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Horses And Dogs - What You Should Think About

Apr 4, 2008
Dogs and horses are common at stables - many who have one like all animals and have the other also. However, not all dogs like horses, and not all horses like dogs. Keeping the two co-existing can take training and, for some, may never happen.

Left to roam unchecked dogs can, and will, do incredible damage and even kill a horse. There have been cases of dogs jumping onto the neck of a horse as the horse wildly runs trying to escape his tormentor. Dogs can run in packs and chase horses through fences, and even take down and kill horses. Once a horse has had a bad experience, they may never fully trust a dog of any kind again.

On the other hand there's other horses who will "hunt dogs" - and would kill a dog given the opportunity. With one the prey and one predator it's amazing the modern animals can usually live in peace, but when things go wrong they really go wrong.

Other horses will tremble at the site of a dog. While some horses may never *like* dogs they should be trained enough to not panic and run from them. Sometimes simply facing the dog is enough intimidation, or riding towards the dog. Of course some horses are too afraid to walk forward and the dog will sense this. Still other horses simply wait for the dog to get in range and, rider or not, kick or strike. If you're thinking of a stable dog consider carefully several factors.

Ideally if you're bringing a dog home you'll give much thought to the idea. While border collies, Australian Shepherds and Cattle Dogs are all found on many farms and stables it is VERY important that when you bring any herding dog home you devote time to training. Never let the dog chase the horses, even in play. Herding dogs have the instinct to move animals from one place to another - for safety of both horse and dog restrain that instinct!

Hounds have long been kept around horses. Typically bred to hunt, breeds like the Foxhound, Beagle or Coonhound are better around horses as they aren't a threat. They still need training, but their instincts are more to go with the horses rather than chasing or cornering them. Their normally laid back temperament is normally welcomed by people and horses alike.

Another popular group with horse owners are the working dogs. Typically large dogs like Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, Mastiffs or Kuvasz these dogs can be a security force around the barn and keep *other* dogs out of the horse area. They'll also effectively dispatch coons and other critters that come in uninvited. However, because of the adult size it is ABSOLUTELY important that you set ground rules from puppyhood and mean it. A 30 pound Pyr puppy is cute when he comes up and jumps up...believe me the cute wears off when there's a 120 pound dog splashing through the mud running straight towards you and company is due in five minutes.

Whatever the breed you get, expect to train them. Don't let them get away with carrying off grooming supplies and other things from the barn. Keep their vaccinations up - for their own health, that of your horses as well as of visitors. Don't allow your dog to roam the area. A dog that is supposed to protect the barn is useless if he's 2 miles up the road visiting the neighbors. Remember too that you may know your dog won't hurt livestock but in many areas a dog in with livestock, including horses, can be shot on sight.

The horses normally learn to relax when they get used to the dog being around. However, if strange horses are around, or when you're seriously training the horse, keep the dog safely confined. You want the horse's attention on *you* and what you're doing, not watching his canine buddy romp in the yard outside the arena. A dog running up along the fence can startle even a horse that is used to dogs. For the safety of dog, horse and rider take sensible precautions.

Whether purebred or, like this Cattle Dog - Beagle cross, "mutts" make sure your farm/stable dog is properly trained and socialized around horses and the horses trained to not fear the dog.
About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in southern Idaho with horses and the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the links below. Amazing Equine Network System - Horses for sale or trade anything equine related. Get More Horse Classified coverage and distribution with less cost and work. Award Winning Horse Forum
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