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Making Choices: Managing Prey Drive

Teach your dog self control in all situations

Self control, distraction training, scent training and actually consulting your dog's understaning of what to do when seeing, hearing or smelling a snake.

Play simple games that teach your dog what to do when it senses prey. These games are easy, require very little learning for the human or the dog, and pack quite a training punch !

Dogs instinctively react to sight, sound, and smell, but can also be conditioned or trained to react in a specific manner in specific situations. Training a dog to respond to the sight, sound, and smell of snakes is not a difficult process. What's more, snakes are not the only animals that a dog can learn to avoid. We’ve worked with rattle snakes, poisonous toads, centipedes, scorpions, and black widow spiders. If you can get the scent for an animal, you can train your dog what to do (move away) when encountering that scent by using the games in this class.

Fetch, chase and tug are predatory games, and the pup who takes 10 seconds to rip apart any stuffed toy you bring home is channeling her inner hunter. None of this should worry you. As for the chasing of live animals, it’s complicated. If for ethical reasons you don’t want your dog to chase small wild animals such as squirrels and rabbits, then by all means keep her on leash where they’re to be found. And teach her to come when called like a bullet, no matter what. It may help to provide an outlet in the form of a flirt pole, which is like one of those fishing-pole toys for cats, only bigger and sturdier.

It is possible, but not easy, to teach a dog that chases squirrels not to chase stray cats, so that’s a consideration. Also, some chase-worthy animals can infect your dog with potentially life-threatening diseases, such as leptospirosis. So learn what diseases are carried by the wildlife in your area. If your dog is hopelessly slow, the risk may be theoretical. Satisfying prey drive is one of the most enjoyable things a dog can do.

That prey drive is a sequence of behaviors: First, your dog looks around and checks out today’s smells. What’s out there that might be good to eat? Right there, the predatory sequence has begun. Your dog catches a sight or scent and orients toward it - then goes still: watching, scenting, taking in information about the prey.

Your dog stalks it, and then bursts into a rush and a pounce. Grabbing the prey, your dog bites it hard enough to kill it, tosses it around, and rips it up. And then your dog eats it, or stashes it for future meals. Centuries of breeding has not only created unique breeds, it has left some dogs with incomplete predatory behaviors. The result can be a dog who kills or injures a dozen chickens without eating even one.

Learning to manage your dog's prey drive is necessary, not only to prevent undesirable scenarios like the one described above, but also because a dog whose prey drive is engaged and channeled in an acceptable way will have a much easier time getting along with humans and other dogs.

This program has two goals. First, we will work to create a strong recall that will allow you to interrupt your dog in the middle of a predatory-type chase. This will create a dog who will think first, ask questions second, and only move when cued. And second, we will introduce activities for you and your dog that will satisfy the parts of the prey sequence that your dog loves the most.


“My dog couldn't relax outside and was always obsessively searching for birds and squirrels. He was much more than a casual squirrel chaser, hunting prey was the only thing he could think about. He remained on a long line in his own back yard for several months because I was worried that he would jump the low part of our fence in pursuit of prey. We couldn't train off leash without him bolting into the bushes or charging the fence in hopes of finding prey. Prey did not even have to be visible for him to get over aroused, just their scent could send him over the top. In the past couple of weeks, he has ditched the long line. He thinks his mom is pretty cool now and he is so much more relaxed. His personal play and recalls have improved and we worked through so many fun games to improve his willingness to be with me. I also loved that Jamie provided us with ways to satisfy their prey drive, like games for scenting, shredding, etc. If you are committed to the training, it will be well worth your time.

At the beginning of this course I had an unruly 21 month old whippet, Layla. Any time she would see a dog she was off over to it with not a glance back and turning deaf to my attempts to recall her. After completing the 2 part course I find myself on holiday with a 3 mile long beach and 1 mile wide with the tide out. Needless to say it's heaven for most dogs. I let Layla off the lead and there were a group of dogs 30 yards away she trotted 5 yards from me and then stopped and she turned round to look at me!!!! she actually turned round and asked if it was ok to go and play!! I said 'ok' and let her go play feeling triumphant! When I whistled her to call her back she 'whipped it' good and shot back over to my side with a huge smile on both our faces! I never thought this possible. Thank you so much Jamie Robinson for this amazing fun course, we have learnt so much and my gorgeous whippet has loads more self-control and even more love of life if that's possible.

This class not only taught my dog to make choices (and choose me!), it also strengthened our relationship. While learning to make choices and not take off running after prey, we had a lot of fun playing the games. Through the games I was also able to address other issues my dog has (reactivity, frustration) because my dog is able to think through her arousal a lot more than she was able to just a few weeks ago. Jamie is an excellent at explaining the theory behind the games, provides feedback promptly, can adapt the games based on your specific dog's needs -- she really cares about her students! I can't wait for part 2!

Purchase Books about Managing Prey Drive

Making Choices: Managing Prey Drive I


$ 4.99 Flipbook
15.00 Print

What’s out there that might be catchable and good to eat? Right there, the predatory sequence has begun. Aha! She catches a sight or scent and orients toward it. Then she goes still: watching, scenting, taking in information about her prey.

Making Choices: Managing Prey Drive II


$ 4.99 Flipbook
15.00 Print

This is a continuation of Managing Prey Drive Part 1. Learning to manage your dog's prey drive is necessary, not only to prevent undesirable scenarios but also because a dog whose prey drive is engaged and channeled in an acceptable way .

Hassle Free Hiking


$ 4.99 Flipbook
15.00 Print

Hiking is a great way to get out of the house, get fit and exercise your dog. But it has its hassles. Learn how to hike hassle free.