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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

July 11, 2010

Thoughts about an outdoor ride buddy dog.

I can't do it right now as I have two senior inside dogs to take care of...but eventually I would like to have a dog that can go the distance, accompany me on trail rides so my solo rides don't seem so---well--- solo. The one time that I had a neighbor's dog with me I really enjoyed (Phebes wasn't amused *LOL*) my ride and the antics of the dog. I also felt it was a good thing for her to learn that YOU DON'T RUN FROM THE DOG. The dog popping in and out of the brush, leaping into the creek, and just being a buddy was darned awful nice. But alas, he wasn't my dog! My boxer dog is up there in years, I think he will be ten this year which is old for a dog whose life span is normally eight to ten years. He'd love to go, but it would just be to hard on him at this age.

My thoughts on breeds would be to acquire an australian cattle dog (my friend Barb had one that used to go with us on long rides awesome breed), australian shepherd, or a lab mix, or maybe a short haired mutt. I wonder though how you get a dog that you know if you take him into the woods, that he won't jump a deer...never to be seen or heard from again? Especially if you travel and ride in various parks. How do you train the dog to stick with the horse and rider? Are some breeds better at that than others? ~E.G.


  1. My dog accompanies me on some of my rides. I don't let him go with me when I plan to ride on the highway or any road though. He doesn't chase cars but doesn't seem to notice them either and about got hit one time. He does pretty good following me on our woods trails here at home. Even with deer and turkey's popping up. He will start after them but all I have to do is holler for him and he comes right back. Although this thursday I took him with me and it started to rain. Next thing I knew he wasn't there any more. I looked when I got home and he was in his dog house. I even got my other horse out, while it was still raining, and he didn't come with me. I didn't yell for him to come with me or he might of. But apparently he's a fair weather dog as well. He's a lab/german shephered mix that will be one year old this month.

    I'd say just don't get a beagle (they would be gone with the game) or a real small dog that can't keep up. I had a sheltie as a teen. And if he came out with me I'd have to carry him back on the saddle or sometimes drive out looking for him and bring him back in the car. He was too small.

    Looked at a POA this morning and think we are going to get her the kids. Next week when we come back from vacation. She's going to hold her for us. I hope she works out! I've been looking for over a year.


  2. I used to ride with my dog, an Australian Blue Heeler/Jack Russell cross, until he recently became too old to keep up. He used to do 20km trot/canters with us, now he can only hold on for about 7km at a walk and a bit of trot. Plus, he's losing his hearing which makes it harder to control him, and he fails to notice vehicles coming up behind him, so I have deemed it too dangerous to ride with him now.

    To effectively ride with your dog you should have all the basic obedience rules installed using vocal and/or hand signals: sit, stay and come (especially) at the minimum.

    We practised everything on the lead and then off the lead, and built in a few extra vocal commands:
    - "not too far" which we used to let him know he could wander, but we wanted to be able to see him. We'd use this in new areas or around lots of other people, traffic or wildlife, so he never got so far a 'come' command wouldn't reach him.
    - "get here" which meant he had to be right beside us (heel would have probably worked just as well, but that's not what we naturally used)
    - "this side" with a finger point to put him in a safer travelling position(usually away from traffic, or to get the horse between him and a territorial dog, for example)
    - And the last trick (which we never FULLY mastered but did help a lot when it did work) was for him to SIT and STAY when at a distance from you. So for example, he's on one side of the road and you're on the other and a car is coming... the last thing you want is for your dog to cross the road in front of the car.

    And of course, just having a traffic savvy dog who is delighted to get out for long runs will make it a natural combination!

    Good luck and enjoy! :)

  3. My old sheltie used to go with me and the horse, but my new shelties are too scared (Mimsy) and too fat (Luna) to stay with us. Also, my horse hates dogs, so it's not something I seek out right now.

    If I were hunting for a "riding dog" right now, I'd look at rat terriors (NOT Jack Russells) and lab-cross mutts. Something with a short coat, lots of energy, and a willingness to obey.

    I don't recommend aussies because I see them get obsessed too easily with herding the deer, or most hounds (beagles, ridgebacks, anything that "bays" instead of barking) because in general they don't give a rat's patoot about obedience. They *can* do what you ask, but if you are on a horse and 100 yards away, they may *choose* to do something else! If I could find a standard poodle (the big size), I'd take that in a heartbeat.

