Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More on Dogs Attacking Arabian Horses

It's clear from all of the comments on the last post, this subject holds a lot of emotion for everyone. If you haven't read all those comments, there is quite a discussion there.

I, as many of the commenter's, am a dog lover. I've met some great dogs in my life including a couple of wonderful pit bulls. Most of my experience with dogs has been with breeds that have gotten a bad rap because of owners who were not responsible. I understand that particular breeds are sometimes targeted when it is really people who are to blame. Dogs, like horses, need to be taught the skills to make their behavior acceptable in our world.

Despite my love of dogs, I still must have an effective way to deal with them if they are chasing or attacking my horses. As I mentioned in the previous post, in my twenty years with horses, I have had incidents of this happening with dogs that wandered onto my farm. The most recent was last year when I had a pit bull cross chase a newborn foal. I posted about that incident at the time it happened. What Can Happen Next on the Arabian Horse Breeding Farm

On one occasion I had a problem with dogs I owned and one of my Arabian horses. I had "rescued" a pair of chow rottweiler crosses. A friend's brother had them and had to give them up because the new place he was moving to wouldn't allow dogs.

I took the dogs conditionally. No one knew if they would be a problem with the horses or not. I couldn't keep them if there was any kind of trouble with the horses. I was clear about that from the start. Since it was the dogs' only hope instead of going to the pound, the owners decided it was worth a shot to send them to my farm.

They were beautiful, very impressive looking dogs. Fully grown and both females, they bore more resemblance to a chow than a rottweiler but there was a rottweiler kind of hint about their look as well. They were large as a chow, had that kind of coat but their coloring was affected by the rottweiler in their gene pool.

Their names were Mai and Tai. Mai was the biggest and the boss. Tai was the sweetest and the easiest to train. But put the two of them together and it was a mess. From the beginning I had problems getting Mai to mind. Even separating her from her sister for training sessions didn't help.

Tai was great when her sister wasn't around but if Mai was running and wouldn't come, Tai would surely follow. Chasing birds, cats, or rabbits Mai tuned out the world and Tai went right along with her. I knew it was a problem and I spent lots of time trying to fix it. I could probably write a book on all the things I tried.

Restricting the dogs to the yard and not allowing them in the pastures was much easier than stopping them from chasing. They understood the concept of their yard when they arrived. The problems I had with them chasing small animals were few and far between. But it still worried me because they would not listen once involved in a chase even though there were no problems with them chasing horses.

It only takes once for it to be a problem in my book. The one incident I had wasn't little. The dogs slipped through the gate as Lindsay was going through with the wheel barrow. They took off like two rockets after Dandy.

At the time, the young Arabian horse was a yearling. In the blink of an eye those two dogs had him down on the ground and were on top of him. Fortunately, the dogs responded when Dave and Lindsay interceded. No one was seriously hurt. The horse only suffered some minor scrapes and missing skin but nothing that required stitches. Believe it or not, he has no residual fear of dogs.

That was it for me. I called the former owners to let them know the dogs were going to the pound that very day. While turning animals into the pound is something I dread, I just didn't think there was a better way to handle this. There was no way I could risk a repeat occurrence and I didn't feel safe anymore.

My guilt about even taking animals to the pound was short lived because both dogs were actually adopted that very day. They were so beautiful and sweet, that people followed Dave into the pound inquiring about them. Dave made sure that people knew the problem was with the dogs chasing livestock. My understanding is they were adopted by city people with kids.

This incident with Dandy and the one with last year's foal were very serious situations. They could have escalated to exactly the kind of circumstance in yesterday's post. Fortunately for me, they didn't because I was unprepared but I won't be next time.

As I said in yesterday's post, it's these experiences that drive my need to figure out what I'm going to do. Maybe I won't remember the next time what I should do, but I feel the need to gather information and at least try. This discussion got me thinking and thanks to the comment by arthist99 it actually got me looking

I found a great post about defending oneself against a dog attack. Some Personal Observations On Dealing With Dog Attacks It had some good information like trying to pull a dog off only causes more damage. I hadn't ever really thought about that before. I also learned some ways to try to get the dog to let loose on it's own. I'm going to make sure we have some training sessions with Lindsay and Dave as well, so they have tools that they can use.

