I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals
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Thread: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

  1. #1
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    DefaultI need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    My dogs are so into chasing small animals that I cannot train them outside. They are good inside but outside they are a menace. Part of the problem is that I have never been able to come up with a way to communicate to them that I absolutely positively do NOT WANT them to stare at or chase small animals. There are lots of cats and chickens around the house, and squirrels and chipmonks elsewhere.

    One of them is definitely more into this than the other. Probably I could train the one, but the other is seriously intent.

    I'd really appreciate any help. I've tried all this stuff like squirting them, using a can filled with pennies, etc. I take her out and all she does is stare at the animals and I have to drag her around. This is even when she will heel for me if there are no small animals around.

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  3. #2
    Trickster's Avatar
    Trickster is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    Help me understand the situation a bit more...

    Where are your dogs when they are chasing these animals? your yard? off your property? how old are they?

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    kaytris is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    and how much obedience training have they had?

    The easiest fix to this is to train an incompatible behaviour - sit/stay and watch me would be the best for this - if they're doing that, they won't be obsessing over animals.

    Start in low distraction areas - once they are darn near perfect, start introducing distractions at a distance, moving closer as the dogs stay solid.

    Train them seperately initially, then use family or friends as a second handler, then try both of them yourself

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    Chester B. Dickens is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    She's got a really strong prey drive. You can re-direct and accommodate for this, but you may never train it out of her 100%. She IS a hunting dog, you know, so it's not like it's ever goig to go away. That would be like expecting a terrier never to dig or a dobe never to bark at someone coming up the walk.

    You MUST address this, though. Katris has a good start. High prey-drive dogs have been known to blast into the street after a rabbit on the other side, and never see a car approaching, because they're so focused. BE VERY CAREFUL about any off-leash activities. (Like maybe cancel them altogether.)

    Also - high prey-drive dogs make EXCELLENT SAR dogs. She might really benefit from a 'job' if you wanted to spend the time training and transporting....

  7. #5
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    DefaultRe: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    Miles LOVES to chase squirrels. He's got a really, realiable recall for a young pup and most of the time, he'll stop chasing whatever he's after and come back. But it it's a squirrel,mmmmm not so reliable. Still working on that one. If you come up with something really good, let me know.

  8. #6
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    DefaultRe: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    We have chickens and a resident duck in our pond.
    When we had both Labs, one 10yrs, and a new puppy, the oldest Cheyenne would NEVER stop chasing the birds, the pup Riley, was trained early that you can look, but don't chase. We did this by letting her get close to the chickens and duck, but keeping a tight leash. After a while, she would just walk by them, sniff, and move on. (Bear in mind she's 3 1/2 now, and occasionally gives chase, but never follows thru with full on attack!)
    I think it has a lot to do with the dog's personality, Cheyenne at 11 right before we had to put her down, was blind, but boy she still chased those birds!!! Riley, now can lay in the backyard, and especially the duck, like to walk right by her, look at eachother, and keep walking!

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  9. #7
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    DefaultRe: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    We have this problem with Larry and squirrells and cats. The best advice I've gotten is to get between your dog and the thing they're staring at. You can "push" them (meaning, get in their personal space so they back up/turn/etc) with your body so that their eye contact is broken and they're distracted.

    You can also give them another command, like Kaytris said. Keep in mind that it's better to give them a positive command for something to do (heel, sit, etc), rather than a "no", which isn't so specific and more easily ignored.

  10. #8
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    DefaultRe: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    Thanks everybody for your replies. Suddenly life interfered with my computer time... ops:

    Quote Originally Posted by Trickster
    Help me understand the situation a bit more...

    Where are your dogs when they are chasing these animals? your yard? off your property? how old are they?
    They're almost 4 and they do it pretty much everywhere...

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaytris
    and how much obedience training have they had?

    The easiest fix to this is to train an incompatible behaviour - sit/stay and watch me would be the best for this - if they're doing that, they won't be obsessing over animals.

    Start in low distraction areas - once they are darn near perfect, start introducing distractions at a distance, moving closer as the dogs stay solid.

    Train them seperately initially, then use family or friends as a second handler, then try both of them yourself
    I will try this.

