Jump to content

Prey drive presenting issues


miracle
 Share

Recommended Posts

As it is commonly known, the husky in general possesses a very strong and innate prey drive that has been rooted within the breed for generations upon generations.

Currently, I am experiencing a prey drive related issue with my 9 month old puppy and am finding difficulties with locating sources of helpful information due to the specificity of the situation. This is not the common "my dog wants to eat my cat" or "how do I get my dog to stop chasing squirrels", though it stems from the same basic principle.

We frequent the dog park, and have been since the completion of his vaccinations. I found it imperative for his proper socialization. But an issue has developed into somewhat of a potentially serious scenario. When a dog with a certain temperament enters the park, Nanook tends to respond by entering prey mode. The dogs that fit the criteria for eliciting this response from him are almost always weak/scared/defensive dogs (smaller dogs, puppies and fearful larger dogs). When he sniffs them and realizes their blatant fear, he perceives them as prey and hence the prey drive reaction. This reaction includes desire to tackle, pin (sometimes by the neck), nibble on legs and in the instance a dog runs, he chases with intense speed, tackles and precedes with the other mentioned actions. He will not let the dog up and is relentless, despite the fact that the dog is insecure and making it known that it does not want to play this way. I find it absolutely necessary to communicate that while this prey drive reaction is commonly seen as aggression (especially by the owners of the victims), he IN NO WAY INTENDS ON HARMING THESE DOGS. Never once has ever come anywhere close to harming a dog and I am absolutely certain there is not one ounce of aggression within him. He is usually the victims of aggressive dog attacks, and in these situations, is submissive and shows no signs of retaliation.

This is still a problem and unacceptable behavior, regardless of his intentions. Other owners become upset, I become angry and embarrassed and am to the point where I am jumpy whenever a smaller dog enters the park (even though they aren't supposed to in the large dog section). My largest concern is the puppies, as the most potential to harm is apparent with them, not to mention the psychological effects such behavior will inflict on them. This behavior and reaction to fearful dogs and his identifying of them as prey, while I know is mostly instinct, I feel is also a behavior that he has learned to be socially acceptable by the other dogs who engage in similar behavior. The last thing I want is for Nanook to continue the cycle and teach puppies the same behavior.

So while this is obviously a prey drive related concern, I also think that this is slightly specialized. It is not incredibly often that this occurs, and more so when he's been receiving less amounts of exercise. Which hints at this also being some what stress related. My intentions and hopes are to redirect his reaction to dogs of this temperament. My planned means of doing so include leashing him (I've purchased a 50 footer) while at the park at off hours and when there are less distractions. When one of these timid dogs enters the park, and I realize from his body language that he is switching from social to prey mode, to offer him a command to come to me and avert his attention from the prey. When he fails to acknowledge my command, I will use the leash to reel him in and force him to obey, and reward him greatly for his obedience with many treats and verbal/physical praise. This is creating a no fail situation and I believe this will be most effective. I will repeat this continuously until it becomes second nature for him to obey the command in this situation and his obedience of the command becomes top priority over the instinctual drive to chase and dominate.

Eventually, when he recognizes and acknowledges my constant superiority at the park, firmly obeys my every request voluntarily and demonstrates that his drive to chase these animals can be subdued via my verbal command, then he will once again be allowed off lead, and will only remain so until he abuses the freedom. I want being off lead to be a reward in itself, and to be certain he is aware that I am the pack leader in ALL scenarios and that his obedience is REQUIRED, even at the park (obedience is of no concern at home, anywhere else or on lead. He's perfect then). The moment he breaches the newly established pack rules regarding consistent obedience and proves himself unworthy of the freedom, he will once again be leashed. While this can in some way be considered discipline, as long as he associates being off leash as reward, I see no problem with the use of the lead as a form of "punishment".

Also, the moment he engages in prey drive activity off - lead, he will be isolated and secluded from all the other dogs and people. After much research, I've found that while positive reinforcement is by far the best and most effective form of training, there HAS to be some form of consequence when unwanted actions are engaged. The goal, of course, is to not place the dog in a scenario where it is going to fail. However, we all know this is easier said than done and accidents will happen. In this case, both forms of punishment for him are not so much punishment as the withholding of a reward.

Both being off lead at the park and remaining under my/the pack's protection are privileges and rewards for good behavior. When he refuses to obey basic commands, I will revoke the privilege of freedom by leashing him. When he refuses to obey my command for redirecting the prey drive behavior when I know he is capable of doing so, I will revoke the much larger privilege of pack protection by isolating him for a short period of time to let him know that the behavior is unacceptable, that I (the pack) will not tolerate it, and that so long as he continues, he will also continue to lose the luxury of my protection.

