Is your dog obedient until a squirrel runs past? Many pet parents know what it’s like to take their dog on a leisurely stroll through the woods only to have him tear off after the nearest animal. This dangerous behavior puts your dog and wildlife at risk.
Fortunately, there are ways pet parents can help discourage their dogs from chasing wild animals. Read on to learn more.
Why Dogs Chase
Dogs are predators by nature and many breeds maintain a strong prey drive. This means that when an animal runs, the dog is likely to chase after them, seeing the animal as prey, and himself as the predator. In a wild setting, dogs are closer to their natural environment and are often in a heightened state of consciousness, being highly tuned to the sights, smell and sounds around them. That said, when a squirre darts off under the brush, it is understandable that the dog would feel a deep desire to chase it.
Some dogs may also chase for fun and don’t bark or become aggressive during the process. These dogs are generally young animals that lack certain training foundations and do not have a solid callback command.
How to Stop Your Dog from Chasing Wildlife
Chasing a squirrel is one thing, dashing after a bear is entirely another. It’s obvious why pet parents need to be able to stop their dogs from chasing wildlife. In order to do this, the best solution is socialization and prevention. Pet parents with young puppies should begin taking them to wild settings as often as possible in order to help them get used to the environment and quell the desire to chase.
If the dog locks on to something, like a squirrel or bird, the pet parent should call the dog’s name before turning and walking in the other direction. Most likely, the young dog will follow the pet parent and should be rewarded with ample praise and a tasty treat when he does.
For older dogs, an effective callback command such as “come” or “leave it” is the best way to mitigate chasing behavior. Work on these commands until the dog obeys in every situation and pays attention even when stressed or excited.
Older dogs can also benefit from long line training. To undertake this training, the dog should be placed on a lead that is 20 ft. long. The long line allows a pet parent to have increased control over the dog’s movements and means that even if he decides to chase wildlife, the pet parent can easily control his behavior.
Dogs that insist upon chasing animals may benefit from being contained or walked in areas where wildlife is not present. Pet parents that wish to nip the problem in the bud can enlist the help of a professional dog trainer. It’s important to remember that pet parents should never utilize training methods that harm or punish the dog severely for chasing prey. These methods are inhumane and may only exacerbate the behavior.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.