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How do I get my dog to stop chasing squirrels?

asked 2015-12-03 22:38:34 -0500

I can't get my dog to stop chasing small animals!

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answered 2015-12-04 08:15:52 -0500

This is a hard one! I'll tell you how I trained my dog to stop. She used to run out the back door so fast and jump and hit the fence so hard I thought she might take down the fence or break a leg :(.

The idea is to grab your dog's attention away from the animal and reward him with something that proves to be more enticing than the animal. This means arm yourself with TASTY, TASTY treats! I use nitrate free turkey hot dogs cut into small pieces (pea sized for my 35lb dog). Some people use small pieces of beef, cheese, chicken, etc. (think leftovers) You gotta find what your dog LOVES and save it for training sessions only. Also, be sure it is safe.

Use a treat pouch stuffed with these treats, leash your dog, and go to an area that you know will have the distraction (ie squirrels). Stay at the farthest distance where your dog notices the squirrels, but isn't so close to them that he just goes absolutely bananas.

Now, here is the process:
Have a handful of treats ready and at the VERY instant that your dog glances at the squirrel with interest say "YES" and back away until the dog looks at you. As soon as he looks at you, give him a treat and a "good boy". Tell him to go play and wait until he notices the squirrel again. At the instant he notices the squirrel, say "YES" and back away. When he looks at you, treat and good boy. Eventually when you say yes he will look immediately to you for a treat. The idea is to say "YES", dog immediately looks to you, and you treat. Practice, practice, practice.

Gradually, and over time, you can move closer and closer to the squirrel and eventually you can wean off treats. The "spotting" of the squirrel will become a game. The key is to make looking back at you more rewarding than going after the squirrel. Once your dog is amazing at this on leash (consistently responds appropriately 90% of the time), you can REALLY strengthen his recall and attempt off leash. Recall has a whole other set of steps ;)

Note that you can use this spotting method for pretty much anything: Other dogs, people, small animals. It gives you the ability to get your dog's attention in any situation. It does take patience, practice, consistency, and time! It eventually desensitizes your dog to that which they are excited by which changed my life, lol - Good Luck!

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Adopt a pet squirrel and start going on play dates !!

Keish W.'s profile image Keish W.  ( 2017-02-24 22:52:57 -0500 ) edit
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answered 2017-02-24 22:43:49 -0500

Some dogs are born with a prey drive that is hard to overcome, as an owner- it's related to breeds. That being said, this is certainly a behavior you can work on! Firstly, always keep your dog on a leash! Don't give him one more chance to go chase an animal, and if he chases them in the yard, start leash walking, even for bathroom breaks, until the behavior is under control.

To work on the behavior on the leash, the best thing you can do is to redirect your dog's attention. Is he food motivated? Toy motivated? Anything that's not a small animal will do! Anytime you even begin to see your dog look sideways at a small animal on a walk and react, turn in a different direction (inducing a following behavior- this is distracting) and offer the toy or treat when the dog responds appropriately and allows himself to be distracted. This teaches him that ignoring the inciting stimulus gets him something even better than chasing it.

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