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That is the full prey drive sequence..it's usually a very quick and silent attack and then it's done. Efficiency is everything.
I've always found the fact that the prey drive sequence has been truncated through selective breeding very interesting. I also think the developing of a prey drive is interesting too. Cracker had really little or no interest in squirrels or anything else until she was about 6 months old, I thought I"d somehow gotten a hound mix with no drive...silly me. One day, the freeze happened (what a pose that is!) and boom she was off! It's like a little switch went off in her brain that day...and stayed on. lol. Using premack to train her recall off the prey made a big difference in having SOME control over the drive and still letting her "get it out".

Rotttttt and Inga...those pictures and stories are so wonderful. Cracker loves her kitties too...but small animals of any sort outside are for chasing...and I really don't WANT to have her dispatch anything here in the urban jungle, so I don't know for sure whether she WOULD or not. I'll leave that mystery alone, thanks. lol
 

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During last night's evening constitutional, Dilly-Dally and I encountered a flock of about 60-70 geese crossing our path, heading towards the pond. I nearly dislocated my shoulder holding her back as she shifted into predator mode. After about 20 minutes of "Leave it!", she started shooting me these hilarious "You cannot be serious!" looks.

Definitely part terrier.

I snapped a few quick pictures on my phone - will try to post them tonight.
 

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My Golden has a very intense prey drive, but as Cracker describes, it is short-stopped at the point of the kill. I use live pigeons in Rusty's retriever training. I clip the primary flight feathers so the best they can do is get a couple of feet off the ground (simulates a crippled bird). When he keys in on the "cripple", he changes from Clowny McClowndog into something almost unrecognizable. The transformation is instantaneous and quite Jekyll-and-Hyde like. Once he captures his prey, he limits himself to picking it up and bringing it back to me unharmed. Note: the "bringing it back" part required some work, but it is definitely part of his genetic programming.

I'm always amazed and awed at the way selective breeding can enhance and modify canine instincts to produce very specific behaviors.
 

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My daughter has a rat terrier. And, it is a varmint dog. The breed has been chosen over generations for its ability to clear a barn or field of rodents. To a farmer, these are pests and even worse, can be a threat to their livelyhood. This little dog can actually take out moles that are bigger than she is!

Have you ever heard of Patterdale Terriers? In Amish country, they use these dogs to go down holes to hunt ground hogs. The ground hogs are really dangerous for the amish because they till fields with horses and the horses can break a leg if they step into a ground hog hole. So, these dogs do a job for the amish.

It's a very different perspective than if you live in a suburban or urban area.

Dogs are actually performance animals. Each breed has (or at least had) a specific purpose. I think Rotties were actually guard dogs so their prey drive is not necessarily toward other animals. I know that Malinois Belgian Shepherds have a strong prey drive toward people so they pick and choose their friends. They make excellent police K9 dogs because of their breeding. I think that Rotties have the same discernment about people and know the good from the bad instinctively. This is actually a good trait, as they are supposed to be like that.

A border collie herds sheep, goats, horses...anything that moves :) A border collie would not know a good guy from a bad guy, as they are obedient and submissive to just about all people, by nature...as part of their breeding.

Well, just my two cents...to this lively discussion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
Carolspets Rottweiler's were actually drovers and carting dogs. Guarding the merchants cart and purse were just a part of it. Either way, it was bred into them to protect the cattle, and to move them along but not kill them.
 

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I can tell you that being a part of the samoyed list serve I found has really enlightened me to the samoyed prey drive. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard of the "great white hunters" and of their exploits.

Most aren't too bad, like when they hunt moles or chase ducks, but one was really upsetting.

One lady had a cat named Velvet, as well as a pack of 6 or 7 samoyeds in the house. Sammies tend to develop an almost wolf like pack mentality much faster then large groups of other dogs, and form a more cohesive pack. This is per what I've heard from breeders and read on the list serv.

One day when the lady left, something triggered the pack and they killed the cat. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say it was really horrific. Most of the dogs had grown up with this cat from puppyhood.

This is not to say that individual samoyeds and cats don't get along. You've probably seen pictures of Iorek and his kitty friend. But, on the whole these dogs have a very high prey drive and generally consider small things that skitter and run to be dinner.
 

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I didn't know that about Rotties...I have never owned one so that is interesting.

I guess it's really important that we understand a breed before we get a dog and be ready to make changes in our homes to accomodate their drives. I have both small and larger breed dogs and even though they get along when we are all there, I make sure to separate them when we leave. What a sad story about the cat. It's an eye opener. I don't think the owner now thinks that her dogs are "bad" or "evil".
 

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I've seen such a variation in drive with dogs of the same breed over the years. I have an almost 20 year old handicapped cat that I have to think about every time I bring home a new dog from the shelter. The past few years have been easier. I have a couple of dogs that are very protective of their kitty. I also have a guinea pig here for the grandkids, and the same dogs will push another dog away if they see the stare or they start pawing at the cage. Libby has come to understand that it's a pet, not something to kill, but she will never be 100% trustworthy with it. Not even 50%. I know that about her and I wouldn't give her an opportunity to kill it. With DeeOhGee, I could leave the guinea pig loose in a room with him all night and I know it would be safe. Those are my two extremes, and the rest are somewhere in the middle.
 

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Even though 2 of my dogs are loose during the day, they are blocked into 2 rooms by an extra tall baby gate. The cats can fit through the banister along the stairs to get through if they need/want to. They also have many places in the 2 rooms that they can get up high on that the dogs couldn't. They can also get underneath a few things that the dogs cannot (like the bed). I'm not sure I will ever trust Nash loose with the cats when we are not supervising. We purposefully set it up so the cats can get away if they need to.
 

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All dogs have prey drive. Some are stronger than others. No dogs kill for fun or torture animals. PEOPLE might do that and I find that just as abhorrent as you do. :)
I think that sometimes dogs do kill for pleasure. It's not that the death of the other animal is fun for them, but the process of chasing and "winning" is enjoyable for many dogs. It's part of evolution. If you think about all the things that we do because they're necessary to survive, you'll find that many of those things are also enjoyable for us. (Sex, anyone?) The same applies for every species. We evolve to enjoy the things that we must do to survive, because our enjoyment of those behaviors increases their occurrence.

But I don't think any animals torture; that's a human thing. As others said, we shouldn't anthropomorphize their motives.

That said, I am horrified when my pets kill. And I do think there are some dogs that are kind of scary and overboard about it.

I know it is natural and normal for them ... But it makes me so sad anyway. I'm a softie like the OP (same reason I'm a vegetarian). Except when one of my cats would kill mice in my last apartment, which made me feel completely, utterly ambivalent: I was simultaneously rooting him on and wincing with horror. I hope every dog I ever own will have low, low prey drive. This is one of the things I look for.

Oh, and that story about the sick tom cat who was allowed to get sicker and sicker and then finally was shot is totally awful. Was that supposed to be a pro- "mercy" killing story? Because it's not working. Have you never heard of a vet? This disgusts me.
 
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