Sheep chasing -know the facts
Sheep chasing and livestock worrying in general is a serious problem for farmers and their animals alike. Spring is just around the corner and lambing is in full swing.
We’ve all seen those lovely pictures of lambs skipping along next to their mothers full of the joys of spring. Some of us may have been lucky enough to have had a go at bottle feeding lambs when we were children, or even been present when they’ve given birth.
There’s nothing more joyful than seeing lambs playing and frolicking together.
To avoid sheep chasing use caution
So, a note of caution to all of us dog owners, when walking in the countryside, if you’re going through fields with livestock keep your dog on a lead.
This is even more important at this time of year when sheep are in lamb. No matter how well trained your dog is, it is not worth finding out if they have a 100% recall or using the excuse that they have never chased before.
Many dogs have high prey drive, YES even your lovable family pet, so a lot of dogs instinct will be to chase. Even if your dog doesn’t actually catch a sheep or physically harm them in any way, the stress from this experience is likely to cause a pregnant ewe to abort her lambs or abandon those that have already been born.
Your dog is NOT “playing” with the sheep. Prey drive can be broken down in to different parts, hunt/search, chase, bite, kill, consume. By chasing the sheep or whatever ever animal you come across, your dog fulfils step 2 of this sequence, it is then not a big leap to the next step when a dogs adrenaline is peaked. Even your sedate cuddly family dog may surprise you once it taps into its natural prey drive.
What happens if my dog chases a sheep or livestock?
The ramifications of this range from a shepherd losing money to suffering and loss of life for the lamb/s and ewe herself if there are complications and no one is there to assist. There are also consequences to dog owners as sheep worrying is a criminal offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953. Owners could be sued for compensation and it is also worth being aware that a farmer is legally entitled to shoot dogs who are endangering their sheep.
How to manage your dog around livestock
Our advice is to always keep your dog under control by keeping them on a lead around livestock. Oh course dogs can be trained to ignore livestock and wildlife however, even when you are pretty sure your dog is unlikely to chase, it is never worth the risk. For the sake of popping a lead on your dog to cross a field, just do it.
If you’d like to learn more about other ways to ensure you keep your dog under control and on its best behaviour then book get in touch today.