    JMO, of course, and YMMV.

  4. I was visited last month by the neighbor's Rottweiler/Lab cross puppies and if my animal census had been lower I'd have been inclined to ask for one of these. The wanted to be "with" the person, and seemed to have a high level of intelligence. There were three of the puppies and I found it interesting observing them how different each one was. Two of the females were marked like a Rottweiler, but not as stocky. One female was very obviously dominent. You could see it in her bold eye and also in her behavior whipping the other two into shape. I'd have passed on her because of that. The second female was very people oriented, she left the pack to be with a person. She would likely have been the best choice of the three. Of course the pup I liked was the "oddball". He was bigger, and he was yellow like a lab, but made like a Rottweiler (only with a long nose). He was also the most shy of the dogs, but he just looked so ridiculously cute I'd have have probably chosen not so wisely in hindsight. Good thing my dog census is currently high :)

    But I learned something after thinking on it that maybe the cutest or runtiest dog is not the best choice. Better to watch the dog behavior, and find an animal that wants be with you.

    Rat Terriers are among my top dogs! I've had to Ratty crosses, one is an elderly female living with us now. They are great little dogs if they are socialized with gentle children. My first Ratty cross had some bad experiences before I got him and his hair would stand on end when he saw anyone under 4 feet tall...He was very high energy and a lot of fun, but was stricken with cancer at eight years old.

    My favorite of all dogs is the Boxer, but the breed is so riddled with serious health problems that I don't think I want to own another. We've had three. The first one had Lymphoma, the second had hip dysplasia, and third is still with us. None of the three were ever really good on the recall if they set their minds to chasing or wandering (we kept them fenced or on leash).

    Sometimes a good old mutt makes for an awesome dog. I'd probably search my next one from a kill shelter (we have three kill shelters in the area, so sad).

  5. I just recently experimented with taking a dog along with me. Previously I'd tried to take our labs but they tired out and I ended up waiting for them at the trailer, praying they would eventually get back.
    I now have a poodle, he is just about three years old and he was awesome! I took him with me up to some logging roads, so there was little chance of running into other people, dogs or cars.
    He trotted and loped right along with my mare, sometimes a little a head or behind.
    Surprisingly, when I did have to go thru the gates he would "heel" with me giving the command from the horse, I was so thrilled to have an obedient trail dog finally!
    We went about 12 miles and he wasn't even thinking about getting tired.
    Karen W.

  6. I take my lab on any ride under 10 miles until it gets too hot. At this time of year, she can't go for more than 30 minutes - much to her chagrin.

    I've spent her whole life reinforcing the idea that being with me is the most fun thing ever. She goes after deer and rabbits, but never more than 50 yards before she breaks off and comes back to me. She only knows a few trail-specific commands: "to me" to heel for road crossings, whistle and point to put her on one side of another of the trail, a different whistle to tell her to change direction, and "let's go" to let her range ahead.

    Pure labs are not ideal trail dogs, but I adore them. They've got heart! And the retriever instinct gives them an easier recall, IMO.

  7. The best trail dogs I've met are all mutts. Rescued mutts. Little bit of terrier, little bit of cattle dog, little bit of retriever and a whole lot of gratitude for being rescued.


  8. I trail ride & camp in the Utah wilderness with my Australian shepherds. I find aussies to have an inate sense of getting along with horses, respond well to vocal commands, and want to stay close by at camp and along the trail.

  9. My current trail dog is a GSD from Czech working lines.. she has gotten condtioned along side my horses and goes out as many times as I do per day for as long as I go out.. flopping down in mud holes and creeks to cool off and up and running again when we are. Listens very well to "leave it", "here", and "out of the street". If she sees the trailer being hooked up she's by the truck door and sulks horribly when we go to a park with leash laws and can't go along. That said.. I did have an exceptional Borzoi who loved me dearly and would not have dreamt of leaving my side and he used to trail ride with me all over north GA.. he did get overheated in the summers though..

  10. I see all breeds on the trail. But,here in Pima County,the leash law is being enforced. One of my neighbors received a citation for a loose dog on the trail. Another neighbor is headed to court over a "dog at large" citation. I won't take my dog. As it just isn't worth getting a ticket.