Never in my training will I ever use any form of negative, physical or fear induced punishment. Only positive reinforcement and the retraction of his privileges when he violates clearly established rules.

SO, after that incredibly long rant, I'm curious to your response/ideas/comments/concerns/etc. Have any of you encountered similar issues? Does my evaluation and diagnosis of the cause of the problem sound logical and rational/do you agree? I'm curious to receive insight from fellow husky owners, as others who have no experience with the breed are often misinformed/uneducated and make unfair and incorrect assumptions; one being that I will never be able to correct this behavior because it is so innate, and that I can never go to the park again because huskies are aggressive dogs and he is a hazard. There was also another comment made along the same lines being that I am too young to handle my husky and should find him a new home. Yet another response was that I will not be able to correct this behavior alone and that I will be required to hire a professional behaviorist because I am not capable of handling my dog/my dog is my alpha. And, frankly, all of the above are a load of bull.

I may be young, but I am informed, optimistic, strong minded and ready for the challenge. I've done a fair amount of research on canine behavior and psyche, positive reinforcement training and prey drive centered behavior. The behavior he demonstrates is currently more of nuisance than a danger (though it is both), and my largest concern is his disregard of my leadership while off lead. I feel that the two issues work hand in hand, and am prepared to correct both.

So if any of you have had the patience to read ALL of that, then fire away! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That doesnt sound like prey drive behaviour to me... prey behaviour would be stalking, pouncing and if the other animal is caught a quick death and then being ripped apart and eaten. I have whitnessed this with many a tennis ball and my girlie! :D

This sounds to me like an adolecent who is trying to establish dominance where he perservices weakness and hes using bullying behaviour to do this.

The more you socialise him the more he will be told by other dogs (and you can correct him too) that this behaviour is unacceptable.. he might have to get into a fight or two before he learns but one day he will do it to the wrong dog get put on his backside and think "hummm maybe I shouldn't do that again!" :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When a dog with a certain temperament enters the park, Nanook tends to respond by entering prey mode. The dogs that fit the criteria for eliciting this response from him are almost always weak/scared/defensive dogs (smaller dogs, puppies and fearful larger dogs). When he sniffs them and realizes their blatant fear, he perceives them as prey and hence the prey drive reaction. This reaction includes desire to tackle, pin (sometimes by the neck), nibble on legs and in the instance a dog runs, he chases with intense speed, tackles and precedes with the other mentioned actions. He will not let the dog up and is relentless, despite the fact that the dog is insecure and making it known that it does not want to play this way. I find it absolutely necessary to communicate that while this prey drive reaction is commonly seen as aggression (especially by the owners of the victims), he IN NO WAY INTENDS ON HARMING THESE DOGS.

I am not convinced that this is purely prey driven behaviour. Prey drive is simply the desire to chase and grab a moving item, if he is acting this way towards any 'weaker' dog, I would suggest it is in fact aggression of some kind - my Siberian is EXACTLY the same and he is prone to fear aggression.

Just purely from the description you are giving it is clear he IS intent on harming these dogs. It is not social or friendly behaviour AT ALL. Even if it was prey drive, the desire to chase and bite a moving item is not harmless. My Siberian is VERY prey driven and he would absolutely not chase an animal out of prey drive without the intent to grab it and subsequently kill it. Even if he doesn't intend to kill on the outset, he could easily kill another animal when in this mode; my Siberian has killed at least a dozen possums (easily as big or bigger than a small dog) in seconds.

I made the mistake of thinking this behaviour was totally harmless because Micha would not actually physically harm the other dog (in terms of causing obvious injury), but in terms of psychological damage the behaviour was not harmless in any way, shape or form.

Also, the moment he engages in prey drive activity off - lead, he will be isolated and secluded from all the other dogs and people. After much research, I've found that while positive reinforcement is by far the best and most effective form of training, there HAS to be some form of consequence when unwanted actions are engaged. The goal, of course, is to not place the dog in a scenario where it is going to fail. However, we all know this is easier said than done and accidents will happen. In this case, both forms of punishment for him are not so much punishment as the withholding of a reward.

Both being off lead at the park and remaining under my/the pack's protection are privileges and rewards for good behavior. When he refuses to obey basic commands, I will revoke the privilege of freedom by leashing him. When he refuses to obey my command for redirecting the prey drive behavior when I know he is capable of doing so, I will revoke the much larger privilege of pack protection by isolating him for a short period of time to let him know that the behavior is unacceptable, that I (the pack) will not tolerate it, and that so long as he continues, he will also continue to lose the luxury of my protection.

