Wean Your Dog From Hunting Instinct? 2 Triggers And 3 Solutions

Does your dog chase after other animals uncontrollably while you’re out for a walk?

This behavior is very dangerous, as your dog will not let himself be called away during it. It may be that he runs onto a nearby street. Should he hunt in the forest, hunters may even shoot him.

In order to prevent these dangers, you have to break the habit of hunting in your dog.

As in most cases, it is important to first find the cause of your pet’s aggressive hunting behavior. Then you can work on the problem with specific solutions. You can find out more here.

In a nutshell: wean dogs off their hunting instinct

Although dogs are now considered domesticated pets, the hunting instinct is genetically embedded in them.

The most important prerequisites for successful anti-hunting training are strong attachment and basic obedience. Plus, it’s handy to walk your furry friend on a leash while you’re still working on your problem.

Another good starting point is to use the dog’s play instinct.

It is best to always have treats or a small toy with you. In this way, you can playfully distract your companion from his desire to hunt.

Causes of your dog’s hunting behavior

Every dog has a hunting instinct, but the intensity of it differs between different dog breeds. For example, the French bulldog has a less pronounced hunting instinct than the dachshund.

Hunting originally served the dog’s survival. And even today, the ancient instinct is used in a targeted manner to give hunters a hand.

Hunting is genetic

As each of us knows, the dog descended from the wolf. He must hunt to survive. Because of this relationship, it is in the genetic code of our beloved house dog that he wants to hunt.

This so-called hunting instinct is anchored in all dog breeds.

Of course, there are breeds where it is more pronounced.

There is a clear herding instinct, especially in Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, and Border Collies. This is intended to keep your own herd together and to make sure that none of the animals get lost.

The herding instinct is cultivated and nothing more than a modified hunting instinct.

Examples of dogs that were bred specifically for hunting are Beagles and Border Collies. They, therefore, have a particularly strong hunting instinct.

Hunting is fun

Adrenaline and happiness hormones, such as endorphins, are released during the hunt.

So it happens that the hunt for other animals is just fun for the dog. You can take advantage of this joy for anti-hunting training by playfully redirecting it.

But more on that later.

Possible solutions – This is how you can redirect the hunting instinct

Even if the cause of the dogs’ hunting behavior is very similar, the possible solutions are all the more different.

The first thing to understand is that the hunting instinct in dogs is genetic and should not be trained away. For you as a dog owner, however, it is important that you can retrieve your dog from hunting.

It is advisable to learn to control the hunting instinct from a young age. Because this already develops between the 6th and 8th month of life. Anti-hunting training is more successful if your four-legged friend has never hunted before and has never felt the joy of it.

Also, the training should be done without threats and consequences, as this can only make the behavior worse. Unfortunately, it is not possible to say in advance which suggested solution will help your dog best.

Just try the different options and see for yourself which one works best for your furry friend.

Attachment and basic obedience

A strong bond and basic obedience are essential for successful anti-hunt training. If your four-legged friend keeps making sure that you are still there, that is the best way to call him off during a hunt.

Because that’s how he sees you as his leader and subordinates himself to you.

It is also advisable to train impulse control by using basic commands such as “here” or “place”. At best, these are recessed so far that they also work at a greater distance.

This control allows you to let your dog run free with a hunting instinct. Because it can act as an emergency brake if the worst comes to the worst. Such commands can best be trained and strengthened with treats.

Games and fun against the hunting instinct

Always surprise your furry friend with treats or a toy on walks. If you notice your companion getting ready for a hunt, make good use of these distractions.

The key here is to distract your furry friend before he goes after his “prey”. So you always have to be one step ahead of him.

Playful activities such as search games also keep your dog busy and distract him from possible hunting situations.

However, the best way to ensure successful anti-hunt training is retrieving. As a result, the urge to hunt something is steered in a firm direction. In addition, your four-legged friend also learns that he is only allowed to hunt something in your presence.

Another tool that has become established is the stimulation rod. This is a fishing rod on which a so-called “stimulus object” is hanging. This can be a ball, stuffed animal, rubber toy or fur rag.

The item is designed to distract your pet from its hunting behavior. However, you should make sure that your dog only fixates on the object and never chases it. This could otherwise lead to an increase in the hunting instinct.

Anti-hunting training with the tow line

A tried and tested principle for redirecting your companion’s hunting instinct is the 10 meter tow line. They give your dog a sufficient range of movement and you still have control.

Your dog learns to stay in touch with you and always pay attention to you. The principle behind the towing leash is simple: Call your four-legged friend back before the leash becomes taut.

If he responds to your retrieval, reward him with a treat and give him plenty of praise. If he doesn’t like it, you simply change direction without a word, so that your companion has to react.

If you’re interested in dog tracking leashes, I recommend my guide to: Puppy Tracking Leashes.


When working with a tow line, it is best to use a chest harness. This prevents cutting a collar.

Conclusion – wean dogs off their hunting instinct

The hunting instinct of dogs can pose a great danger. It is therefore of great importance to redirect it.

As with most dog training, there is no one-size-fits-all solution as each dog has its own personality traits.

Under no circumstances should you be too impatient with your darling. Correcting unwanted behavior can take a long time.

Therefore, you should bring a lot of perseverance, time, and understanding to help your fur nose optimally.

So you can soon enjoy walks again and explore the woods with your furry companion without danger.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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