice versa. If your dog is calm, but the horse not so much, get your dog used to quiet horses that accept his presence before introducing him to a more high-spirited equine friend. Your dog should know basic obedience commands and have good on and off leash control prior to exposing him to a horse or horses. A leash, to control your dog, and a round pen or corral with safe fencing such as rail, not barbed wire, is ideal for introducing your dog to how to behave around horses.
I want to know how to train dog to heal while i am on horseback. Gem is running ahead of me and then coming right back to me at the moment?
Hello Julie, First, you need to work on a really solid off-leash heel around the horses, when not on horseback. Teaching pup to heel calmly around the horse when you are just walking past the horses comes first. Next, choosing the calmest, most well-socialized horse, practice having pup heel next to you while you walk next to the horse on your other side, going in the same direction as the horse. It's probably best to have a second person actually leading the horse even though you are next to it, so that you can focus all of your attention on the dog. Next, have pup heel while you are riding on the horse, but have another person managing pup on a long leash to correct him back into position just as needed - the leash should be relaxed when pup is doing well so that he is heeling because of obedience and not because he is being forced too most of the time. This can also be done through off-leash heeling with e-collar training if pup has been trained to heel to an e-collar ahead of time. The e-collar can be used to correct pup when he begins moving out of position. I would have another person who is super experienced with e-collars managing the corrects though, so that you can focus on the horse for safety reasons. You may need a long leash and an e-collar for a bit in between this step and the previous step too if you use an e-collar. You will practice with the extra person helping for a really long time, spending lots of time on this step because pup needs to be 100% on this before it's just you on the horse alone with pup. Once pup is 100%, then you are ready for just you, pup, and the horse in calm areas. Only progress to more distracting areas when both the dog and the horse are fully in the habit of obeying you and traveling with each other even around distractions. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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