All animal lovers want their pets to get along but this is not always something that will occur naturally – especially not with horses and dogs.
These animals may not have encountered each other before so introducing them to each other requires gentle handling.
Why do dogs chase horses?
One of the most common reactions when introducing horses and dogs is for the dog to chase the horse – something which can be dangerous for both animals and any individuals or riders.
Chasing and hunting are instinctive behaviours amongst canines. When introduced to a horse, the dog may be inquisitive, nervous or even scared. Chasing can be a defensive behaviour born from these feelings or a way of inviting the horse to play.
Why do horses run?
When encountering a dog, many horses run away. This relates to the instinctual ‘flight’ behaviour of horses which allows them to avoid danger. Remember, horses were the traditional prey of wolves so it is a fairly natural reaction for them to flee when chased.
What can you do?
Despite the problems mentioned above, dogs and horses are not enemies and they can get along harmoniously.
The first thing you need to do is train and socialise both animals together from as early an age as possible.
Horses should be kept as calm as possible while canines should be well-trained to respond immediately to your commands. If you don’t think your dog will respond to your recall instruction then keep them on a lead.
You should also teach dogs not to bark at horses and ensure that you move slowly past nervous dogs when on horseback.
With these tips, you should be able to watch your horses and dogs thrive and enjoy a happy, and safe, relationship.