Activities For Dogs With High Prey Drive

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Introduction

All dogs have a level of prey drive, but some are more driven than others.  This is because of the dog's natural instincts as a hunter, predator, and even scavenger.   However, dogs with high prey drive that give chase most animatedly to every moving thing from the neighbor's cat to the tree squirrels can quickly become a source of frustration.  It is important to understand that these dogs are acting out of instinct and need, and pet owners must do their best to find engaging activities that safely satisfy the prey drive of their dogs.

Frisbee and Fetch

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
30 - 45 min
Items needed
Frisbee
Tennis ball
Activity description
Dogs with high prey drive must be satisfied, or they will exercise their prey drive during inopportune moments, like against the cat.  While training activities are important, it is also essential have a little fun.  Playing Frisbee is a perfect activity to excite and exercise the prey mind in your dog.  Sunny days are the best for this activity because it requires you to be outside.  Like other high prey drive activities, playing fetch is a low-cost activity that you can play anytime you have free time.  Some dogs are good at running and catching a Frisbee and others love to chase the ball.
Step
1
Grab your equipment
If you have a large enough backyard, you can easily play Frisbee or fetch in the backyard. However, sometimes, you have to go to the dog park or another large green area to play. If you're planning on watching, grab a few toys your dog loves to chase and their leash.
Step
2
Find a quiet space
Sometimes, playing Frisbee or fetch isn't as fun as sniffing other dogs or playing with friends at the dog park. Your dog needs a lot of socialization but that is often considered playtime and will not help control the prey drive. When you and your dog are ready for prey drive activities, take them to a quiet place with few distractions. Get your dog excited about the game by talking in an excited manner and waving the Frisbee or ball around.
Step
3
Launch and retrieve
There is nothing more exciting for a dog than the first moment when you release the Frisbee or ball from your hand, and they give chase. However fun it is for the two of you, the goal is to have your dog return the item to you as well. This not only helps keep the game going but teaches your dog discipline.
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Check-in Training

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
30 min
Items needed
Training treats
Activity description

Check-in training is an inexpensive activity you can do with your dog to help with their prey drive.  Though this activity is best conducted outside when the weather is warm and sunny, you can practice and train check-in activities in any conditions both inside and out. The check-in training activity requires a training treat for your dog and some stimulus, like playtime or scent hunting outdoors.  The goal of the check-in activity is to train your dog to periodically check-in with you during a chase or during an activity.  This activity training helps break your dog's locked on laser focus on its intended prey by making eye contact with you instead.  

Step
1
Secure your backyard
This activity starts out by taking your dog outside for playtime or exploration time. You need a safe environment for your dog to explore so you must make sure your backyard is secure and that your dog cannot escape, should there be a squirrel in hiding.
Step
2
Let the stimulation begin
Perhaps there are birds or squirrels about the yard. Or maybe the neighbor's cat walked through the flower bed the night before. These are scents that are certain to entice your prey driven pooch to action. Let your dog start to explore or run around outside and as they do, stay close with the training treat concealed in your hand. Once you see your dog locked on to a scent, give the check-in command, such as "eyes to me" or "eyes here" to break their focus. If your dog is having a difficult time with this training activity, give the command close to them so they might smell the concealed treat.
Step
3
Practice often
Your dog's prey driven instincts will not magically disappear nor will you be able to break their laser focus on the first few attempts. The key to this activity is consistency and training. You have to work on this activity often and each time your dog gets the check-in command on cue, move a little further back the next time. The goal is to be able to break their prey driven focus at any hearing distance.
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Scent Games

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Any Day
Cheap
Hard
30 min
Items needed
Training treats
Activity description
Prey drive in dogs is fueled by their amazingly sensitive noses.  Dogs have an acute sense of smell, which has helped them track their prey as well as their flocks, as in the case of herders.  A dog with high prey drive that does not exercise the instinct will be more difficult to manage because they are not having their primal needs met.  Scent games and scent working helps satisfy this need.  Scent work can happen in any type of weather, and both inside and out and is inexpensive because only time and high scent training treats are needed.  However, when it comes to efforts, this activity can range from moderate to difficult depending on your dog's interest in scent work.
Step
1
Buy high scent treats
You know your dog's tastes pretty well to know what flavor of treats they will like best and seek out the nose work treats in their favorite flavors. You need your dog to sniff these treats out from a variety of places outside, where their prey drive is highest.
Step
2
Hide the treats
Before you bring your dog outside to sniff out the treats, carefully hide them several places outside. Great places to hide treats are low to the ground or on the ground. You want to use nature as well to help engage your dog's primal instincts so hide treats under shrubs or behind trees. If you dog is a tree dog, meaning they drive their prey into the trees, consider hiding a treat on a low hanging branch of a tree too.
Step
3
Bring your dog outside
The next step is to bring your dog out into the environment and let them explore the smells. They might need a little help at first but they should be able to pick the trail of high scent treats in no time. Start by leading them into the area you have hidden the treats and giving them a command to explore the area. You might have to let them smell your hand first to give them the scent of the treats.
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More Fun Ideas...

Take Long Walks

Long walks in nature or through the neighborhood will expose your dog to the many sights, sounds, and smells around them.  Always make sure your dog is secured on their leash and keep talking to them while you walk.

Redirects

Knowing your dog's chase triggers is just as important as knowing your surrounding when you're out with your dog.  Keep looking around for any creature or thing that might turn your dog into a chasing machine and redirect their attention by going another direction, giving them a treat, or squeaking a toy to distract them.

Conclusion

Dogs with high prey drive are acting out of instinct.  They have greater primal needs than other breeds and these must be met so they can live a balanced and happy life in today's modern doggy world.  Owners of high prey drive dogs have many options from training activities to fun and playful activities that simulate the chase.