Most dog owners will agree that, being able to let your dog off the lead for a good run is a source of pure joy, but with farmers entering the lambing season it’s more important than ever to keep your dog on a lead and under control around livestock, however well they behave normally or how much you trust them.
To your dog, chasing sheep is a natural behaviour and very enjoyable. Unfortunately, it can result in your dog getting hurt. When caught up in the thrill of the chase, your dog can switch off from hearing you call, which can leave them vulnerable and more likely to have an accident. They can easily get caught up in fencing, get cut on barbed wire or even break a leg if they stumble into a concealed rabbit hole.
It’s not just sheep that dogs like to chase: look out for cows and horses too, especially as bigger animals are more likely to fight back. Your dog could end up being trampled or kicked, causing potentially fatal injuries to your pet.
Physical injuries can also be fatal to sheep if your dog catches and attacks them, but it’s worth bearing in mind that dogs don’t need to actually attack sheep to cause them harm. Being chased is, in itself, extremely scary and sheep can miscarry or even die due to the stress, so it’s important to be responsible when on farmland.
It’s also worth being aware that, if a farmer feels that his livestock are in immediate danger, he can, as a last resort, shoot your dog. And if your dog has hurt any of his livestock, you may still be liable for the cost of their treatment.
So putting your dog back on a lead for five minutes around livestock can save a lot stress and heartache.
If you’d like behavioural or training advice, please give us a call. We’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergencies, so if your dog does get hurt while out walking, call us on 01453 752555 and we’ll be here, ready to help.