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My dog tried to kill a sheep today

(60 Posts)
Speckledhen617 Wed 02-Sep-20 13:56:23

I'm still shaking it all happened so quickly. My dog is a 12 month old terrier. I was walking him off lead on moor land. I've walked there for many many years, I've never seen sheep there. The lands flat but in a dip out of sight, out popped this sheep. My dog just ran for it, I've never seen him run so fast. The sheep fled, my dog caught up to it and went to bite it's back, he got a mouthful of wool. He then got to the front of it and went to bite it's neck. Mouthfuls of wool again. I jumped and Rugby tackled the dog and the sheep ran off.

I'm so upset at what could have happened, I'm upset seeing the potential my dog had and of course for the poor sheep who must have had an awful shock. I'm never ever letting him off lead again. Its just not worth the risk.

I drove home through the Moor and I could see the sheep, half an hour later grazing. Thank god it was OK.

Please be kind, it was an awful experience and I feel terrible about it.

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Mrsjayy Wed 02-Sep-20 14:00:09

Oh no thats awful shock all round especially as you were not expecting it my sisters terrier went for a horse out of the blue dog had never bothered before.

icedaisy Wed 02-Sep-20 14:04:24

Ok deep breathes OP. My dh is a sheep farmer and I have terriers, no judgement from me here.

Sheep are flighty and are rarely alone. Sounds like it had escaped hence it being where you didn't expect it and nothing else about? It's not lambing time just now so no need to worry there.

Don't take extreme reactions like keeping on lead. Do a little long line work again with rewards. Ultimately accidents do happen and dogs can chase flighty unusual things. Mine chase seagulls. Not likely to catch them but will clear a field.

Farmers shoot dogs that worry sheep, particularly at lambing. That is out of control, chasing and sometimes aggression towards usually a flock. Deliberately walking dogs in fields of sheep with no control. That wasn't you.

We often accept people here with dogs to show them sheep. Either walking on lead in pen or tie up near sheep being worked on, just desensitised them. You could ask around to see if anyone could help?

Other than that I would say it's a one off and was more circumstance than anything else.

icedaisy Wed 02-Sep-20 14:07:03

Just noticed 12 months, teenager as well. Might have happened with a rabbit or anything. Recall regression happens about now so definitely back to basics with that for a while and it will come back.

Speckledhen617 Wed 02-Sep-20 14:08:46

A horse?! Christ they're fearless aren't they! It was horrible, seeing that instinct to kill kick in and how he knew to take it down and then go for the neck. I know its silly to say I never thought he'd be capable of it because all dogs are but to see it in action was awful and he's only 12months old! I'm gutted and keep replaying it and thinking that what if I hadn't of caught up in time or if the sheep had been sheared so he wasn't just biting the wool.

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ilovemydogandMrObama Wed 02-Sep-20 14:10:37

So sorry - it's happened to me one and was shocked as my dog had been around sheep before and didn't ever seem bothered.

But please rethink the, 'never off the lead again..'

Seems to me that your dog was startled by the sheep, and as you say, you had never seen sheep there before, so maybe there was a territorial aspect there on your dogs part as he was familiar with that land?

Speckledhen617 Wed 02-Sep-20 14:12:08

Thanks ice for such a kind reply. The way I'm feeling now I honestly don't think I'll ever let him off again. I don't think any amount of recall training could have snapped him out of it, you could see the instinct in him was so strong.

The sheep must have wandered miles, there's nothing as far as the eye can see. I can't believe the bad luck of it although it has taught me a very valuable lesson.

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fedupandlookingforchange Wed 02-Sep-20 14:13:52

Ive got sheep and dogs and my dogs have chased my sheep! Puppies do often chase sheep, as others have said its probably a one off. Try to visit some sheep that are penned up so sheep become boring non running things that aren't worth bothering with. Some people recommend putting the dog in with a ram but it can kill the dog so I wouldn't do that.

cupofdecaf Wed 02-Sep-20 14:17:58

No judgement but a couple of things to think about.

