All dogs need to sprint around and let off steam, and our region has acres of open, green spaces that are great for walkers and their dogs to have lots of exercise. However, many breeds of dogs have always been scavengers and predators, and have an instinctive desire to chase after prey and wildlife. This chasing desire is very difficult to suppress entirely, although it is possible to train your dog to learn the obedience that’s necessary so he doesn’t chase after and possibly harm birds, squirrels and any other wildlife you may encounter on your walks.
Why does your dog chase?
The main reason your pet will chase is for enjoyment, although their desire to chase is both primal and innate, so although difficult to prevent entirely, you should be able to redirect the dog’s behaviour in some way. A dog has a natural craving to hunt, so to give them a similar satisfaction and excitement, hide treats around the home and allow them to sniff and search them out.
Prevention and Solid Recall
Obviously one of the easiest ways to prevent your dog from chasing wild animals is to keep them on the leash when in a “chase” situation. You will keep full control over your pet with no chance for them to give chase. At times, however, you will want to let your dog off the lead in the park to give them a good run around and it’s important that your dog will return to your “come” command in any situation and at all times.
Training to recall should begin when your pet is a puppy, and in an environment that has few distractions. Use positive reinforcement and treats when they come to you and gradually increase the stimulus around your dog. Build up the distances that your dog is allowed to go away from you over several weeks, and ensure that he recalls to command once he reaches these distance limits. Once your dog has mastered this recall command, you should have no worries about them chasing after squirrels and other distractions. In some situations, if you spot that your dog is ready to chase after a wild animal, create an aversion such as a clap of your hands, or another loud, distracting sound so that your dog will associate this noise with the desire to chase.
Acceptable behaviour at the park
When you’re out exercising your dog in any green space, always play by the rules and be mindful of other people. Always be considerate around other dog owners and remember to pick up your dog’s mess.
- Ensure your dog is under control at all times and within eyesight
- If necessary, place your dog on a leash
- Consider that other park users may be wary of your dog
- Ensure that your dog doesn’t annoy or disturb wildlife
- Keep your dog well away from any children’s’ play zones
- Don’t allow your dog run-up to another dog that is on a lead – it could be afraid of other dogs
When out walking your dog, no matter the environment, be alert and keep your head in swivel mode at all times. Stay alert!