Never in my training will I ever use any form of negative, physical or fear induced punishment. Only positive reinforcement and the retraction of his privileges when he violates clearly established rules.

PR is great, but ultimately, if you have a prey driven dog you need to give it an outlet for its prey drive. If you don't, it will take it upon itself to look for drive satisfaction in other ways. In some instances restraining your dog around objects it views as prey items can actually create frustration and INCREASE their prey drive.

Despite what many people tell you, prey drive is not actually a bad thing if you know how to harness it, control it and use it to your benefit.

Just to clarify: removing a reward (retraction of 'privileges') from a dog is actually aversive (negative). Something as simple as a dog not getting the desired outcome/reward is in fact demotivating. It's important to be clear on this fact when we say that we will "never" use aversives (punishment/negatives) in our training.

There was also another comment made along the same lines being that I am too young to handle my husky and should find him a new home. Yet another response was that I will not be able to correct this behavior alone and that I will be required to hire a professional behaviorist because I am not capable of handling my dog/my dog is my alpha. And, frankly, all of the above are a load of bull.

It's not bull. If your dog is ignoring you in favour of doing something more rewarding like chasing/biting or aggressing towards other dogs, you are not being a leader/alpha. There is no harm in needing professional help, I am constantly striving to learn as much as possible and gaining as much knowledge as I can about dog behaviour and this involves working with trainers and behaviourists who are more experienced than I am.

I may be young, but I am informed, optimistic, strong minded and ready for the challenge. I've done a fair amount of research on canine behavior and psyche, positive reinforcement training and prey drive centered behavior. The behavior he demonstrates is currently more of nuisance than a danger (though it is both), and my largest concern is his disregard of my leadership while off lead. I feel that the two issues work hand in hand, and am prepared to correct both.

Props to you for being keen to learn and fix your dogs behaviourial problems :D But please don't underestimate this problem. It IS a dangerous behaviour. I will PM you with more info :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

this sounds like your dog is being a bully by asserting dominance over dogs he knows he can win against.

we had a similar issue with suki. when a dog with a certain attitude came in ( being aggressive) she took it upon herself to dominate them by pinning them to the floor round the kneck.

we solved this issue by keeping her on lead and introducing walking away when she was paying dominant attention to the dogs with attitude.

now she only gets in their face if they are trying to bully other smaller dogs then she gets in the way. other people call her the protector.

prey drive is different.

a dog displaying prey drive will be sneaking slow movements head down low, then when they get within striking range they go like a coiled spring grab round the neck or leg and shake until disabled or dead.

my 2 hunt rabbits and mice successfully and also try hunting birds.

please address this issue before a nervous dog turns and attacks your dog. and nervous dogs that turn usually don't stop, they are scared for their lives and launch an all out attack, and your dog will either kill the other dog or be seriously injured.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

a dog displaying prey drive will be sneaking slow movements head down low, then when they get within striking range they go like a coiled spring grab round the neck or leg and shake until disabled or dead.

Not necessarily David. My dog will spot a prey item and as soon as it moves - BAM the chase is on and he's on top of it.

Some dogs with really high prey drive will react instantly to any movement that catches their eye - depending on their threshold. Typically you can see a dog who starts going through a drive motor pattern, they will react to a trigger (prey item) by raising ears, tightening their mouth, eyes becoming alert, tail raising high and alert just before they make the decision to chase the item etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bec, while I respect your opinion I have to politely and 100 percent tell you that you are wrong. Not only from personal experience and the pure fact that I know my dog better than you/have seen him in more situations, but because I have had many a conversation with behavior specialists (certified and Ph.D.s) that say exactly the contrary to you and have supported their claims via logical and knowledgeable explanations. Not to mention the HEAPS and HEAPS of research I have done which also support what I have been told.

I am not convinced that this is purely prey driven behaviour. Prey drive is simply the desire to chase and grab a moving item, if he is acting this way towards any 'weaker' dog, I would suggest it is in fact aggression of some kind - my Siberian is EXACTLY the same and he is prone to fear aggression.

