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.

littlewhitebag Sun 29-Sep-13 20:39:56

woah bellasuewow Who said anything about giving them orders? hmm. I was trying in a moment of panic to let them know that my dog had never seen a horse before. I am now more educated in how horses might react.
Also i didn't 'let' my dog do anything. We were upon the horses before i even knew they were there. If i had known they were there i would have kept her on a lead. I know now to check the beach first.

bellasuewow Sun 29-Sep-13 16:53:47

You could have caused a serious accident horses are flight animals funny that after you let your dog do that you started giving them orders about what to do best to train your dog properly I hope they told you where to go

Chibbs Sat 21-Sep-13 23:17:33

you live and lean op!

my dog will chase horses if he sees them in a field - yet i have my own horse that he is so scared of he wont even look at her!

you know now, just just need to keep an eye out.

mrslaughan Sat 21-Sep-13 23:04:41

My dog is around horses 3-4 days a week, and is perfectly behaved, however I would not trust him on a bridal trail, so have him in leAd. But actually avoid walking him on bridal trails.
In my limited experience, they learn how to behave in one situation (like at the yard), but that does not necessarily mean they translate to a different situation.

I can understand about not using long lead. My dog is young, but a giant breed, I would have no control if him on a long lead.
His recall is not 100%, so there are only certain places he is allowed off lead and I am on high alert when he is.
I did use a long lead - one he could pull me around, and he seriously had the attitude - "I'm attached to you, why so I need to come back, you fool"

It was a very unfortunate incident, but it seems that you have a strategy to prevent it from happening again.

Lilcamper Thu 19-Sep-13 14:30:42

Long lines should always be attached to a harness so there is no risk of breaking your dog's neck if you need to step on the line in an emergency. Also knots tied into them at intervals stops it from running underneath your foot.

froubylou Thu 19-Sep-13 13:49:27

I tried to stop and wait for a woman to catch her dog yesterday whilst walking my own dog.

Her dog ran across a school field to get to mine. As we were approaching the road when I noticed him I recalled my dog and put her lead on. Then stopped and waited for his owner to catch him.

Last time I do anything like that. My dog nearly got bitten and I ended up picking her up and nearly got bitten myself as the dog jumped up and snapped at her in my arms. At 27 weeks pg I'm not balanced enough to kick out at something moving whilst holding a petrified whippet in my arms.

Thought of this thread as the woman told me he usually comes back. This was on a field we also ride across.

Any horse or pony no matter how well trained isn't going to stand still and have a dog snap around its legs. They are flight animals so more likely to bolt than standand fight.

Booboostoo Thu 19-Sep-13 13:40:26

I don't see how holding onto the long line or using it at a time when it is likely to get heavy and therefore obvious to the dog is using the technique correctly.

I can't comment on the jarring, perhaps this is an issue for your dog, but presumably an out of control dog puts itself in danger and you need to weigh the two risks against each other. Beware of the line around your finger because if your dog can jar his neck from being stopped he can certainly dislocate your finger by pulling on it suddenly!

If your dog has sussed the length of the line you need a longer long line!

In any case if a good technique does not work in exceptional circumstances (a dog with a delicate neck and a very muddy ground) it doesn't mean it's not a good technique nor that it does not work in the exact circumstances it was designed to help with.

wingardiumoffthesofa Thu 19-Sep-13 13:27:51

Hi booboo, yes I do understand the long line thing, I was shown it in great detail by a behaviourist. I've always used a very light nylon line as you describe. I let it trail on the ground always so effectively my dog is 'loose' as you describe. However, I do generally have it looped round a finger the other end as firstly my dog can dart and I am not quick enough or mobile enough to ensure I tread on the lead reliably - particularly in the wet or mud - and secondly I was very uncomfortable with the horrible jarring on the neck that the foot technique seems to lead to (imo and ime at least).

I think the biggest thing my dog learned on the long line was the length of it! He became very adept at not exceeding it. He was mainly on it over the winter months and light though it was, once it was wet and muddy, he still knew it was there

redcaryellowcar Thu 19-Sep-13 13:25:01

I think it depends how well you know your horse, the last one I used to regularly ride, pre ds would have and did happily stand whilst yappy dogs got reclaimed by owners and I imagine easier for owner to fetch the dog. if trainers with horses I imagine perhaps horses younger and therefore not as predictable, might be worth looking for local horse owner to help with dog / horse familirisation (sp) you could pop a mini advert in local tack shop? if not happening perhaps begin taking dog for walks on the lead on more popular bridleways where she gets to see a lot of horses?

