WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO INTRODUCE DOGS TO HORSES?
Note: The following excerpt is the transcript from a question I answered from my Facebook Live made in the Steady Horse Facebook Group on 7/3/19. Watch the video or read the text below to learn the answer to the question.
When you’re introducing a dog to a horse, you want to get both animals relaxed. you want them to have a good relationship with each other. You want them to start out on a good foot, and to be respectful of each other. This is the worst thing you can do. I see this all the time. The other day I was helping with a carriage horse in downtown San Antonio and somebody came up to this carriage horse and they stuck their rottweiler right in the horses face.
Now, thank goodness these horses are really well desensitized and this horse didn’t freak out. But it could’ve turned real sour because that dog started barking and lunging at the horse and it could’ve gotten really ugly. What happens a lot of times, because we’re predators and straight-line thinkers. We like to just go for things, we jump on in there. That’s the worst thing you can do. Think about the dogs a predator, the horse is a prey animal, they’re naturally going to be at odds. The best thing to do, like a lot of things, is to be gradual.
There’s a number of ways that you can do this. The best thing is to have some help. Have somebody holding the dog, so one person holds the dog and another person holds the horse. And what you’re going to do is start 30 feet apart from each other.
Let them kind of relax and get used to being in each other’s proximity. Wait till the horse first sees the dog, and wait till the dog sees the horse. When they see each other, let both of them relax to the point where they kind of forget about each other and they’re not super excited. Then bring them into a little bit closer. So you see where I’m going with this.
Remember, make sure that you’re gradual, you take your time, and you have have control over both animals. You don’t want to just have, for example, a horse tied up and a dog up slowly walking towards it. Doing this reinforces the predator/prey relationship for the horse, since it will be tied up and unable to flee. So, avoid anything that could freak out your horse. There’re all kinds of disastrous things that can happen.
Be slow and steady and it’s going to pay off because both animals are going to gain a mutual respect for each other because you’ve given them the opportunity to become relaxed and comfortable in each other’s proximity. And then gradually you can get closer and closer as they look like they’re accepting each other. So let’s take your time and you’ll do fine with that. And like I said, make sure you have a helper so that you can help avoid accident or injury to you or your animals to ensure a safe, and steady ride.