Tips For Dogs That Chase Prey.


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I am posting this, hoping to get tips, links, anything, to help me learn how to reduce my dog's urge to chase prey.
(any prey will do, my dog loves chasing any prey.)

He is quite the accomplished killer now, he's brought us bunnies, squirrels, small raccoons, gophers, hedgehogs, possums (who were not reeeeally dead:rolleyes: ) more bunnies (his favorite is bunnies) chipmunks, moles, all manner of dead animals are proudly offered up by Buddy. He also once had an ALIVE tiny baby bunny in his mouth, when i let him in from our yard,
but i did not realize it, til i saw him licking it and nurturing it between his paws in the living room.

Buddy also chases skunks.....grrrrr....i reeeeally wish that Buddy could learn to leave the skunks alone, too.:censored:

Buddy only chases cats who run, or act afraid, but if a cat is cool with Buddy, he is usually okay with the cool cat, but, it varies a bit.

Buddy also chases deers, but, has never dragged one home to us, and i doubt he could bring down a deer, and he is nowhere near strong enough to drag a deer.

Most of this prey he has killed in his own YARD. (we live by woods). Occasionally, he will get one in the woods, however, in the woods, we are with him, and tend to keep an eye on him.

When Buddy is chasing prey, it is the only time i can not get him to stop and return to me. :cry: ANYONE who has ANY type of tip or advice, please post it here! AND THANK YOU!!!

I do not have regular access to running wildlife. I have no idea when some prey will dart by, and usually,
the prey are only in our sight for a mere moment. this is one of the reasons i feel i am having trouble with this. IF I COULD get some deers to stand still for me for about 10 minutes, i *might* be able to make some headway desensitizing Buddy to deers, or raccoons, or whatever........but, darn it, all the creatures run off so quickly, before i can do much with Buddy....:rolleyes:


Honored Member
Today, my guy and i were walking Buddy in a park, and Buddy was on an extendaleash, (which i only use for parks, not street walks)
as i knew this park had geese and a river. Some geese came into view, and my guy, pointed at the geese, and said something like, "get 'em, Buddy!" and of course, Buddy lunged excitedly towards the geese, and my guy seemed to think this was funny:cautious: .............and i just about wanted to sic the dog onto my guy....:ROFLMAO:
i have told my guy, any number of times, that if we could ONLY get Buddy to learn to IGNORE prey, we could have Buddy off leash way more often.....then my guy says, "Well, i don't do that ALL the time, just sometimes..":rolleyes:

it is easier to train a dog,
than a man, imo.


Staff member
Ollie would be the same, but I'm able to walk him where the only thing we will see is birds, so not an issue, for the most part. I dont walk him there at night, because we have a large pack of Coyotes in the area, and Ollie would def. go after them. Killing small furries is something that dogs do, and pretty normal, but I wish they'd stop and come back when told!


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lol, maybe i need to take Buddy to a zoo??:ROFLMAO: so the wildlife there can stand still while i try to help Buddy learn to be calm or ignore wildlife?


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*my* dog could easily star in THIS video::ROFLMAO: which was once posted in the "Funny Stuff about Dogs" thread, by Jean the site admin. It is hilarious.....even i chuckle, watching it,
even though,
it could be MY dog there in that video!! and ohhhhh, the smile:D he'd have on his lil doggie face, doing this...



Honored Member
Well, I have the same problem. My dogs haven´t killed anything yet, but rabbits and deer will be chased!! And large bird, like swans, geese and ducks. Jinx will even try to chase them by swimming after them:rolleyes:. Lucky for them, they haven´t chased after a breeding pair of swans. I don´t think they would come out of that ok...
But it is the only time when I can´t recall Jinx. When she sees a deer, she´s off.
Cooper doesn´t have a great recall anyway.
And when we walk them together they don´t go off leash anymore, because they will instigate each other.


Honored Member
lol, maybe i need to take Buddy to a zoo??:ROFLMAO: so the wildlife there can stand still while i try to help Buddy learn to be calm or ignore wildlife?
I have been to the zoo with my dogs. And to a petting zoo, where they have deer. But they don´t pay much attention to those animals. They are interesting, but I can call them away from those. Of course these are behind a fence. If we were in there with them, I would not be able to call them away:mad:
And it´s not just wildlife they will chase... Also sheep and cows... in meadows


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It was fun though, going to the zoo! Cooper loved watching the baboons:D And he was afraid of the bear. And terrified of the bronze statues of animals:ROFLMAO:
Jinx loved the meerkats. Especcially when they all came up close to the glass making alarmcalls:D


Honored Member

but Anneke, your remark //"And terrified of the bronze statues of animals"//
reminded me of two reminded me of being outside with Buddy a few days ago, and i saw him go tearing across the yard, that way he does when he has spotted prey.....and it was just his new beaver toy across the yard:ROFLMAO::rolleyes:O_o:p ....
Buddy had never seen his new, fairly realistic looking beaver toy outdoors before.:ROFLMAO: totally attacked it.

but, then again, my dog is only dog i've ever heard of, who once went off on a cardboard picture of a dog in Petsmart......:rolleyes:
funny thing, when a dog messes up like that, dogs do NOT have any funny expression afterwards, they are NOT embarrassed, they just walk it off, and act like nothing weird happened. ha ha. I guess "embarrassment" is a totally human emotion...

and the other thing your dog being afraid of the bronze statues reminded me of was.......


