Hunting behavior is part of the normal behavioral repertoire of dogs. It becomes particularly problematic and dangerous when they chase game or other dogs, joggers, cars, and bicycles.
When hunting, different sub-sequences can be distinguished, which are more or less pronounced: searching, locating, fixing, pursuing, stalking, rushing, packing, killing/shaking. Sometimes transporting the prey to a safe place or eating it is also counted as part of the hunting behavior.
Hunting behavior is a self-rewarding behavior. Stalking and/or rushing can already be so rewarding for the dog that he will perform the behavior more often in the future if given the opportunity. Hunting behavior is very difficult to stop once it has become established. With herding dogs, there is often a modification of the hunting behavior with an emphasis on sneaking up, rushing, and possibly also snapping at limbs (shepherding behavior).
Take countermeasures early!
The best way to stop unwanted hunting behavior is to prevent it in the first place. It is extremely important to work consistently on the following recommendations at the very first sign of hunting:
- Redirect to alternative behaviors (depending on what the dog prefers, e.g. fetch, nose and track work, agility, etc.).
- The dog should be forced to think about alternative behaviors so that it doesn’t get into a high state of arousal. This also prevents possible addictive behavior about toys, e.g. B. can occur more often than average in terriers or border collies.
- Consistently prevent any further hunting success (including pure rushing) so that the dog does not continue to learn to hunt. Absolute control must be carried out at the very first sign (e.g. by putting on a leash).
- Identify the respective triggers precisely (e.g. joggers, cyclists, etc.). Avoidance of triggers until adequate counterconditioning or redirection occurs.
- Work on counterconditioning to what triggers the hunting behavior.
- Make sure your dog is physically and mentally active overall.
- Train impulse control.
When children live in the household
Children and dogs must never be left together unsupervised! The screams and frantic, often unpredictable movements of children can trigger hunting behaviors in dogs. Especially when a child falls into such a situation, it can quickly become extremely problematic, as further sequences of hunting behavior such as grabbing, shaking, or killing can follow.
In rare cases, a newborn baby can also awaken a dog’s passion for hunting, presumably because of its screams. For this reason, a dog must be observed and controlled particularly carefully in the first few days with the new baby.
Hunter training is not a panacea
Again and again, owners of hunting dogs are recommended to go through hunting dog training with their animals to teach the hunting behavior in an orderly manner. However, this tactic is generally not recommended, since it is extremely rarely successful.
Frequently Asked Question
Why is my dog chasing other dogs?
Dogs communicate differently than humans. Your dog’s body language and behavior are his means of communication. A change in his behavior may mean an expression of pain. To protect itself from being touched by other conspecifics, it now reacts aggressively.
How do I distract my dog from other dogs?
Allow your dog to calmly observe the situation. Give him time to determine that the other dog is not attacking. Reward him for this if he watches calmly and keeps a sufficient distance from the other dog. Uncertainty in dogs also causes them to start barking.
When does a dog’s nature change?
The full personality of a dog can only be determined at around 2 years of age, so we as breeders cannot say which puppy will become a therapy dog, agility champion, etc.
When does the dog calm down?
Others find themselves after 2 years because their hormone levels have now stabilized. Once mental and emotional maturity has been reached, the dog’s behavior also stabilizes. So you can judge quite well how your dog will react to certain situations. This will bring more peace into your everyday life.
How do you train the hunting instinct?
Surprises, search games, fetch exercises or races make anti-hunting training exciting for your dog. This way he will learn that he always experiences something interesting around you. As soon as your dog wants to poach, show your dog that there is a more exciting alternative.
How can I control my dog’s hunting instinct?
The first sign of the onset of hunting behavior is when the dog freezes. Then he fixes on his prey, lies in wait for it, and sneaks up on it. If the prey – be it a rabbit or a bird – has noticed him, he begins to rush it and snatches it as soon as he can.
How does a dominant dog show itself?
His posture is erect, he moves confidently and stably, and his head and ears are raised high. A pinched tail or a rounded back, i.e. signs that the dog is afraid or nervous, are rarely seen in dominant dogs.
What breeds of dogs are sight hunters?
Sighthounds are particularly powerful and fast chasers and sight hunters. They are even among the fastest land creatures. Here we introduce you to some of these fascinating dogs such as Saluki, Borzoi, and Greyhound.