Just purely from the description you are giving it is clear he IS intent on harming these dogs. It is not social or friendly behaviour AT ALL. Even if it was prey drive, the desire to chase and bite a moving item is not harmless. My Siberian is VERY prey driven and he would absolutely not chase an animal out of prey drive without the intent to grab it and subsequently kill it. Even if he doesn't intend to kill on the outset, he could easily kill another animal when in this mode; my Siberian has killed at least a dozen possums (easily as big or bigger than a small dog) in seconds.

I made the mistake of thinking this behaviour was totally harmless because Micha would not actually physically harm the other dog (in terms of causing obvious injury), but in terms of psychological damage the behaviour was not harmless in any way, shape or form.

I think you have mistaken me somewhere as he is never "biting" these animals. He's demonstrating typical behavior of a dog who is chasing prey and playing with it upon it's capture. He clearly still recognizes these animals as dogs, and because of that is not trying to harm them. These "tackles" and "pinnings" could be FAR more aggressive if he chose them to be. The only ways in which ever uses his mouth include grabbing the scruff to pull down, and upon being pulled down, pressing his mouth completely around the neck to keep the animal in place (it is important to note that never is he biting the animal when he does this, and his grip is incredibly gentle, but often simply appears far more threatening than it is). The only reason in which he is demonstrating this behavior towards "weaker" animals is because he is smelling the secreting hormone which is that represented of fear, which also appears in prey when being chased, HENCE THE RESPONSE.

When he enters this mode, it is very obvious that he has made a switch from social mode to prey mode, and the pursuit begins. Some people don't care about this behavior, and actually encourage it with their dogs, though mostly because they haven't a clue what it means. A fellow husky owner enjoys it. He has a female husky in which my dog likes to tackle, pin and play incredibly rough with. He is demonstrating the same precise behavior with her, and she is often insecure because she doesn't enjoy the park. There is always a pheromone being secreted by her which he confuses for prey.

I have actually had to literally tell her owner that I do not condone my dog play with his dog that way, because he will do it to all dogs. This is how harmless it appears to some people. It can be easily seen as simply "rough husky play". But it's not, as I have noted. He is entering into a state which involuntarily prioritizes his reactions. It's natural and it is instinct. HOWEVER, he is clearly making a distinction between fellow dog and other prey (such as cats). The reason I know this is because the ways in which he chases a squirrel are far more intense. He does exactly as Skyla does in the video, head down and slow movements towards the squirrel and eventually bursting out into full speed and barking as he goes.

In these situations, there is no stalking. His first move is always to pin the dog because he smells the fear. Next, when dog the makes attempts to get up/runs away, this serves as the IMMEDIATE trigger for his prey response. The chase will be on, he will grab their scruff, pull them to the grown, lean the front of his body on them, sometimes place his mouth around their neck and nibble on their limbs (never in aggression or intent to harm). The main reason I am aware that he has some form of control over this is because he lets up when a whine sounds. This is OBVIOUS that he is in no way intent on causing harm or damage.

It is essential to remember that ALL PLAY within the dog world occurs in prey mode. In the wild, wolves use play as practice for hunting and chasing prey and in the end, obtaining their food. For this reason play mode is the equivalent of prey mode, and occurs on more than one level. The domestic dog, because of the food freely provided by humans on a daily basis, prey mode is no longer essential. While it still occurs, it is with different motive: play. Even when a dog goes into full drive prey mode for squirrels or cats (which my dog is not in), it is not with intent to eat the animal for survival. It is then considered out of game.

The common (socially acceptable) way in which dogs utilize play and prey drive is the play bow, which elicits a pray response from the recipient of the bow. It is an invitation of play. Nanook's concern is that he is not playing in socially acceptable terms. I am not sure if I have mentioned, but he is 9 months old and still learning proper etiquette. So, it is imperative for me to let him know this behavior will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

One link of which you provided makes an attempt to define prey drive in very few simple sentences, and it is honestly not that simple. Not all dogs with prey drives have the same priorities, same motivation or the exact same reactions. Some just chase, never making contact. Some chase and capture. And some chase, capture and kill. It varies not only from breed to breed, but from dog to dog. In the sense, my dog is not yours, so you cannot compare your dogs behavior to mine because of the simple fact they both have different priorities, motivations and initial reactions. Also, the level of prey drive, motivation, priorities and reactions is dependent on the conditioned response to the situation. For example, Nanook was attacked by a cat as a puppy and is far more aggressive with them for this reason. At the park, his prey drive simply consists of chasing and capturing, not harming (and more so in play than any other manner). It is all indicative of how the responses to the prey have been learned and established and the responses are never all entirely the same because not all of the experiences have been the same and warranted the same reactions.

