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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My one year old pointer puppy saw a rabbit across the parking lot on our way from the doggy daycare to the car. I didn't know this but the doggy daycare tech accidently clipped the lead to her dog tag ring instead of the collar. She ran after the rabbit and the ring snapped leaving me holding a lead without a dog attached. My puppy chased the rabbits (there turned it to be multiple) while I got my other dog in the car (I gave her some love and attention for not trying to chase the rabbit though she was very distracted), grabbed some hot dogs and tried to lure my puppy with the hot dog to no avail, tried to grab her when she ran by to no avail, then gave up and went back inside the doggy daycare facility and out of sight of my puppy. A few minutes later, my puppy showed up at the doggy daycare facility door whining and worried and came inside when I opened the door to her (she has owner distress which I hate to use but there was a busy road on the other side of the small field with the rabbits).

I don't know if she was able to catch and kill the rabbits. I don't even know if she would kill them as this has never happened before. Either way, the chase was really rewarding for her. Before this episode she was already hyper aroused by rabbits and couldn't pay attention to me if within a block of a rabbit, which means we never get to go for walks in our neighborhood. What can I do to make her less hyperaroused by rabbits in the future? Should I try to trap one to use in training (obviously keeping her far enough away from it and making sure there is no way she can actually get to it)? Our neighborhood is overrun with rabbits so I really need her to get over them.
 

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Build engagement/focus before getting into environments with rabbits. Train far enough away from rabbits and gradually move closer.

Do NOT trap a wild rabbit to use for training. That is unethical and rabbits in particular are very sensitive to stress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
She has the engagement and focus on most settings and with most distractions, but not with wild animals. How can I train engagement/focus around wild animals when they are unpredictable and they are either nowhere or everywhere? Neighborhoods in my town either have no rabbits or 5 rabbits per house. When there are too many rabbits in a neighborhood, it's impossible to get far enough away to where she is only slightly distracted.
 

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What does her engagement look like? I would train in areas where she has seen rabbits. Most dogs are hypersensitive when they think there could be a prey animal around. It's really hard to explain the process, because it truly depends on your dog and your ability to read body language. I worked with a client recently whose dog "loses it" when he sees horses. In the first training session he not only disengaged from a horse, but he also calmly went up to the fence line, with permission, and sniffed the horse, then moved away and continued the hike. We gradually worked up to the location with horses, and did not just go to the horses and start training. We rewarded calm and engagement the entire way. And, the dog has a very solid training foundation.
 
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