Spooking at Small Dogs - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 05-01-2012, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Alabama
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Spooking at Small Dogs

Hello everyone!

This is my first time posting on here, but I am having a small dilemma.

My new horse and I, Rebel, have only been together for about two weeks. I had my previous horse for almost 10 years- she was already 20-21 when I got her, so she was extremely experienced and never spooked at anything.

Rebel, however, is only four- he'll be five in July. He is usually very level headed, but of course there are things he has never seen before (but I did manage to get him used to my dad's boat and other trailers in our yard- I was so proud!)

The one thing that really scares him- and I fear that someone will get hurt because of it- is my neighbor's small dogs. One is some sort of terrier looking dog, and the other is a shi tzu. The terrier looking dog will come charging at Rebel, barking, and get under his feet. Rebel will then bolt, accented by small bucks. I am afraid he will hurt the dog, himself, or me.

I know that he is not afraid of dogs in general. My dog, Larry, often spends time with me and the horses- Rebel is not frightened of him at all. I believe that the difficulty with the small dog is the fact that it is barking, and it gets under his feet, so he can't see the threat.

I wondered if there is any way to safely desensitize Rebel to this. I also considered going over on my four wheeler to make sure the tiny dog is inside before I saddle up. I hate to ask my neighbors for assistance, because it isn't really their problem, and the last time it happened, the man was in the yard and said nothing to his pet.
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post #2 of 19 Old 05-01-2012, 06:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
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It sounds like he hasn't had enough trail experience. Horses worry about small dogs because they can so easily get into their blind spots. The two areas are under the jaw and behind them. Rather than you getting hurt, why not dismount and lead him past the dogs. Use a nice long lead with a rope halter under his bridle. Give him at least 3' of lead and focus on a spot far ahead. If the dogs come out, give him plenty of lead and let him deal with them. With the long lead he can scoot ahead but you still maintain control. If the dogs are quite persistant, invest in a good water pistol. Dogs hate getting squirted and no harm done. They will learn to recognize your horse as the one that squirts water at them. We dealt with a GS that would hide in long grass then come barreling out by turning my mare and chasing him. After that he sat on the step whining until we had passed by.
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post #3 of 19 Old 05-01-2012, 07:13 PM
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Make him chase the dogs. Teach him the dogs fear him, not the other way around.

If a dog gets hurt in the process, oh well, shouldn't have been roaming loose in the first place.
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post #4 of 19 Old 05-01-2012, 07:15 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Feb 2011
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Aren't there leash laws in your area? Have you ever walked your horse by on a lead to let him get used to the noise?
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post #5 of 19 Old 05-01-2012, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Alabama
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Thank you everyone for the quick replies!

For a young horse, Rebel is amazingly brave, but I can't blame him at all for being afraid when the dog comes running at him ready to take him down.

Large dogs- he's totally fine. He lived with three Sharpes for the past three years- and he's ridden with several large dogs before. These tiny things freak him out though.

Saddlebag, I really like your idea of using a squirt gun. I had never considered this before, but it would definitely come in handy. I also think leading him on foot would be a good idea also. I had already done this once, but the dog in question was inside at the time.

Mildot, I actually used to do just that on my mare! Like I said though, she was much older and wiser. This little dog is certainly annoying.

Cacowgirl, I actually ride on my grandfather's property just behind my house- there are several acres of fields that lay just behind my house. A few houses back up to the fields and the house in question is beside my own house separated by a field.

I definitely will try leading him with the dog in question around. I only have polyester lead ropes- should I use a lunge line or would this be so long as to be dangerous?

Last edited by HannahC; 05-01-2012 at 08:47 PM.
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post #6 of 19 Old 05-02-2012, 09:37 AM
Green Broke
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Location: Southeast Texas
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I agree with chasing the dog!!! Or if you lead the horse past and dogging comes running out - take you a little lounge whip and pop his butt. Owner may have issues with that and come running out instead of "doing nothing". Teachable moment for all - owner get your idiot dog before he either gets drop kicked for a field goal, popped on the butt with a whip or you possibly get hurt when your horse bolts with you in the saddle.

Dogs can be pretty darn smart and little dog will learn quick enough to leave the big horsey alone!! I love dogs. But I love well behaved dogs! I ride with a friend who takes his dog along. She runs in and out, running up behind Biscuit and he once got so upset he kept charging her. It was making me a nervous wreak. We were coming in once at a pretty fast extended trot to get out of a incoming storm and she ran right up behind him. He kicked out and thank God my butt stayed in the saddle . I don't like riding with her!
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-02-2012, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by QOS View Post
take you a little lounge whip and pop his butt. Owner may have issues with that and come running out instead of "doing nothing". Teachable moment for all - owner get your idiot dog before he either gets drop kicked for a field goal, popped on the butt with a whip or you possibly get hurt when your horse bolts with you in the saddle.!
Agree 100%. One of the reasons why I carry a dressage whip instead of a crop when trail riding.
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post #8 of 19 Old 05-02-2012, 12:57 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2011
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what do you mean it isnt the neighbors problem ? Of course it is. It is illegal in most areas to let your dog run loose onto someone elses property. You need to tell him in no uncertain terms to keep his dog at home.
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post #9 of 19 Old 05-02-2012, 08:07 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
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There's always that livestock harassing law that most states have. It's a death sentence for any dog caught doing it. And last time I checked horses were livestock.
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post #10 of 19 Old 05-02-2012, 08:41 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Missouri
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Chase those little runts down!

Your safety is more important than upsetting neighbors who don't even seem to care since they said nothing about their little yappers underneath your horse. Those dogs will learn their lesson and leave him alone.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"

Last edited by Skyseternalangel; 05-02-2012 at 08:48 PM.
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