Dogs no longer always kill their prey, they are not wolves and it isn't necessary. They get their food elsewhere. This behavior with the same motivation has been bred out of many domesticated dogs because its lack of necessity results in the disappearance of the trait all together. Those that do kill are often breeds that were bred for that purpose (aka hunting dogs) and have extremely high prey drives.

PR is great, but ultimately, if you have a prey driven dog you need to give it an outlet for its prey drive. If you don't, it will take it upon itself to look for drive satisfaction in other ways. In some instances restraining your dog around objects it views as prey items can actually create frustration and INCREASE their prey drive.

Despite what many people tell you, prey drive is not actually a bad thing if you know how to harness it, control it and use it to your benefit.

Just to clarify: removing a reward (retraction of 'privileges') from a dog is actually aversive (negative). Something as simple as a dog not getting the desired outcome/reward is in fact demotivating. It's important to be clear on this fact when we say that we will "never" use aversives (punishment/negatives) in our training.

I hardly call being kept on a 50 foot leash restrained, though of course it still is to an extent, but one I doubt will result in an increased response. When he enters this mode, it will be my method of reeling him in and teaching him an ulterior /constructed behavior to display when the trigger for his prey drive occurs, rather than to obey his basic instincts. I will also associate nothing but praise and reward for ignoring his prey drive, which will take much training, but the eventual result should be a developed threshold against entering into this prey mode.

I see flaw in any method in which their is ABSOLUTELY NO form of discipline. Perhaps you are correct regarding it being negative, but because he is not displaying the "desired behavior" he will not receive "desired reward/privilege". I think that is pretty simple logic. The dog will eventually connect the lack of freedom and/or protection with the unwanted behavior, which reinforces the fact that it won't be tolerated. I am VERY curious as to ways in which to avoid any sort of punishment when behavior training a dog. I'm not entirely convinced that said ways would be effective. But, I am always open to hearing possibly more effective means of training. So, if there is something else that I am supposed to do when he displays unwanted behavior, please fill me in.

Also, as I stated, I've found the more he has exercised, the less likely he is to display this behavior. This means that there is stress involved, and that the more energy/stress that is expelled on a regular basis will help in this situation. Directing more of his stress induced energy to exercise rather than being off lead and his prey drive at the park is KEY for success.

My entire training premise is one based upon redirection.

It's not bull. If your dog is ignoring you in favour of doing something more rewarding like chasing/biting or aggressing towards other dogs, you are not being a leader/alpha. There is no harm in needing professional help, I am constantly striving to learn as much as possible and gaining as much knowledge as I can about dog behaviour and this involves working with trainers and behaviourists who are more experienced than I am.

Yes, it is bull.

My dog is obedient in every other situation. At the park, however, he is less likely to acknowledge my superiority (a part of the reason the leash will help; to reassert that I am always and always will be in control). Of course, this is demonstrative of the fact that whenever he ignores commands at the park, I am not in control nor am I leader (there are VERY VERY few people who actually are). This is what this training is to help establish, and am very confident I will succeed at this.

In this particular prey related response, it is his automatic instinct to behave in the manner in which he is. He is not ignoring me because he's being stubborn. He is ignoring me because he has no other choice, his body is biologically telling him to engage with the animal and prioritizing events in which chasing/capturing is at the top and obedience to me becomes less valid. This is not my fault nor is it his, it is instinct that he cannot be expected to control without adequate training. The training is meant to change and redirect this biological response, and re-prioritize his actions via heavy incentive and praise. So that my command to "stop" and "come" becomes FAR more important that pursuing the dog because of the rewards and positive incentive which is so strongly associated with the command. His response and obedience has to remain the top priority at all times (which in prey drive, becomes very difficult because of said biological influences) and become second nature in itself.

The one thing that you've stated which I completely agree with is the necessity of an outlet for the drive. More organized and constructed exercise routines being one and I will also read up on the article involving drive satisfaction. Thank you for the links.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Defo sounds like husky rough play to me. I personally feel that dog parks & dogs off lead are a bad idea for this very reason.

Other breeds can't read husky behaviour & read it as aggressive but it's just play. But cos they can't read the body language the other breed shows fear & turns aggressive.

When huskys play it looks viscious but it's not (you should see my 2yr old & 10wk old - it's the pup whose worse!!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i can't offer any advice, but it to me also sounds like either just some husky playing, or he's being dominant .

If he were being prey driven, i'd imagine he'd have killed or really harmed a smaller/weaker dog by now.