Booboostoo Thu 19-Sep-13 13:08:30

wingar it doesn't seem like you understand what long line training is and while saying that something you are familiar with doesn't work is a valid perspective, saying that something you don't know how to apply doesn't work is a bizarre claim!

A long line is not a long lead. A long line is a very light weight, long line attached to the dog's collar and allowed to trail behind without being held onto by the owner. It should be so light weight that the dog forgets it is there (obviously only suitable for training in areas where the line won't get tangled up and pull up the dog!). The dog is let loose, i.e. off its normal lead and with long line trailing. When you recall the dog either she comes back, in which case you reward and release, or she does not, in which case the handler now steps on the long line preventing the dog from making any more progress with running away, then walks on the line all the way to the dog, gently takes the dog by the collar, reverses all the way back to the original point where the dog was first recalled, rewards and releases. The long line allows the handler to stop the dog even when she thinks she is completely free, teaching the dog that she does not have an option about recall, i.e. she either recalls or is caught and recalled by the handler.

It is exactly the tool which you should use if you can't guarantee your dog won't chance a squirrel or a duck or jump in a river.

It does take a few months for a long lining training regime to work and you may well have to go back to it in the future but training dogs can be quite challenging and sometimes there is no way round the hard slog (said as someone who has spent ages long lining a JRT with a strong chase drive).

wingardiumoffthesofa Thu 19-Sep-13 11:46:20

This 100% thing that always gets quoted on the doghouse is hugely unhelpful to someone with a real life problem I think. It's a bit like saying you can only let your kids travel to school on their own if you are 100% sure they will be safe.

Life isn't full of 100% certainties, it's full of probabilities and risk assessments. Sometimes something will go wrong and you get caught out but you learn from it.

I also don't think a long line is the universal solution that is always suggested. Yes of course it's great for giving the dog freedom whilst on a lead and it's great for training largely unchallenging recall. But it can't replicate how an offlead dog will react if it sees a squirrel or disappears down a fox run or suddenly decides ducks are smelling particularly wonderful and jumps in a river. And if you have missed that puppy window of opportunity to train an unquestioned recall command because you have a rescue dog as so many of us do, then that dog will have ideas of its own. I don't believe you will learn all that dog's triggers if its permanently tethered to you. So should that mean the dog is only ever going to be on a lead? I don't think that's very fair on the dog or what the rescue centres have in mind when you take them home.

I've had my rescue dog 2 years now. He is off lead most of the time but I have learned that I cannot rely on his recall round food or livestock as much as I would like and so we adapt our walks accordingly. It has been a long process of learning and trial and error which has included lengthy periods (months) on a long lead, but also some considered risk taking.

It's a doghouse catch 22 that has always wound me up - you can't be anything close to 100% sure if your dog is permanently on a lead, yet you can't let it off unless you are 100% sure! Very unhelpful

The OP sounds extremely sensible and responsible to me

Booboostoo Thu 19-Sep-13 07:10:07

It sounds like you are struggling with the recall problem on your own. Are you getting any help from a trainer and/or going to classes which often include learning in real life environments?

Things to do to improve recall:
- keep your best food rewards only for recall, e.g. cheese,, chicken, etc.
- play the recall game often in an enclosed space
- long line at every other place (not a retractable lead but the long line exercise). Every single time your dog does not respond immediately to the recall command you are setting your training back. The long line exercise will eliminate mistakes whether they are horse related or anything else and will make it more likely that you will have a good recall in the end.

The riders will probably have walked as it was the safest thing to do. Standing still winds some horses up and makes them more likely to kick out or stomp on the dog with their front feet, both very very dangerous for the dog.

Hibou7688 Wed 18-Sep-13 20:45:47

My dog is unpredictable around horses and would never have her off the lead near them. I know sometimes things come round the corner and catch you by surprise but tbh.. After having accidents in the past (not horse related.. But she has caught cats too that sit in the field - greyhounds..hmm. When we first got her and were walking in northumberland we went over a hill and she spotted sheep.. didn't do amy damage, the sheep headbutted her!!

She is always on her lead unless we can see far enough to know there is nothing that's gonna cause a problem. Other dogs are fine and her recall is fine.. But livestock is always gonna be a no no. Because of their instincts some dogs can't have it trained out of them.

But the horse owners should probably have stood still to help the situation!!

34DD Wed 18-Sep-13 19:45:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

littlewhitebag Wed 18-Sep-13 15:59:07

34DD I take my hat off to you having 7 big dogs in the city. How far do you need to lead walk them to tire them out in relation to letting them off? I agree that lead walking is much better for teaching them manners and obedience. I do lead walk my dog too. I also control when the off lead portion of a walk is finished and i always do part of the walk on lead no matter where i am.