Were you on a public right of way or just wandering across the moors (private land)?

Also it's not just the biting that's an issue. Sheep sometimes miscarry when shocked so dog attacks can cause miscarriages. This really upsets farmers.

Maybe rethink your walks and see if there's any training classes near you.

Floralnomad Wed 02-Sep-20 14:20:44

@Speckledhen617 , you need to get it in perspective. I’ve got a patterdale x and he would have done exactly the same as your dog but he still goes off lead I’m just way more selective about where and that’s what you need to do going forward . Mine is allowed off on playing fields , our local village green/heath , country parks but only in grassy open areas and beaches . He’s on an extender lead ( on his harness) in woods , near rivers / lakes and anywhere where I’m not sure of the surroundings . It works very well .

minnieok Wed 02-Sep-20 14:32:44

My dog when young came across sheep in a dip and couldn't help himself, very excited, though attempted rounding up rather than attacking being a collie - he's not a trained sheepdog and in his excitement he ignored us calling him for 5 mins (felt like ages, it wasn't). Luckily the farmer though it was hilarious rather than getting annoyed, especially my dad and exh chasing after the dog! It happens but use it as a learning exercise, keep off lead dogs close by and work on recall. For us this was a single incident, next time it happened he recalled to us straight away.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Wed 02-Sep-20 14:33:57

There are farmers about who will help you to stock-proof your dog. This place is not hear you OP, but might be useful to someone else

Our local shepherd is okay with me long-lining my dogs for steadiness near his sheep - you might be able to ask someone near you if you could do that, just to get your dog calm around sheep.

You are right to take it seriously, though.

RiaRoth Wed 02-Sep-20 15:42:01

I keep sheep and maybe am just a bit grumpier than the other sheep keepers on here. You do need to keep you dog on lead in areas there may be sheep if your dog will chase. You should assume that all dogs will chase sheep unless you have spent hours training them not to.

So the he has never done this before excuse is just an excuse. Dogs kill and injure a large number of sheep each year. Not only is it cruel o the sheep it is also someones livelihood. Sheep also put on a good show of not being injured then just keel over from blood lose or injury a few hours later. It would be polite to find out who owns the sheep and inform them what happened so they can check on the sheep.

The link above showing you how to stop your dogs chasing sheep in one session will involve a lead!

It is scary and your reaction is the correct one - it is what you do from now on that will make you a good dog owner.

Cosmos45 Wed 02-Sep-20 15:55:54

How awful for you to experience - My neighbour had a Parsons Russell Terrier that killed another neighbours lamb. She had had the dog years, he had not expressed any behavioural problems near the sheep, but one day just took off and covered 3 - 4 fields to get to the lambs and killed one of them. It was one of those things and she never let her dog off the lead after that regardless of whether there were any lambs about or not. I don't think you can blame yourself, if there was no warning and a sheep just popped up then instinct kicked in for the dog.

On the flip side I have sheep in the field behind my house and they often attack my dog (5.5 stone big dog..) who is terrified of them.

Speckledhen617 Wed 02-Sep-20 15:56:01

Thank you for all the replies, they've made me feel better.

The thing that's rattled me is that as I said, I've been walking on these moors for years and I've never seen a sheep before so I've lost my confidence in my judgement of where's safe to let him off. Just enclosed dog fields I suppose although I posted about that not long ago and a lot of people replied saying its not a good idea to let him play with dogs that aren't familiar to us.

I think I just need some time to calm down from it. I do understand the seriousness of these attacks which is why I'm so shook up and why I've always been so careful about where I let him off but obviously not careful enough.

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ErrolTheDragon Wed 02-Sep-20 15:59:57


*@Speckledhen617* , you need to get it in perspective. I’ve got a patterdale x and he would have done exactly the same as your dog but he still goes off lead I’m just way more selective about where and that’s what you need to do going forward . Mine is allowed off on playing fields , our local village green/heath , country parks but only in grassy open areas and beaches . He’s on an extender lead ( on his harness) in woods , near rivers / lakes and anywhere where I’m not sure of the surroundings . It works very well .

