Horses Are Like Dogs

My family and I just returned from a 5-day trip to Mammoth Cave National Park. Didn’t see many dogs there, maybe they are not allowed in the park, but we did see plenty of wildlife. We took 3 cave tours, admired the skinny deer (yes, compared to Michigan the Kentucky deer are skinny), squirrels and turkey. All of them seemed very used to seeing people and ignored us.

I was outdoors having coffee one morning and a squirrel ran up within 5 feet of me, sat and stared just like a dog begging for food. When I didn’t give the little squirrel anything he adjusted his position and sat staring some more. There were signs not to feed the wildlife but let me tell you this squirrel had been fed by humans somewhere down the line.

Part of our trip we did a trail ride at a horse ranch. The owners were both skinny like the deer with wrinkled sun backed skin and western gear. They definitely fit the part. There was about 12 of us that went on this trail ride into the National Park. The park is very similar to a national forest.

As we were matched with each horse we were told their name and every one of them had a quirk we had to be aware of and control. My horse was named Buddy and he liked to walk up to the horse in front of him and bite his tail. I was told how to stop Buddy and advised not to let him sneak up on the horse ahead of us. Sure enough, he tried about 3 times until he figured out I wasn’t going to allow this nonsense. The second time I “Whoa’d” Buddy, he stopped and turned to look at me like saying “who are you?”

An older woman that went with us was a little nervous and her horse knew it. Her horse was two behind me and it whinnied pushing its way past the horse in front to jockey for a better position in line, which happened to be right behind my horse. The commotion spooked my horse (ears back) but I was able to calm him. I have only ridden 6 -7 times in my life, but I know enough to show the horse you are confident. It is the same way with dogs.

Every dog is different and has their own quirks, but they need to be trained as the horses were, have manners (mine I had to keep in check) and obey the person on in the saddle. We were told not to let the horses stop and eat leaves off the trees. If we did they wouldn’t move and keep eating.

There was a girl who was about 9 years old, and guess what her horse did? He stopped and started chowing down on this tree, and he was not going to move. He knew she was young and wasn’t confident yet. The wrangler that was with us told her to be stern with him, steer him away and give him a couple of kicks (tapping the horse’s side with your heels) communicates to the horse to start moving.

As I observed all of this I couldn’t help but think how horses are so much like dogs. Dogs need training, structure, and someone to tell them what to do. Dogs shouldn’t be the decision makers, just like the ranch hands were trying to teach us about the horses on our short ride that we had.

It was obvious the ranch owners loved each of their horses. These horses had huge fenced in areas to be free and the National Park to explore. As we waited for our trail ride I admired other horses out in the corral running, kicking and chasing one another. They looked like they were having a grand old time.

Dogs also need the freedom to run around and be dogs. Dogs shouldn’t be cooped up in the house all day, locked out in a fenced yard, or worse, chained. Your house and yard is nothing but a kennel for your dog, they need the freedom to smell new odors, explore, and swim. If you want your dog to be happy give them these things

  • Love
  • Freedom
  • Training
  • Structure
  • Exercise

On our trip to Kentucky, one of the horses was named Boarder. His name was Boarder because he boarded at the ranch and when the owner came to pick him up they couldn’t get the horse in the trailer (lack of training) so they left the horse tied to a fence post. The rancher found the horse and called the owner who said, “he’s your horse now”. I guess Boarder liked it there and didn’t want to go home.

Would your dog prefer to live with me or go home with you?

Make sure you are providing for your dog’s emotional, physical and intellectual needs. If you are not sure what to do and you have an unruly West Michigan dog like Boarder the horse, the staff at Adams K-9 Dog Training and Kennel can help. Click here to contact Adams K-9, and learn more about our dog training programs and see how we can help you love your dog’s behavior.

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