Wildlife chasing in dogs can be a problem for a number of reasons.
As animal lovers, we must remember to consider not only ourselves and our dogs, but also the wildlife in the environment around us. For a deer, rabbit, squirrel – whatever the animal – being chased by a dog is a terrifying event. If caught by the dog they face serious injury or death. Even if they avoid capture, they are subjected to fear and stress, and may injure themselves while attempting to escape.
When thinking about safety for us and our much-loved canine companions, wildlife chasing in dogs poses several different risks.
- The dog may well go out of sight and could become lost.
- Dogs that disappear from our line of sight can get themselves into all kinds of trouble.
- Dogs may become distressed if they find themselves out of sight of their guardian or caregiver.
- They may become caught up or stuck somewhere.
- They may injure themselves.
- They may run out of the area where they have been let off lead and find themselves near a road, with the potential danger of being hit by a vehicle.
- They may be taken by another person.
- Dog theft is an increasing problem in many areas, and so it is safer to ensure our dogs always remain close enough that we can see them.
- If a dog is used to chasing wildlife, there is a chance they may chase livestock if they encounter them on a walk. Livestock worrying is a huge problem and can have dire consequences for both the livestock and the chasing dog.
How can we go about tackling the problem of wildlife chasing in dogs?
Make sure that your dog has an excellent recall before letting them off the lead in areas they may encounter wildlife. If ever your dog’s recall is slow or you need to call them a few times, never punish a dog when they have come back. To punish the dog when they have delayed coming back to call will not make them come back faster next time. Instead, it will make the dog less likely to return – why come back when it will only result in something bad happening? If your dog’s recall is still inconsistent, use a long line attached to the dog’s harness in areas where wildlife might be found.
If wildlife chasing in dogs is something you regularly encounter with your own dogs, consider predation substitute training. This type of training gives the natural and instinctive predatory behaviours dogs have a suitable and controlled outlet. Turn a potential issue that could interfere with your relationship into an activity you can do together.