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Why does my dog chase?

Well dogs have to chase – in order to hunt and survive they will chase and bring down prey. But this is in a wild pack and unless they are the pack leader, they will be following the leader and working as a team to bring down their dinner. So what about our dogs? Well, when a dog chases after a squirrel, a ball or even a Frisbee, we are seeing the natural instinct a dog has to survive. Remember your dog is an animal first, then a dog and then the breed it is and finally your pet. If you are not offering it clear leadership within your household, or even worse there is conflicting rules, then your dog has no option but to take over – it is imprinted in their brains. But they don’t understand this weird and wonderful world we live in – they were born to go and live off the land – chase rabbits and not to have to cope with the stresses and strains of our lives. They cannot make the right decisions and may get it wrong. We must take away the worry of getting it right. Then they can concentrate on being the family pet, following you and enjoying the companionship of other dogs when you give permission. Remember we cannot change your dog’s behaviour, we must get them to change it by making them realise that there is a much better way. What we can do is get you to change the way you react to certain things to ensure you send a firm confident message to your dogs that you know what you are doing and they should trust and respect you. It is as simple as that. Oh, plus you need to practice this all the time until it becomes second nature. But when you learnt to drive, you had to do that and now you don’t even think about it. Believe us, it is worth it. OK so now your dog is starting to listen to you and believe what you say and do: How do you stop your dog chasing. Well we have to teach it and there are lots of ways of doing this. The instant down – you need to teach your dog to drop instantly to the ground on ONE COMMAND - make it fun and then reward and practice on a daily basis in all sorts of places. Fun recall – You need two of you for this – practice calling your dog back from each other and giving a reward. As pups we call this ping pong puppy and it is a funway of getting your dog to want to follow you. Hide and Seek – As your dog goes ahead of you, hide and then call him to you. Reward as he finds you – start of easy and gradually increase over weeks the difficulty. You could even get someone to hold your dog and you go off and lay a scent track for your dog to track you. Keep it controlled though – you don’t want them rushing off. Every time your dog goes ahead of you, move off in a different direction. Instant stop – As your dog goes ahead of you perhaps towards a toy you have thrown ahead, shout stop and then throw their favourite toy behind you (check that you are not throwing into the path of another dog or person). One of our colleagues uses a half a french stick to do this – so the dog gets an instant reward as they get there for running back as apposed to chasing forward. Don’t throw balls or Frisbees for your dog to chase. If you want to get your dog to retrieve, teach them a proper controlled exercise. Ask your trainer to show you this. Don’t encourage your dog to rush off after another member of your family – even another dog. All this does is bring out the natural chase/prey instinct. And never encourage fun fights with the family or pack. No tug of wars –If you have a rope toy which you have used for this, change it to a scent toy and get your dog to work with you as a team. Relax – You should be in a calm neutral state but confident. If you are not feeling good – take some good slow deep breaths, shoulders back head up and go for it. Believe and if you feel yourself getting tense, stop and start again. If necessary give your arms and legs a good shake to release the tension. Don’t worry what others think – you know what they are doing. Don’t set yourself up to fail – if you are feeling rough – then a quick short walk on the lead will be the best way of staying in control without getting tense. One final thing, if you do allow your dog off lead and you know it will chase – put it on a long line and every ten yards call it back to you and reward it – then allow it to walk off again and once it gets a distance again (you could actually mark the line so you know how far to let them go)– call and reward – perhaps changing direction. By the way if you are with someone else and are talking and not paying attention to your dog, they are very likely to run off. When you are training a dog, you must pay attention to them – just like when you learnt to drive, you paid attention to all the road signs. Now you know they are there, but you don’t look at everyone. Once your dog has learnt what he can or can’t do, then you can start to relax.


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