Managing the high prey drive dog - Containment

It's important to keep all pet dogs contained when you are not around to supervise them. It's the law. It keeps your dog safe. It protects you from liability. But, it's even more crucial with the high prey drive dog. If your dog gets loose and kills a neighbor's cat or small dog, you could face fines or jail time, lose your homeowner's insurance, and your dog could be euthanized. The risk becomes greater the more dogs you have. Wolves are able to hunt prey much larger than themselves because they work together in packs. Dogs retain that ability to band together to take down large prey. Children running on a playground can become a target for a pack of dogs. Nodody wants to get that phone call. So, be proactive and take extra steps to keep your dog confined to your own home or yard.

Physical fencing is the best option. A skirt of chicken wire around the bottom of the fence will help with digging. Sheet metal buried just beneath the soil around the fence is another good option for discouraging diggers. For climbers, try wire fencing in front of your regular fencing. It's not sturdy enough to handle the weight of an animal trying to climb over. Electric and invisible fences work for some dogs, but others will run straight through it hollering all the way. Even dogs who are normally contained by the invisible fence may get such an adrenaline rush from the thrill of the chase that they will run through it after a squirrel or a cat. If you are having difficulty keeping your dog contained by a fence, consider building a kennel or crating him inside when you're away from home.

voice control

Voice control means that your dog obeys your commands even at a distance from you. If you have voice control of your dog, you can stop a chase simply by telling him to leave it. It's not as easy as it sounds. Your dog may be the picture of obedience in your backyard with nothing around to distract him. The real test is if your dog will obey your voice commands with a squirrel skittering nearby. Getting that level of obedience takes some commitment. However, it's not as much as one might think. Just 15 minutes per day of working with your dog will do wonders. In fact, short training sessions are better than very long ones because attentions can wander after a while. That's why Geometry class is only an hour long! Who could focus on rectangles any longer than that?

The typical voice command to tell a dog to not even think about going after what he's thinking of going after is "leave it". Leave It means don't look at it, don't touch it, don't go anywhere near it. Work on teaching leave it at home first. When you're out walking with your dog, be aware of your surroundings and your dog's reaction to what is happening. The best time to deliver the leave it command is the instant his eyes lock on to a target. If you wait any longer, his brain can switch to hyper-focused mode, and he won't even hear you. With practice, you will get to know your dog's body language well enough to see the difference in when he is looking at the squirrel but still "with you" and when he is no longer "with you". It's ok if he wants to watch the squirrel, as long as he remains "with you".

equipment

 If you don't want to forego your daily walks while you're working on voice control, and who would blame you, there are products available that will help you to physically control your dog while you are working on training him. These tools are not a substitute for training but are helpful for that period while you are training. After all, tools can fail, break, or malfunction. A good relationship is always stronger than a tool.

Prey Drive cannot be eliminated in a dog. It can only be managed. One way to do that is to redirect it to appropriate outlets. The energy has to go somewhere, so you might as well control where it goes. You cannot turn your dog into a predator by playing these games. He already is one.

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