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Prey drive

Discussion in 'General Dog Forum' started by JudyN, May 13, 2019.

  1. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Spotted on an RSPCA rescue site:

    This is NOT what prey drive looks like! You'd really hope that RSPCA staff would understand it, as it is so important in understanding behaviour. This is reactivity, plain and simple, and is not a 'typical' feature of sighthounds (they can in general be excitable, but that's nothing to do with prey drive).

    A dog with a high prey drive may react out of frustration if they can't pursue prey, e.g. if they are on lead, but prey drive is more about focus - they are more likely to focus intently, every nerve ending thrumming, just waiting for the right moment... You can't focus when you're bouncing around on the end of the lead yelling your head off.

    Jasper can throw a tantrum if he gets too close to a cat, he may growl at a dog who has a strong whiff of testosterone, might chase a squirrel up a tree if he's in the mood, and if he sees a deer or rabbit, he will freeze and stare intently. If off lead he will silently disappear after it in the blink of an eye, and if on lead he can be led on after a while, though it's a bit like walking a neutron bomb just primed to go off... Only his reactions to the rabbit & deer are prey drive. And he absolutely distinguishes between squirrels and rabbits - the former is 'just for fun'.

    Other sighthounds may generalise to all small furries, often depending on their early experiences, but it ain't necessarily so.

    Rant over.... :D
     
  2. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    Murphy is a hunter and that's what makes him ideal to walk in countryside with. He does not bark.... ever. If he gets a scent he indicates and stares.. He would only chase if we sent him after it.

    George tracks the scent he will freeze lift a paw although being a hound if hes on top of something he will bay..

    Different breeds both hunters niether reactive around small furries or our parrot !
     
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  3. Whippylove

    Whippylove Well-Known Member Registered

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    Totally agree with you. Oliver's prey drive for cats is a lot worse than Marley's if we're out on a walk and they see one all hell breaks loose it can even result in my 2 having a fight! My neighbor's bought a rabbit and put it next to the 3 feet wall that divides our gardens well my 3 got a whiff off it and I'm glad they wear muzzles! Within a week we had a 6 foot fence put up, but they still know it's there.
    Shocked that the RSPCA isn't more educated on sighthounds
     
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  4. Caro Perry

    Caro Perry Well-Known Member Registered

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    "Jasper might chase a squirrel up a tree if he's in the mood, and if he sees a deer or rabbit, he will freeze and stare intently. If off lead he will silently disappear after it in the blink of an eye, and if on lead he can be led on after a while, though it's a bit like walking a neutron bomb just primed to go off... Only his reactions to the rabbit & deer are prey drive. And he absolutely distinguishes between squirrels and rabbits - the former is 'just for fun'"

    You are describing Harri to a T here! When in hunting mode he is totally oblivious to anything else. Absolutely deaf and blind to everything other than the scent he is following or the rabbit he's chasing
     
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  5. Biker John

    Biker John Well-Known Member Registered

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    I have often thought that failure to recall during a chase is not the dog deciding to ignore you. I am certain that its just that all their brain is focused on the chase they do not actually hear you. I know I am a reader, and many a time my wife would tap me on my knee and I realised she had been talking to me, but honestly I just hadn't heard a thing being lost in whatever world the book was.
     
  6. BEF

    BEF Active Member Registered

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    Whisper has a very high prey drive, we think she was bred and trained for hare coursing or lamping back in Ireland.
    But she is reactive to dogs because she was bitten on the face by another dog before we rehomed her.
    The RSPCA should know better.
     
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  7. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    OK George has now been with us for 3 months and I think his true nature is starting to show through. In the beginning he would just lift a paw if he smelled something or bay if he was on top of it but... His prey drive seems to be getting more developed and he is actively hunting. As he picks up an scent he starts to move quicker he whines and the closer he gets the more frantic until he is putting his full weight into his harness and baying at the top of his voice,,
    Many of the places we walk have a set path so we cannot change course except to go back and go home, weve tried a shorter lead which just means he hangs in it close to our legs and trips us up. Weve tried distracting him with treats thats just a non starter.
    This is a dog who has had no training whatsoever and we are starting at the beginning. At home he is good and when we do short pavement walks he is ok reacting to the odd cat but thats getting better it seems he has his eye on the bigger stuff now ie deer..
    So any tips to help reduce his prey drive? I know he is a hunter but this one has total cloth ears once he smells something and hes pulling OHs arms out of their sockets. Not walking is not an option we need to walk and it is all countryside here except walking him up and down the street which is mind numbing, but we are doing that just to help the basics of lead walking and traffic etc..
     
  8. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    I think I read something about not stopping it but directing it in to something appropriate - not a small furry! I will look for it later.
     
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  9. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I think this could be beagle(ish) independence as much as prey drive. I often meet beagles all on their own and hear someone calling 'Bertie!!!' from about a mile distance!

    There's a book called When Pigs Fly which is geared towards training 'stubborn' dogs prone to cloth ears. I read it years ago so can't remember much about it but it might well give you some ideas: https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Pigs-...igs+might+fly&qid=1564392110&s=gateway&sr=8-3

    BTW, if you read the reviews on Amazon, the one-star review says it recommends physical punishment. But if you click on the comments, you'll see one saying that the reviewer hadn't read the book properly and the punishment was an example given in the book of what not to do.
     
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  10. Caro Perry

    Caro Perry Well-Known Member Registered

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    Harri is impossible to distract once he has the scent in his nostrils. I have had to scale barbed wire fences and rugby tackle him on occasions. He'll run back and for past me without giving any sign he can see or hear me. As soon as I actually have him in my grip he seems to snap back to normal again.
     
  11. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Sorry, I have been looking for the article I read and had no luck. I remember it was about using/redirecting the prey drive as a reward for not chasing the rabbit, squirrel or whatever; and allowing some kind of chase response to satisfy the need - just not after the prey itself. If I find it another time, I will try to remember to share it.
     
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  12. Diesel's Dad

    Diesel's Dad Active Member Registered

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    Same here with Diesel. Once he has a scent there is zero chance of getting his attention.
     
  13. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    Everything I was reading yesterday re prey drive started 'when your dog sees a squirrel' or 'when your dog sees a deer' 'when your dog sights its prey' and I realised I was looking in the wrong articles George doesn't see anything he is out of the car nose to the ground and hes off tracking...So I searched for some articles specifically for scent hounds...
    Much more useful tips teaching the dog to respond to you instead of the scent teaching a dog to trail only one type of scent and that one scent being rewarded (do this with a drag to start and if you use something you wont find in your area chances are the dog wont find it again so you can determine as and when they scent)

    I have a lot more reading to do but it is a case of working with his instinct and not against it.
     
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  14. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    I have a friend with a Brittany who is very like you describe - in high scent areas she is zoned out to anything else - and my friend has worked really hard with her. There are some occasions which my friend recognises as having extremely high scent levels so she keeps her dog on a line but she has had great success using the techniques in Pippa Mattinson's book, Total Recall. Might be worth a read?
     
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  15. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    Thanks I did see that book online yesterday and it was reccomended by a couple of people. Had a look on amazon just now and picked up a nearly new copy for £5,40
     
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  16. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    I do often think that about training, it's about working with the instincts that are at the very centre of the breed you have, the way they are naturally wired. Redirecting those instincts, or working with, where possible as opposed to trying to stop them or 'train' it out of them sounds a better option to me..
     

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