Dog and horses incident. Help needed.

(57 Posts)
littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 09:53:58

My lab is 16 months old. I will start by saying her recall is NOT perfect but we are working hard on it.

This morning i took her as usual to the beach for her walk. On the beach she will meet and greet dogs politely play for a bit if welcome or come away if i call.

Today she bounded through the dunes on to the beach and there were four horses/riders and two horse trainers walking up towards us. She has never seen horses before and was unsure. She ran up to them barking and running round them (a bit like a dog rounding sheep).

Calling her didn't work so i ran up to the the group and said i was sorry, that she was a young dog who had never seen a horse before and if they could just stop for a moment i would get her and put her on her lead. I could then have treated her while being beside the horses to get her used to them. However they chose to ignore me and kept walking. They then started shouting to my dog to get away in a really aggressive way and brandishing their riding crops at her. This seemed to make my dog more excited. I think she actually thought they were trying to play with her.

The two trainers who were on foot then started yelling at her very aggressively and would not listen when i said to stop shouting and i would be able to get her. Eventually i just turned and walked off and my dog followed a few seconds later.

I really do not ever want to repeat this incident. What can i do in future given that horses are not something we come in contact with very much? I am completely aware that i need to be able to control my dog at all time and i am very careful where i walk her. The beach early in the morning is usually my failsafe place to walk as the few dogs/owners we meet are happy for my dog to play and it is great for doing recall training with her.

Floralnomad Tue 17-Sep-13 10:23:26

I'm sorry but if a dog was barking at and trying to 'round up' my horse I think I'd be shouting at it at waving whatever I was carrying ,infact you are lucky that they were obviously quite sensible horses as many would have gone berserk resulting in injuries to horses ,dog and riders. In an ideal world everyone will be lovely and let you use them as a training tool ,in the real world people are not . If your dog follows when you walk away then I would suggest that is the strategy you use in future or keep her on a longline until her recall is better. My dog has a dodgy recall but he has an 'absolute ' DOWN which works wonders in situations like you described as I then go and fetch him and in the interim he is not being a nuisance to anyone else .

Whoknowswhocares Tue 17-Sep-13 10:24:51

Well to be fair to them, it would be less safe for them AND your dog to stop and let your dog run circles around them. A moving horse is (slightly) less able to kick and possibly kill your dog. It also can't rear unless stationary, which is very, very dangerous for both horse and rider. As a trainer on foot and presumably in charge of the group, I too would probably have shouted and warned off your dog as its a far better outcome than letting the dog get kicked or a rider/horse get seriously injured.
I would firstly try to desensitise her. Take her to a bridleway or stables if you can find somewhere obliging on lead and let her get used to them. Praise her for sitting calmly and just looking.
Secondly, she needs to be on a long line whilst her recall is still a work in progress. As you have now found, anything can happen even in the quietest places. You have been very,very lucky. If the same were to happen again, I doubt you would be a second time.

kiriwawa Tue 17-Sep-13 10:27:00

You're quite lucky he wasn't hurt - I've known some horses that would absolutely lose it in that situation.

Can't you get one of those really long stretchy leads for him to do your recall training? I'm sorry but I think dogs need to be kept on a lead if they won't come when they're called

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 10:31:02

floralnomad i use a long line in the local park where i know she cannot be let off and we do training there. I would love her to have a no questions DOWN and we are working on this. But the beach is usually my failsafe quiet and able to let her off place.

As i said this came as a complete surprise to me to find horses and i do understand that the horse riders would want to protect their horses. In future i will scan the beach for horses before letting her off so we can't be in that situation again.

I think i didn't walk away and allow my dog to follow as i really had no idea how she was going to react to the horses and i was in a bit of a panic.

I really hate my dog doing the wrong thing and i try so, so hard to make sure she is not a nuisance.

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 10:34:47

Also i have absolutely no knowledge regarding horses and i am actually a bit scared of them.

Thank you whoknowswhocares for that information about horses rearing. I would never have known that.

kiriwawa I won't ever use a stretchy lead for my dog. I think she is too strong for that kind of lead and i believe she could be more of a danger on it. I do have a long lead which i am prepared to use, although i prefer using that when i have someone else with me.

