Dog Friendly Tips: Dogs and Livestock
Follow the countryside code and keep your dog on the lead when in the vicinity of farm animals. You may trust your dog in your home environment but chances are that your dog will not be 'properly' sheep-trained. A dog can cause a lot of damage if it gives chase.
I was once out walking with someone who had a Golden Retriever. It gave chase and bit a lamb. We rescued the injured lamb and carried it 3 miles to the farm owner. But sadly it had to be put down as the dog bite had pierced its lung. The farmer was compensated but the owner was surprised because he had never known his dog chase sheep before. Maybe he does not have many sheep at home, but the mostly empty mountains around us can be full of sheep around the next corner.
Until you have trained a dog to walk through a sheep field to heel, and ignore the sheep completely, a dog cannot be trusted. It knows it will have its day the moment your attention is elsewhere. Jack has been trained but only after he had once given chase. The telling off he got on that occasion convinced him never to do it again.
Sheeba has also been trained to walk through sheep fields and ignore the sheep. However unlike Jack, Sheeba will wait for the moment I am not watching her. She will always come to call (even in mid-chase) provided I catch her in time, but I have to watch her so closely through livestock it's easier just to just slip a lead on. Also I keep Sheeba muzzled all the time because she will bully and bite Jack. Jack I can trust completely with sheep, but he is used to chasing birds, rabbits and squirrels which he never catches. This does mean he will chase pheasant, so has to be kept under control through pheasant country (no pheasant where we are in Wales).
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