    Quote Originally Posted by dweck
    She's got a really strong prey drive. You can re-direct and accommodate for this, but you may never train it out of her 100%. She IS a hunting dog, you know, so it's not like it's ever goig to go away. That would be like expecting a terrier never to dig or a dobe never to bark at someone coming up the walk.

    You MUST address this, though. Katris has a good start. High prey-drive dogs have been known to blast into the street after a rabbit on the other side, and never see a car approaching, because they're so focused. BE VERY CAREFUL about any off-leash activities. (Like maybe cancel them altogether.)

    Also - high prey-drive dogs make EXCELLENT SAR dogs. She might really benefit from a 'job' if you wanted to spend the time training and transporting....
    Dweck, YES!!!! We live in a hunting area and so they are not bred for show but for hunting. Sigh.

    By re-direct and accomodate, do you mean what Katris was suggesting or something more specific?

    Unfortunately, we live way far away from everywhere and can't even get them trained in a regular way, much less a specialized way. Just out of curiousity, what kind of SAR work do high–prey instinct labs do?

    Quote Originally Posted by charlie
    the pup Riley, was trained early that you can look, but don't chase. We did this by letting her get close to the chickens and duck, but keeping a tight leash. After a while, she would just walk by them, sniff, and move on. (Bear in mind she's 3 1/2 now, and occasionally gives chase, but never follows thru with full on attack!)
    Quote Originally Posted by LarrytheLabs Mom
    We have this problem with Larry and squirrells and cats.* The best advice I've gotten is to get between your dog and the thing they're staring at.* You can "push" them (meaning, get in their personal space so they back up/turn/etc) with your body so that their eye contact is broken and they're distracted.*
    We do this: she cranes her neck around us and we have to keep on going. She is extremely intent!

    You can also give them another command, like Kaytris said.* *Keep in mind that it's better to give them a positive command for something to do (heel, sit, etc), rather than a "no", which isn't so specific and more easily ignored
    Oh, I never thought about the No not being very specific (and I am always telling my older to children to be more specific when they tell the younger ones Stop That! —sheesh!) I'm definitely going to work on this now!

    MilesMom, Good luck! I'll let you know how it all turns out!

    Thanks very much to all of you for your help!


  11. #9
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    DefaultRe: I need help training the dogs to ignore small animals

    Cats!! Our next door neighbor doesn't like dogs and he has a cat. First thing he said to me when he moved in was (yes, Miles was here first) was "I hope he doesn't chase my cat". At first I thought, "why would Miles be around your cat anyway?" Duh! He lets his cat prowl the neighborhood, which is dangerous around here because there are fox, coyote, eagles, owls and hawks (which I recently saw flying away with a squirrel in it's talons) One day, his cat was in my yard, and I came out to take the trash out. Miles came with me, as usual. He saw the cat before I did and naturally went after him. The cat ran, Miles chased. Miles came back. The neighbor has not spoken to me since! Can you believe that? If he says anything to me I'll tell him he just has to keep his cat out of my yard. Now when I see the cat, I chase him. I don't want that cat in my yard.

  12. #10
    gold3locks is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chester B. Dickens View Post
    She's got a really strong prey drive. You can re-direct and accommodate for this, but you may never train it out of her 100%. She IS a hunting dog, you know, so it's not like it's ever goig to go away. That would be like expecting a terrier never to dig or a dobe never to bark at someone coming up the walk.

    You MUST address this, though. Katris has a good start. High prey-drive dogs have been known to blast into the street after a rabbit on the other side, and never see a car approaching, because they're so focused. BE VERY CAREFUL about any off-leash activities. (Like maybe cancel them altogether.)

    Also - high prey-drive dogs make EXCELLENT SAR dogs. She might really benefit from a 'job' if you wanted to spend the time training and transporting....

    I have the same issues with my 6 year old lab. Your comments are right on target and thought you might be able to tell me how to work with her other than what I have done. She is trained and we do the sit/stay or leave it if I see it prior to her. If I dont see it first there is no stopping her except pulling her past it. I first have to stop us both from being pulled. When we go out walking her nose is on the ground the whole time. If she saw a squirrel or cat somewhere once she doesnt forget and looks for it every day. If they move it gets her extremely excited and wants to chase them. Yes she has caught a squirrel in my yard. It doesnt matter if she is on or off lead. I am not able to afford a private trainer.

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