What Dog Trainers can Learn from Horse Trainers

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by tx_cowgirl, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Dogs and horses are entirely different animals. One is a predator, and one is prey. Two completely different mindsets. Surely their training methods are entirely different...not so much, really. (Some of the horse training scenario examples may sound wierd...it's just a horse thing. ^^ Part of the prey mindset. Many dogs could care less about the end of your leash swinging idly by your side, while horses are usually quite frightened of swinging ropes or plastic bags or....well, a wide variety of things. The list could go on forever...)

    Fools Rush In. Natural Horsemanship trainers take training slowly. Hollywood supported the old cowboy way of breaking a horse--John Wayne would hop on and ride 'er out till she gave up. (I'm not bashing John Wayne; I love John Wayne. :doghappy: ) This breaks the horse's spirit, but doesn't teach the horse to trust you. Ultimately you are left with a horse who has been broken down and conditioned not to react at all, a horse that tends to live in fear. Natural horse trainers will get the horse accustomed to the saddle from far away, close, and on him, then the feeling of it as they move, the feeling of weight on the saddle, and finally a person and saddle on their back.
    The same is true of dogs. When socializing a puppy to other dogs, it's best to take it slow. Introduce the pup to one or two dogs at first and work your way up, not ten dogs all at once. Instead of waiting for the pup to "relax" with ten dogs, it is best to slowly socialize him to other dogs. With both equine and canine, they respond better if you do not rush them into accepting something new.
    Warning Signs When desensitizing a horse, he will let you know how much is too much. If you've been desensitizing him to the scary flying plastic bag at eight feet, and you move in to six feet and he panics, heed the message. You move back to eight feet until he recooperates, then move closer in smaller increments. He's not ready for the two foot jump, so stay where he's comfortable.
    With dogs, you don't take your pup on his first car ride by tossing him in and going on a six-hour trip. You encourage him into the vehicle, let him check it out and realize it's not so scary after all, and maybe go on a five-ten minute trip. If he's freaking out just about being in the vehicle, then he's not ready to move on. With some dogs, you may have to encourage him in, out, back in, back out, over and over again before you ever leave the driveway. (Personally I like to do this with all dogs unfamiliar with car rides...the slower the better.) Of course, it's safest for Fido to have a dog seatbelt. These are sold at most pet stores and attach to your dog's seatbelt.
    Body Language Horses seek strong, confident leaders. That little one-foot deep ditch could swallow him whole, and if you're scared to cross it too, then he definitely doesn't want to cross it. If you stay relaxed and keep your shoulders back, and confidently stride right over the ditch, he will feel much more comfortable crossing it. He may still take some convincing, but he will feel less anxious about it since his fearless human didn't find it scary. If you keep your muscles relaxed, stare straight ahead, stand tall, and pull your shoulders back, you project the image of a confident leader.
    Dogs can respond in much the same way. If you introduce your pup to another dog for the first time, your body language should be very similar, if not exactly the same. However, if you have your shoulders back, muscles tensed, and seem to be on-edge and nervous about the meeting, your dog may react in the same way. If his caretaker is reacting as though he/she needs to defend himself/herself, then the pup may think that he has something to worry about, too. If you approach the new dog with your shoulders slumped, staring at the ground, muscles tense, this is projecting an afraid, submissive attitude--not that of a confident leader. Your pup may think that this new dog and many others are something to fear, rather than a potentially fun playmate.
    Pack-Bound/Herd-Bound Horses are herd-bound animals. This means that they prefer to be in herds, rather than alone. If a horse lives in a single-horse home, he may seek the company of the barn cat, the friendly Dalmation next door, the calves in the next pasture, the goats, etc... Horses, being prey animals, understand that there is safety in numbers. In the wild, mustangs travel in herds. If ten grazing horses do not notice the distant rustling in the grass or the odd cougar-like smell, a single horse on the outside of the group may, and they will react. The rest of the herd trusts that one horse, because if they didn't it could be a life or death decision. The whole herd flees, or sometimes the lead mare or stallion will stand guard. If a young filly acts dominant towards the lead mare, for instance, she will drive her out of the herd, exiling her. She will only let her in when the filly begins to show that she wants to be back in the herd, apologizing in a way. She will drop her head, lick her lips, and pace outside the herd--showing the lead mare her most vulnerable side: her flanks. The mare will accept her back into the herd, where she is safest. Natural horse trainers will place the horse in a round pen(I prefer about 50-60 ft in diameter) and exile them to the outer edge of the pen, sending them around the circumference of the pen using body language. The horse will begin to show the person in the center of the pen the same signs. The horse is saying that it is ready to reconsider working with you, that he wants to be with you, that he is willing to cooperate, and that he trusts you. After showing these signs, the trainer will turn his back(becoming vulnerable by showing his "flanks"). This is showing that he accepts the horse back into his "herd." The horse will stop, look to the inside, and venture slowly to the trainer, stopping with his nose right next to him. Some horses are a little less trusting and take more work...anyway...
    Many people use this "exiling" method when off-leash training dogs. The dog begins to venture off, the trainer will "push" Fido away with body language. Dogs are pack-bound. They can be content living alone, but they usually prefer the companionship of a pack. This pack can consist of other dogs, humans, and some other animals. Dogs tend to be a little more picky in the choosing of their buds than horses...both animals prefer the company of the same species, but will seek company of almost any kind. So, when the trainer exiles Fido, he wants to be back. He may stay away for a while, as the predator mindset does not feel as threatened away from the pack as the prey mindset does. He will return, however, because he enjoys your company and does not wish to terminate it. He feels safer with you, the one who provides him with food, water, shelter, and affection. Therefore, he will begin to show you that he wants to be accepted again. He will come to your side, showing that he accepts you as the leader of the pack. He isn't straying ahead, making himself the leader.

