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Horses and dogs are often found in the same household. You’d be hard-pressed to find a horse owner that did not also have at least one dog! This is helped by the fact that horses and dogs often get along quite well.
However, with such a large animal involved, there can be an inherent danger. The size of the horse and their nature can mean trouble for even the most well-behaved pup. Likewise, dogs can be dangerous for horses too.
To keep your canine and horse safe when they interact, there are a few important factors to always keep in mind. Dogs aren’t protected with something like equestrian horse riding helmets or steel toe boots, and the right kick could severely injure (or even kill) them.
Dogs can also hurt horses by biting, scaring, or chasing the horse. An injury can occur for the horse as it works to escape. So, before allowing either animal around the other, there are a few precautions to take.
Train Your Dog
Basic training will go a long way regardless, but especially when a horse is involved. It is essential for the dog to respect your authority whenever a horse is around. This can help your dog understand that horses should not be barked at or chased. This is really important for whenever you are riding the horse around the dog.
Start with a Leash
When it comes to the first few meetings, always keep your dog on a leash. This will help you to control their reactions, especially if there’s a chance of them lunging at the horse. Keep using the leash until you are certain the canine will not harass the horse.
If your dog is not afraid of horses this can be both good and bad. It is ok for the dog and the horse to be comfortable around each other, but you will need to teach them to stay away from the horse’s legs. This is very important if your horse is prone to kicking in any way.
Sometimes dogs are so comfortable around horses they get underfoot and can be stepped on. Mutual respect between the creatures is good but make sure the training is in place.
Test the Horse
A large part of this relationship is to do with how the horse reacts. Before the dog approaches the horse, gauge how the horse is feeling. If they are relaxed the head and neck will be level with the rest of the horse. The eyes will be calm and the muscles will not be tense.
If the horse is tense, you’ll see flared nostrils and a raised head. If there’s a hint of tenseness, keep the dog away. This is especially important if the horse is being ridden at the time as the riders’ safety will be at risk.
Be Wary of Other Dogs
Dogs can sometimes take on a pack mentality. A dog that ignores a horse when alone might harass the horse if another dog comes around and does just that. If another dog is around, pay attention to how your dog starts behaving. The other dog might be a bad influence and alter your own dog’s behavior.
When the relationship becomes established, dogs and horses might start to play. This should be discouraged. Horses might like to gallop alongside the dog in a field, but that can lead to an accidental kick and a fatal injury. Dogs can sometimes get aggressive in their play, so that is another reason play with a horse should be discouraged.
Lastly, always supervise dogs and horses, no matter how long they’ve known each other. Do not take your dog’s safety for granted. Keep a close eye whenever a horse is around to ensure the safety of both animals.