View Full Version : where should the dog be?

Nov. 22, 2009, 06:59 PM
I have a standard poodle that im taking more and more to the barn. when im on the ground she stays a safe distance from the horses. When im out on the trails on the property and adjoining fields. She tends to walk really close and behind my mare.
So the question i have is where should the dogs be in the back of the horse or in the front. I seem to have it covered if she should be in back if not too close, but seems like that is something that can be worked on. If in the front what would ya suggest on how to get her in front?

Nov. 22, 2009, 07:15 PM
The dog should be at home...safer for her, safer for the other riders.

tabula rashah
Nov. 22, 2009, 07:34 PM
The dog should be at home...safer for her, safer for the other riders.

Exactly, I can't stand taking dogs trail riding or riding with others who take their dogs. Please leave them at home.

Nov. 22, 2009, 07:47 PM
I ride on over 200 acres of private land.
I dont have to concern myself about imposing my actions with my dog and horse to outside parties. The question was fairly specific in the front or back. Not about how other peoples actions have infringed on your riding.

Nov. 22, 2009, 08:25 PM
If you take the dog, it should be behind the horse. If the dog is in front it runs the risk of being stepped on, run over or causing a crash. I and my friends have ridden with as many as five dogs at a time, and it works best when they are all behind. The last time I rode with someone whose dog tried to stay with their owner's horse (who was not last in line), the dog kept getting almost run over and things were getting dangerous. I made excuses, let them go ahead and met up with them at the end of the trail. I think riding with dogs is rewarding IF the dog has manners and knows how to behave around my horse and horses they meet on the trail. When I take my dog with me, she is well mannered and respectful, but I ride in the back if she is acting clingy and wanting to run near me only.

Nov. 22, 2009, 08:48 PM
Thanks for the advice.
I really enjoy it and i know my dog loves it too.
I live here in Manhattan and the opportunity to be able to let me dogs get an extensive opportunity to run and expore just doesnt happen here in nyc.
What you said does make sense about them being behind. I havent tried having the dog in a group or more than just myself. I am very conscious of how dogs can be and dont want to get anyone hurt so i ride on my own when i bring them. or leave them in the car when im riding with someone. I have one that loves being outside and one that sits in the car, but he's pretty adorable.

Nov. 23, 2009, 07:34 AM
I'd leave the dog home myself, but if you MUST take the dog I'd have it go out in front where you can see it. That's how we run the dogs- they MUST be out in front, about 30-40 feet ahead. Easy enough to teach- put the dog in a harness on a long line and on foot "ground drive" the dog until the dog understands a command for moving out in front and staying there yet adjusting its course by constantly monitoring your position and direction. Dogs left to the rear out of sight are the ones that end up getting stepped on, scooting forward and spooking the horse, or just mysteriously vanishing forever without being noticed.
I wouldn't take a dog out like this even on private property unless it was VERY well trained- perfect recall, stays steadily exactly 30 feet ahead, has an instant "drop", and was wearing a bright orange vest with reflectors. Untrained dogs just have too many opportunities to go off after deer and run out into a road, be shot by a poacher, just vanish.

Nov. 23, 2009, 04:03 PM
I prefer the dog to be 20-30 feet in front of the horse--enough distance to slam on the brakes or take evasive action if puppy decides to stop suddenly, and within sight of both me and the horse. Realistically, however, puppy may prefer to trot at your horse's heels, especially in thick grass or deep snow. They get tired and prefer for the horse to break trail. I'm ok with that, too, as long as the horse isn't a kicker and doesn't mind (mine doesn't.)

Puppy should not trot along directly in front of the horse or right next to it--there's too much danger of getting stepped on. I often ride with a long dressage whip, and I will whack the dog with no remorse. A dog is too darn close if I can reach it from horseback with a dressage whip. I'd prefer the dog learn caution from a harmless whip smack instead of a horse's hoof.

Unlike some of the other posters, I like having well behaved dogs along on the ride. My horses relax when a dog runs in front, as they know the dog will check out anything unusual before we get to it. I've also had a few instances where our group's dogs have intercepted strange dogs which were running up to us. The pause for doggie introductions gave us time to deal with the situation: call the owner over to retrieve his dog, move a calm horse to shield a skittish horse, etc.

The operative concept, of course, is having a WELL BEHAVED dog. Puppy needs to have good recall, good manners with humans, and good doggie social skills. A lot of people simply don't put the time into training and socializing the dog before taking it out on the trail. A dog which won't come when called, lacks the sense to get out of the way of bikes and horses, gets into fights with other dogs, and jumps up on joggers or small children should stay home.

