Dog-Horse Similarities Part 1

A common question I’m asked is, „What are some similarities between training horses and dogs?“

This is something I think about daily. When training with a dog I might think, oh this is similar to what I might do when riding or working with a horse, and vice versa. If you’ve heard of Parelli then you might know about their way of categorizing personalities (or HORSEnalities) into four general sections called a Horsenality chart:


So, you can see that on the left side is LB (left brained) meaning confident and the left side is RB (right brained) which is more unconfident. Then, the upper two have energy (extrovert) and the lower have low energy and go inside themselves (introvert). That’s the basis of what I will be referring to in future posts on this topic.

I’ll make more posts like this, comparing dog and horse training, but I’ll start with something small that I’ve been playing with. When we work with horses, and dogs, we want their energy to be balanced for the most part. Meaning we slow extroverted horses (see chart) down a bit by blocking their front end and redirecting their energy. With introverts we want them to put more effort in.

When walking either a high energy dog or a confident dog (LB), corrections are more effective when applied to the front of the dog. Usually I would correct a dog with a nudge in their side, but confident and high energy dogs take this as a nudge of encouragement…  Where as correcting them in their face, chest, so on, interrupts them and is more „in their face“, literally. This is clear to them and highly effective.

For example: With a horse, if you are accustomed with natural horsemanship, you might bump the rope or buckle on the horses chin if they are getting in your space or going to fast, etc. You can do the same with a dog! Take the leash and flick it on to their chin and do it with some attitude and you will get their attention. It’s helped me turn super hyper poodles into dogs that walk politely behind me on walks.

Another tactic for correcting a dog from in front is to simply have a stare-down. This works better with LBI’s. I have one at the moment and if he isn’t listening after I’ve asked a few times, I calmly stop, turn towards him (very calm and slow – think about the calm before the storm), take his head in my hands and glare him right in the eye. This is really only a tactic I would use for very confident, make-my-day kind of dogs and definitely don’t recommend it for sensitive dogs, etc.

So if you have a dog who’s a bit „head strong“, confident, stubborn, or has a lot of energy, interrupt them by moving in front of them. Just like you might with horses.

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