How do I stop my dog chasing sheep ?
The sight of their dog chasing livestock is one of the most frightening an owner will witness. The harm that can be caused can be all too real.
From small nips to the outright downing of an animal, the situation is serious for animal, dog, owner and farmer.
And the physical signs – or lack of them – don't neccessarily tell the whole story.
The sight of a dog chasing sheep or other livestock should be taken far more seriously, and with good reason, because the consequences can be very severe. A dog seen chasing and worrying sheep / livestock is committing a criminal offence, even if not actually attacking them.
Seen to be even worrying his livestock, a farmer can legally shoot your dog, safe in the knowledge that he is legally protected from prosecution.
As a responsible and loving owner desperate to avoid harm to your dog, you will be faced with the decision on what action to take :-
- Avoid walks in all rural areas.
- When walking your dog, always have him under full control and on a lead.
- Seek a dog trainer with the ability and experience to re-educate your dog.
Having teamed up with a farming friend who takes the very positive attitude of training being preferable to punishment, I have my "own" flock of sheep to work with.
Using "humane" methods, I can change the behaviour of nearly all dogs in less than an hour - regardless of age or breed.
Very occasionally however, and when all else has failed, I can use an electric collar although this is usually done at the owners' request.
While not supporting the use of collars per se, I believe they do have a place as the very final choice should all other methods to re-eduacte the dog have failed.
I would like to stress however, that owning a dog who has previously chased sheep or livestock does not mean to say that he can't be re-educated using my usual methods - quite the opposite. Of the dogs I work with who have chased, most have done so for the thrill and have never inflicted any physical harm.
Some owners contact me early on, wanting their puppy or young dog introduced and socialised with farming livestock.
This has many benefits, not least the recognition of the command word "leave".
But circumstances don't always allow every dog – or owner – to do this and many people own dogs who have already chased.
But at least they're recognising the problem and taking the positive approach of doing something about it.
So from that moment – and together – you and I are going to introduce some new rules to your best friend and make him realise that some things are strictly off limits !
Calmness for all
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On the day we'll meet up, discuss how your dog has been behaving then carry on from there. Before leaving, you will have walked him close to the flock of sheep – off lead – without him chasing or even showing any interest. Quite the opposite. Those fluffy white creatures have never looked less appealing.
But your work is not over.
You will need to follow my simple advice to ensure that he behaves exactly as you want him to. Do that and the days of panic when a sheep or other livestock are spotted are over, making every walk both enjoyable and relaxing.