High Prey Drive

Breed specific discussion of your favorite breed.

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Nettle
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High Prey Drive

Post by Nettle » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:09 am

I work mainly with sighthound types, terriers and scenting hounds, so I am comfortable with the hunting prey drive and can help people with hunting dog types. "Prey Drive" as a term is often misused and misinterpreted - it is not the drive to chase, but the need to hunt. Therefore it cannot be replaced by throwing balls, as is sometimes advised elsewhere.

I also used to breed dogs, own a (retired) stud dog, and can help with advice and information on breeding issues including the ownership of unneutered dogs of either sex, and the early weeks of puppy development.
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mselisabs
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by mselisabs » Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:38 pm

Thank you, Nettle.

I have a 6 y/o Brittany that we got from a rescue in August - we've got no background on her. She's been great so far and it's been awesome seeing her come out of her shell and is now eager to please. That said, we live close to lake access and can also drive to some relatively large fields away from major roadways. We've been working on recall but because of her natural instincts (the drive to hunt, flush birds/squirrels and cover a large amount of ground quickly) I am very very concerned about letting her go off leash. She's very food motivated and thus far I've been training with hot dog pieces, but I feel like I'll need an entirely different approach to call her out of her 'tunnel vision' or at least be able to call her back from a great distance after the chase - I'd have no problem letting her run far. I know hunters do this all the time, although with a variety of methods. Do you have any recall games for bird dogs, or perhaps some tips? Thanks!

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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Fundog » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:38 pm

I'm not Nettle, but I can assure you she and Mattie both have some techniques that can help you, as they have helped me considerably with my Llewellin (see my success story). In addition, I just ordered a book entitled, "A Comfortable Range," by Jim McDermott. I haven't read it yet, as I only just received it yesterday, but it is about a hunter's personal experiences with his Llewellin Setter, and his tendency to range out. I'll keep you posted and let you know if this book is really worth reading. In addition, there is another really good article in the Gun Dog Magazine archives (you can read it online), called, "Searching for the Bell that's Stopped"-- also about a hunter's personal experience with a wide-ranging Llewellin Setter.

Dottie and I still have a lot of work to do, but she has come a long way in the ten months I've had her.
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mselisabs
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by mselisabs » Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:48 am

Fundog,
Thank you! I'll look into books as well! I'm a bit sad because we're in the middle of a big move and have cut off our cable - right in time for a new US season of It's Me or the Dog!
I am very inspired by your story and am already itching to start training a 'Wait' command!

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Nettle
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Nettle » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:59 am

Gundogs have a search-and-find drive rather than a prey drive, so easy to manage compared with some other breeds. You need to establish a distance that she is never to exceed - I use thirty yards because that is within gunshot range. Pace out thirty yards. That is the distance your dog goes from you, forward, behind, to the sides. No other distance exists.

Start somewhere where there is no or not much wildlife. Take dog out on long line, and every time she gets to thirty yards, call her back sweetly and with excitement and kindness in your voice, and reward her when she is right back with you. Vary the rewards - sometimes food, a variety of tiny but smelly treats, sometimes a toy she can carry, a game with a ball or tug toy, or lots of affection. Keep a squeaky toy in your pocket and squeak it once or twice only each walk, so she looks towards you and comes in to find it. She should never see this toy - it hides in your pocket. Sometimes run a few paces, sometimes walk fast, walk slowly, be unpredictable.

Also on your walks, toss tiny pieces of food to one side, the other, forward, back with a command eg "look" so she is searching. Give her time to puzzle out when she searches, and party when she finds. Sometimes throw a ball or toy for her to find, and make great happiness when she finds it. She may not retrieve - don't worry if not - you are teaching her to search and find in a controlled environment.

Walks while you are training mean total concentration. No texting, phoning, chatting to friends. You must be ahead of the game all the time, calling her in to heel if you can't see round a corner or over a hill or if you see wildlife. You are establishing a habit for her always to check in with you at thirty yards, and to come back for a biiig reward when she sees wild animals.

When she is A-OK with this, take her somewhere safe where there is not much in the way of game, do half an hour of walking work, then take off the line and immediately give her something to do, all the way back to the car or back to where she needs a lead on for safety. If she does a runner, she wasn't ready yet, so back to basics. If you can find a fenced area, so much the better.

Increase the offlead time in the low-game places, then move on to areas where game is and start on the line again. If you can, lay some scent trails for her to follow - start in the yard, move on to the rest of the world. Youy can lay a trail with a toy or piece of food at the end of it. Partyyyyy!

This makes her walks fascinating fun, and also tires her with thinking. She will establish the correct distance from you - don't let her freelance out of sight just yet. By giving her plenty to do, she has less incentive to make her own fun. Watch her the whole time, be aware of the wind direction carrying scent to her, get to know how she looks if her concentration is starting to waver and distract or get the lead on if it is, but kindly and sweetly, not with fear or irritation.