I know I'm not the kind of person who could leave my horses to go to the house to get and load a gun to come back and help them. If it ever happens again, I'll be right there in the middle of things trying to defend my horses just like I always have. I do think I can grab a 2x4, bat or a shovel to beat a dog off but first I'll have to be sure those tools are handy in my barns. And if I don't have the time or think to do that, I believe I've found some other ideas that will help. At least I feel like I now have an idea of where to start. If you feel you need more answers to deal with dog attacks you might check this information out.

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  1. I love all creatures, but again both Chows and Rottweilers are aggressive dogs, bred to guard. I'm sorry that happened and I'm glad that they eventually found a good home and yes it's mostly down to the owners on those pitbulls, but there's no denying that certain breeds of dogs are more aggressive than others. I have two dogs, a border collie and a corgi/sheperd mix. They know the guide lines and will both herd the goats harmlessly when neccessary,but the border collie knows he cannot cross that fence into the horses, even though he's dying to. He'll just lay on the ground watching, but never crosses to herd the girls. The old man will, but only to dine at the horse apple buffet. I think that if people are going to choose an aggressive dog as their pet, than they damned well better train it and train it well.

  2. Thanks for the link to that article - good info. I have done the "shove your hand further in the mouth" trick with puppies and it does work.

    This *is* an emotional issue but I'm glad you wrote about it b/c it is a good idea to have a plan in place should something happen.

    I've always been anti-gun but when we bought the farm I started thinking differently. We do have guns and are learning to use them, but I'm not at the point I could accurately target a dog in full attack mode.

    When we replace our existing fencing I'll be adding no-climb wire to the entire perimeter. If we had a larger property this would not be financially feasible.

    Ultimately, dog owners should be held accountable for their dogs' behavior. The fact that the dogs had already attacked a human is incredibly frustrating - and yet there's a huge case locally right now where two HUMANs who were on probation for escalating crimes of assault and armed robbery killed a young woman - and were able to do so b/c their probation hearings (they were blatantly violating the conditions of their probation) the day before the murder were never held due to oversights in the court system.

  3. callie, in hindsight, I think I could have kept the one dog. Without her sister she was awesome and really wanted to please. I just didn't have the trust to even try at that moment.

    I'm totally with you that chosing aggressive breeds means one needs to be prepared to see to it they proper training.

    billie, there was lots there that made sense to me. I hadn't thought about it before though, but I think it really stuck because of how much sense it made.

    It all comes back to humans, doesn't it. Whether the harm people directly or indirectly by not training their dogs, making people accountable for their behavior is important in both scenarios.

  4. keep an automatic umbrella at the barn. If you get a dog coming toward you pop it open in their face. Most dogs aren't used to that and will hesitate. For a dog latched onto something, it gives you some length for leverage to either pound or pry and if a dog is coming toward you but you don't have time to pop it open, you can either hold it like a bar with hands far apart and it gives you plenty of room to keep your hands safe or you can point the end down their throat and keep your hands safe.

    I never ever ever use my hands or arms to break up a fight....that can cause mucho damage to some delicate sensory and contract/expand mechanics of my hands and arms.

    I hope hope hope you never ever need to even think about it again, but if you do, umbrellas are cheap.

  5. Mikael-you are right about the leaving to get the gun. The way my property is set up-the house is smack dab in the middle with my pastures on either side. Makes it easy for me to grab a gun. On most places the barns and pastures are at least slightly removed from the house. I am not sure if I had to do that, that I could either. Also because I grew up with guns and hunting, I am comfortable with aiming at a moving target. A pistol would be the most ineffective of the gun types to use, unless you were right on top of the animal anyway.
    I did like the idea of the stun gun that someone mentioned yesterday. Maybe keeping a cattle prod is a good idea?
    We also have to contend with the rising number of mountain lions that are making their way out of the Black Hills. Several people have had horses attacked and some killed in the last few years.

