Can Dogs and Horses be friends?
Written by CRM
Thursday, 29 October 2020 17:39

Can Dogs and Horses be friends? How to Keep Them Both Happy

If you have dogs and horses, you’re probably wondering whether or not it is possible for them to get along. Luckily, dogs and horses have been making friends for hundreds if not thousands of years. They have both been around people for a long time, so it only makes sense that they would have grown to like each other as well. 

However, not all dogs and horses naturally get along. Sometimes they need a little bit of help! As a responsible owner, below, you’ll find our tips for helping your dog and horse get along. 

1. Early Socialization is Important

A tiny dog that has never been around a horse before will likely be scared the first time they come across one. You can’t expect most dogs who have never been around a horse to suddenly accept one. In fact, dogs that are not introduced to horses at a young age may always be a little off-put by their presence. 

Because of this, early socialization is essential. If you introduce dogs and horses to each other at a young age, they’ll grow up assuming that being around the other species is “normal”. This will make them more accepting of each other’s presence. 

2. Don’t Force It

Forcing the horse and dog to be in the same area will not make them like each other faster. Each animal should have a place to escape when they feel uncomfortable. Allow them to approach each other as they want. 

If you enclose both of them in the same area, they will likely become even more scared of each other. It is likely that they will avoid each other altogether, since they don’t want to repeat the episode again. 

Instead, they should be exposed to one another gradually. This allows them to build up their confidence around the other species. Eventually, they’ll figure out that the other animal doesn’t mean any harm.  They might even start playing with each other shortly after.  After all, after seeing them every day for a few days, they haven’t been hurt yet!

3. Consider Training

Some dogs and horses may not need any training to be around each other, especially if they have been socialized earlier. However, if your two pets don’t seem to be working it out on their own, you may need to consider training. 

As stated by Rob Evans from Doggypedia, “This is usually relatively simple. All you need to do is reward the animal when it shows the appropriate response to the other one (which should be calm, in this situation). When the dog doesn’t bark or chase the horse, reward them.” Horses cannot usually be trained as easily as dogs in these situations, as their survival instincts are very strong. However, a calm dog is much more likely to result in a calm horse as well. 

4. Take the Dog Breed into Account

Some dog breeds have very strong chase instincts. They will likely always chase a running horse, even if they have been around them their whole life. Others have very strong herding instincts. They may try to herd the horse, which can result in injuries on both sides. 

You cannot train out instincts. They are set in stone and will always be there. Instincts are stronger than any training your dog has had thus far. If you get a herding or sight dog, do not expect them to be calm around horses. It just isn’t in their nature.