DOGS THAT CHASE LIVESTOCK
QUESTION: We have just adopted a 4 year old Border Collie. Apparently he has chased and harassed (barking at them) horses in the past and now he is doing it at our place. We have heard that they are "Herding Dogs" and that is why they do it? How do we stop this as he just ignores our commands?
ANSWER: You are correct, such breeds as the Border Collie, also the Heeler and the Australian Shepherd, etc. are herding dogs and known for annoying livestock unless disciplined/taught not to at a young age. The best discipline includes the big 4: Patience, Kindness, Consistency and Repetition, while training him to not bother livestock. Since he has got away with it in the past and is now fully mature, you have a real problem on your hands.
Unless your outside with him, keep him confined. Most adult horses get so used to it that besides trying to stomp him, should be okay. But young and/or nervous and/or new horses may hit a fence or injure themselves because of him.
And never forget, a horse striking with the front feet or kicking with the hind feet can kill or seriously injure a dog.
Now to train a dog to stop barking at and chasing a horse. First is to take the dog to "Basic Obedience Classes" so the dog learns to listen to the owner. A dog may love his master but at the same time, have no RESPECT for his master as in listening to commands. Once the dog is trained to obey commands, pick a one word command for leaving the horses alone. Such as the word, "Quit" or "Enough". Spoken firmly and sharply will deter the dog's natural instinct to herd/bark at/chase a prey animal/horse.
The reason for a one word command is because a dog can learn it quickly and easily. So NO sentences which only confuse a dog. Just that ONE word command.
These breeds of dogs are known nippers as they are bred to herd livestock and nipping the heels to get cattle, etc. moving is part of their nature. He should be on a long, retractable leash around the horses until trained. Having chosen your one word command, remember from now on this command is only for bothering the horses (OR ANY LIVESTOCK OR FOWL THAT YOU NEVER WANT THE DOG TO GO AFTER FOR ANY REASON).
Play out the leash (make sure no horse gets tangled in it or your going to have a bad wreck), and let him get near the horses. He lunges at them, barks or nips, sharply say your command word and smartly pull him back to your side. Once beside you, press him down into the Sit position while saying Sit. Make him sit there for awhile. Then lead him around some more, he goes to close to the horses, bring him smartly back to your side, and into the Sit position again.
Once he learns he is not allowed near them, you should be okay. If he seems to think he should go after them, simply saying the command word will stop him and he will return to your side if your training has been Consistant on a daily basis.
Border Collies love to work and love to learn. They are listed as the most intelligent of all breeds. They also need vast amounts of free exercise to be happy so make sure he gets lots of exercise to burn off energy and give him fun things to learn and do.
I raise both dogs and horses and also understand the natural instinct of a dog, no matter even tiny breeds such as mine, to go after what they instinctively see as prey or something to chase.
Thank you for giving this adult dog a loving home.