Thank you to all who helped me with this yesterday. I took my dog to the beach this morning. I kept her on the lead initially as there was a man with one of those wheelie parachute things. She was going to run back to him when i let her off but i recalled her and she came back pretty immediately. Apart from him there was not another soul on the beach so it was a good walk. My DD is taking her on a lead walk through the park this afternoon as she is not confident with letting her off.

34DD Wed 18-Sep-13 09:45:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

toboldlygo Tue 17-Sep-13 19:58:19

Not two weeks ago I read a post on a horse forum from a very upset lady whose horse had been chased by a dog on the beach. The horse kicked out at the dog as it circled and barked at them. Unfortunately it caught the dog square in the head, it fitted briefly and then died. Horse rider and dog owner both absolutely devastated.

As above the Dangerous Dogs Act can be brought to play in situations like this:

Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

injures someone
makes someone worried that it might injure them

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if:

it injures someone’s animal
the owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal

"There's no way you can exercise a big dog without letting it off lead"

Of course you can - you seek out fenced-in spaces (possibly paying for the privilege), use a long line, take up a dog sport like canicross or bikejor, walk in places where it's suitable to use a long line or flexi lead.

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 19:14:50

whoknowswhocares It is hard if you don't know the beach but there are only two places horses could come on and one of those is very far away from where i walk. The second is easily visible if you are actually on the beach. To ride horses on the beach they would have to be transported. They could not be ridden there from a stable.

Today i obviously did not see the horse boxes, probably because there is a lot of large lorries parked around due to a big sporting activity which is happening near by in a few weeks.

Whoknowswhocares Tue 17-Sep-13 17:53:58

Do you have a contingency plan for the scenario where the beach is clear when you arrive and the horses turn up 5 minutes later, once your dog is offlead?

littlewhitebag Tue 17-Sep-13 17:00:27

whogivesashit I am doing whistle recall training with the aid of the Pippa Mattison book. We are having a lot of success with it and hopefully we will have her proofed soon. As i understand it the whole gist of the training is not allow it to fail and i think had i blown my whistle in this circumstance she would not have responded. We do long lead training with the whistle.

patchouli I will definitely be scanning the area more thoroughly before letting her off.

froubylou I have got the point about my dog being not in control around the horses. I have said in my original post that i need to be able to control her and i want to ensure this does not happen again. I am not irresponsible and i try to ensure i walk her off lead where i can control her. This scenario came upon me unexpectedly and in future i will be less complacent about allowing her to run onto the beach before i have checked what is there. I suspect we will not ever see eye to eye regarding this.

punter Tue 17-Sep-13 16:46:00

This happened to me in the wood with my 1 year old lab. Out of nowhere appeared a horse and rider, I was not aware it was a bridleway (not sure it is). Lab did the circling and barking bit, I could not get him at first until I produced cheese. So embarrassing, I had no idea he would react that way on his first sight of a horse. Horse and rider stood still and she was lovely and did not criticise me/dog at all so thank you to her. I now know I need to desensitise him to horses which I will do. Don't worry OP we all learn from our mistakes and I think some replies have been a bit harsh although I am obviously biased.

Patchouli Tue 17-Sep-13 16:38:34

"In future i will scan the beach for horses before letting her off so we can't be in that situation again"

That's your answer.
You do need to have a look around an area before you let your dog go. It's not much good the dog running onto the beach without you, incase of allsorts of things: dogs on leads, children etc

lljkk Tue 17-Sep-13 16:33:38

Was that really "out of control"? All the dog did was bark at them & run around a bit. Dog could have been doing that on a lead just as vigorously. If horses can't cope with random barking dog then they should't be out & about either (bit of give & take, no?).

Good luck to OP, I'm sure you'll figure it out.

froubylou Tue 17-Sep-13 16:25:47

Did you know that under the dangerous dogs act you can now be prosecuted for having a dog out of control in a public place?

It is not acceptable to let a dog run loose who the owner can't control. That isn't opinion that is the law.

You practice recall on the end of a long line and at obedience classes.

I cannot believe that a person who knows that they can't always recall their dog is still adamant that it will be off the lead in a public place. Do you have any idea just how dangerous to human life it can be when a dog behaves that way around horses?

And we trained greyhounds when I was younger. The majority of their exercise and fittening work was road work. On the lead. It's quite acceptable to exercise any dog on the lead. You just have to walk further.

Whogivesashit Tue 17-Sep-13 15:17:50

Littlewhitebag; have you thought about using a whistle for your recall training?

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