How to Keep Dogs Safe Around Horses When Out on a Walk

How to Keep Dogs Safe Around Horses When Out on a Walk

If dogs are introduced to horses early in their lives, they soon learn to respect them. However, many dogs have never even seen a horse which means when they first encounter one they can get quite nervous and scared which often results in them either running away or chasing the horses which is a real no-no!

Dogs Chasing Horses

You may find that when out on a walk in the countryside you have to cross a field where horses are grazing. In this situation you must put your dog on a lead and cross the field as quickly and as calmly as you can. Most horses will look up to see what's going on but soon start grazing again because they've seen it all before!

However, younger horses might be a little more inquisitive and wander over to meet you and your dog which can be quite worrying for you both! The one thing you must never do is start to run because this will encourage horses to chase after you which could end up in a disaster.

If your dog is off their lead when they cross a field with horses in it, you may find they will chase horses which is never something a responsible dog owner would ever encourage. But why do some dogs insist on chasing horses? The reasons for this behaviour are listed below:

  • Dogs by nature are hunters, they are predators and even the domestic dog boasts having a strong instinct to hunt which means they will chase other animals when they are given the chance
  • Dogs that have never seen a horse may react by chasing them because they are scared, curious and nervous all rolled into one which can all too quickly turn into aggressive behaviour
  • Some dogs might want to play with the horse which of course, the horse does not understand and as a result they run away which results in the dog chasing after them.

How to Avoid Your Dog Chasing Horses

If you know you are going to be regularly walking your dog in fields or places where you are bound to meet up with horses, you should do the following which will help avoid finding yourself in a chase situation:

  • You should introduce your dog to horses by going along to a yard and asking the owner if this would be okay to do. Ideally this needs to be done when dogs are still very young as it will help avoid nervousness or fear when they are around these larger animals
  • Always have your dog on a lead when you cross a field with horses in it or if you have to pass a horse and rider on a country lane or other environment
  • If you spot a horse and rider coming towards you, you need to recall your dog straight away and put them on their lead. If your dog is very nervous, you should ask them to sit and and wait for the horse and rider to pass you by before setting off on your walk again
  • It's always a good idea to wear high visibility clothing when you are out on walk with your dog so that riders can see you well in advance of having to pass you
  • Always try to discourage your dog from barking at horses whether they are in field or being ridden. When they behave and don't bark, you need to reward them immediately so your dog learns this is good behaviour that ends up with a tasty reward
  • Always make sure the horses or horse and rider are a safe distance away before letting your dog off their leads again
  • It's always a good idea to stop and talk to a rider for a couple of minutes because this helps your dog understand that things are perfectly normal which should help them remain calmer the next time you meet a horse and rider when out on a walk

Seeing Things From the Horse's Point of View

It's also important to see things from the horse's point of view because if they see a dog running towards them, the chances are they are going to be scared by the situation and being flight animals, the majority of horses will choose to run away. This makes dogs chase them even harder which could end up in an accident with horses getting injured or they could turn on your dog and injure them!

As previously mentioned horses will run away from a scary situation because they are flight animals much preferring to put a distance between something they find scary than confronting it. However, other reasons why a horse will take flight include the following:

  • They have a strong survival instinct so they run away from anything they see as being a predator
  • Their instinct is to take flight is so strong, that even with a rider on board, horses may still bolt away from a scary situation with very little the rider can do to stop them

When a horse bolts it can be very scary for the rider and it puts them in an extremely dangerous situation because effectively, they have no control over their mounts. This in turn puts others who may in their path in danger too which could even end up causing a car accident!


If your dog gets too excited when they are around horses, you will have to make sure they are always on their leads. The next step is to get your pooch used to being around these larger animals so they learn to take things in their stride with confidence. Never let your dog run through a field off their leads in fields where horses are grazing which is a real no-no. Keep them on their lead and walk across the field quickly but calmly to avoid any incidents which could ruin an outing with your four-legged friend.



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