The urge to chase, also known as prey drive, comes naturally to every dog. Unlike farm or work dogs, however, pet dogs don’t always have outlets to help them channel this instinct. These dogs will often try to chase anything that moves – from plastic bags to small animals like squirrels, and more dangerously, vehicles and people. Instead of punishing your pup to put an end to the chase, turn to positive and consistent Hamilton dog training to successfully manage the behavior.
What is prey drive?
Predatory chase drive or prey drive refers to a dog’s overwhelming desire to chase objects. It’s a natural instinct they inherited from their wolf ancestors and is triggered by their prey’s movement. Working, herding, and hunting breeds have higher prey drives than other breeds.
Aside from being an instinctive behavior, chasing also activates the pleasure centers of the canine brain. In short, it’s extremely fun for them. That’s why dogs love playing fetch and similar games.
Unfortunately, pet dogs lack enough opportunities that let them apply their prey drive productively. This can result in negative behavior such as:
- Inability to focus on anything other than objects that move
- Stalking other animals and people
- Hunting, hurting, and killing small furry animals
- Chasing moving objects such as bikes, cars, and skateboards
Dogs with uncontrolled prey drives are not just frustrating to deal with. They can also pose a real danger to themselves and to those around them. That’s why it’s crucial to learn proper techniques to manage this drive before your dog can develop destructive behaviors.
Tips for Handling Your Dog’s High Prey Drive
Consistent, fear-free dog training in Leesburg, VA is key in nurturing a happy, well-behaved canine companion – even one with a high level of prey drive.
- Keep your pup on a leash.
The thrill of the chase can be impossible to resist for some dogs, so a bit of prevention can help you avoid a lot of trouble. Control the situation by always keeping your dog on a leash when outside. If you know that your dog has a strong tendency to chase, consider avoiding dog parks and other situations where they can encounter small animals and other triggers.
- Play training games.
Leesburg dog training experts strongly recommend playing games that let your dog express their prey drive in non-destructive ways. For instance, let them chase a flirt pole, frisbee, or fetch until they’re satisfied. Feel free to get creative such as blowing bubble for your dog to catch – it’s important to have fun at the same time!
- Practice redirection.
In case you find yourself in a potentially triggering situation, it’s important to know how to redirect your dog’s attention to break their fixation on the prey. Set up a specific command that asks your dog to keep their eyes on you only, and practice this under different circumstances and distractions for proofing. You can also redirect by crossing the street, turning around, or grabbing your dog’s attention through treats until the challenge has passed.
Finally, enroll your puppy in Hamilton dog training classes as early as possible to set the foundation for an amazing companion. Professional trainers can help you understand your dog’s prey drive, unique breed characteristics, and other elements to help you and your pooch build a healthy and happy relationship.