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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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