Whoknowswhocares Tue 17-Sep-13 10:37:01

Just a quick head up.
In the 25+ years I have owned and worked with horses, I have only known anyone take their horse to the beach for one thing........galloping!
Even if you scan the beach and let her off, they could very easily be out of sight when you do and right upon you very soon after.

CooEeeEldridge Tue 17-Sep-13 10:38:40

This sort of happened to me the other week, only I was on horse and it was a bullmastiff type!

Dog bounded over barking and snorting, owner was actually facing the other way as we approached, stopped to give owner a chance to recall / catch dog. Dog continued, owner could not catch stop him until he did as you describe- circling, jumping up and barking at us. Honestly did not know what to do for best, horse (for once) was v sensible and stood as owner lunged at dog, and dig lunged at us. The only thing that eventually stopped him was a bike going passed which he then chased after instead and owner grabbed him! I really had visions of him biting / chasing us- v scary! We have seen him since (on lead) and gone over but not in touching distance do he can see horse a bit more.

I also met a woman with a terrier pup last week, who shouted me to ask if she could bring dog over as he'd never seen before, which I hope helped him. Maybe try taking your dog for a walk on the lead where you know horses will be do he can get used to them?

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 10:39:48

Not on the beach i go to. Once on it you can see from one end to the other, even though it is very long. If i keep her on the lead until i am actually on instead of letting her bound through the dunes i will be able to check.

I don't think these horses were galloping. The horse prints would suggest they were walking.

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 10:41:46

cooeeeEldridge If we see horses in the future i will ask if i can take her over to try and get her more used to them.

Well, tbh, we've all been caught out with a dodgy recall on a young dog. Usually, said annoying dog just annoys another person or dog, and no harm is done, so I'm not going to berate you. My dog has some fear aggression and isn't great with boisterous, big dogs. So I have to keep him on lead until I'm in an open area and can see who is there before I let him off. We train every single walk so that he can tolerate dogs at a distance, and even greet some now as long as they're calm. Now you know your dog is iffy around horses, you can work on it. I'd definitely keep him on lead until you can see a clear beach. Then, keep an eye out and if you see horses at a distance, do the whole CBeebies presenter recall schtick, preferably with something delicious as an extra lure. When your dog is on the lead, keep an eye on him as the horses pass at a distance. Try and keep him at whatever distance he needs not to react. Treat like crazy every time you see a horse. Personally, I would always lead my dogs in certain situations, and being near horses would be one of them. Horses are big, powerful and skittish ime, so I tend to give them a wide berth. You've had a bad experience, and it's shaken you up (which believe me, I understand <eyes bastard spaniel>), but now all you have to do is make sure it doesn't happen again.

CooEeeEldridge Tue 17-Sep-13 11:00:59

From a dog owners perspective, what is best for horse to do in that situation? (Assuming it doesn't just kick the dog and leg it!)

We tried walking on, standing, and facing the other direction. Nothing seemed to calm it. I considered trotting on but thought that might cause chase! I also attempted to reach down to pat dog, but that seemed to scare it.

LEMisdisappointed Tue 17-Sep-13 11:13:17

Tbh you are lucky that your dog wasnt kicked. I know its tough but unless recall is 100% your dog needs to be in a lead. I have 2 jrts one has reasonable recall so he is let off on the beach the other is a nightmare I used to let him off if no one around but people often appear from nowhere and I was getting too much hassle so he just doesn't get let off now. Id not let either off though if there was the chance of encountering horses. Ive been on spooking horses its bloody scary.

Floralnomad Tue 17-Sep-13 11:24:21

I do think its a little unrealistic to say unless recall is 100 % dogs should be on leads because with the best will in the world everybody is going to have a failed recall eventually . I used a longline for months before I let mine off and his recall didn't improve at all because he knew he was on a lead . I think the best you can do ( which the OP already does) is be selective about where you let them off whilst continuing to train and work out what works for you . It will also be worth saying that desensitising to something doesn't always work . Its taken 3 years for my dog to get used to our rabbit , he would still chase him given the opportunity but I can now pick the rabbit up without the dog jumping up to grab him .

arseholeamio Tue 17-Sep-13 11:26:42

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Helpful, arseholeamio. hmm

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 11:54:48

Thanks arseholeamio I see you live up to your name with your helpful comments.