When mine get in prey mode and lock onto something like a bird, the birds dead, it has no hope half the time.

i like becs advice of getting in a trainer to help you. It doesn't mean you aren't capable. just means you're trying to better the situation.

or like you are going to do, and as david did with suki, keep him on the long line. and go after him and correct him when he's bullying these other dogs.. huskies are smart, even if they are stubborn, he will learn.

goodluck :) hope things work out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you came here for advice, and my advice is please speak to a husky trainer, and not a regular trainer.

you are convinced it is prey drive, but most of the answers have said it is a dominance thing please at least consider it

if it was prey drive the small dogs would end up bitten or dead. yet the husky just pins them. that to me says dominance.

the nervous dog is behaving in a manner not suitable and the husky is trying to correct it. what you need to do is let the husky know it is not their job to correct the dog.

please please please find a trainer who specialises in huskies and speak tot hem for advice

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It definatly sounds like dominance to me,

The chase will be on, he will grab their scruff, pull them to the grown, lean the front of his body on them, sometimes place his mouth around their neck and nibble on their limbs

at 9 months this could seem like rough play but as he gets older could get out of hand .

It just dosnt sound like prey drive at all, if it was IMO there would be alot more agression when the target was caught.

Thanks

Ben

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bec, while I respect your opinion I have to politely and 100 percent tell you that you are wrong. Not only from personal experience and the pure fact that I know my dog better than you/have seen him in more situations, but because I have had many a conversation with behavior specialists (certified and Ph.D.s) that say exactly the contrary to you and have supported their claims via logical and knowledgeable explanations. Not to mention the HEAPS and HEAPS of research I have done which also support what I have been told.

I actually never said it is or isn't prey drive. I said I am not convinced it is purely prey drive. I would never give a definitive answer to a behaviourial problem online because you need to see the dog in person to be able to really assess the situation.

Although I'm at a loss as to why you posted here for help in the first place if you have such knowledgable behaviourial specialists assisting you? Haven't they given you a training program to implement to fix this issue?

I think you have mistaken me somewhere as he is never "biting" these animals.

You said earlier he mouths their necks. Sounds like he's biting them to me?

He's demonstrating typical behavior of a dog who is chasing prey and playing with it upon it's capture. He clearly still recognizes these animals as dogs, and because of that is not trying to harm them. These "tackles" and "pinnings" could be FAR more aggressive if he chose them to be. The only ways in which ever uses his mouth include grabbing the scruff to pull down, and upon being pulled down, pressing his mouth completely around the neck to keep the animal in place (it is important to note that never is he biting the animal when he does this, and his grip is incredibly gentle, but often simply appears far more threatening than it is). The only reason in which he is demonstrating this behavior towards "weaker" animals is because he is smelling the secreting hormone which is that represented of fear, which also appears in prey when being chased, HENCE THE RESPONSE.

And I can guarantee you that if your dog did that to one of mine I wouldn't be happy to sit there while you tried to brush it off as a minor problem that's not aggression. In fact, IMO it's is incredibly irresponsible of you to be taking this dog to the dog park and putting him in a situation where he can do this to other dogs when you know it is a habitual behaviour. You have no way of knowing if the behaviour will escalate, if it IS prey drive then how do you know he won't shake a puppy or small dog too hard one day and beak it's neck? I've seen my dog kill possums in seconds.

When he enters this mode, it is very obvious that he has made a switch from social mode to prey mode, and the pursuit begins. Some people don't care about this behavior, and actually encourage it with their dogs, though mostly because they haven't a clue what it means. A fellow husky owner enjoys it. He has a female husky in which my dog likes to tackle, pin and play incredibly rough with. He is demonstrating the same precise behavior with her, and she is often insecure because she doesn't enjoy the park. There is always a pheromone being secreted by her which he confuses for prey.

Uh huh. There is nothing desirable about this behaviour whatsoever. The more you let other people encourage the more he will do it and the more rewarding and habitual it will become. Even in play I don't allow my dogs to become too rough. Sensing another dog's insecurity would not trigger your dog to then see that dog as prey.

HOWEVER, he is clearly making a distinction between fellow dog and other prey (such as cats). The reason I know this is because the ways in which he chases a squirrel are far more intense. He does exactly as Skyla does in the video, head down and slow movements towards the squirrel and eventually bursting out into full speed and barking as he goes.

So it looks different, he is triggered differently, yet you still think its all prey driven behaviour?

