QUESTION: I have just purchased a yearling filly that is chasing my really timid/shy dog all the time if the dog dares go out in the her pen. I holler at the horse but it doesn't seem to help much. My dog is now trembling with fear and growling at the horse from a distance. Why is my new, young horse so mean to my dog?

ANSWER: This happens quite a bit with young horses up to the age of about three or four when they become more settled. It is a sign of youthful play and also a sign of boredom. Usually such horses do not have any other young horses their own age to play with. She is playing but sadly this play can be deadly to a dog. Both striking with the front feet and kicking can kill or seriously injure a dog.

Hollering at a horse does little good and generally makes the dog think it is in trouble too. This may be why your dog is now trembling around the horse or now growling at it, besides the Fear Factor. The dog does not realize who you are really hollering at, it or the horse or both of them. It is already hopefully smart enough to stay out of the horses way to the best of it's ability.

For safety's sake you must keep the dog away from the horse. Another young filly her age to play with would also make a big difference, until she matures. Older horses simply don't play enough with young horses.

NOTE: In other cases, "Aggressive" dogs (far worse when more than one dog is involved) that bark, leap at or chase horses can cause a lot of problems, such as chasing them threw fences, causing the horse to injure itself while fleeing from the dog (s) or actually seriously biting them and very important is dogs harassing young or nervous horses can make the horse flighty and spooked all the time. It places horses, especially young ones under a great deal of stress. Some horses may retaliate and become real dog haters, out to strike, bite or kick dogs for the rest of their lives. This puts both adults and especially children at risk because the horse may kick at someone behind them, thinking for a split second that it is a dog. This filly here is new to you and maybe already has learned to hate dogs from it's last home?

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Young maturing stallions out to prove how Macho they are and of course breeding stallions may attack dogs entering their territory savagely. This is a Territorial Issue and a Dominance Issue, unlike young fillies and young geldings.

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