Introducing Your Dog to Horses: 8 Practical Tips

Introducing Your Dog to Horses: 8 Practical Tips

**Guest Post

Many pet owners love the idea of their dog and horse getting along. They dream of the pair being best friends and running around their property together.

Before making this dream a reality, you should understand that introducing the two isn’t as simple as putting them in the same area. It’s a slow, gradual process that requires patience. Here are some tips to keep everyone safe and ensure the meeting goes well.

1. Start Early

The earlier you can introduce your dog to a horse, the better. The younger they are, the better they’ll be able to adapt to a horse. It won’t seem as foreign to them because they are still in a stage where they’re learning many new things.

Of course, introducing your dog to a horse when they are younger isn’t always possible. You might’ve just welcome a horse to your family, or adopted an older dog.

Although it might be a little trickier, it’s still entirely possible to train an older dog to behave around horses. If you can, ask the previous owner of your dog’s history:

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  • Are they fearful of other animals?
  • Does their nature tend to be aggressive or calm?

Questions like these will give you a better idea of what to expect.

2. Show Your Dog the Barn

Before even seeing the horse, show your dog around the barn. Put them on a leash and let them adjust to the new environment. Taking in the sights and smells can better prepare them for their first meeting.

3. Let Them See Each Other

Start by putting your horse in an enclosed pen. They should be contained but have plenty of space to move around.

Put your dog on a leash and let them see your horse from outside the pen. Remain calm and act natural. You shouldn’t try to get them to notice each other.

Gauge the reactions of each animal. Are they curious? Excited? Scared? Indifferent?

Repeat this step multiple times until they get used to each other’s presence. This is especially important if either animal’s initial reaction is extreme.

4. Go Inside the Pen

With your dog still on a leash, slowly take them inside the pen. They should already know basic commands and be able to behave on a leash.

If your dog is showing signs of aggression, stop walking and scold them. Verbally praise them for backing off before proceeding. If they don’t calm down, try again the next day.

5. Getting Even Closer

Once everyone is consistently calm, allow them to get even closer. They can even have contact by sniffing each other’s noses.

Teach your dog to be respectful of your horse’s space. They should steer clear of their feet and never jump or nip at them. This will prevent accidental injuries and keep everyone safe.

6. Set a Positive Example

If your dog is overly excited, it might be beneficial to bring along one that is calm around horses. They can set an example of how to behave and give your horse a positive association with dogs.

7. Take Things Slow

Even if things seem to be going well, don’t trust the two of them alone together just yet. Give them plenty of time to get accustomed to each other before giving your dog free reign of the barn.

During this adjustment period, it’s important to keep them separate when you’re not around. One way you can do this? Create a perimeter around your home with an invisible GPS fence. Your dog can still roam your yard without getting too close to the stables. This will help prevent an incident from happening when you’re not around.

8. Be Patient

All dogs are different. How quickly they’ll adjust depends on many factors. They might have a stubborn personality, or be of a breed that doesn’t naturally mesh well with horses.

It’s important to manage your expectations. In rare cases, some dogs just aren’t meant to be around horses. But, for the most part, the pair should get along in no time if you are patient and stick with it!

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