You will have questions - please ask. :D
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Fundog » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:20 pm

That's excellent stuff, Nettle. I thought I was doing well with Dottie (and truly I am), but a refresher is always a good thing to help me stay on track. :D
If an opportunity comes to you in life, say yes first, even if you don't know how to do it.

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Nettle
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Nettle » Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:44 am

You have done BRILLIANTLY with Dottie, and are an inspiration to others with similar issues.
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mselisabs
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by mselisabs » Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:13 am

Thank you! Just printed this out and looking to get started - reading everything here is also so inspirational! Hubby, cat, dog, and I are moving from an apartment to a big house, big (fenced!) yard in under and month and I'm really looking forward to her walks turning into just exercise and training walks instead of potty walks!

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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Sarah83 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 8:24 am

Rupert is 6 or 7 years old, god only knows what breed, was turned into the shelter for sheep chasing and is a confirmed killer (and eater) of smaller animals. He doesn't seem to actively look for things to chase but once he sees something that's it, he's gone and nothing else exists. He's kept on leash at all times since there's nowhere fully enclosed to let him off although we do take him to the field on a long line. I've been told to make myself more interesting than the prey but how on earth am I supposed to do that?? I'm not small, furry or feathery and I don't move fast. If it comes down to chasing me or chasing another animal he'll choose the other animal. He has no interest in toys while we're out and he's not all that interested in food at home let alone when somewhere more exciting. We're talking not interested even in things like garlic chicken or raw chicken here, not just regular dog treats.

I've pretty much resigned myself to keeping him leashed in public since he also has issues with other dogs but since we've moved he's also had to be kept leashed in the garden so thought I'd ask in case there's something you can suggest.

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Nettle
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Nettle » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:11 am

Yes you are right: once a dog has had this particular taste of honey in an uncontrolled environment which yours had before he came to you, there is no going back, and nothing you can offer is ever going to compare.

So it is a case of management, and you sound to be managing just fine.

Are you in a position to fence all or some of the garden?

If not, tennis courts and stock-fenced fields can be good places for offlead work.
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Sarah83
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Sarah83 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:22 pm

I'm not sure about fencing, it's military housing so not sure how much we can actually do. Part of the fencing is high and sturdy wood but part of it is wire mesh and fairly low. The only securely fenced places around here I can't actually get into so aren't an option. There's no gates on any of the tennis courts or playing fields.

You've pretty much given me the answer I thought I'd get, it's a management issue and always will be. Always worth asking though and thanks for answering :D We're managing fine. There's a huge dog walking area we take him to at night (to avoid other dogs) on the long line and a small field where dogs have to be leashed across the road from it, again he's on a long line.

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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Leigha » Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:29 pm

When my family lived in base housing we were allowed to fence in our backyard w/ chain link because we had a dog. It was really tall chain link too--like the normal height of a privacy fence. I'd just ask the housing people if it's okay.

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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by emmabeth » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:43 pm

I couldnt ever let my staffie x off within hearing distance of sheep because he has already learned that they are extremely fun to chase and though the end of the chase wasnt fun I highly doubt he remembers that (the land owner caught him and fortunately for us both didnt shoot him.... but did beat him pretty severely!).

So yes, management is the safest and kindest thing to do - and it does get easier, as the dog gets older as the memory of the experience fades, and as you get more used to it and it becomes second nature to manage manage manage.

I quite possibly COULD now call Rocky away from a field of sheep IF i caught him before he had comitted to one particular sheep (he splits one out very neatly... and then chases it till it drops, we havent seen the rest of his prey drive sequence and I don't want to!). I would not want to risk his life to find out though so its that simple, we continue to manage it.

Fortunately I dont live in sheep country... and I wont in his lifetime.
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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Sarah83 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:55 pm

Fortunately I dont live in sheep country... and I wont in his lifetime.
Unfortunately I have a field full of sheep just around the corner from me and a field full of cattle not much further away. There are horses somewhere too but not quite sure where. Wasn't much of an issue when I lived in Manchester, don't see many sheep near the city centre :lol: It's not been as big an issue as I thought it might be out here to be honest. He goes mad if he sees them and gets excited if he hears them but for the most part he can't do either.

Leigha, only problem I've found with chain link is that he can climb it. It'd mean he could be out there off leash if we were playing with him though so better than what we have now.

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Re: High Prey Drive

Post by Leigha » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:04 pm

I've seen people with chain link fence that took some type of thin reed or bamboo slats and fed them through the chain link to keep people from seeing in.

This one's commercial: http://www.eprivacylink.com/products2.htm
DIY version: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/hidechainfence

It's more for privacy, but I'm assuming something not allowing pups paws to go through the link would keep him from climbing it?

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