How to Stop Prey Drive the ACE Way
Dogs are predators so prey drive is a natural instinct. But, predacious behavior in our domesticated lifestyle can be dangerous. They might chase a squirrel or cat into a street where they can be hit by a car, or they might run a deer into the woods where they are likely to become tired, lost, or injured. And, of course, they can injure other animals.
Dogs with a strong prey drive are always on alert during a walk. If they are taken to an area where rabbits or cats are kept, control may be impossible because they might try lunging toward their prey. If they are kept in outside pens, they may become excited if other animals are walked by or are seen in the distance. They know the prey is there and they are reacting to it.
In some cases, shelters suggest that dogs with strong prey drive are adopted out in an urban setting. Though this may look like a great solution, we also have to look at the lifestyle of the adopting parents. Many owners want to take these dogs into the woods for a weekend. The prey instinct emerges quickly in the "wild" setting.
By domesticating our dogs, we are trying to change the prey drive expression. We can redirect the drive by creating predation activities such as throwing the ball or a scenting and tracking. This allows the dog to release some of his instinctual drive in a structured manner.
“Play” and “hunt” are different states of mind. We need to challenge that instinctual desire so it becomes more “play” and less “hunt". For example, if a dog has a habit of chasing squirrels you can put their leash on and practice activities in the yard with food or toys before the dog sees a squirrel. The leash gives you access to redirection, or luring the dog to other fun activities.
The three obedience commands your dog (and you) need to know before embarking on this training are the sit, stay and recall. This is the beginning.
In this webinar, Mike reveals other things you can do to keep prey drive behavior under control.