Whether you have a new dog or a new horse, these tips will help you introduce the two animals in a safe, respectful way.
Horses and dogs can co-exist peacefully on your farm – but first impressions are important! When introducing your dog to a horse, and vice versa, the most important thing is to take things slow. Don’t force any part of the interaction, and allow both animals time and space to get used to each other in a calm, respectful way. Below are four tips on how to make the initial introduction between your dog and horse a pleasant one.
1. Bring your dog leashed
There’s no guarantee that your dog will be on his best behavior when meeting a horse for the first time, so keeping him leashed is important! Approach the horse slowly and watch how the two react to each other. Reward your pup with some of his favorite treats when he acts in a calm, respectful manner.
2. Keep a distance
Keep a safe distance between your dog and horse in the beginning. While you can let your dog take the lead, make sure to keep him controlled and discourage barking or lunging. If your dog is calm, allow him to get a little closer to the horse. This gradual approach will allow both animals to get used to each other’s presence safely.
Once both animals show signs of letting their guard down, you can allow them to sniff one another. If either animal displays fear or aggressive behavior, retreat and try again at another time.
4. Establish some ground rules
These early interactions are the prime time to teach your dog how he should and shouldn’t behave around horses. Lunging, barking and biting should be discouraged, whereas calm sniffing and other docile behaviors should be praised. Be consistent with your training, and don’t forget to reward your horse for good behavior as well!
When it comes to introducing dogs and horses, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you take things slow and encourage a mutually respectful relationship from the start, you’ll avoid a potentially catastrophic interaction later on.