On a daily basis, at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we receive emails from dog owners saying, “If you can get my dog to stop chasing the cat, rabbits, squirrels(etc), it will be a miracle.”
Essentially, what they are saying is that they have a high prey drive dog. Some dogs that are very common for having a very high prey drive are Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, and many more!
What is Prey Drive?
Prey Drive is a natural dog instinct because dogs are predators and hunters, just like humans are, as well. So, essentially it’s their natural instinct to pursue and capture fleeing prey.
Can I Eliminate My Dog’s Prey Drive?
No, you cannot eliminate it, but you do not want to! A dog’s prey drive can be manipulated and used to your advantage which we will discuss later. You can never eliminate the prey drive in your dog; however, you can most certainly control it through obedience. At our dog obedience training in Northern Virginia, this is something we literally do on a daily basis. Prey drive is easily controlled through a structured obedience training program by training the dog to a level that their obedience overcomes their instinctual prey drive. Your dog will still have the “want” to chase the animal; however, his obedience will overcome his want to chase.
A great example of this is a Tamaskan named “Ivan” that we just recently finished training. A Tamaskan is a wolf-looking dog with ancestors being the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute, so, you can imagine they are very “hunt-driven” and “prey driven” dogs.
See the last part of this video (3:45 mark of video), where you can see an amazing example of obedience outweighing a dog’s prey drive. If this was just a week prior, that fox probably wouldn’t have escaped this ordeal; however, with training, we were able to make his obedience and control outweigh his prey drive.
How Can I Use My Dog’s Prey Drive To My Advantage?
If your dog is a high prey drive dog, generally that means they are very ball motivated. So, you can work your dog on obedience, using the ball (prey item) as the reward for the obedience. So, you will give your dog some commands, once they comply, you will release them and throw the ball (activate the prey). This is a fun and healthy way to give your dog an outlet for using his prey drive.
Additionally, at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we also do detection training. Almost all military and police detection dogs in the country are very high prey drive dogs; meaning, we manipulate that prey drive and use it to benefit us (and our country). While doing detection work, they are searching endlessly for hours on end (at times) in order to get that “prey item” (ball, kong, tug) as a reward.
Do not view your dog’s prey drive as a bad thing, in fact, the most prey driven dogs in the world are police dogs, search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, etc. So, essentially, the most amazing dogs in the world are dogs with very high prey drive. Prey drive is a good thing, you just need to find a qualified dog trainer to help teach you how to control it, harness it, and use it to you AND your dog’s benefit. I recently wrote a blog titled, “Do Not Make Training Your Last Resort.” So, if your dog is actively chasing things, pulling you down the street, or running off; find a trainer in your area sooner than later.