Honored Member
I can tell you where I'm at and how I got there... No miracle cures offered :rolleyes:

Start with getting a fabulous recall that your dog loves (yes, I know Buddy already does but this is more general than for Buddy) for high prey drive dogs recall games that involve chasing are a favourite.

Being able to get your dog to wait or lie down at a distance from you could also work as many dogs won't recall but will wait for you to catch up. If the deer are at a distance Zac will now wait for a crucial 3-4 seconds, it's amazing how much ground you can cover at a quick calm walking pace in 3 seconds!

Get your dog paying attention to you all the time, be random so your dog never knows when you are going to toss him a treat or give him a command. All the time the dog is watching you he isn't watching for things to chase and he won't start trying to guess why you've called him if you do see prey before he does. This also helps to reduce the distance and time your dog is prepared to leave you for when chasing.

If your dog gives off signs when he is thinking about hunting get to know what they are and be aware of them. Get him on the leash when you see them, you don't want to waste a training opportunity if a deer pops out the bushes. If your dog chases once you've started desensitisation you might have undone weeks of training.

The main method I have used is to work on desensitisation. Take your dog to the vicinity of the "prey", keep your dog under control - separated off by a barrier, leashed or on a long line. Work on getting your dog's attention back on you, do trick training, heel work, fetch, find. Gradually as your dog keeps his attention on you, work closer to the prey. Teach your dog that prey are furniture of no concern him.

Farm animals:
Farm livestock are relatively easy, they are enclosed in fields so you can find them any time you want for training BUT ON NO ACCOUNT ALLOW YOUR DOG TO STARTLE OR CHASE THEM. In the UK farmers have the right to shoot dogs that are endangering stock, within reason I agree with this and if able to would have shot a dog myself on one occasion. I always leash my dog with farm animals, anything else is irresponsible unless you have the express permission of the farmer. Zac's training with farm animals is to give us a safety buffer if sheep pop up unexpectedly.

Even if your dog seems 100% steady with livestock be aware that with many dogs this is fragile and needs proofing. Zac was steady with white sheep but when a black sheep turned up in the field he was all set to investigate. Be aware that a dog that is 100% steady alone may NOT be steady when with another dog.

I used negatives in training Zac with sheep - I told him off thoroughly every time he looked at sheep, it was the only method I knew at that time and I preferred that option to keeping him permanently leashed or having him shot for sheep worrying. However I also did extensive desensitisation almost every day for months (it sounds onerous but really we just played 5-10 minutes of fetch in the field next door to some sheep). From my subsequent experience with wild prey I think it was the desensitisation that had the greater impact.


Wild prey
These are more complicated because as Tigerlily says one never knows when they will pop up. My dog is obsessed with chasing deer, squirrels, rabbits and hares. Deer and hares are the most dangerous as they run further. One hare nearly resulted in Zac being run over by 2 cars.

You can start desensitisation anywhere that your dog goes on high alert (mine remembered where he chased that hare for almost a year). As long as your dog is looking for prey you can work on distracting him from that. If you know where there is a rabbit warren that is also a good place - even if there are no rabbits out your dog will be able to smell them and will be eager to hunt. Calm him down, keep giving him commands, if he's to hyped up to eat don't worry just keep getting him to obey commands - eventually he'll feel he might as well eat the treat and you have the beginnings of progress.

When a prey species eg/ deer pops out of the bushes ahead of you you have several options...
If your dog is off leash but hasn't seen the deer you may be able to chance a recall or even better a distraction or recall game. I use a squeaky tennis ball rather than risk weakening a recall cue.
If your dog is off leash and has started chasing, DON'T try to recall, shout something else ( for instance, "Get here you mangy hound") if there are witnesses and you need to look like you are making an effort. If your dog is not too committed you might be able get him to break off the chase if you run in the opposite direction. Weigh up the pros and cons of making a noise if your dog is out of sight, Zac chases for longer if he can hear me because my voice reassures him that I am still there.
If your dog is on leash and hasn't seen the deer calmly make sure that it does, if it has already seen the deer then that's great...
Step between your dog and the deer, calmly ask for a sit. Keep your body in the dog's line of sight, once your dog sits offer a treat, if he accepts give him a jackpot, if he doesn't, ask for a down, sit, down, sit, down etc until your dog accepts the jackpot. The deer of course disappeared sometime while you were saying the first "sit". That doesn't matter, as long as your dog is hyped up you can work on desensitisation. Then go on with your walk.

Repeat this as the opportunity presents itself - not necessarily just with prey, with anything your dog gets hyped up about. Over time you should find that you don't need to step between your dog and the deer before he'll listen to you. He should accept treats more readily. He should be learning that when there is a deer then it is very rewarding to be with you, it may not trump the fun of chasing the deer but it more fun than being restrained without reward or being yanked around and yelled at. You should find that there is a developing margin where you can intervene to prevent a chase and that it is becoming easier to call your dog off a hot scent...

and that is as far as I have got with Zac. Hopefully I haven't forgotten anything essential :rolleyes:.

I'm still:
Keeping up the desensitisation.
Working on recall mid retrieve.
Working on recall from running with other dogs.
Obeying commands when running.
Reflex obedience to certain commands, particularly "down" and "wait"
Having lots of fun with recall
Working on keeping Zac's attention on me
... and lot's more

You see, after a while, training your dog to recall from chasing prey becomes a lifestyle :ROFLMAO:


Honored Member
WOW, THANK YOU RUNNING DOG!! WHAT A MOST MARVELOUS POST!! I plan to read this several more times, so many nuggets of great info all in one post, wow.

//". Weigh up the pros and cons of making a noise if your dog is out of sight, Zac chases for longer if he can hear me because my voice reassures him that I am still there."//

this line is fascinating, and i have chased after Buddy calling to him, and never realized, he very well might be using my voice as a beacon, "mom is not yet too far away..."
love the line about appearing to be making an effort for "witnesses" :ROFLMAO: without weakening one's actual recall cue.

i am going to read this several more times. I might find what i am needing right in there.


Honored Member
//"The deer of course disappeared sometime while you were saying the first "sit". That doesn't matter, as long as your dog is hyped up you can work on desensitisation."//

i have never ever considered that option!!


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//"The deer of course disappeared sometime while you were saying the first "sit". That doesn't matter, as long as your dog is hyped up you can work on desensitisation."//

i have never ever considered that option!!
If you let your dog off while hyped up he'd take off in the last known direction of the prey therefore I figure the desensitisation is still effective as long as he's in that state.


Honored Member
//"If you let your dog off while hyped up he'd take off in the last known direction of the prey therefore I figure the desensitisation is still effective as long as he's in that state."//
this makes perfect sense to me, i have just never ever thought of it before, but, i think this will be a great starting point, one of many new things i will be doing from now on!!!!!


Honored Member
Staff member
Great tips Rdog.
LOL, I can just see you out with a friend and Zac running off...."Max, get back here!!"
--"I thought your dog's name was Zac??? O_o"
"Oh, that's only when he's listening."

Also I am 100% positive that, if given the opportunity, Mudflap would also beg a statue to throw her toy like the dog in the video. :LOL:


Honored Member
I knew I'd forget something...

Desensitisation to wild prey (continued):
Stepping between your dog and the prey during desensitisation has another benefit because you are generating a habit that can be built on in some chase scenarios. If a deer pops out and your dog is off leash you may have a chance to step between him and the deer. Even if you are some distance from your dog he has a habit of obeying you when you stand between him and the deer. Don't call him (running towards the prey is too big a temptation). Ask for a down or a wait while you walk up (if you run you will precipitate a chase) and reward heavily.

As well as asking for "sit" and "down" during desensitisation I step to the end of the lead and call my dog, I use "Hey Boy" rather than my proper recall cues as it can take a while to catch his attention at first. Jackpot reward obviously. At first you are calling him towards the deer - well that is the direction he wants to go in anyway. Later you will be able to call him in other directions relative to the deer. Do not tug on the lead. The lead is not part of the training it is just a safety line. You are working towards an off leash recall so you want the dog to forget there is any leash involved at all - he is choosing to stay with you and come to you because wonderful things happen near you when deer appear... at least that's what we're hoping for.

You can test the progress of the desensitisation by asking your dog for eye mouth coordination tricks (fancy term for catching a ball or a treat :ROFLMAO: ). If your dog is hyped up he maybe won't even try. As he gets calmer you should see improvement.

Remember there are different levels of temptation to chase - a running deer is more tempting than a standing deer, a close deer is more tempting than a distant deer.

Returning from chasing:
I allow my dog to chase when it is safe and legal to do so and give him a jackpot when he comes back. I particularly like to do this with crows as they fly away! As the dog starts to return to you, call him, when he gets back give him a jackpot. If he chases something you want him to come straight back not look for something else to chase.

Do the same when your dog returns from any chase. Don't use your recall word until you can see the dog is 100% committed to returning. Once you have called him you must swallow your frustration, blank out your injured pride and give him a mega jackpot. You are NOT rewarding him for chasing. You are rewarding him for coming instantly when you used his recall cue. Yes he was coming anyway but that doesn't matter, he came, success!!!!

The problem with standard stock training methodology:
I didn't really make clear enough what normally happens when you restrain your dog from chasing. Your dog sees a deer and wants to chase, if you follow standard stock training procedure you tell him "no" and maybe follow up with physical discouragement. Congratulations, you have just taught your dog that being with you when there is something to chase is a very unpleasant experience. The next time your dog sees something to chase he has a choice...
a) an exciting adrenaline pumping chase.
b) hang around with a person who is mean to him every time there is something to chase.

There has got to be a better way to explain stock training to your dog.