My dog chased sheep

(84 Posts)
Cath2907 Tue 12-Mar-19 13:41:49

I am so upset and embarrassed. Was walking my dog yesterday afternoon off lead down a country lane. He is 15 months old and normally very reliable with recall. He is nice with other dogs, comes back when called and disinterested in people. We walk there daily and he's never shown much interest in the adjoining fields and the animals in them. Totally out of the blue he winkled his way through the hedge along the lane and shot into the field and chased the bloody sheep. I was with my Dad and we both went into the field attempting to call the dog back. He was totally oblivious. The farmer turned up (he happened to be passing) and told us off - all the time the dog was belting round the field after his poor sheep. Finally I caught the dog but only once he'd isolated a sheep in the hedge.

He is a small dog and wasn't trying to bite the sheep (he had plenty of opportunity to do so) but I do know that his behavior can still kill the sheep and had they been in lamb he could have caused them to abort.

I am still struggling today to look at the dog. I can't believe he nearly got himself shot and was at risk of killing a poor flock of sheep. I am so upset and ashamed of him and myself for letting him get into this situation.

His walk today was almost entirely on lead as there are so many sheep around here and I can never risk that happening again now he has a passion for sheep.

Not sure there is anything else I can do. I appologised to the farmer, the sheep were ok and the dog will be now treated by me and the family as high sheep risk and never allowed off lead anywhere there is the slightest risk of him coming into contact with sheep.

Anyone had similar? Will I eventually forgive myself for being so stupid?

OP’s posts: |
BiteyShark Tue 12-Mar-19 13:48:36

My dog is fine round cows, deer and horses that roam around here. However, if there are any sheep nearby and by nearby I mean any of the surrounding fields he would be on the lead.

The cows and horses here roam freely and are more than a match for BiteyDog and he typically ignores them unless he thinks a fresh pile of poo might appear hmm. Sheep on the other hand are not worth the risk because of the reasons you have listed above.

At 15months they are still young and totally unpredictable as you have found out. Not sure why you are ashamed of him as I would think the majority of pets would find sheep interestingly enough to chase just like they find squirrels and rabbits.

You have learnt the hard way and fortunately the farmer didn't shoot the dog.

Nesssie Tue 12-Mar-19 14:49:31

Forgive him and yourself. He was just acting on a natural chase instinct, you had no reason to doubt his recall. Live and learn.

I have no doubt that my dog would chase sheep. He wouldn't bite them but he loves to chase anything that moves.

IncrediblySadToo Tue 12-Mar-19 14:54:32

He’s a baby and they were ‘playing’ as far as he was concerned.

He needs to be taught he’s not allowed to play with sheep, but FGS, he’s very young and needs teaching not being treat like he’s torn a lamb to shreds.

YorkshireGoldFanClub Tue 12-Mar-19 15:03:09

Your dog doesn't have to physically bite a sheep or "tear a lamb to shreds" to cause catastrophic harm to sheep;

These things happen and hopefully the farmer was able to mitigate the damage but it really really must not happen again. Your Dog obviously was just playing a lovely game this time and luckily you have identified that and will work on it going forward, some sadly still miss the point that a lack of a bite isnt a lack of harm caused.

adaline Tue 12-Mar-19 15:08:11

Oh, bless you. What a shock!

But yes, in the future he needs to be on lead when there's any chance of him coming across sheep. We live in sheep country and mine is on-lead on all field walks. The only time he's off-lead here is in enclosed fields or at the beach - it's just too much risk otherwise. I know if he decided to, he'd be off and it's not worth the risk to the sheep or to his life!

All owners have "oh my god" moments with their dogs, they do like to scare us! You're not the first and you certainly won't be the last but yours extremely lucky the farmer was as understanding as he was.

What breed is he out of curiosity?

billybagpuss Tue 12-Mar-19 15:09:04

I too would have been mortified and I know in your position Billypup would have acted the same as your Dpup.

Billypup is now having another on lead few weeks due to appalling recall. She's 12 months and goes through phases of being awesome then completely the opposite.

All you can do is forgive and learn, its in the past you can't change it.


adaline Tue 12-Mar-19 15:09:21

He needs to be taught he’s not allowed to play with sheep, but FGS, he’s very young and needs teaching not being treat like he’s torn a lamb to shreds.

It doesn't matter that he didn't physically bite. Sheep worrying isn't just biting and attacking, it's getting in and chasing the flock. OP is very lucky that farmer didn't shoot her dog.

mrsjoyfulprizeforraffiawork Tue 12-Mar-19 15:32:47

Poor you. The same thing happened to me 50 years ago with my young staffie when we were holidaying in the Lake District. Fortunately, no farmer anywhere in the vicinity and we managed to catch him fairly quickly. Lesson learned (he had sneaked into a field as well) and he was ever after on the lead whenever any sheep were within sight. Now you know, you can avoid such a situation ever again.

boxlikeamarchhare Tue 12-Mar-19 15:41:45

Just learn from it OP, that’s all you can do.

I was on a footpath at the weekend with ‘keep dogs on lead’ signs all over the place. A German shepherd slinked past me to run at a gate with sheep and lambs at the other side.

I was like 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ doesn’t this apply to your dog dear, the owner was pig ignorant, you are not.

pigsDOfly Tue 12-Mar-19 15:44:37

To me if there is the least indication of sheep anywhere nearby a dog should be on the lead.

