How to Train Your Dog to Not Hunt

Medium
4-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It is natural for dogs to hunt. The idea of hunter and prey is a primal instinct. Though your dog is a domestic pet, he still has natural urges to chase and hunt. This does not necessarily mean he would know what to do with an animal if he actually caught one, but it could potentially be dangerous if he pulls on your leash or runs away while you are on a walk because he is chasing an animal. It could also be quite annoying to go outside with your dog and watch him chase squirrels and rabbits while you are trying to spend time with him. Few dog owners enjoy being pulled and tugged when they are at the other end of the leash. And few owners enjoy yelling for their dog’s attention when the dog runs off to chase a squirrel or rabbit.

Defining Tasks

Besides the obvious dangers of having your dog get away from you while leash walking in public spaces, you could also find yourself in trouble with your dog on someone else's personal property or in a fight with another animal, or even injured yourself if you are still holding on to the leash when your dog decides to chase and hunt. Teaching your dog not to hunt can be challenging and rewarding for you both. You want to be able to take your dog out on leisurely walks and have his attention not have him running off and chasing wild animals. Teaching him that hunting is not an activity you are going to do together is going to take some patience, some repetition, and extreme commitment to your dog and your desires of not having a hunting dog.

Getting Started

Some techniques will require treats, toys filled with treats, enough kibble for a meal each session you have with your dog, and a leash. Be prepared to spend 10 to 15 minutes training your dog not to hunt each time you are outside together. As with any other command, teaching your dog a new behavior will take time, commitment, and patience. 

The Distract and Redirect Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start on-leash
Start with your dog on a leash in an area where he would like to hunt, preferably somewhere he cannot win a hunt such as in your backyard with squirrels.
Step
2
Watch
While on the leash, watch your dog react to a squirrel but hold the leash taut and say his name.
Step
3
Attention
When you have his attention, offer him treat.
Step
4
Repeat
Try this several times treating him each time you are able to distract him from the squirrels in the area.
Step
5
Challenge
Once your dog has this new behavior down, take him out on a longer walk in an area where he might find more critters to hunt.
Step
6
Practice
Practice the same routines with the treats and distracting your dog with a verbal cue and a tasty treat each time he looks at you instead of going after a critter.
Step
7
Build habit
Each time you do this trick, your dog will become to build the knowledge and the habit of being present with you while on walks instead of hunting.
Step
8
Improvement
As he gets better with this new habit, take him off the leash in a controlled area such as your backyard using the same method.
Recommend training method?

The Better Offering Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Key phrase
Pick a key phorase you will use to teach your dog not to hunt, such as “No Hunting.”
Step
2
High-value treat
Prepared with a deliciously attractive treat such as a hot dog or chicken or beef. Be prepared to watch your dog go after an animal in a confined space such as your yard. You will want to be near him and not let him get too far from you.
Step
3
Entice
If your dog is used to hunting a certain area like a tree or a bush for squirrels or rabbits, stand near that tree with your special treat.
Step
4
Hunting
When your dog lunges to hunt, get his attention and ask him to 'sit'.
Step
5
Reward
As a reward, offer a small morsel of the special treat while using your keywords, “no hunting.”
Step
6
Practice
Practice these steps each time you are outside and challenge your dog to stop the hunting process before it begins.
Step
7
Repetition
This technique will require repetition and retraining. It will take time and commitment to redirect your dog to sit and not hunt. If you practice this a lot with your dog, he will begin to understand he needs to stop and sit each time you say “no hunting.”
Recommend training method?

The 'Find It' Game Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Hide treats
Because hunting is related to your dog's natural instincts and senses, hide some good smelling treats around your yard or along your path and play a game of 'find it'.
Step
2
Scatter kibble
Before your dog heads outside, scatter his meal time kibble across the grass in your yard.
Step
3
Send hunting
Send your dog out to hunt for his meal one piece of kibble at a time.
Step
4
Instict
This trick will allow him to use his hunting instinct, reward him with a meal, and tire him out, so he has no time for hunting squirrels and rabbits in your backyard.
Step
5
Chase
If your dog loves the chasing part of hunting, you can make a game of chase as well and have him hunt a ball that you throw for him or a toy filled with treats.
Step
6
Make Note
Remember hunting is a natural instinct for dogs. Prey is very often searched for by scent, so make your treats and rewards enticing for your pup.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bailey
Bull and Terrier
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bailey
Bull and Terrier
5 Years

To fulfill Bailey's love for hunting I have been taking her into the bush where she loves to chase kangaroos when she finds them. Her behavior is getting intolerable. She is now barking at other dogs and people - it is like she thinks she is Henry VIII and "Off with the Head!!!". I am at my wits end. Please help. I love her so much but am not coping at all with this hunting thing.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lisa, It sounds like Bailey needs to practice an 'off' switch. I suggest stopping the kangaroo chasing trips because he becoming aroused is likely making this worse right now. Instead she needs to practice exercises that are mentally challenging - to wear her out mentally, require a lot of focus, calmness, and self-control. She needs to develop impulse control. She also needs to be interrupted when she starts to get aroused before she is barking and feeling crazy. Watch for subtle signs of her tensing up, staring, scanning the horizon for things to react toward, and generally thinking about being in an obsessive stat and trying to see if there is something to react toward. Once she is highly aroused by something, it will be very difficult to break her focus - it needs to be stopped before she gets too excited to keep her in a calmer state. I suggest hiring a trainer who uses fair correction and positive reinforcement who can help you correct her at the right time when she starts to get into the wrong mindset on a walk, and who can also reward her calmly when she is behaving well and is more relaxed - you want to reward relaxed body language NOT excitement right now, until she starts calming down you may not be able to give rewards at all at first. Work on teaching the following commands to help build her impulse control - that is the first step, in addition to working with a trainer for correcting the behavior on walks. Teaching her how to function out of a calmer place in general and building her respect for you is a huge foundation that needs to be laid for other training to be as effective as it could be. Have her work for everything she gets in life right now. Follow the working method for this; https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Work on teaching her a Place command and work up to her being able to stay on Place for up to an hour at a time while you move throughout the house - not just standing beside her...This command is huge for teaching impulse control and dealing with OCB or anxious behavior: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Work on teaching her to stay in a crate even when the door is open: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M It is extremely important that when you walk her her muzzle is behind your leg and not poking in front, or completely out in front of you. She should not be able to scan the horizon for other people or animals. She should not be leading the walk and where she cannot even see what you are doing. Starting a walk out with lots of structure, where she is expected to stay focused on you the whole time can make a huge difference in reactive behavior and calmness. Be strict about the walk. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Bailey's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd