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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So, I was watching an episode of TDW, and it was Buddy, something, and Matilda. Buddy was a pittie mix who had a very high prey drive.

So, Ceaser brought in a bunny in a guinea pig, safely caged, of course. He brought the dog up to the animals, and everytime the dog started to look at it, he would give a leash pop. Eventually, the dog was laying down by the cage in a belly up position by the cage, and then ceaser brought the animals out.

So, DF trainers, how would YOU deal with strong prey drive?

This is NOT a Dog whisperer discussion thread in general, or a bashing thread. Instead, it's about what YOU think should have been done.
 

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What I would have done is to bring in the cage of bunnies and have dog on leash at a distance that the dog is not reactive to the bunnies. Work on attention exercises

Move closer to bunnies and work on attention/impulse control

Move even closer to bunnies and work on attention/recalls, ect.

Work up to being able to have the bunnies out of the cage.

If dog starts to freak out, you move further away and work on attention/basic sits (just examples of things to work on. I like impulse control the best but it is good to mix it up and get the dog to be able to offer a normal every day routine of behaviors despite the distraction)

Super simple and not a quick fix. This cannot all happen in one training session (it takes a lot longer than Cesar's way) but will have a more permanent effect in behavior modification. You will always have your face and voice, you might not always have a slip lead on the dogs neck when your dog decides to chase.
 

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I think the "not as quick" as CMs is part of the problem as it does not make for good TV. Also in some cases it may be a more permanent effect in Behaviour modification because the dog could be so old when accomplished and the rabbit dead from old age. Just adding some humor as I really don't think we need another CM battle. On TV though there must be some quick finishes as people's attention spans are prone to wander.
 

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I think the "not as quick" as CMs is part of the problem as it does not make for good TV. Also in some cases it may be a more permanent effect in Behaviour modification because the dog could be so old when accomplished and the rabbit dead from old age. Just adding some humor as I really don't think we need another CM battle. On TV though there must be some quick finishes as people's attention spans are prone to wander.
I 100% agree! At the risk of saying something unpopular, however, I will venture to say that people need quick fixes, not just on tv, but so that more dogs can have homes. Sigh, if only everyone had the time and patience that it takes to do things MY way (the best way, right?!:p) But seriously sometimes the ideal is nor realistic and people need to start having success a little sooner to avoid the frustration that comes with adolescent dogs. If only it was as easy to take teenagers to a shelter the way that unsuspecting puppy owners can!:D
 

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I've never thought of Esther's prey drive as a problem. It's what Plotts were bred for. I don't keep bunnies or other small critters as pets and her prey drive has never translated into aggression toward small dogs (even the fluffy grey ones that bounce along looking like rabbits.)

If I wanted to train it out of her, I wouldn't have a clue where to start and I'm pretty sure I would feel like I was trying to remove the spots from a leopard.
 

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If only it was as easy to take teenagers to a shelter the way that unsuspecting puppy owners can
Well the people on DF generally are the types that will take more time and that's fine. Joe 6 pack wants much quicker stuff. Now the teen-ager problem is another story.
 

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Interrupt the prey drive cycle. It's similar to posts I've made in the past about the aggression cycle. There are several discrete steps that a dog goes through before it chases and kills an animal. They may happen in a blink of an eye. The key is to redirect so that that cycle never finishes.

The way I handle it is by teaching the dog a game called "look at that". I click and treat for every time the dog pointedly looks at something like a person, bird or rabbit. The dog needs to already be operant, but eventually they realize that looking at something is a behaviour they can offer for reward. This interrupts the aggression/prey cycle permanently and without punishment that could easily make the problem worse. The first step in both cycles is looking at the prey/victim. The next is body posture. If you can make the step after looking at the prey be "look up at dad for a treat", you can keep the dog from ever finishing their rev up.

Punishment training, especially in the case of aggression, can associate bad things with a stimulus that is already a stressor, thus making the problem worse. It also has the unfortunate side effect of not permanently changing the actual cycle, and just makes the dog shutdown and be afraid of looking at other animals. I'd rather have a dog who likes looking at other animals because they get rewarded for doing so.
 

