The problem with letting your dog learn about horses the hard way
Rant warning: Look out people, she's on her soapbox.
Some of you are probably not going to agree with me on this post but I’m okay with going out on a limb for the amazing farm dogs of the world.
Not sure if I’m the only one who feels this way, but seeing people let their poorly trained dogs run loose around horses drives me nuts. When I hear people say “Let him get kicked. It’ll only take one time, then he’ll learn not to get so close to the horses.” it makes me cringe. Unfortunately, this seems to be common practice at so many barns.
I’m by no means a dog trainer so why the heck am I sharing my thoughts on this matter? And more importantly why the heck should you listen to these thoughts?
Well, I have a really good reason. Meet my Boston Terrier Daisy.
You can think of her like that guest speaker that came to your high school to tell your class not to do stupid stuff when you’re young. She’s not at all bitter about her horse experiences but they have changed her life forever.
You see, when she was a youngster her owner at the time let her learned about horses the hard way. Unfortunately, she was severely kicked in the head. I wasn’t in Daisy’s life then, I adopted her when she was eight.
So did she actually learn to have a “healthy” fear of horses? Nope, she’d still chase horses if given the chance.
Did she suffer from permanent damage? Yes. She lost her vision in her right eye. Lost her hearing out of her right ear. Lost many of the teeth on the right side of her mouth. And now as she ages, the bones in her jaw have severely degraded.
Is she still a happy, friendly girl who loves her life? Absolutely. Will she continue to be haunted by the poor judgment of a previous owner for the rest of her life? The $1000 vet bill that I paid last week for dental care on a jaw that is deteriorating tells me yes.
For the love Rover, please put the time into teaching your dog how to properly stay safe around horses. Watch them. Teach them to have good call back skills especially during times of excitement. Keep them on a leash if you can’t reliably call them back. Help them understand horse behavior. Having a reliable dog at the barn is really an awesome experience and it’s totally worth a little extra work.
Alright, rant over. Thanks for reading and for being great dog and horse owners.