How to attenuate a natural predatory instinct in a dog? How to make this instinct liveable for you but also for all the people and animals who will cross the road of your dog? The answers to your questions are here.
You can’t stand it any longer to keep looking for your dog because he has taken his paws to follow a beautiful track? You can’t manage to work on recall and relinquishment when your dog is attracted by prey (or a bike, a jogger.), obviously, much more interesting than you? You don’t dare to let your dog go for a walk for fear that he will run away?
Then let me present you my five tips to reduce your dog’s predatory instinct:
Advise n°1: accept the true nature of your dog.
You can’t suppress an instinct! Yes, we never chase the natural. Otherwise. You know the rest! Adopting a dog means accepting its true nature and its instincts, which must form a whole that you must tolerate and with which you must be ready to evolve.
You must be aware of the strengths and the “weaknesses” of the dog you adopt. I put weaknesses in quotation marks because what we consider to be weaknesses are, in fact, natural strengths for our canine friends! It is, of course, a question of point of view. Thus, choosing the breed of dog with which you choose to share a piece of life is very important! If you don’t want to have a dog with a strong predatory instinct, then eliminate all hunting dog breeds and all so-called primitive species. Indeed, these are by far the breeds most “affected” by the very high predatory instinct.
However, even if you choose a pet dog, a sheepdog or even a guard dog, you should know that predation will always be more or less present; all dogs without (almost) any exception have this instinct in their genes.
The predatory instinct is often considered harmful because a dog that goes into predation is a dog that is out of control for its master most of the time. But this can change, don’t worry! A few adjustments can, in many cases, power and mitigate this famous instinct that scares all the “novice” owners who do not particularly want to start hunting to satisfy their dog’s needs.
Tip #2: Respect and fulfil your dog’s needs
So obviously, the first thing you think of when you have a dog with a solid predatory instinct is to put him on the hunt. And why not, but let’s face it: hunting is not for everyone and is not the only solution, rest assured.
Respecting and fulfilling your dog’s needs is essential if you want to follow the advice that follows. It also contributes to the awareness of your dog’s true nature, and you should never neglect the importance of respecting your dog’s needs in education. A dog that is overlooked and that does not get any response to its basic needs will become a time bomb, ready to explode at any moment. This will then generate, for sure, behaviours considered undesirable in the eyes of the owners.
And to caricature, but not so much: these same masters will, at best, come to meet a dog trainer and present a disobedient, dunceful, stubborn and hyperactive dog (an easy analysis that ignores the significant part of the responsibility of the masters). And, at worst, they will gently take their doggie to the middle of a forest or in front of the doors of a shelter so that they will not have to deal with the consequences of their lack of awareness and responsibility.
Thus, to respect and fulfil the needs of your dog, it is mainly necessary to :
allowing his dog to express himself in an activity he enjoys, whether physical, mental or olfactory, and doing so early and regularly, not just when the problem arises.
Offer him fun and educational exercises/games related to his instincts regularly.
Take him out of his garden every day to explore and smell all the smells left by his fellow creatures and other animals in the area.
Also read: The importance of walks for your dog’s balance
Tip #3: Work on fun and educational exercises
When you adopt a dog with a highly developed predatory instinct, the first commands to put in place and prioritize are renunciation with indications such as “you leave” or “stop” as well as recall, which is also a form of rejection.
Be careful; these instructions must be practised first in a calm, secure environment that you control (your garden, such as a fenced park). Do not expect to obtain results by starting the sessions in the middle of the forest during hunting seasons, for example. Teaching your dog to give up means giving him more control by stopping an intention or an action in progress. Of course, it will always be easier to prevent a choice to do rather than an action already started.
A dog on the trail is an unresponsive dog, in its bubble and unaware of anything but the course of its prey. You might also say that you can always try to call him back; he won’t care about your request. You should know that you will rarely be more interesting than the prey your dog has in sight (or in “truffle”), but you can make sure that your relationship is such that he will appreciate more than anything to come back to your side or better: to stay by your side.
The most important thing you will have understood will be to show a maximum of anticipation: you must know your dog, his mimics, the external elements that trigger him, the environment you propose to him, etc.
If you are not sure you can control your dog, don’t hesitate to guarantee particular security by walking him with a large lanyard. For some dogs, the call of the potential prey will always be much louder than the owner’s call, so you may have to adjust your walks accordingly.
Furthermore, as we mentioned earlier, your dog will see and smell the presence of prey long before you do, so this is where good observation of your dog’s facial expressions comes into play! As soon as your dog starts twitching his ears, wagging his tail excessively, etc., don’t hesitate to divert his attention by inviting him to play his favourite game, for example, or by offering him a little tracking session with highly edible treats. In other words: they become much nicer and more attractive than the potential prey in the distance.
If this is not enough, implement commands such as “stop” or “you leave”.
To summarize this point:
Work on the concept of giving up as soon as your dog arrives home, starting in an environment with very little stimulation and then increasing the difficulty of the exercises,
Offer activities/games during walks to get your dog’s attention and make him want to stay with you,
Keep your dog on a leash if his instinct has become uncontrollable to guarantee his safety,
Anticipate as much as possible and observe your dog’s reactions to stop his intention to do something and not the action he has already started.
Tip #4: Strengthen the master/dog relationship
This point is undoubtedly the most important and summarizes the previous few points! You must create and strengthen the relationship you have with your dog daily; it is a daily work that will be necessary to hope to obtain results.
And to strengthen a relationship between a master and his dog, you must :
meet his physical, mental, olfactory and social needs,
accept the true nature of his dog,
have a consistent and fair attitude,
propose a healthy and secure environment,
set a daily framework, whether at home or outside,
offer a firm education, indeed, but always respecting the principles of positive education,
be sure of yourself and sure of your dog; base the relationship on mutual trust.
Also read: 5 tips to gain a dog’s trust
Tip #5: Avoid games of tag
Finally, avoid throwing games that will have the advantage of physically releasing your dog but will have the disadvantage of reinforcing the instinct of pursuit and therefore of predation.v Indeed, when you throw a ball or a stick to a dog and try to throw it as far as possible, you teach the dog that chasing prey is excellent and is even encouraged!
If you want to reinforce your dog’s predatory instinct: there is no better idea! But if you’re going to mitigate it (which I think you do if you’re reading this article), then playing this kind of game with your dog is not a good idea at all. Instead, play games of reflection, tracking, search, etc., to spend your dog mentally and olfactory and thus respond to his predatory instinct, but in a controlled and intelligent way.