Nov. 23, 2009, 04:19 PM
I ride with my dogs all the time here at home. The dogs don't travel with me to ride with others.

The best dogs, IMO, stay ahead about 20' or so, and respect when you stop your horse and don't run game or pick fights with dogs along the way.

The second best dogs stay close behind, but not so close that if my horse boogers, they'll get a piece of the dog.

Nov. 23, 2009, 05:05 PM
I guess i would lean towards having the dog ahead of the horse.

When i was a trail ride guide, i sometimes took along my boss's jack russel ( one of 6 of them! lol) . One thing i loved about them is that they were small enough to stick in the saddlebags or just sit in front of the saddle balanced on the horn ( western saddle). Another favorite place was standing on the horse back/hind quarters. Couple of the dogs/horses combo were trained to handle the dog jumping straight up on to you the rider or the horses back.

Got a lot of double takes from hikers.


Nov. 23, 2009, 06:17 PM
I love the story of the dog doing a one two three to get on the horse.
Unfortunately shes a little big.
I think i will work with her being where she is at now which is in back and bring a dressage whip in case she gets too close and work on her leading.
Thanks for all the suggestions they were great.
I always look forward to getting advice from the forum some wanted some not, but all of them usually make me think.

Vesper Sparrow
Nov. 23, 2009, 06:39 PM
A friend and I have been taking our dogs, a corgi and a shepherd mix, on the trail--at a walk only. It has been working out really well and I think makes both us and the horses more relaxed. The first few times, my shepherd would jump up on my mare to sniff my foot in the stirrup (I assume to see if I was really up there) but after a few rides and scoldings with my voice and the dressage whip, stopped doing that. My mare is a saint, and I thank the heavens every day for her...

Most of the ride, the two dogs mainly run ahead of us and play. However, as they get tired, they will start to lag and walk beside us. They dash in and out of the woods and ditches, but the horses (again, candidates for sainthood) don't seem to mind and indeed seem to like to have them around and are careful where they step. (I tell my mare she has their own "personal wolves" so she doesn't have to worry about predators.) Both dogs listen well and come when called which is a good thing because we have to walk a bit along a secondary road before hitting the trail.

Nov. 23, 2009, 06:49 PM
you might want to cross post this on the fox hunter's forum. You may get some good tips on how to train the dog to stay where you want it.

If there was ever someone who could manage dogs on the trail, it's the master of the hounds...

NC Trail Girl
Nov. 23, 2009, 06:54 PM
I've always ridden with my dogs..Alone or in mixed company..

Sometimes I would 'heel' my dogs (which meant they should ride beside me/horse)
sometimes I would 'get in' my dogs (which meant they should fall in behind my horse)
or they could have 'free dog' (which meant they could just run at will)

I liked them best behind me... They were usually a few paces back and not in the way.

Really just depends on your horse and where you are riding.. Or who you are riding with.

My horses never minded the dogs and I would check with fellow riders about bringing them with me on group rides.

Nov. 24, 2009, 01:40 PM
for what its worth, my border collie mutts go on lots of rides with me (all on my own or neighbor's land, not inflicting the dogs on other riders) and they frolic as they wish until they settle down a bit, then they pretty much end up right under my stirrups. Horses dont offer to kick them, dogs arent really in the way, and I can just glance down and there they are. If told to heel that's where they go. IF they are REALLY tired, they lag behind a bit.

Nov. 24, 2009, 01:56 PM
I always ride with my dogs. Or should say I used to. I am down to one 14 yr old JRT that will only go with my once in a while. However, when I had my labs they would come with me all the time. I see nothing wrong with this as long as they listen and are not in the way and of course are not the type to chase every scent they come across so that you end up chasing them!! I won't ride with people with dogs like that.

When my labs were alive they would run about 15-20 ft to the side or in front of me. They would dash in and out of the brush and rustle the weeds and branches to our sides and did great with a 2yr old getting him used to deer and other critters jumping out on us. I actually miss the companionship of those dogs and it was a transition for my horse and I when they were no longer with us. We had to actually pay attention to potential deer jumping out and and other things the dogs would encounter first.

I remember years ago the first time my JRT decided he was not going to go with us on a ride ( he actually aborted 1/2 way and went home) my QH was very concerned about his whereabouts and was distracted looking for him.