I practice my dogs recall every single time she is off the lead no matter where we are and how quiet or busy it is. EVERY SINGLE TIME - call, treat, let go, call, treat, let go. She is probably 85-90% reliable. This was just a new scenario for us and i wanted some helpful sensible help, which, for the most part, i have got.

As my gran used to say: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

kiriwawa Tue 17-Sep-13 11:58:13

Sorry - I don't know much about dogs. I thought a long lead was the same thing as a stretchy lead. I meant one of those ones that you push the button and it sucks it back in.

arseholio - where's the OP supposed to go to practice recall? I think a beach in the early morning is (generally) a safe place.

Ehhn Tue 17-Sep-13 12:02:55

My friend always carries a dressage whip with her after an incident in which another person's horses had to be out down following a dog incident. I share a similar view. I ride highly strung competition horses and they will go mental if a dog worries them (they are fine with calm dogs as we have plenty of dogs around the yard). I would rather whip a dog away, possibly giving it a painful backside, than have it crushed by my horse rearing ans coming down on it, or one of my horses being scarred or injured.

To be honest, due to adrenaline and fear, I would then go bloody mental at the dog owner, regardless of how much at fault they were at or not. Not that that is a good reaction, but I have been in that situation once and the fear you have for your horse, the dog and the people around just finds an outlet.

Re your incident - if there were to trainers on the ground, it suggests they were with novice riders or young horses, so they would be extra angry/scared of possible incidents.

Also agree with earlier posters about socialising dogs with horses whenever you get a safe opportunity. Good for both animals.

froubylou Tue 17-Sep-13 12:12:08

Speaking as both a dog and horse owner I would be furious with the owner of the dog for placing both the dog, the horses and people in danger.

Your recall isn't good enough yet to let her run loose. If it took you that long to catch her then she needs to be on a lead in all public places.

My DD at 9yo rides out on our pony now and dog owners like you are one of the reasons she is kept on the leadline even though she and the pony are safe and competent.

At 16 months old if you have had her since a puppy, or even just recently got her I would get some help with her in the form of dog training lessons.

Until then she would stay on the lead. For her sake and everyone else's. She is a big powerful dog and you must have full control of her at all times.

ButThereAgain Tue 17-Sep-13 12:13:45

Don't feel terible. A young dog, some unanticipated circumstances and a mortally embarrassing but thankfully not harmful episode. That is a combination that lots and lots of us have experience of! I can understand the horse people being spooked and irritable, but you have learnt from the event and will move on. I second the advice to go to places where you are sure to meet horses and have your dog onlead so that she can be given plenty of treats for ignoring -- at a distance of course, unless you have asked the horse owners' permission to come closer.

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 12:14:51

The thing is, if they were young horses and/or novice riders, why would they be on a beach which has loads of dogs being walked? I don't think they can assume all dogs they meet will be well behaved. The trainers did nothing at all except watch me have a meltdown trying to get my dog back. They only started yelling when my dog was actually coming away and it got her attention so she retuned to the horses.
To be honest i think it was one of those incidents which wasn't handled greatly by anyone and i fully accept my part in it. That is why i am asking for help. I don't want it to happen again. Ever.

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 12:21:05

froubylou We have been to obedience classes and she has massively improved. She didn't take ages to come away. I suspect the whole thing was done and over in 2 minutes or less.

There is no way i am keeping her on a lead all the time as she needs time to run free. As i have said the beach is usually quiet and the dogs she meets she comes away from easily or just ignores. I would always keep her on a lead in parks or busy places.

Whoknowswhocares Tue 17-Sep-13 12:32:13

Have a check of the beach by laws. Often horses are only permitted at certain times and have to be clear after around 7am.
You could adjust your schedule a little and avoid them possibly?

froubylou Tue 17-Sep-13 12:38:49

Well if you won't keep her on the lead in any public places and won't take her for more training then you run the risk of her being seriously hurt. Or someone else.

The horse riders obviously had full control of their animals. Why shouldn't they use a public area?

And to be honest it is owners like you who get their dogs shot. Arseholio has a valid point I'm afraid. I've seen first hand the damage a loose uncontrollable dog can do to stock and it isn't nice. I've also been chased by dogs out riding and that isn't good either.

You need more help or she should stay on the lead. If you can only recall her 85% of the time that means she is out of control for 15% of the time.

Not acceptable imo. And I love dogs and have been a dog owner for many years.

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