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I've been trying this with my coonhound when we see a K-I-T-T-Y on a walk. (I'm afraid if I even type that word my girls will start chasing the cat!:eek:) The problem I'm having is that once we have walked passed the cat and I want her to forget about it she keeps looking backwards and then pulling backwards towards the cat. How do you get them to stop looking at the "prey" when its time to move on?

The other problem I'm having with this is that a lot of times the look is coupled with a loud obnoxious coonhound bray. Its hard to capture the look with a click and not the bark as well.
 

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Uallis has a tiny problem with cats. ;) The problem with that is I have 2 cats as well who don't care for my dogs themselves. I have no illusions that all of my pets are going to live in happy harmony with one another to the point to where they will all love and adore one another. It just isn't going to happen.

What I have settled for is just Uallis trying not to trample the cats when he's in the same room with them. That was a huge feat in and of itself to overcome; at least with me it was due to inexperience in dealing with it. What I did with him was have him leashed and I'd bring him in the room with the cats, if he charged them or got overexcited...we'd turn around and leave. I'd wait until he was calm again and just do it over and over, working on getting closer and closer with a calm reaction. It took a really LONG time to even get to that point. Now he's ok with the cats standing STILL and will calmly sniff them and move on but if the cat runs all bets are off and he's after them like a shot.

I will never trust him a room alone with a cat...ever.

A year ago...Max would have been a dead kitty being this close to Uallis...

 

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Oh, yeah, I forgot about cats. I can't remember the last time I've seen a cat within 100 yards of our house.
 

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I think between you and I that is the correct appraisal of the problem. With a heavy prey drive dog is to eliminate the problem completely and keep dog away from unsupervised visits with cats/bunnys etc. The idea of the popping dog's neck will eventually get same results as CM attained, that's a no-brainer. The retention is what counts and my belief is that's where balanced training programs comes in handy and if your religious prayer might help save bunny/cat.
 

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I've been trying this with my coonhound when we see a K-I-T-T-Y on a walk. (I'm afraid if I even type that word my girls will start chasing the cat!:eek:) The problem I'm having is that once we have walked passed the cat and I want her to forget about it she keeps looking backwards and then pulling backwards towards the cat. How do you get them to stop looking at the "prey" when its time to move on?

The other problem I'm having with this is that a lot of times the look is coupled with a loud obnoxious coonhound bray. Its hard to capture the look with a click and not the bark as well.
If they are pulling towards the cat when they look, you haven't taught the "look at that" game correctly. If done correctly, the dog will sit there staring at you waiting for the treat, giving just the tiniest glance in the direction of the object. Seeing a dog who is truly conditioned to this game is hilarious. They'll stare at their handler and give tiny little twitching glances at the cat/rabbit/ferret/guytheydon'tlike that you can barely even notice. It's sort of akin to how as a dog gets better and better and obedience, their sits get faster and they are glued to you waiting on their reward behaviour after behaviour.
 

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If they are pulling towards the cat when they look, you haven't taught the "look at that" game correctly. If done correctly, the dog will sit there staring at you waiting for the treat, giving just the tiniest glance in the direction of the object. Seeing a dog who is truly conditioned to this game is hilarious. They'll stare at their handler and give tiny little twitching glances at the cat/rabbit/ferret/guytheydon'tlike that you can barely even notice. It's sort of akin to how as a dog gets better and better and obedience, their sits get faster and they are glued to you waiting on their reward behaviour after behaviour.
She does this until it is time to walk away from the game and then she pulls backwards and wants to keep looking. She only pulls and barks when I'm trying to walk away or discontinue the game. Maybe I need to go back to giving her a little less stimulus like a bird that she doesn't really care about that much and practice there.
 

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I have a cocker spaniel who loves to chase cats. It's weird as there's a house we pass on walks that always has a pair of chihuahuas loose in the front yard and he never has any interest in doing anything with them other than playing. Cats he just goes nuts for and would chase them to the ends of the Earth if he could.
 

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With Wally, I put it on a cue.