  6. Rotts were actually a droving dog in the early years. I've known some great rotties, but we've interfered with their original purpose and put them to work as attack dogs, breeding out their original instinct to care for their animals. What a shame people have to screw animals up like that, eh?

    As for bullie breeds; their biggest danger is that jaw. Once it comes down, you're just about sunk, as the story yesterday tells.

  7. I'm really glad the link helped. I think the hose up the nose trick is very effective, but that's only if you have one handy. It is a less dangerous way to control and distract an attacking dog. Unfortunately, if you have a dog attacking your horses, you probably won't have a hose lying around to use. So I'm glad you found some other tricks from the link.

    I completely agree that aggressive dogs are the fault of the owners! I can forgive ONE minor incident, because sometimes you don't know that a dog is inclined to that behavior until something triggers it. But after that, you KNOW you have to do what it takes to keep that from happening again.

  8. Didn't realize the original link got cut off! Here it is again:

    Hope this works this time!

  9. This has been an eye opening story MiKael and those same dogs that had the deer are often wandering around here, the fact that they could threaten my horses never crossed my mind. In all of my incidents they have always been smaller dogs, spaniel lab crosses and the like.

    My filly Lori hates all littel animals and will stomp it to death given the slightest chance. I think that with me having so many horses out that if anything would happen the horses may make mincemeat of the dogs or I hope they would.

    After the deer incident while she was still in the field, I put the horses out because the dogs had lost interest after 2 days and I was amazed at the concern and empathy that my horses had for this poor animal. Lori stood guard over it until it was removed.

    I will check that site out for sure and certainly think more on this, we have coyotes around here and I never leave foals out at night because of that.

    Now on to read the comments, which I should have done first LOL



  10. I love dogs but I have to say that some are more aggressive than others.Personally I wouldn't have them around, because of the horses and little children. We have always had collies or labs or retrievers, right now we have three Austrailian Sheperds, and I have to say they are all afraid of the horses and are smart enough to stay away from hooves. While we ride they simply lay outside the ring and wait. As with everything else in life, if you are responsible for another life be it dogs, horses, humans or whatever you are responsible for training them properly and teaching them manners.

  11. I heard a story of a Rottweiler, on a farm with cows and chickens, and she was very motherly and she tried to hatch an egg, and then there was a time when a cow had a calf but she refused it, and then the owners put a bottle under the dog, and thats the only way the calf would nurse, and when the calf had her own calf she didn't mother it like a cow, she mothered it like a dog. So I would love to own a rottweiler like that, but I don't like chows, so I would never own a chow.

    I also think though, dogs pick up your energy. If you are a calm person, but yet firm, you'll be a good dog owner. I think the people who owned the pits, were bad owners and bad people. Because there are well trained, calm, non aggressive or dominant pit bulls. I'd rather blame people for the actions of what pit bulls do, since people bred them for fighting in the first place. Now look what is happening because of that. It's easy for pit bulls to attack, unless you train them well. We own a mix breed dog, who isn't a rat killing breed, and he does, and we own a rat killing breed dog (a Rat Terrier) and he would grab baby chickens and toss them in the air and shake them, ect ect. But, I would lay him on his side, and put the chick chick in his face, and I yelled at him. Now he will only look at chickens, but if I ever put a chick in his face, he looks away. Or if he is laying down, and I put a chick on him, he lays very still and doesn't move. And he is a very submissive dog.

    I bet the owners of those pits, did no training with them, and never made them submissive. I made our Rat terrier very submissive. So it's not always the breed, it's the owner, it's the owners fault. I wish no one ever trained and bred DOGS for fighting and killing. Because now it does make them harder to own, and not everyone can handle them. Go to this page http://www.cesarmillaninc.com/videoplayer/index.php and click on season too, and click buddy learns to leave little animals away. And this guy owns his own pit bull too, and his pit bull is sooo calm! but I believe it's because it's his dog, and he knows how to handle dogs. And he treats all his dogs the same.