    I could add a lot more to this...but the point is, horse training and dog training methods are very similar, and using the techniques used by Natural Horsemanship trainers for our dogs can be very beneficial. So next time you're working with Lassie, think about what horse trainers keep in mind. Fido will appreciate it...and so will you. :dogsmile:

  2. bigboytex New Member

    wow didnt know that they had that much in common its pretty amazing isint it. Thanks for the tips.
  3. l_l_a New Member

    thanks for sharing all that info! I know next to nothing about horses so it was really an eye-opener for me.
  4. luna may New Member

    Wow, that's pretty amazing! Great article, Cowgirl!
  5. Jean Cote Administrator

    Hey! Thanks for that great article about the similiarities between dogs and horses. I'm wondering how a horse would see your shoulders if you are on his back..???
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Well, when working on crossing ditches or water, you begin by leading them. So they can see your shoulders here. ^^ Once they are crossing with no hesitation, then you progress to crossing under saddle. It's a slow process, but it works. :dogsmile: Thank you all for the comments.
  7. bipa New Member

    Excellent post! As you've seen, there is much about animal training that can be transferred between species. Some animal training techniques even work with people, too! :dogbiggrin:
  8. Jean Cote Administrator

    Bipa, you can clicker train me if you want! :dogsmile:
  9. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Lol. ^^ Speaking of which Bipa, think I'm fixing to buy some Patricia McConnell books.
  10. szecsuani Experienced Member

    I found this video, I think it's connected to this article, if not, then sorry...
  11. bipa New Member

    You got me thinking.... how about this scenario for when a guy does something great?

    Good boy!
    Click! (TV remote to favourite channel)
    Treat (beer)

    Maybe I should try it out on my German husband? :doglaugh:
  12. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    xD Nice Bipa. Hmm...interesting video. Clicker training a horse...now that's something new! Lol. ^^
  13. storm22 Experienced Member

    there are very simmilar, i work with horses too and i always find myself telling my dog to walk on or stand up lolz and with the horses clicking and giving a reward or saying good girl or boy
    my workmates keep catching me out and laughing ive started clicker training our head shy horse to let us put his halter or bridle on without him lifting his head and hes got so much more trust with us now as were not telling him to do it but asking and getting faster better results
  14. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    That's great Storm. ^^ Really I try praise training with everything first...I just prefer it. Of course, some dogs or horses excel with treat training but not praise training. Just varies from animal to animal.
    I like working with the dogs and horses with behavior problems. For some reason I just seem to gravitate towards the hard ones. :dogblink: Lol. This coming June I'll be working with my yearling filly on accepting the saddle...we've done a lot of ground work and desensitization, and accepting very light weight on her back, but nothing further of course. June/July I'll start the under saddle work slowly but surely...I'm excited. ^^
  15. storm22 Experienced Member

    i do too nothings put in the to hard basket

    its good when there so happy we've bought our 2yr filly (kowhai) in from the hills she went out at about 10mnths to a herd of other young ones and they dont see many people or things but we taught her all the basics before she went, lead and get on the float by herself and stand still.
    when we went up to get her we expected a few hours of catching her and going through the basics again before we take her home but we called out her name and she looked trotted down the hill other fillies in tow and ran up to us (kowhai was a pound foal with her badly treated mother but through positive training became a human horse) and saw the float gate open and walked on,
    good training to begin with gave us a nice horse now the only problem is whenever the float gate is down shes trying to get in and go for a ride, but shes teaching our new foal (angel) that training is fun as she is abit of a hot head (like her mother) but staying with kowhai shes quieting down and racing to the gate to be collected in the mornings
    i love postive training its def the way to go
  16. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Good. ^^ We used to have a 12 year old filly that was broke but had been taught next to nothing...I did a lot of ground work with her, desensitizing and such. She was pretty spooky. We sold her a few months ago just about completely bombproof. She would make a great horse for a beginner/intermediate rider. She's much better now than she ever was when she came to us. I used natural horsemanship methods.
  17. storm22 Experienced Member

    i love stories like that
  18. missouri gal New Member

    Loved reading your bit and was nodding my head the whole time---you are so right...I've been doing it for years!!!! Loved how you brought up the herd reacting in the wild---most people do not know about that, or if they do, they do not think about comparing the two training similarities in such a way as you described!!!
  19. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thank you, Missouri Gal. ^^

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