He gets to chase only if he waits and "points" it out to me (by his body language - he stands perfectly still with his tail up and ears perked forward staring at it).

Then if it's safe, I'll tell him "go get it!" and he'll chase it until I call him off. Lately, I've not even had to call him off - he'll chase it so far, and then come back on his own for a reward, usually a game of chase, though I gave him some leftover pork tenderloin when first rewarding this.

That seems to be my answer to things like this with him. Instead of stopping him from doing it - make him give me something first, then I can either say "hey, go nuts" or "not right now, let's go"

Seeing a dog who is truly conditioned to this game is hilarious. They'll stare at their handler and give tiny little twitching glances at the cat/rabbit/ferret/guytheydon'tlike that you can barely even notice. It's sort of akin to how as a dog gets better and better and obedience, their sits get faster and they are glued to you waiting on their reward behaviour after behaviour.
I've seen Wally do those glances at me before. I wonder if I somehow taught him this game and not even realized it.

Usually, I reward him for looking alert, yet not fearful at something that surprises him or catches his attention - maybe that's it.
 

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Allie has a high prey drive. She has completed the entire cycle, including eating her kill at the end. Yet she lives happily with 3 cats. Indoors she is not allowed to chase living things, even outdoors she will call off even just as she is about to make the catch (if I am quick enough to call her off, lol she is fast!). I basically did a lot of look at that game with squirrels and stuff and a lot of 'if you walk nice and give me attention we take a step closer to the squirrel'. We have really dumb squirrels here so you can do that for a good 10 minutes with one squirrel and it will just sit there and watch until you get within a few feet of it. I did this with Lloyd too. So, both my dogs know if they want to get closer to it they have to pay attention to me.

Indoors with the cats I use a clicker and treats or games. First its not going after the cat if the cat is sitting, c/t. Do that a lot in every room. Then I get get the cats to be walking, c/t for not chasing. Do that a lot in every room. Then I get the cats running, c/t for not chasing. Do that a lot in every room.

Now if they are just running around playing the in the yard and a bunny or squirrel comes out into the open they will of course chase it. If I realize what they are doing before they catch it I can call them off or down them (usually I put them in a down so they can still watch it, its easier for them than turning around away from it). Sometimes though they get to it quicker than my brain realizes what is going on and reacts and then Allie kills and eats it. With that I did the same as above but to get closer they had to pay attention to me and down when asked. They didn't necessarily have to be looking at me but had to know I was there - like having an ear cocked in my direction was enough.
 

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Indoors with the cats I use a clicker and treats or games. First its not going after the cat if the cat is sitting, c/t. Do that a lot in every room. Then I get get the cats to be walking, c/t for not chasing. Do that a lot in every room. Then I get the cats running, c/t for not chasing. Do that a lot in every room.
I like that in theory but with Uallis I don't think that it would work. The simple act of chasing a running cat is so reinforcing to him that anything I'd offer treat wise or play wise, wouldn't matter...it wouldn't become more valuable to him than the simple act of chasing a running cat. Admittedly though, I haven't tried it because in all honesty, I'd be afraid too. I'm afraid that if I failed to divert his attention in time, then my cat would be dead. Uallis will literally try to trample the cat. He'd really have to be leashed and anchored down because at his size now, even leashing him wouldn't protect the cat because he could drag me across the room easily. There would have to be some pretty serious precautions in place for the cats protection because the risk to the cat is that serious.
 

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So, DF trainers, how would YOU deal with strong prey agression?
I don't think the dog on Cesar's show was aggressive (or maybe I'm mis-remembering), he just had a strong prey drive. I would keep the animals separate. I don't believe in trying to mess with a dog's prey drive. I like to use it in training and play. Natural Dog Training

Aggression is a different thing.

We do have cats, but they are kept separate from the dogs. We live on a farm and our dogs chase rabbits and other small furry critters and I don't feel comfortable asking them to distinguish between those and our cats. Three of them would probably be fine, but B'asia's prey drive is pretty off the charts and I just couldn't trust her not to let her instincts take over.
 
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