In these situations, there is no stalking. His first move is always to pin the dog because he smells the fear. Next, when dog the makes attempts to get up/runs away, this serves as the IMMEDIATE trigger for his prey response. The chase will be on, he will grab their scruff, pull them to the grown, lean the front of his body on them, sometimes place his mouth around their neck and nibble on their limbs (never in aggression or intent to harm). The main reason I am aware that he has some form of control over this is because he lets up when a whine sounds. This is OBVIOUS that he is in no way intent on causing harm or damage.

I've seen dog aggressive dogs act in exactly the same way.

The simple fact the other dogs are trying to run away from him IN FEAR proves that it is causing harm to them.

It is essential to remember that ALL PLAY within the dog world occurs in prey mode. In the wild, wolves use play as practice for hunting and chasing prey and in the end, obtaining their food. For this reason play mode is the equivalent of prey mode, and occurs on more than one level. The domestic dog, because of the food freely provided by humans on a daily basis, prey mode is no longer essential. While it still occurs, it is with different motive: play. Even when a dog goes into full drive prey mode for squirrels or cats (which my dog is not in), it is not with intent to eat the animal for survival. It is then considered out of game.

Oh, dear. Play drive and prey drive are not the same thing - at all. Where did you come up with this idea?

Prey drive is not just about getting food. Prey drive is triggered by a moving item catching a dog's eye, it is the urge to chase and grab it. Yes, this stems from a dog's necessity to need to kill to eat but domestication does not then make prey drive suddenly about play. My dog does not kill possums out of a desire to play. It's still prey drive. How do you explain well cared for and well fed domestic dogs who eat the prey items they catch?

The common (socially acceptable) way in which dogs utilize play and prey drive is the play bow, which elicits a pray response from the recipient of the bow.

Uh huh. Ever seen a dog chasing a prey item play bow to it first? How is a dog going to get prey drive satisfaction from playing with another dog?

One link of which you provided makes an attempt to define prey drive in very few simple sentences, and it is honestly not that simple. Not all dogs with prey drives have the same priorities, same motivation or the exact same reactions. Some just chase, never making contact. Some chase and capture. And some chase, capture and kill. It varies not only from breed to breed, but from dog to dog. In the sense, my dog is not yours, so you cannot compare your dogs behavior to mine because of the simple fact they both have different priorities, motivations and initial reactions. Also, the level of prey drive, motivation, priorities and reactions is dependent on the conditioned response to the situation. For example, Nanook was attacked by a cat as a puppy and is far more aggressive with them for this reason. At the park, his prey drive simply consists of chasing and capturing, not harming (and more so in play than any other manner). It is all indicative of how the responses to the prey have been learned and established and the responses are never all entirely the same because not all of the experiences have been the same and warranted the same reactions.

Different dogs have different levels of drive, for sure. But prey drive IS a simple intrinsic instinct that is triggered by the dog's desire to chase and grab a moving item. A dog chasing a ball is exhibiting prey drive. A dog playing tug can be exhibiting prey drive. My dog is VERY prey driven but it's hard to get him to play tug because he's so heavily conditioned to get prey drive satisfaction from chasing a toy I throw for him. Give him a tug and he sits there waiting for you to throw it. That doesn't change that he is still working from the same basic instinct or going through the same motor pattern in his brain every time he goes into prey drive. Depending on the dog they may have different triggers, thresholds etc but the pattern is the same and so is the fact that once they switch into prey drive they are working from the lower cortex of their brain (the medulla) which is responsible for primal instinct.

Dogs no longer always kill their prey, they are not wolves and it isn't necessary. They get their food elsewhere. This behavior with the same motivation has been bred out of many domesticated dogs because its lack of necessity results in the disappearance of the trait all together. Those that do kill are often breeds that were bred for that purpose (aka hunting dogs) and have extremely high prey drives.

Apart from the fact that they still do kill their prey. If their well fed they may not eat it, my dog doesn't. But he's killed dozens of possums and other small animals (rats, mice, bats etc).

I hardly call being kept on a 50 foot leash restrained, though of course it still is to an extent, but one I doubt will result in an increased response. When he enters this mode, it will be my method of reeling him in and teaching him an ulterior /constructed behavior to display when the trigger for his prey drive occurs, rather than to obey his basic instincts. I will also associate nothing but praise and reward for ignoring his prey drive, which will take much training, but the eventual result should be a developed threshold against entering into this prey mode.

You are reeling him in when he spots a prey item, that is restraint.

Depending on how high his drive is, you may get some results from rewarding him for not going into drive (though if you've had to reel him in, he's not ignoring his prey drive, is he?). But you are not going to get a reliable dog. You can't get rid of prey drive. You can learn how to harness it and control it, but we don't do that by teaching the dog to ignore it, because the results it produces is never as reliable as training in drive instead.