I also keep my dog on the lead if horses are about. She tends to keep herself to herself and it's highly unlikely that she would go near a horse, or a sheep come to that, but you never know with dogs, even the most reliable can behave out of character at times.

I remember on a walk once with a 'friend' who got very sniffy because the sheep were right over the other side of the field we were in and she took exception to the farmer shouting at her to put her parson russell terrier on the lead.

reallyanotherone Tue 12-Mar-19 15:48:29

As above.

You could drop the farmer a note/card apologising again, thanking him for understanding and including your contact details in case there are any knock on effects for the sheep- offer to compensate if there are. Might be worth checking your insurance to see if you would be covered.

Floralnomad Tue 12-Mar-19 15:50:48

I don’t know why there is any question of forgiving the dog , the dog was doing what most dogs do and this incident was entirely your fault so therefore easy to move on from as the very obvious answer is don’t let him off lead near any livestock again . I agree with a pp that you are very lucky he wasn’t shot .

StrongTea Tue 12-Mar-19 15:53:01

You must have got such a fright. Get a long line, so he still has some freedom.

anniehm Tue 12-Mar-19 16:13:44

It's happened to us, though being a collie he just rounded them up (I'm still amazed how on earth he knew what to do as he's never worked sheep). Fortunately for us the farmer thanked him for his work, said if he needed a job ...

NoSquirrels Tue 12-Mar-19 16:19:57

Poor you, OP.

I think you probably need to do some distract-and-treat work when you go past fields of sheep, try to make a new association focused on you, rather than the previous fun he's had.

My rescue is always on lead near livestock. She ignores sheep and cows etc on lead, but I know she would 100% chase deer, and rabbits and squirrels are her passion in life. If she decided just once to try to chase sheep it would be a disaster so better safe than sorry.

I like the idea of a note to the farmer.

CMOTDibbler Tue 12-Mar-19 16:24:38

You need to get him on a stock safe course asap - there are several that run around my area. Once they've enjoyed chasing sheep, they are vastly more likely to do it again

Yogagirl123 Tue 12-Mar-19 16:28:14

You made a genuine mistake and I am sure your dog will be on a lead if anywhere near sheep in the future, just not worth the risk.

3 dogs were shot by farmers just last week close to where we live. Every week there is an article in the local rag on this subject. Dog owners having to compensate Farmers for loss of sheep etc.

Not worth punishing your dog though, who acted on instinct, be grateful you still have your dog OP.

WFTisgoingoninmyhead Tue 12-Mar-19 16:37:35

Many years ago, my dog chased a whole field of sheep, which were in lamb. I was mortified and have NEVER let my subsequent dog off their lead. I had a crowd of people stood around watching me try to catch my dog saying how she could kill the lambs etc etc. As if I didn’t already know that. The ewe’s were in a field that was usually arrable and as I rounded the corner, there she was terrorising the whole field full of them. That one incident has changed how I look after my dogs and it was 10 years ago. She was shot by the farmer and killed and I managed to escape prosecution, for which I was eternally grateful. You can NEVER be 100% sure if an dog around sheep and should ALWAYS be on your guard.

VictoriaBun Tue 12-Mar-19 16:50:14

Your dog is not at fault - you are ! I live in a very rural area and it is the responsibility of the owners to keep their dog under control. He is a dog, they chase and fetch things and it's great fun. He was following instinct . Sheep under stress can and do abort their lambs . If you are in an open area where animals are put him on a lead . If you enter a field which has animals in then without doubt leash him again . You've had a scare today, but hopefully have now learnt that you cannot trust any dog around livestock.

SauvingnonBlanketyBlanc Tue 12-Mar-19 16:54:17

A friend's dog chased a sheep and it jumped into a river and died,she had to pay a very angry farmer £250.It's called sheep worrying and you can get procecuted I believe.

10IAR Tue 12-Mar-19 16:57:38

OP you've had a horrible shock but it's clear you've taken it seriously and will ensure it never happens again. That's why you should forgive yourself and him too. flowers

Sheep worrying is indeed prosecutable, but since the farmer didn't mention it I wouldn't worry and just be very careful on future walks.

BlatheringOn Tue 12-Mar-19 17:29:15

Cath, an awful experience but a good reminder. My lurcher saw sheep for the first time recently on a moorland holiday. I am used to him chasing squirrels etc but was shocked to find him quivering with excitement in proximity to such a large animal when he is uninterested in cows and horses. Fortunately I had him on lead or I could have been in the same position as WTFisgoingon. Someone also mentioned deer. Are there any other large animals which dogs chase?

Ihaventgottimeforthis Tue 12-Mar-19 17:37:35

OP there's quite a lot of training/desensitising advice out there. Whilst being on lead should always be the priority, you could perhaps put your mind at rest a little by doing some livestock training, perhaps with a friendly smallholder or even that local farmer?
Sometimes livestock training consists of chucking the dog in with a few bolshy ewes...

CherryPavlova Tue 12-Mar-19 17:41:37

He definitely can’t be off lead near sheep. There’s usually lots of other sheep free places. Ours is kept well away as he does give chase to flocks, given opportunity. It’s made worse because he’s quite capable of jumping right over a stile.
He’s fine with cattle and horses, does join deep packs for a run and loves chasing pheasant and squirrels. We avoid all fields with sheep year round. There’s still lovely woodlands, areas of the downs and the beach he can be off lead.

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