  12. I have been reading these last few posts ut chose not to comment. Maybe I will at some point write a post. I have had to have a much loved dog put down for attacking me amongst others. I tried rehoming first but it didnt work.

  13. I wish actually I hadnt now commented. You see Molly was a Golden Retriever. Not seen as an agressive breed generally.

    The very fact that I had to have her put to sleep for aggression issues (and we tried all the behavioural stuff first) makes me a bad dog owner in some peoples eyes.

    Maybe I am.

    I agree the dog's owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs in good control.

  14. holly, the unbrella sounds like an interesting trick. That article mentioned about not using your arms or else wrapping them with a shirt first. All are things I hadn't thought about before now.

    browneyedcowgirls, we are probably considered urban here but we have had problems with cougars here too. Not on my farm but in an area even more urban than me.

    Tracey, I had a rott that I loved. She wanted to herd the horses not chase them. She also wanted to correct them if they were being naughty. If the horses were in trouble with me, she wanted to fix it.

    arthist99, their use of the hose was interesting. I'll have to check the complete link out and see if I end up someplace different. lol

    lori, yes, it doesn't have to be a big dog to chase horses. Any breed or mutt can do it if it hasn't been taught. And dogs running together are more dangerous than dogs alone.

    grey horse, it is intersting how some dogs are frightened of horses and others what to take them on. I doubt that there are any "givens" one way or the other. Genes, personalities and training probably all play a part.

    kim, I have heard strange stories about dogs doing such things too. It just goes to show what a complicated issue it can be. You just never know.

    kahless, I doubt that anyone would blame you. It sounds to me like you did the responsible thing. You tried to find help or find other solutions. Sometimes putting a dog down is the only solution. You sound like a responsible pet owner to me, making the difficult choices instead of letting it get out of hand. The latter is what people are referring to here.

  15. Kahless - she's exactly right. The "bad dog owners" are the ones who see there is a problem and don't do anything about it.

    I think most times you can figure out why a dog is aggressive and do something to change that. But, just like with people, some dogs are aggressive for no obvious reason, and they can't seem to be influenced. Sounds like you did what you could given the circumstances and made a very difficult decision. That makes you a responsible dog owner, not a bad one.

  16. RR and Arthist99,

    Thank-you for your nice comments. There are many many people who are not fit to own dogs or in fact any animal. I do not fall into that category.

    But I do carry some blame in the instance of Molly. My naviety as much as anything. Maybe one day I may post the story.

    I am a very good dog owner these days.

    thank-you again for your kind intentions.

  17. So far our problem is with my horse (Lucy, the TB) stomping dogs. It's her hobby. I hadn't thought about if big, vicious dogs ganged up on them.

    So far one dog has needed stitches. It was the neighbor's dog and he slipped into the pasture, thinking it would be fun to run the horses. He didn't know about Lucy and her deadly aim.

    She'll even chase them when I'm riding her. Now you've given me something new to think about. Hmmm. A plan.

    That's terrible about those Rottweilers who had already attacked a hiker. So many nice dogs in the world need a home -- and people are protecting these vicious animals. I'm glad the horses survived.

  18. You are so right about this being an emotional issue. I love animals and it took me a long time to understand the taste of blood thing.

    In my area we have had several instances where dogs have attacked adults and children. Unfortunately no one survived.

    You are also correct in that it is the owners who are at fault. My parents had a pit bull and she was the sweetest thing ever. They spent a lot of time with her and in training her.

    Thanks for this post....I'm always learning something new from you!

  19. Kathless said: Not seen as an agressive breed generally.

    I train dogs. I no longer judge any dog on it's breed. Every dog can bite and sometimes the reasons a dog bites are just too overwhelming to overcome. It doesn't make you a bad owner. If you euthed a dog you couldn't bring to peace through management or training...it makes you a .responsible. owner.

    there are far worse things than death....living in a constant state of fear, pain or anxiety would be far worse than a gentle lead into peace.

  20. Nice words and perspective Holly.