I'm fostering a dog who I'm considering keeping. He's fantastic except for one thing: when I'm riding, he thinks it's a way of playing. He respects the horses when I'm not on them (is even a little afraid of them in a good way), but when I'm in the saddle, he follows too close, barks at the horse, and jumps in the air trying to play. Unfortunately, my horse is very very dog tolerant and is not bothered by this, though it does affect my rides and it's not fun for me.
During the week days, barn time doubles as dog time. My dog tries to play with the foster dog when I'm riding, but the foster dog is only interested in following me on the horse. When I'm not riding, he's off playing with my dog and is not in the way. I ride at times when no one else is at the barn, so this is not currently affecting others, but it certainly could. I do not want to tie him since the resident barn dog gets aggressive with dogs who are leashed/tied when he is off leash (foster dog and resident dog get along fantastically when both off leash). He also barks a lot if he is tied and in your sights, but being ignored.
Is there a way to train a dog that this is unacceptable? I really like this dog and he's fantastic except for this one thing. But this one issue is large enough that it would be a deal breaker
My young BC mix is the same way. She's very good around horses when I'm on the ground, but when I'm riding she wants to play...barking, play bowing, running in circles... I have not found a way to deal with it, as I have no help, no one willing to be on the ground and train the dog while I ride or, anyone willing to ride a horse while *I* work with the dog on the ground.
She also barks if I try to tie or put her in a stall.
If the weather is good (neither hot, nor VERy cold), I'll bring her to the barn, let her hang out while I'm grooming and tacking and whatever and then I put her in my car while I ride. She's good waiting in the car, she feels secure in there, it's like a travelling crate . If it's too hot or cold for her to sit in the car for an hour, I leave her home.
It is inconvenient, because then I have two things to do...ride the horse AND take the dog out for fun. But, it is what it is. Our old ACD was always really good around horses, whether I was mounted or not, so she got to come around all the time, and even go on trail rides.
I had the same problem with my youngest dog, adopted at 12 mo old. The first few trail rides were a problem, he jumped up at the horse, followed 3 inches behind the hind feet, and thought it was play time when we cantered. Luckily my horses are generally good with dogs, but not too crazy about the jumping up at them. I just had to be patient, avoid cantering or brought horse to a walk when dog got too excited, and many "NO!" and pushed the dog away with a long dressage whip. I think the dog was just insecure with the new situation and once we'd gone on enough rides, he decided it was OK to let me go and followed my older dog who is happy tracking whatever critter he may find in the fields or woods. I do not allow my dogs to be around mine or other horses in the arenas, though. They stay in the car or at home.
"Another member of the Barefoot Eventers Clique"
I'd keep the dog in your car, stall, tack room, etc. While you are riding you can't keep an eye on him and there's always a chance that he could sneak up behind your horse and get kicked or spook your horse and cause a major accident. If he is otherwise barn safe then he can play while you tack and untack and is only put up for your 30-60 minute ride
For my mini aussie, I carried a driving whip when I rode my mare. When my dog with do something I did not want her to do, she got the leave it command and a flick with the end of the whip. It was just the right length for me to be able to get to her without dragging on the ground or being too hard to negotiate while riding.
My dog (who is now 9 and the best barn/horse dog ever) was pretty horrible the first couple of months I had her. It became standard operating procedure for everyone to IGNORE her while they rode (I worked in a barn). We would not change our line if she got under foot, and we would not hesitate to let a horse carry through with the threat of a kick. She would run and run and run. And no one acknowledged her or "played" back. She eventually figured out there were more interesting things to do, and would either lay down and take a nap or go do other dog stuff. She DID get rolled a couple of times, so it did take some guts to not pull your horse up or take evasive action if she was in your way, but she got pretty savvy very quickly.
She is now the most reliable dog both in the ring and around the horses. IF she's hanging with me while I ride, she usually parks herself in a sunny spot along the rail or in the ring. She also knows "Out" if it is busy someone's on a fractious horse. She also knows "Eyes up" if she's distracted by a smell or another dog and is about to be road kill ( she scurries quick when she hears that!).
But, I do agree, a good down-stay and/or a good "OUT!" is vital for a dog around the barn. "Out" especially to me, as it means get out of where you are NOW (pastures, rings, stalls, feed rooms, etc). I would strongly suggest NOT going my method (I think it worked because she did it with LOTS of horses every day. I don't know if she'd have figured it out with just one a day), and instead put some really good basics on him before allowing him too much freedom.
Thanks for the replies, everyone! I left him in the heated tack room with my other dog while I rode yesterday and that worked well. He was a little bothered, but nothing terrible. I'm at the boarding stable through the end of March and then my horse moves back home. I figure I can try working with him more when I'm home and if that doesn't work out, I have safe places to store him there while I'm riding He is very good around the horses otherwise and is a quick learner, so hopefully I can work him out of this eventually. He's still very much a baby (estimated to be about a year old).
Since everyone likes pictures, here's a picture of the cutie with my Cavalier looking really awkward in the background. He looks larger in the picture than he is in person. He's really only a bit bigger than my Cav. They got very dirty at the barn the other night!! http://img836.imageshack.us/img836/6...2018418160.jpg
I use a combination of "wait", "out of this room" and distance "sit" commands at the barn. I've always taught "out of this room" as it comes in very handy when things like broken glasses happen at home. You can train all three of these at home- waiting at all of the doors as you go in and out of rooms and leaving rooms on command. Once the commands are solid, you need to teach puppy that gates are doors and arenas/paddocks are rooms. You can do this on the ground as well. Once the commands are solid on the ground with horses present, take him for a very long walk/run until you have a very tired puppy. Then hop on your horse and practice it on horseback. It may be a 5-10 minute ride since its really a puppy training session. Build from there.
I don't think he's playing, I think he doesn't understand what you're doing up there. Over the years many of our pups have been like that when they start coming with us for rides and they all come out of it. We do long rides so we wear them down to a just trot along pace long before we get where we're going and they learn to pay attention to the fact that none of the other dogs care that we're on the horses.
You might teach him a little down/sit and toss him a treat when he's jumping around too much. Or teach him a "come behind" command that you can give him from the horse and have him just follow you (I use that one when we meet people on the trail). Just sit on the horse, since you say your horse is good about it, and let the dog hop around until he gets bored and realizes this isn't the high stress excitement thing he thought it was. When he's calm, throw him a treat. Teach him a "get out" command so that at any time you can tell him to give you more space, from doing sit-ups on the living room floor to riding the horse.
Get up on the horse and get back down. Rinse repeat. Take all the fun out of it.
I really don't think it's a playing thing. I've had one of ours try to jump in the saddle with me she was so upset about it! Our dogs have to come with us; I don't leave them at home so we've had to work through this.