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New farm dog, how to acclimatize him to the horses?

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  • New farm dog, how to acclimatize him to the horses?

    We just got a new rescure dog, an 8 month old Australian Shepherd who we have named "Cola". He is still intact, but I have him scheduled for "brain surgery" as soon as possible : ). He is very sweet, good with dogs and strangers. Very trainable and has a good recall, has the basics of "sit" and "down". My only problem so far is that he is scared of the horses on the property, and then when he gets scared he barks and sometimes even snaps at them. Of course I am keeping him on leash at all times when he is around the horses. I allow him to look at the horses from the other side of the fence on the end of a long line. If he barks or snaps at them, I give him a sharp tug on the collar and scold him and he comes immediately to my side and sits. We have only had him 2 days, so I know we have a lot of work to do. Any tips on how to get him used to the horses in a safe and effective manner? I would eventually like him to be allowed off leash around farm, but of course I won't be doing that if I think there is any chance of him chasing or acting aggresively towards the horses.

  • #2
    The initial problem I see is that from the dogs perspective, he sees something he is afraid of, reacts and the something bad happens. This is not likely to make him less afraid! I'd check out reactive dog training and clicker training.

    The thing that worked best for my reactive dog was to walk the opposite direction as soon as he noticed the thing he was afraid of. Once he realized that I would keep him safe, the thing he was afraid of became less scary. He realized that I "had his back" so to speak. It's a real timing thing so it helps to get a dog trainer involved. You have realize that they've notice the scary thing and then reward looking away by moving away.


    • #3
      You might want to post this on the Menagerie as that's more dog, cat, pet oriented and most probably have horses as well.

      Good luck. I'm doing a senior rescue dog now. She's a little 35 lb terror. uh terrier I mean. She's not the least bit afraid and my big guy just sticks his head down to her. I was worried she might snap but she just figures he's a big dog. So far though she has not been allowed loose in the barn aisle when the horses are in the aisle. I think she'll be OK.

      I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


      • #4
        I have a just turned two yo mini aussie. It has been a work in progress for my girl to be "off leash" at the barn. I board my horse so I am very aware of not letting her spook anyone's horse when they are riding. This means that I am not always able to let her off leash when we are at the barn. I have been working on teaching her a "leave it!" command, and she is getting better with this. I can take her trail riding with me as long as I am walking and she is great. However we have not progressed to faster gaits as she is VERY interested when my horse speeds up. Same if horses start moving faster in the pastures. So far she has not seemed afraid of the horses and does not bark at them. I think for your dog with the barking maybe teach a "that's enough" command to quit barking or "no bark".


        • #5
          Do you have a horse savvy dog? I tethered my rescue puppy to my experienced barn dog while keeping them both on a leash at first and the new dog learned how to behave around horses (as well as countless other things) very quickly. It was like the older dog was the interpreter.
          McDowell Racing Stables

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