Most dogs love to chase toys, balls, and wildlife. One particular animal that seems to really get dogs going is the squirrel. While allowing your dog to hunt or sniff after squirrels might not seem problematic, this behavior can quickly escalate and cause potentially dangerous situations to occur. Anything from pulling you off balance while walking or graduating from chasing squirrels to chasing children or bikes or joggers can cause serious injury to you, your dog, and other people.
Training your dog to ignore prey animals like squirrels can take time and requires patience and consistency. It’s in your dog’s best interests to acquire this training for his safety. A dog who obsessively chases after squirrels is more likely to run into the street after one and possibly get hit by a car or get lost wandering away from the yard. Teach your dog to ignore squirrels and other small animals, and you’ll be doing yourself and your dog a favor.
Dogs chase squirrels because it’s an enjoyable activity for them and one that is hard-wired into certain breeds. Hunting wildlife is a primal instinct in dogs, so the training process to control or override that intuition can be a lengthy one.
Certain breeds have a more intense prey drive and may take longer to train. It may be more difficult for herding dogs like Border Collies or a dog bred to flush out small animals, such as a Beagle or Wire Fox Terrier, to suppress their prey drive around squirrels. Extra patience and practice will be required for these breeds of dog. Regardless of breed, with dedication and concentrated effort, your dog can learn to ignore squirrels too.
The three training methods require toys, treats, and a durable leash. Being creative as well as patient will make the training process easier and more enjoyable for you and your dog.
Remember to take a break if you become frustrated or angry with your pup and keep the training sessions short enough, so your dog doesn’t become bored.
My dog has a high level of energy and she is willing to please but I have a hard time when I take her out for her regular walks because she cannot stop pulling on the leash and gets highly distracted when there is a squirrel or other dogs out. She pulls constantly and lunges in other directions to the point where I almost fall. She does not listen to my calls and I am scared that she can get hurt if she tries running away if I let go of the leash and she tries going after a squirrel across the street. I just want Daisy to be able to walk calmly and not feel the need to chase things so that I can have some ease of mind when I go out with her. I take her out behind my building where there is a huge park but I don't want to make so much noise where all the buildings in my complex can hear me calling her. I constantly reward her when she does good things but it's like she forgets them once she sees a squirrel. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hello Mina, I suggest working on the following commands: Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Collar fitting and intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23zEy-e6Khg Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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