Bottom line I see nothing wrong with taking the dogs with you as long as they listen and it's wonderful to see them bushed at the end of the day!!


Nov. 25, 2009, 11:39 AM
It comes down to basic obedience training. I had some experience with obedience training from my 4-H days. When we finally got out of the military and settled down we got a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She was started early with barn manners and basic training. I took her training to the point where she was really consistent with off lead heeling/stay/come etc. I then did unmounted work on a long lead on trails with her. She learned that "back!" with a hand movement that pointed behind me meant drop behind. "OK!" with a forward pointing hand movement meant she could go ahead of me to the length of the lead. "Heel!" still meant the same left side placement. All these commands transitioned to horseback easily. I could put her behind, to the side or ahead easily. She knew to move ahead of the horse by at least 20 feet but not out of sight. She was also completely reliable with COME. If you can't place your dog and keep them is very good control then please don't take them off property.

Bonnie S.

Nov. 25, 2009, 11:44 AM
I have occasionally ridden with people who bring a dog along. My horse never cares if they're in front, but having them behind him always made him jumpy. Maybe over time he'd get over it, but it made sense to me that he'd worry about a perceived predator coming from behind him.

If you're riding alone, and not having to be concerned about anyone else's safety, do whatever works for you and your horse.

Nov. 26, 2009, 02:20 AM
I like it when they are fairly close behind. In front makes my mare get all worried about being left behind.
Plus I don't have to worry about running them over.
But a really good trail dogs doesn't get too far back, used to have one dog that after she got kicked would hilltop behind the horses, just barely keeping them in sight. Boy it freaked the horses out. I stopped taking her along. Sure made for interesting rides when the horses would spot her Waay back there. ;)
I have a little dog now, I figure if she gets tired she can ride WITH me in the saddle, so far only had to do that once.
I do like taking a dog or two along on rides. I take a Big ole german shorthair along too that belongs to the roomate and he really keeps wildlife away (bears & other scary things such as birds or weirdos) And he is a gas for spook proofing, and he is just plain funny to watch.

Nov. 28, 2009, 06:29 PM
I like to keep my Corgi in front were I can keep an eye on him. If he gets behind I worry he's gotten lost or in water over his head since Corgis are on the list of dogs that can not or do not swim well.

He enjoys these outings and trots ahead of us. If he gets to far ahead I call and he stops and waits. People have commented what a good pup he is and he will be 1 1/2 years old at Christmas.

He has also been doing the horse show circuit since he was 3 months old so he knows how to behave around horses. You just have to train them.

Nov. 28, 2009, 08:33 PM
I'm not really into taking a dog with me when I ride, but I have in the past. A good friend and I had several dogs a piece at one time and that was fun. They ran back and forth through the brush until they got tired. Then one by one they would fall in line behind us.

Having dogs zipping around really does help a horse to focus on the rider and not be so jumpy when the bushes shake. :lol:

Nov. 29, 2009, 05:46 PM
I was just on a trail ride with a friend that brought her two dogs. The little JRT stays behind the horses. The JRT/Springer Spaniel mix does his own thing in the bushes along the trail or goes well ahead.
She has bells on both of them so she can keep track of them. One also wears a training shock collar just in case.

Nov. 29, 2009, 09:23 PM
What is the point of having dogs if they can't go with you on trail? :D

Mine are always with me, depending on where I'm going they are either loose and running where they please. Sometimes in front, sometimes to the sides or for the old dog, behind. Other parks they are ponied wherever we go, on 15' leads, at the horses shoulder.

They go with me when I'm alone, when I'm with a friend or when I'm with a large group.

My dogs and I are both happiest when they have been on trail for days on end :)

Nov. 29, 2009, 10:20 PM
I trail ride with my 2 mini poodles. They go ahead, jump in and out of the brushes, sometimes fall behind, and are also known for being right by my horses hind feet. Dogs have trained my horses to be careful around dogs, not to kick them, not to step on them, not to be scared when dogs jump out of the brushes. This served me very well when my horse and I went on our first hunt this fall. He was respectful of the hounds and not spooked by the many many times a hound would just pop off out of nowhere and run by us.

My dogs have a good recall, although the older one who is 13 is becoming hard of hearing and if she gets too far away, cannot hear me calling her. I usually slow down and make sure she can make visual contact so she doesn't get lost.

My dogs love to go trail riding with me and I love to have them around. I am very lucky that most of the boarders at my barn also love to take their dogs along and everyone seems to get along without incidents.