Dogs are predators and it is their instinct to chase and hunt other animals. Some dogs are bred specifically for hunting, e.g. Beagles are bred to hunt rabbits and hares. (I am strongly against the whole rabbits hunting business as I think it is animal cruelty.)
This dog instinct causes a lot of headaches for owners because it not only posts potential harm to other animals, it also jeopardises your dog’s safety (imagine your dog is chasing a cat and they run towards the main road, not cool).
Fortunately it is possible to stop your dog from chasing other animals through training. Be patient with the training as you are teaching your dog to go against his instinct. Like with all training, several short sessions are better than one really long one. Try to end training on a positive note.
So how do I train my dog from chasing other animals?
Training Method 1:
The idea behind this training is to redirect your dog’s focus onto something else, something more interesting. So that you can stop your dogs from chasing when they think that you are more interesting than chasing that squirrel.
- Put your dog on a leash and let him see other animals e.g. chicken, rabbits.
- When your dog start paying attention to the animals, command him to leave it with a command like ‘OFF’.
- If your dog turns around and look at you, click the clicker (if you use clicker training) and treat him with food immediately.
People find that using a whistle is more effective than using verbal command. The whistle noise can travel a longer distance and it would be useful in open area (e.g. park).
Training Method 2:
- Put your dog on a leash.
- Throw a tennis ball and tell him ‘OFF’.
- Most of the time he will chase after it, if he does, command ‘OFF’ and pull the leash.
- If he touches the ball, do not command ‘OFF’ otherwise he would associate “OFF” with catching the ball.
- When he gets the command right, give him a treat immediately and if you are using a clicker, do so.
- Repeat the training several times a day until he learns to stop chasing the ball.
If there are no improvements after a few weeks of training, you should consult a professional dog trainer. However, even with proper training, instinct can sometimes take over and your dog would not listen to your command.
When this happens, owners have the responsibility to stop their dogs from chasing animals.
1) You should always leash your dog when there are other animals nearby.
2) Do not leave your dog with your other pets alone unsupervised.
3) Unless you have full control of your dog’s chasing instinct, do not let your dog off the leash.