This seems like a sensible balance to me, it's pretty much what we do with our dog. The current one has never chased anything but the previous one once set off after a hare (a bit ambitious for a dachshund). It's not just sheep to consider.
It's best to keep dogs leashed on moorland in ground bird nesting season too, at least.

Floralnomad Wed 02-Sep-20 16:15:19

You really can’t tell , we’ve walked ours on the cliffs at Dover (NT place) on numerous occasions and when we went a couple of weeks ago there were ponies wandering about and we’ve never seen them before . Fortunately dog was on his lead because I don’t trust him to keep away from the edge .

vanillandhoney Wed 02-Sep-20 16:48:58

Please, please don't panic too much.

I live in the Lakes and there are often sheep in the most random places, you really do need eyes in the back of your head sometimes! The vast majority of dogs would chase a sheep given the opportunity - it's their natural instinct. It doesn't make them bad dogs and it absolutely doesn't make you a shit owner for not being able to call him back.

Please don't let this put you off letting the dog off lead. 12 months is the worst point for poor recall and just a general ignoring of commands - it really does get better. Do a lot of work on recall and for now, keep him on a lead or longline so you can stop him bolting.

Hoppinggreen Wed 02-Sep-20 16:54:39

We stayed on a farm last weekend where we have stayed before and all the animals are safely behind a fence (and Ddog is scared of them anyway). Part of the reason we like going there is because there’s loads of land and ddog can safely be off the lead there around the cottage
What we didn’t know was that they had rehomed a load of battery hens who liked to sit in the cottage garden . Dog spotted one and grabbed it, very traumatic for all involved but luckily he’s a soft mouthed breed so the chicken was damp but unharmed. Still I wouldn’t have though Ddog would do that.
It’s scary OP but they are still animals with a prey drive and things happen even if you are careful

Speckledhen617 Wed 02-Sep-20 17:26:12

I can't thank you all enough for the kind responses. They've brought me back down to earth!

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picklemewalnuts Wed 02-Sep-20 18:03:29

The other thing to do is do a lot of recall all the way along the walk. Basically so he doesn't get as far away from you as usual. It's not a sure thing, but it's really helpful if he's used to coming back to you more often. My boy has eventually sorted himself out with a loop system. He trots away, then loops back. That way I can get more chances to grab him if something pops up.

LeroyJenkinssss Wed 02-Sep-20 18:10:42

I appreciate that you are a responsible dog owner and this has obviously upset you, but I must admit I’m also not as chilled as some here. We have a (very) small flock and I would be upset if someone’s dog Did that to my sheep. I actually think I would keep my dog on lead on any non-enclosed land tbh. Round ours there was some cows on the nature reserve - I’d never seen them before in all the years I’ve been here so you can never be sure.

Speckledhen617 Wed 02-Sep-20 18:12:28

Thank you I will keep working on his recall however, his reaction was so quick, it was instant, by the time I'd called him he was already in the 'zone' . I think its going to take me quite a while to get my confidence back. I keep replaying it.

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Speckledhen617 Wed 02-Sep-20 18:15:42

LeroyJenkinssss yes I agree, that's how I feel about it. I just don't think I'll be able to relax unless I'm 100% sure that there's no livestock around and I don't want to be stressed everytime I walk him. There's an enclosed field near us for off lead dogs so I'll use that at least he can still have a run then and he'll be fine on the beach (although its an hour away).

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sillysmiles Wed 02-Sep-20 18:27:10

I have a dog that is "sheep reactive".
To start with you are going to have to go back to on lead in situations where there are sheep nearby. It's not fair on the sheep and it reinforces the pleasure he gets from the chase.

Also, start working on a leave command and a solid sit. Because then if he starts running, a solid sit with at least distract him.
We can now walk our dog through sheep, sometimes we put him back on the lead if they are close or he looks like he is struggling to leave them.

Ultimately you have to set him up to succeed.

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