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On And Off Prey Drive


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Despite being tested as small dog safe, Ajax is turning out to have some middlin fair prey drive, meaning he ignores small dogs one minute, the next minute he lunges at them. Here are a couple of specific examples:

 

The first time he lunged, we were on a neighborhood walk and came across a lady walking a yorkie on leash. We let them sniff and at first he was politely sniffing it. Then suddenly he lunged at it, it zipped around behind it's momma-human and somehow it's leash popped off. Fortunately it just sat there shivering, and I had Ajax up short so the lady could pick up her yorkie and get him leashed up again. Of course, I apologized profusely. I've seen them a few times on walks since then, and we keep our dogs apart and just say hi from a distance.

 

Today something else odd happened. We were walking again, and a neighbor kid let her little puppy run out of the house. It spotted my dogs and ran across the yard and across the street to get to us. I figured we'd better stop so the kid could get her puppy or it would chase us all the way down the street. It was a black lab puppy, maybe just over weaning age. Adorable little thing. Both Capri and Ajax were nice to it, sniffing and let it even jump on them a bit without getting cranky. The girl took her puppy home and we continued on.

 

On the way back, that same dumb little girl let the puppy out of the house AGAIN, and it came after us. I stopped again. I decided to pick him up and hand him to the little girl, but Ajax seemed to think I was holding the puppy for him to eat. I'm not sure. He kept licking the puppy's penis/tummy and making disgusting smacking noises and just showing wayyy too much excitement for my comfort. When I tried to pull him away from the puppy it just made him more excited. I was afraid he was going to chomp and that'd be the end of the puppy, right there in my arms, so I decided I'd better put the puppy down and let it loose and control my own dog. Fortunately just as I put him down, Ajax went between my legs so I had him straddled and squeezed gently between my legs and grabbed his collar for extra security. The lady of the house chased the puppy back across the street and around her yard, and we went on our way.

 

Sheesh, that was bad. Not the worst, of course, but not at all what I wanted. I can see that I shouldn't have bothered picking up the puppy to begin with. Does it sound to you experienced people like Ajax thought the puppy was a snack? What am I doing wrong, or what should I start doing better given how inconsistently Ajax behaves with the littles? In both cases, he didn't hurt the other dog, and I know that if he wanted to they'd have both been lunch in two seconds. So maybe his excitement isn't prey drive but something else. What?

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

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Any small creature, puppy or even human baby being held will make a hound jump at it. We never, ever pick up Jilly Bean with the hounds around. She rules the roost but pick her up in your arms and all of mine will try to get at her. I think I'd be very careful and walk Ajax on a very short leash when walking so that you have more control over him. It sounds like he's really interested in being friends, just isn't sure of the pups he's encountering. Hopefully with some more exposure he'll get better but I would never pick up any small dog with him around.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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Thank you, I wasn't aware of that bit of dog behavior. Any idea what the basis of it is, captured prey or something? Also, I know we need to work on "leave it". Would that help in this kind of situation?

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

:gh_bow

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I don't have any suggestions to help, but could be a situational thing and not a prey drive thing? In addition to my greys, I have an elderly whippet. I have had to pick him up sometimes or he gets trampled. He doesn't always get the concept that he is smaller! Anyway, everytime that I have had to scoop him up to move him, Zoe will immediately try to bite his feet and tail - whatever is hanging down. She is fine with him when he is on the floor, though - not just in my arms.

 

Mine alre also fine with small dogs - unless mine are on a leash and the other dog isn't. Then, all bets are off. Even my 10 YO most laid-back male gets snarky when a small unleashed dog is around. Oh, and he is the one that can sleep on the couch with a cat curled around his head.

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Cindy with Miss Fancypants, Paris Bueller, Zeke, and Angus 
Dante (Dg's Boyd), Zoe (In a While), Brady (Devilish Effect), Goose (BG Shotgun), Maverick (BG ShoMe), Maggie (All Trades Jax), Sherman (LNB Herman Bad) and Indy (BYB whippet) forever in my heart
The flame that burns the brightest, burns the fastest and leaves the biggest shadow

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Is this one of those mysteries of dog psychology, like the criteria for the exactly perfect place to poo? :lol

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

:gh_bow

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We have similar leash reactivity issues with Tracker. I've come to the conclusion that the first step with him is to get his attention reliably, which is extremely hard to get (maybe if I plunged a piece of Sirloin steak each time in front of him, but even then...). So we've started working with clicker training to ultimately teach him that nothing, ever, is as interesting as his owners (let's see how long that will take, but, according to Jane Killion's book "When Pigs Fly", which is what I'm working with, even independent dogs like hounds and terriers and the like can be taught this) when addressed.

 

We have had the exact same experience with cats, babies and small dogs held in people's arms. Tracker will be irresistibly drawn to get to them when, if they were on the ground, he'd not even look at them. In his case, it's never been my impression that he's intent on eating them, but it's still odd enough behavior that I keep him at a safe distance until I know he has friendly intentions.

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As far as jumping up and getting excited about someone holding a baby, puppy, cat or whatever, I think personally from observing my own hounds, it's curiosity more than anything. It might be different with a very high prey hound, they may really want to go after what someone is holding but my hounds are just curious. As soon as I sit down or put whatever I have in my arms down where they can see it, it's usually just a lot of sniffing and some will actually give kisses.

 

It's the same with a child running across the yard. In my experience, a toddler running and squealing across the back yard will instantly incite my hounds to give chase. It's a warning I give anyone coming here to visit with children. My dogs don't want to hurt the child, they just get excited. That being said, they're big dogs and should always be supervised when around young children.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

One thing to look at is your hounds body language. You need to keep a close eye on your hounds stance, tail location (out straigt, above butt in air, or down low), watch the eyes (do they open wider, or stare, can you break the focus), does your hound puff cheeks, drool, whine, etc. These are all indicators of excitement. So next time when he "suddenly" lunges, it may be something that you can see comming and calm him or remove him from the situation if you see any of the red flags start to arise. Also, how long have you had this hound? Lots of hounds that test small animal tolerant do get excitable for the first few months of being off the track. Heck, I had a boy that took about 2 years off the track before he would not get overly excited at the dog park and chase the little fluffys under the benches. Of course I was there to stop it, so dont think I allowed this behavior. But like I said, I watch my hounds behavior very closely and if I see any change then I know I have to work to control the situation.

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Ajax will stare intently at the littles. I would describe it as light fixation because he will glance at me if I say his name and then go back to staring. There's no drooling or signs of aggression, and I'm pretty sure he holds his tail down not up. He might wag it a little, slowly, but I'll watch for that next time. It's more like he's just fascinated by this little thing, not truly prey drive. But I'm new at this. I've had Capri for a year and half, but she's a perfect angel and ignores the littles. I've had Ajax for about two months, and he was fostered for two or three months before we got him. So I realize that I'm still in the process of learning him and he's still settling in. Which of course is why I'm asking. Plus I need to work on this correctly and not teach him to escalate it because I'm ignorant.

 

And as I mentioned in the title, it's not every time that he does this. One time he will sniff a little and then ignore it. Another time he will sniff it and appear to want to chase/pounce on it. Maybe it's just play drive. :-) He is a MAJOR toy boy. A bit mouthy too, for a four year old dog.

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

:gh_bow

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Guest KennelMom

When you pick something up, it's a game of keep away/I want what you have. Most of us condition our dogs for this behavior. Ever held a toy in your hand and tried to hype up your dog before you throw it? Ever held a treat in your hand and excitedly says in that high pitched baby talk voice: "who wants a biskie!? who's a good dog?! who wants a treat?!"

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