High Prey Drive In Dogs & 7 Tips How To Stop It

High Prey Drive In Dogs & 7 Tips How To Stop It

Author WDF Staff


Dogs have inherited many behaviors from their ancestors that we can notice today. Prey drive is one of the unpredicted behaviors that some dogs have, which can cause trouble for their owners. You might have wondered what a prey drive is and how to deal with it. Prey drive mainly manifests through your dog chasing smaller animals such as rabbits or squirrels. Since some dog breeds were praised for having the ability to chase and kill such animals, it can be hard for some owners to get rid of them. Stay with us, and you will learn all about prey drive in dogs and how to control your dog. 

What is a prey drive in dogs?

In the past, dogs primarily relied on their hunting abilities to eat. They needed to be good hunters if they wanted to eat. So, generally speaking, prey drive can be described as a hunting instinct in dogs that will give them the ability to catch food.

Prey drive is most found in dog breeds used for hunting and herding, but don't be surprised if some other breeds have it. Some dogs are valued for high prey drive, and those dogs are specifically used for certain activities today. The problem can occur if you don't need your dog to use his prey drive for a specific purpose.

dog hunting

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What are the types of prey drive?

Different dog breeds will show different types of prey drive, which means that not all dogs will have the same goal at the end. Here is what this means.

Different types of prey drives that can be found in dog breeds are:

  • Hunting
  • Stalking
  • Searching
  • Chasing
  • Biting to catch
  • Biting to kill

As you may think, dog breeds show different types of prey drive. For example, Rat Terrier was used to chase and catch rats and other rodents, while the Border Terrier was used for chasing. Both dogs are considered to have a high prey drive, only different types.

What dog breeds have the strongest prey drive?

Generally, dog breeds primarily used for hunting and herding have the strongest prey drive among all dog breeds. Some of the dogs with strong prey drive include

  • Border Collies
  • Terriers
  • Retriever
  • Pointers
  • Spaniels
  • Hounds
  • Australian Shepherds

Of course, there are always exceptions, and if you own some of the listed dog breeds, that doesn't mean they will have a strong prey drive but don't be surprised if they do.

dog with bird

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Is prey drive a bad thing?

Generally speaking, having a dog with a high prey drive is not bad if you know how to control it. If you don't have control over your dog, he may end up in some dangerous situations. Because of that, it is your responsibility as a dog owner to control your dog's prey drive to provide a safe environment for you, your dog, and everybody else.

For example, your dog could notice a squirrel during your daily walk and decide to chase her. During the chase, he will not see any cars or other traffic that can be very dangerous for the dog. Also, your dog can, in this state, completely disregard your command, and, while chasing, completely get lost. For this situation, a GPS tracker can help you locate your dog.

It is essential that even if your dog has a high prey drive, you keep it under control and never allow it to escalate because many problems can arise in this situation.

How can I lower my dog's prey drive?

There are a few tips you can try to control your dog's high prey drive. You must understand that their prey drive will not go away; instead, you will be able to control it and not let it cause serious problems.

7 tips for battling with high prey drive in dogs:

1. Recognize a prey drive

The first thing you need to do is to recognize what type of prey drive your dog has. When you do so, it will be much easier to recognize all the potential dangers that can happen so you can prevent them from happening.

2. Redirect dogs’ attention

If you find yourself in a situation where your dog's prey drive will kick in, you will need to notice it before the dog and redirect the dog's attention. That way, you can be sure your dog will not react as he would if you didn't stop it.

dog with prey

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3. Always use positive training methods

During all kinds of training, you should never use punishment or fear as a form of training. If you do so, you will only create more problems for your dog. During training, use a lot of praises and tasty treats, and we assure you that your dog will cooperate.

4. Don't encourage prey drive

Many owners make a mistake with their dogs in the beginning. They would initiate the dog to start chasing birds or smaller animals as a form of physical exercise, and although it may seem like a lot of fun for your dog, he may later develop a higher prey drive because of that.

5. Basic commands

You must be sure that your dog understands all the basic commands and that he will perform them no matter what. That way, you can ensure that if your dog sees prey, you can yell the command, and your dog will obey.

6. GPS tracker

If you already had problems with your dog running away while chasing animals, we advise your to get yourself one of the GPS trackers for your dog. That way, you can be sure to find your dog if an accident happens immediately.

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7. Punishment is not the answer

Many owners will reach out for shock collars thinking that will help with high prey drive in dogs. They are entirely wrong, and you can only make things worse if you decide to use a shock collar for this problem. You should never use any way of punishment to train your dog. Dogs best respond to positive reinforcement, which means a lot of praises and treats.

We know it may seem hard to control your dog, especially if he has a strong prey drive, but you need to be patient and consistent. If you think you cannot do it yourself, we advise you to seek professional help.

World Dog Finder team

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