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Discussion Starter #1
Abby is half Treeing Walker Coonhound (the rest is Beagle and a bit of Greyhound) and she'll be 9 months old next week. We discovered she has a huge prey drive. Whenever she sees a bird, squirrel or rabbit, she goes absolutely hysterical. If she's in the house and sees them out the window, she'll jump up on the windows and let out a hysterical chop bark/bay. If I'm walking her and she sees a squirrel or rabbit she'll do the same hysterical bark/bay and want to pull me down the street. Interestingly she's not as bad with birds. If there's one in our path, she'll stop, start stalking it slowly and want to pull me after it, but that's more under control now with the leash training we've done. She walks very good now - it's only when there's a rabbit or squirrel around that it's a huge problem. She's very strong and it's hard for me to control her when she gets like that.

As for the jumping on windows whenever she sees one outside, we have screens and she's put a few holes in them with her nails. I'm more concerned about calming her and being in more control of her during walks. Anyone else have a similar problem? Any advice to calm her down a bit? I try to distract her but she's *very* focused. I know it's in her instinct. She even trees squirrels and that doesn't bother me so much, just the way she gets hysterical and I'm concerned the neighbors might start complaining eventually (luckily she doesn't do this in the early morning or night).
 

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Um, that's what coonhounds, beagles and greyhounds were bred for- to chase small game. This is totally normal behavior.

First of all, I would satisfy her prey drive by playing with a flirt pole. Kabota loves his, we play with it for a minimum of an hour a day. I made mine out of the pole to a Swiffer, twine and his toys. If you have a lure coursing club near you, definitely check that out. You can also engage her mind by feeding her out of food dispensing toys like the buster cube or tug a jug or kong. Puzzle toys are another way to engage a dogs mind.

Now to training. I would work very hard on "look at that". This is very useful, but be aware that it can take some time to work. It's not an overnight fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I should probably admit this is my first experience with a coonhound (or mostly coonhound). The last dog I had was a purebred beagle and she didn't get quite as hysterical as this. From time to time, whenever we had a rabbit in the yard, she'd go crazy sniffing and baying, but she didn't pull as hard and get as hysterical when I would walk her. I guess the hunting/chasing instinct wasn't as strong in her.

Anyway thanks for the advice. I think the flirt pole would work well with her. I'm also going to look into the lure coursing clubs. She loves to run and I think it's something that could be beneficial for her. She has a lot of toys, but mostly the squeaky ones. I was a little hesitant to get her a Kong toy ... I read a while back that a dog got his tongue stuck in it and had to have surgery (although friends have told me that their dogs were fine with them). Going to look for more puzzle-like toys next time I'm at the pet store.

Thanks also for the link. Started reading it and found it very interesting. I also checked out the link on that page for the "Protocol for relaxation."
 

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I have two opinions, and don't know if either is good:
1. My Lab has always wanted a squirrel for Christmas. He's not fast enough to catch a squirrel, so when he sees a squirrel, I ask him to sit, and then I let him off leash to chase the squirrel. Occasionally, we get a stupid squirrel that won't run to the closest tree, but no mishaps. Anyway, my dog will sit (if asked), anticipating that he will be allowed to chase.
2. I dunno if this is a good idea, b/c it allows him to get excited by the anticipation of a chase. I've wondered if I never let him chase, would the prey drive go away.... With my Premack approach above, he is under some control, so maybe if I had some minor counter conditioning.... I did train him not to chase cats by socializing... unfortunately, I didn't train him not to chase armadillos, rabbits, squirrels, chickens, crows, grackles, hawks, buzzards, or herons :) b/c there weren't around while I was socializing....
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It sounds like you've got him under control at least a bit. I'd love to have my girl under the least bit of control possible. She'll be watching out the back door and if she happens to see a squirrel, she goes berserk. Jumps up on the door, baying until we open it and let her out. She'll take off like a shot after the squirrel, sadly I think they're used to this with all the dogs in the neighborhood so they manage to get away.

She is highly focused when she sees prey, but food is usually good enough to distract her. She does well with reward-based training. Maybe I can start with that (though not too much, don't want her to get too fat...).
 

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It sounds like you've got him under control at least a bit. I'd love to have my girl under the least bit of control possible. She'll be watching out the back door and if she happens to see a squirrel, she goes berserk. Jumps up on the door, baying until we open it and let her out. She'll take off like a shot after the squirrel, sadly I think they're used to this with all the dogs in the neighborhood so they manage to get away.

She is highly focused when she sees prey, but food is usually good enough to distract her. She does well with reward-based training. Maybe I can start with that (though not too much, don't want her to get too fat...).
The big difference in beagles and walkers - well, there are more than one, but the biggest is that a lot of beagles have been bred for a long time as pets. Their work drive is just NOT as intense as it is in walkers. Also? They're bred to chase and bark. That's all. Just chase the animal and bark at it. Walkers? Treeing dogs. That's chase the thing up a tree, then sit and bark. And, if the 'coon is shot down (and it is) to fight that thing to the death. So you're dealing with a much, much more drivey dog.

I... don't really have any solutions, to be honest. 'Look at that' would probably help here, and you might also want to start with using tracking scents (they sell them at sporting good stores) to acclimate her, or to turn it into a more focused thing. Or even to start with the look at that bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That's a good point as far as beagles are concerned. Whenever I walk Abby, most of the people we see think she's a tall beagle. I think there was only one person who identified her as a walker. Anyway, I can definitely see that behavior in her. She's also gone after baby birds and killed one, although I'm not sure if she was only being curious and wanting to play with them, still being a puppy.

I'm really going to look into the whole "look at that", it'll be a start. I've been curious about the tracking scents. I've read up a little on coonhound training and a few people have recommended that. If it helps acclimate her I'll be happy.
 
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