Well I learned two things tonight!
1.) Husky’s will not listen at all when it comes to them chasing something.
2.) The boys HATE dogs, more so Jack then Cash but Cash took a few good swipes as well.
*warning* I have some strong opinions about this matter and there are actions I will take that some people may not agree with. I mean no disrespect at all but hey this is my blog and my opinions so if you’d rather not know them please don’t continue reading as some people may find them unappealing *warning complete*
I am pet sitting two dogs. (Not quite sure how I got talked into agreeing to this) One is a husky and one is a german shepherd. They are both almost a year old. The husky (aka mica) saw the horses for the first time this evening while I was feeding horses and her instincts kicked into high drive. She started chasing and barking my horses. In a normal situation I would shoot a dog that does that and won’t listen(I explain below so you understand why), however these are my boss’s dogs and I REALLY didn’t want to have to explain why I shot his husky.(Thankfully the German Shepherd was smart and stayed back)
Mica wouldn’t listen AT ALL. Jack even came close to stomping her twice and had her running with her tail tucked between her legs but something kept bringing her back. I can’t even count how many times he got close to kicking and striking her. Finally I was able to get to the gate, open it and get in to the boys.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love my horses??? Well as soon as I got in there they rallied around me and calmed down. They were snorting and shuffling their feet but they calmed down (score for having their trust!) and Mica was just standing barking but she still wouldn’t let me near her and would try to dodge around me to go after the boys staying just far enough away I couldn’t touch her.
I put myself between my horses and her. A very of dumb choice by the way, in fact I recommend never doing that. Then I had an epiphany. Her owner dropped her off with a shock collar on. The remote was in my pocket. Mica went for the boys again and she got zapped until she was out of the pen. Then any time she got near the horses with the intent to chase or think about going in the pen she got zapped again. Needless to say she has a much healthier respect for horses now.
Now I want to step in here and clarify on the shock collar. Under normal circumstances I would never use a shock collar on a regular dog. I don’t particularly like them so if I can avoid it I will. I think they can be very easily mis-used and become almost abusive in how people use them BUT tonight it proved to be the only tool that was gonna stop the whole situation. If she hadn’t had it on either my horses or Mica was gonna get hurt and thankfully the collar was able to stop the whole situation before a vet was needed.
I’m a K9 handler. I love dogs. But it’s moments like these that remind me of why I don’t have one at home. My work hours are too long and too crazy to be able to effectively train my dog so these situations don’t happen. They are the worse situations any horse owner can face because you are really helpless if a dog is truly stuck in the mode of herding them.
I was super lucky in the fact that both my horses trust me and they didn’t trample me while trying to get out of Mica’s way. They even tried to protect me as they seemed to know I was trying to get the dog away. Again I want to repeat. I got VERY lucky I didn’t get myself hurt in the process of helping my horses. Most horses not experienced with dogs and in a flight mode will trample anything and everything in their way to get away from the dog. They will even run through and over fences if they have to.
There are really only two things you can do to stop this type of situation and that is somehow divert the dogs attention (I.E. Shock collar) or shoot them if you care alot about your horses. I hate being so blunt but very rarely have I ever seen a situation defused by someone calling the dog’s name. I was screaming Mica’s name as loud as I could and she just ignored me. I was even in front of her more than once and she didn’t stop. I’ve seen dogs run a horse through barbed wire or get it so riled up that it was in full-blown panic and lathered in sweat and bleeding from ramming itself into objects trying to get away. And as much as I love my dogs my horses always come first and I will do an “old yeller” if I have to, to protect them. It’s not my first choice but if nothing else works I will resort to it. (I hope this doesn’t offend anyone but it’s honistly what I would do. If you know of better ways please tell me but I’ve live around famers and ranchers my whole life so we’ve tried plenty of ways to no avail)
Many people don’t realize how fast a dogs prey drive can kick in (yes even domesticated tiny chihuahua will try to herd you not just big dogs) and it’s amazing how fast a horses fight or flight will kick in. These animals have been domesticated for thousands of years and their base instincts are still the same as their wild counterparts when it all comes down to it. Some dogs have a stronger herding drive then others and some horses have a stronger fight/flight then others but it is there to be tapped into.
This is why dogs are either banned or have leash laws in effect at horse shows. If I had been riding when this happened I could easily have been seriously hurt or killed depending on how my horses reacted. That’s why at horse shows it is vitally important that if you bring a dog please have it leashed and have 100% control of that leash (seriously have it tied to you somehow) so you’re not the cause of an accident.
If you go hiking with a dog off leash and you see a horse dogs can get protective and aggressive with the horses. Especially if they’ve never seen them before because they don’t know what they are. I don’t know how many people have told me “my dog always listens I’m so sorry” when their dog comes barreling at us and then stops and barks until the owners catch up. Thankfully my horses have great minds and really do try their best with me on board and on the ground (unless it’s a wave or races *Ahem* Cash) and I haven’t been injured yet in a dog related accident. *knock on wood*
This situation tonight just reminded me how much I want people to be aware of the dangers of having dogs around horses, especially ones not conditioned to them. I should have been better prepared for this situation myself. After all I work with dogs all day at work and horses on my off time. But it’s so easy to get complacent and forget just how different an animal can be when it’s base instincts kick in.
Until next time