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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So last night Mouse decided to notice birds for the first time and lost his mind. We were on our walk through a local state park and suddenly he tried to sprint into the field next to us. He hasn't done anything like that since he just a little thing! He was on his harness and when he got to the end of the 6ft leash he pulled for a second, realized we weren't going anywhere, and popped into a sit.

I tried his usual heel directive, which I would have previously said he listened to 10 times out of 10, but zero movement from him.

Instead of staying directives he clearly wasn't going to listen to, I made my voice excited/funny noises. Not even an ear twitch. I offered him his tennis ball which his #1 motivator. Nope. I threw some boiled chicken on the ground, which actual had for his brother since Mouse is not good motivated. Nope, but not suprising.

Eventually, the birds flew off, presumably because they could feel predator Mouse stalking them. Then Mouse came and sat by my side like "Cool, let's resume our walk".

He didn't freak out again about the birds for the rest of the walk and was politely loose leash as usual. Checked in when I asked and waited for his release to continue walking. However, I did notice that when we got back to our backyard, he was more intent on staring at birds in bushes in trees.

Admittedly, there are more birds around them what he is used to. Here in Minnesota, we just thawed out for spring and it seems like all the birds came back at once.

Any suggestions on how to get his focus? I guess I don't really need it when were in the park, but I'm afraid that he, in future, may try to get a bird when we are on a busy street. All training has revolved around a tennis ball reward since he was 5 months and decided he didn't care about food.

Mouse is an 11 month old German shepard/boxer mix (yay, DNA tests), who we found in a ditch when he was about 6 weeks old if that's relevant.
 

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I imagine he'll outgrow it. I mean, its been winter for nearly 6 months and very few birds have been around. The last bird he saw was probably when he was 5 months old....they're probably pretty novel right now! Let him watch the birds. I think eventually he'll realize they're irrelevant and not that fun so high up, anyway.
 

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I imagine he'll outgrow it. I mean, its been winter for nearly 6 months and very few birds have been around. The last bird he saw was probably when he was 5 months old....they're probably pretty novel right now! Let him watch the birds. I think eventually he'll realize they're irrelevant and not that fun so high up, anyway.
Hmm, I wouldn't count on it. Both Boxers and German Shepherds have high prey drive don't they? He might get more used to seeing birds, but you may have trouble getting his attention while he's watching them.

Prey drive can be difficult to deal with since it's instinctive. I suggest building up his focus while the birds are a great distance away, then slowly get closer and closer as he succeeds. This could take a long time so go slowly. If it is prey drive (rather than just curiosity), it's not really something that can be trained out, but it can be managed.
 

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I doubt he'll outgrow it. I'd just wait patiently until his eyes go back into his head and ask for attention then have a huge party. I prefer not to beg for my dog's attention. Then be prepared for next time as outlined below.

My dogs are currently hunting after dark. When I can get to the spot they are at I take a bunch of treats out there. Treat in hand at dog's nose, other hand in collar I lead them away feeding the treat when eyes are off the area of interest. Then I tell them to 'go get the bug' and release them back. After a few reps they are able to turn when called and come to me in the face of whatever it is that's so interesting. My first dog was a gopher hunting maniac and was able to drop a opossum in mouth and not chase deer doing this. I thought it impossible as she didn't seem to know anything existed other than that hole she was excavating but it worked and much faster than I thought possible.

Start now. This is a powerful tool for training and will apply to all sorts of issues you come up against.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I doubt he'll outgrow it. I'd just wait patiently until his eyes go back into his head and ask for attention then have a huge party. I prefer not to beg for my dog's attention. Then be prepared for next time as outlined below.

My dogs are currently hunting after dark. When I can get to the spot they are at I take a bunch of treats out there. Treat in hand at dog's nose, other hand in collar I lead them away feeding the treat when eyes are off the area of interest. Then I tell them to 'go get the bug' and release them back. After a few reps they are able to turn when called and come to me in the face of whatever it is that's so interesting. My first dog was a gopher hunting maniac and was able to drop a opossum in mouth and not chase deer doing this. I thought it impossible as she didn't seem to know anything existed other than that hole she was excavating but it worked and much faster than I thought possible.

Start now. This is a powerful tool for training and will apply to all sorts of issues you come up against.
Do you think the same process would work, but with giving him his tennis ball rather than treats? He really has zero interest treats. I tried l the most appetising yummies I could think of, then all the ones the internet and butcher suggested.

I'm fortunate in that we started training as soon as we got him and he was still interested in food til he hit the 5 month mark. So he learned the basic mechanism of if I do what you ask then I get something, but doesn't take treats really. He'd rather a scratch/cuddle/good boy or his tennis ball after he does what he is asked.

I could see doing what Jen2010 suggested and have focus leading up to birds with affection and tennis ball play, but remove those when he chooses birds and resume when he focuses on me.

For what it's worth, I do think he has high prey drive. He wanted to chase the cats when we first got him, but he was still interested in treats, so it was pretty easy to teach him to leave them alone.1

We do lessons through the local humane society, so I'll be running it by the trainer this weekend, but obviously we train daily at home without one, so I wanted to get y'alls opinion. He's my first dog, so this forum has been so helpful!
 

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My experience with outgrow it is 'not so much'. The dogs do, eventually, get sort of saturated on the small song birds every spring and eventually stop wanting to chase them, but it comes back every spring, too :p

And if he loves his ball, use his ball!
 
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