Recently, I’ve had many cases involving dogs that have extremely high prey drives. “Mark, my dog won’t stop chasing the cat!” Or, “Mark, I found another present at my back door that my dog brought me” (i.e..deceased rabbit or bird.) Dogs have a natural hunting instinct for hunting prey. Smell and motion of other animals will instantly attract a dog to their instinctive prey drive. Of course, with domesticated dogs, we feed them so they don’t have to hunt. To ensure your dog views your family cat as a “pack member” and NOT a “pack prey-toy”, follow the below simple tips:
- “Leave It” command. In ALL my classes, I teach an elementary dog training command called “leave it.” This will train the dog to leave (not eat, chew, or bite) a certain item or food dropping. This will also teach your dog the basics of “stopping” or “halting” if they are tempted to have continuous motion towards an unwanted item. Certain dogs have a much higher prey drive (i.e. hunting and scent retrieval breeds), but with the right training they can limit the energy to decrease their drive.
- Alternate activity. I often let customers know that the saying is often true about cats and dogs. I can show them how to “manage” the environment, but there is NO guarantee that the animals will live in complete harmony. It is just the true nature of the animal drive and the animal hierarchy. In reference to “alternate activities”, I want the dog to begin to view a cat, bird, new-born baby, or any other motion sensory object as a “pack member”. Begin to introduce a succulent meat item, a favorite toy, or an agility exercise to divert the dog’s attention AWAY from the motion object, and onto a different activity. Over time, the dog will learn to seek out the alternate activity and eventually decrease its desire to stalk the inappropriate object.
Oftentimes humans forget where dogs come from. They are derived from Gray Wolves and still on occasion will exhibit some instinctive forms of wild behaviors. Even though they NOW eat from our food bowls, keep a sharp eye out just in case Bugs Bunny stops by for a visit.
Since 2005, Mark Siebel has trained over 6000 satisfied K’9’s and customers alike. The goal has always been to show owners how to properly integrate their dog into the home setting. Consulting on what breed of dog to buy, where to buy/rescue from, preparing your home for your new puppy and health/nutrition are just a few ways DOGGIE STEPS helps its customers.