As a riding companion dog are especially suitable dog breeds that are very eager to run and not too shy. They should also be intelligent and not too timid. Especially dog breeds like Boder Collie, Collie or Australian Shepherd are ideal dogs as riding companions. It is also important that the dog listens to all commands perfectly and is not afraid of the horse.
You love dogs and are an enthusiastic rider? Now you want to look after your animals together all the time and be accompanied by your new dog on long rides?
With a curious, open and warm-hearted character, the dog brings along good prerequisites. In addition, the size of the dog, as well as its original origin, must be suitable to be a riding companion dog. Exceptions confirm the rule.
We show you everything you need to know about a riding companion dog.
What makes a good riding companion dog?
Most horse owners love dogs. Fortunately, there is hardly a combination that is better suited to each other than a dog and a horse.
The training and breed of the dog will determine how quickly the venture is crowned with success. In the following you will get an overview of what you should consider for your future riding companion dog.
What speaks in favour of a companion dog
You have probably already toyed with the idea of getting a dog. But in the end it didn’t fit into your life plan.
This changes abruptly as soon as you have a horse in your life. You are always out and about with your horse and what could be better than a long ride? Your dog will be happy to accompany you on all these activities.
This guarantees that he gets enough exercise, stays fit and is mentally stimulated. The bond that develops between you, your horse and the dog is something very intimate from which you all benefit.
This way you can exercise your four-legged friends at the same time. Because nothing lasts longer than when you first go for a ride alone and then go for another ride with the dog.
What characteristics does a riding companion dog need?
In principle, many breeds are up to the task of being a companion dog. Of course, this also applies to mixed breeds. It is important that the dog is eager to run, inquisitive and not too shy.
In terms of character, the ideal riding companion dog should be curious, docile and open-hearted. A fearful or even lazy dog will not bring you much joy as a rider. If you sympathise with the idea of getting an intelligent, clever dog (e.g. Collie, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd), you are on the right track.
Physiology and constitution also play a big role. It is advisable not to go for a small breed of dog. They find it difficult to become fearless in the presence of a horse and may not be able to keep up well on long rides.
Jack Russell Terriers are a great exception. These self-confident runts are hardly intimidating and their insane urge to move allows them to keep up effortlessly.
These dog breeds are less suitable
Some dog breeds are known for their predispositions to diseases, such as hip dysplasia. Affected dogs find it difficult to keep up with you and your horse. Even if they are symptom-free at a young age, the heavy exercise takes its toll later in life.
If you have your eye on such a breed, you should reconsider your decision or look for a reputable breeder. The breeder must be able to provide you with complete proof that no complaints have occurred in his breeding line.
There are many breeds of dogs that are unsuitable because of their breed-typical character traits. These include all breeds that have their own little stubbornness and take every opportunity to assert it.
Inherent couch potatoes, such as bulldogs, you will not be able to motivate by any stretch of the imagination to go for rides of several hours. Hunting dog breeds are suitable for working with horses to a certain extent. It depends on their training. If the hunting instinct is not too strong and is well controlled, they make excellent companion dogs.
However, this requires considerable effort and patience on the part of the handler.
Commands that a riding companion dog must be able to do
In order to make your dog the perfect riding partner, a few requirements must be met. A companion dog must be accustomed to the horse and learn that the giant means him no harm. You can’t just charge off into the countryside and expect your dog to go along.
The following commands are important in order to harmonise well with your dog in the field:
He needs the basic training beforehand, which every dog learns in dog school. Sit”, “down” and “stay” belong to the good tone. In addition, your dog should be recallable at all times, even in difficult situations.
It is not enough if your dog only listens to you at home and in the dog run. The temptations and distractions in the field are too great, so that dangerous situations can quickly arise if your dog puts his ears down.
Retrievability in difficult situations is trained beforehand under controlled conditions. For example, you can practise calling your dog away from a trusted person with treats until he reliably listens to you. You can find out what else you can do if your dog does not listen to his name here.
“Ahead!” is an important command in the field. It helps you to keep your dog in sight and minimises the risk of him getting between the horse’s legs. To train the command, all you have to do is throw a treat (or your favourite toy) a few metres ahead and call out the command word of your choice.
Which word you choose is irrelevant as long as you keep it. The distance your dog runs ahead should be gradually increased.
The horse must also be trained
First and foremost, your dog must listen to you everywhere. Whether you are standing next to him, calling him from a distance or sitting on the horse.
Normally, it should be easier to command the dog than the horse. Horses are flight animals. If your horse gets spooked on the ride and goes off at a stretched gallop with you, it makes sense for your dog to stay where you said “Stay”.
Of course, such a situation cannot be practised, but you will be more busy concentrating on your horse.
Especially in the beginning, you can let your dog do “Stay” while you are riding at the arena and make your rounds. Your horse also needs to get used to the dog. After a few sniffs and looks, it should no longer be a problem.
In any case, you should sensitise your horse to spectres that could be next to, behind or between the horse’s legs.
Otherwise it can happen that your dog runs past the horse in an unfavourable way, the horse steps out and hits your dog.
So always keep an eye on your horse and your dog and try rather to have your dog with you or running in front of you.
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Conclusion Riding is no fun without a riding companion dog
What could be more fun than combining your horse hobby with your little four-legged friend? Dog and horse are almost always an ideal match.
Of course, not every dog is suitable for the task of a riding companion dog, but normally the horse doesn’t mind the dog.
In terms of character, every dog is different; while hunting dog breeds are more geared towards hunting, smaller dog breeds are not so ideally suited as riding companions.
Without training, the interaction between dog, horse and you is not an easy undertaking and in any case everyone must be well attuned.