Hunting Instinct In Dogs
Hunting in dogs is not uncommon. Some dogs run after birds, others dig like crazy for mice and others are running over the mountains when they discover the game.
But why do our canine friends hunt at all? It can’t be about eating, because mostly and luckily, it just keeps running. In addition, they get enough food from us and no longer have to hunt for their own food.
So what’s behind our dog hunting instinct?
The Hunting Instinct in the Dog
In order to understand the hunting instinct in dogs, you have to know: Hunting makes dogs happy!
They run after the deer or the bird not because they want to eat them, but because the running itself gives them a feeling of happiness. Hunting is thus a self-rewarding behavior.
For some dogs, it is enough for something to move quickly in front of them to trigger the chase. Others react less to visual stimuli than to smell and like to hang their noses on the floor.
But why do some dogs prefer to hunt than others?
It is easy to understand:
The hunting behavior is part of the dog’s instinctive behavior. Everything that has to do with the procurement of food has to do with it.
In the course of development, we humans have selected dogs according to their special abilities and bred them specially. With some dog breeds, it is therefore clear that a hunting representative should be brought into the house, for example, a beagle or a Weimaraner.
A dog without any hunting instinct would not be able to survive in the wild. This explains why every dog shows a more or less pronounced hunting behavior.
Dog owners who have a dog with few hunting ambitions consider themselves lucky. Everyone else is faced with the task of getting their hunting behavior under control.
What to Do If Your Dog Wants to Hunt
It is best to start anti-hunting training as early as possible. If you keep your dog as a puppy, you have good prerequisites.
From around the sixth month onwards, dogs become more and more independent and hunting is now more evident. Now it is important that you prevent your dog from doing so, for example with a dragline, and train him intensively.
If you keep an older dog at the beginning, it has probably already made its first attempts at hunting and gained a sense of achievement. He either actually caught prey or enjoyed the fun of hunting.
The question is:
should I forbid my dog to hunt completely or should I guide it into other channels?
Opinions differ here and ultimately also depend on the individual case. Whichever method you choose, anti-hunt training doesn’t work overnight. Success depends, among other things, on how independent your dog is and how strong its hunting instinct is.
However, there is one thing you should always keep in mind: while hunting may be fun and may even look funny for your dog, it is no joy for the animal being hunted.
For example, deer can die of exhaustion after a hunting marathon. In any case, I don’t want a dead animal on my conscience, so anti-hunting training is a form of animal welfare for me. But hunting can also be life-threatening for your dog if, for example, he runs across a busy road to chase the cat. This is why the following always applies to hunting dogs: Safety first – your own and that of other animals.
These Steps Can Help You Control Your Dog’s Hunting Instinct:
Take Hunting Behavior Seriously
As a dog owner, you are responsible for what your dog does. If your dog likes to hunt, then don’t just let him run wild. Secure it with a bungee dog leash that you attach to the harness.
Practice the Most Basic Commands
You can only control your dog if he has a good grasp of the basic commands. These include seat, stay and recall. If your dog does not come back as expected without being distracted, he will do it all the less at the sight of a rabbit.
Ensure Sufficient Activity
Some dogs hunt not because they have such a strong hunting instinct, but because they are bored. Use the walks to do something with your dog. Let him do tasks by retrieving or looking for things. If your dog is busy, it will be less likely to get stupid thoughts. You can also try tracking training with dogs who like to sniff and look for tracks! You can find various video courses online.
The more your dog has his impulses under control, the better it is. For him, that also means learning to deal with frustration. After all, he would like to do something but is not allowed. Here it is helpful to know the preferences of your canine companion well. If he responds easily to visual stimuli, you can practice waiting with him while you move a toy back and forth in front of him. The opportunities to train self-control run through everyday life and are an essential part of upbringing.
Make Eye Contact
Practice with your dog that it will pay attention to you in response to a signal. This will ensure that it remains approachable and that you can influence him. It is best if your dog learns to look at you on command.
Be a Team
Walks with a hunting dog can be a real burden and spoil the fun together. For training, however, it is important that both of you work together and your dog cooperates with you. You can also reward part of the hunting behavior ( you can read about why it can be good to reward hunting behavior in this article. ) A good option, for example, is the feed dummy. With this bag, you can play hunting games together. At the same time, your dog learns that he will be rewarded for bringing the pouch back to you.
You can see that the dog’s hunting instinct cannot simply be turned off. A few years ago, my puppy brought me to the edge of despair with her pronounced hunting behavior. She is now 10 years old and mostly runs free. Until then, she had to spend many hours on a leash and learn a lot, but it was worth it for both of us.
Do you have a hunting dog too? How did you learn to deal with it? Welcome to leave your comments below!