Do you own a horse and need to get them acquainted with other animals on your property? Knowing how to introduce animals to each other is key to harmonic living. Specifically, how you introduce your dog to a horse is key to a positive experience for both animals.
The ideal result here is a hound indifferent to a stallion’s presence. But how do you make sure the first interaction goes off without a hitch?
Below are a few tips that will help make the introduction process as stress-free as possible for your animals.
1) Start at A Distance and Reward the Dog for Calm Behavior
In comparison to other livestock and chickens, stallions are quite large, especially from a canine’s perspective, and, thus, can be very intimidating to the canine. It’s highly unlikely they have come across such a big-sized animal, so when they notice such a big animal, the hound might become fearful and tensed.
Ensure the mount is secured in a field and at a distance away from your canine as he approaches. The distance should be far enough that the dog should not notice the mare right away.
Keep the canine on a lead and reward him for his calmness and lack of response towards the horse. As he remains quiet and calm, move him closer and keep rewarding him for his calmness.
What you’re trying to achieve here is desensitizing and diminishing exposure. It is what most dog trainers do when introducing mongrels to livestock. And it works even on the most dangerous dog breeds.
2) Keep a Close Look at the Canine’s Body Language
A fearful hound will react in different ways. He may choose to freeze, fight or flight. All these are typical responses when he’s tensed. You may notice an aggressive response when he starts snarling. When they are aggressive, their hackles also come up on their neck, and they may start barking. Another typical response is to cower and try to run away with their tail between their feet.
If any of these situations arise, we recommend retreating to a safe distance where they can calm down. Doing this enables you to be in control again. You’re back to the first step of desensitizing and trying to communicate that a stallion poses no threat, but keep rewarding him for staying calm.
3) Get Him Closer To the Horse with a Barricade between Them
Attempt to get him closer. The goal is to get him close enough without triggering a reaction.
He may be curious and look around, and if he remains calm and quiet, you should let him off to explore the area around the barricade. Keep doing this for a few days, maybe even weeks, until you’re confident that he has no interest in the mount with the fence between them.
4) Keep The Dog’s Attention from the Stallion When Introducing Them
It reaches a point where you’re confident that there’s no tension between the animals and there is calmness between the animals. You can now go ahead and make the leap of introducing them.
Ensure the dog is on the lead as you walk him towards the mount. The most important thing while doing so is to distract him and keep his attention on you. If possible, have the owner or another person handle the stallion. Now, some mounts may want to sniff the dog while others may not be interested at all –it depends on their personality and mood.
5) Notice the Horse’s Body Language
Keep paying attention to the horse’s body language. If he shows signs of stress, take the canine away from the situation. You can try again another day.
Remember to keep rewarding calmness and indifference towards the horse. At some point, when you’re confident that the dog is calm and the stallion will tolerate him inside his space, you can let him off the lead.
It’s possible to have the two animals live harmoniously. Depending on the dog’s reaction, the steps may take days, weeks, and even months. The important thing is to be patient with both animals and not be afraid to start again if tensions arise. It’s worth the hard work in the end.