I see flaw in any method in which their is ABSOLUTELY NO form of discipline. Perhaps you are correct regarding it being negative, but because he is not displaying the "desired behavior" he will not receive "desired reward/privilege". I think that is pretty simple logic. The dog will eventually connect the lack of freedom and/or protection with the unwanted behavior, which reinforces the fact that it won't be tolerated. I am VERY curious as to ways in which to avoid any sort of punishment when behavior training a dog. I'm not entirely convinced that said ways would be effective. But, I am always open to hearing possibly more effective means of training. So, if there is something else that I am supposed to do when he displays unwanted behavior, please fill me in.

I never said not to use discipline. I was just making it clear that you can't be 100% positive, and you can't claim you will never use punishment or negative reinforcement when you actually are.

You're right that is pretty simple logic but drive (and aggression) are not always simple subjects, take for example the fact that your dogs desired reward is not what you have in your hand but the other dog/prey item/etc he's trying to chase.

Also, as I stated, I've found the more he has exercised, the less likely he is to display this behavior. This means that there is stress involved, and that the more energy/stress that is expelled on a regular basis will help in this situation. Directing more of his stress induced energy to exercise rather than being off lead and his prey drive at the park is KEY for success.

Or it could just make him stronger and fitter.

Giving your dog exercise is not the same as giving it an outlet for drive satisfaction.

I am not in control nor am I leader (there are VERY VERY few people who actually are).

Sorry, how is what I said bull? The above sentence just agreed with me?

This is what this training is to help establish, and am very confident I will succeed at this.

Then what was the purpose of posting for advice?

In this particular prey related response, it is his automatic instinct to behave in the manner in which he is. He is not ignoring me because he's being stubborn. He is ignoring me because he has no other choice, his body is biologically telling him to engage with the animal and prioritizing events in which chasing/capturing is at the top and obedience to me becomes less valid. This is not my fault nor is it his, it is instinct that he cannot be expected to control without adequate training. The training is meant to change and redirect this biological response, and re-prioritize his actions via heavy incentive and praise. So that my command to "stop" and "come" becomes FAR more important that pursuing the dog because of the rewards and positive incentive which is so strongly associated with the command. His response and obedience has to remain the top priority at all times (which in prey drive, becomes very difficult because of said biological influences) and become second nature in itself.

Which is why training your dog IN prey drive is far more reliable and a way more successful way to manage a driven dog than what you are doing now.

The one thing that you've stated which I completely agree with is the necessity of an outlet for the drive. More organized and constructed exercise routines being one and I will also read up on the article involving drive satisfaction. Thank you for the links.

LOL I don't know why I bothered, it seems that no one can tell you anything you don't already know :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand you want your dog to get on well with other dogs and dog parks can be an enjoyable experience... but with the way he acts with dogs (doesn't matter if they're scared/timid) it may be best for him to not go to the park until he's able to control himself or you're able to call him off and have him leave the dog be. Or, he may just not be a dog that should be brought to the park. I had a Belgian Malinois who was a fantastic dog, loved all animals... except for intact males. He would rip one to the ground in 2 seconds if given the chance. Sure, I could have continued to bring him to the park and patrol the gate checking to see if the males were intact or not.. but I decided the dog park wasn't a safe environment for him and I discontinued to take him there.

When Mishka was younger and she first arrived, she was frightened by dogs and tucked her tail and hid constantly around other dogs. If there was a dog acting as you described I would have probably asked you to either leash your dog or leave. It's not fair for the other people/dogs who are there. I'm sure this isn't what you want to hear, but i'm telling you how I see it as if it were my scared and frightened dog. Granted, I did keep Mishka in the smaller dog section and didn't throw her into the "big girl park" as well as I worked with her to overcome her fears... but the fact is in this situation your dog isn't acting appropriately and is making other dogs/owners uncomfortable.

Is he neutered? Perhaps that may help things?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My 6mo old puppy plays similarly to yours, except she doesn't target fearful dogs. She has a number of friends, mostly beagles and bulldogs, who play similarly and they all get on very well together, wrestling and chasing. She comes right away when I call her, unless she's actually pinned or pinning someone. She always stops what she's doing to greet new dogs and is quite submissive to them. I've assumed (and been told by other owners) that she's fine and just likes to play rough. Is this something I should be correcting?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy , along with dressing your husky as a unicorn on the first Thursday of each month