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Have I Awakened A Sleeping Hunter?


Guest Nycelle
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Guest Nycelle

I took Hillary lure coursing last weekend. She really surprised me, since she has shown zero interest in small things or chasing anything since I have had her. Both Michael and I figured she would hang out with the other hounds and that would be about it. We were even joking about where they set up the napping tent.

 

Wow! Were we wrong. From the minute we pulled into the lot she was on full alert, every muscle tense & shaking from the rush. We all had a great time, watching her do what she was designed for, and are excited to do it again.

 

Since we came back from the meet, she has been interested in anything she sees- squirrels, birds, falling acorns- that we encounter on our walks.But today she went to get her nails trimmed, and started to hyper focus on the house cat. This is brand new behavior and it made me curious. She is not acting agressive, but after I saw her "kill" that lure, I have great respect for what she could do.

 

Since we live in the city, all her outside activities are on lead, except for the dog run in the park, and I can muzzle her there if need be.

 

Has anyone else had dormant prey drive re surface? Is there a link to the lure coursing? Or is it just one more phase of her getting comfortable & settling in? (She has only been off the track since Februray).

 

Very interested in your responses-TIA

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I'm in two minds about re-awakeing prey drive in a dog that needs to be a domestic pet. The dog will get well confused and could land you a load of vet bills and ire from cat and tiny furbaby dogling owners.

After Peggy killed a squirrel in a park setting last year (who would have thought she was that quick and focused to run into the area and spook them so one got its escape strategy wrong) she became a real PITA on walks for weeks afterwards leading to a bad knee injury when the 'squirrels struck back' in the New Year. Now she is never off leash in that section of the park.

I'd suggest your formalize the coursing with a group so that it becomes a structured thing that is only done there.... kind of like taking a sheep dog out onto the hills to do its work.

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Guest grey_dreams

It will probably depend on the dog. That said, my group in Amsterdam strongly discouraged me when I expressed an interest to take Zuki coursing, because it had happened a couple of times within the history of the group that dogs who peacefully lived with cats started to hunt the cats after they had been coursing. In one case, the dog killed the cat :(

Needlesss to say, I decided not to take Zuki coursing, and just let him go off lead in safe areas for a run.

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Guest Nycelle

Hi John- That was the root of my question. I'm not interested in having it resurface per se. Just curious if it could happen. Her opportunity to act on it is negligible (never say never) as we live in a urban area with strict leash laws that I obey like the Catholic school girl I was.

 

My thought was that working with a formal, organized group would mark it in her mind -kind of like how she associates her muzzle with something fun (once she gets past wanting to rub it off on the coffee table leg!)

 

That story about Zuki is interesting & food for thought.

 

Thanks for sharing!

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I have two girls I've taken lure coursing. One raced and is not small animal safe the other never showed any real prey drive only some interest in squirrels and bunnies, but no opportunity to chase them. They both went nuts as soon as they saw another dog chasing the lure jumping 5ft in the air and screaming. They loved chasing the lure and had a wonderful time. Back home they are back to their usual behavior; walking nicely on leash and interested in the neighborhood wild life, but no crazy jumping or screaming. That being said they are not around any cats or small animals.

june

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I think it depends on the dog, and they can also be taught that chasing is only appropriate in certain settings. Both of my greyhounds (and my whippet) are very intense on the lure at lure coursing and amateur racing, and we participate in events regularly. All of my dogs are also very small dog and cat safe. Although they are always supervised when together, they are fine with both of my cats inside, and even out in the yard with the one cat who is occasionally allowed outside. They show no interest in chasing my cat even when she runs across the yard. Both my hounds are also fine with unfamiliar cats - photo evidence in posts #62 and #74 of this previous thread.

 

Willow will chase squirrels and rabbits outside but has no interest in cats. Wiki shows little interest in chasing small critters but will run along with the other dogs when they are chasing something. I don't remember any change in their responses to small animals after we started lure coursing. One of my friends has Willow's half sister, and her girl did get a little overexcited after going home from an amateur racing event and started to show a little interest in chasing her cats. All it took was a couple reminders that the cats were not to be chased, and she's been fine since.

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I have no personal experience but Kili's breeder told me that all of her dogs live with cats and they have no issues, including the ones that course AND the ones that course live game (not sure where they would do that... only a few places allow that legally, right? I didn't bother asking more because my only interest was whether they could course and still be cat safe). Of course, we're talking about hounds that are raised from puppies to both live with small furries and to course. I suppose it would be a little different with the retired racers. In that department I can't help. Summit could care less about a lure.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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In Hillary's case it seems fairly certain that there is a link between the lure-coursing and her new interest in anything that moves. This is one of several reasons why I don't take mine lure-coursing: one of them has little interest in chasing and I want to keep it that way; the other has a medium chase instinct and I don't want to encourage it any further. I'd rather find safe places for mine to run off-leash and teach them to chase me via recall training. I don't actively discourage mine from chasing squirrels/rabbits if they're in a safe environment, as they do enjoy it and both will happily recall from chasing, but I wouldn't want to do anything which might actively encourage it either. I'm not saying that no-one should take their hound lure-coursing, though, as I think it's another one of those areas where everyone has to weigh up all the pros and cons in their own case.

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Mine are all fine with our indoor cats (completely KNOT fine with outdoor cats), even though we started using the lure pole almost every day.

 

My suggestion would be to formalize the lure coursing - have a special leash/collar/coat, do a different routine on coursing days, different treats/food - anything to set that activity apart in her mind from her "normal" day. Continue to correct her away from cats and small dogs as appropriate. She'll pick it up fairly quickly I would think.

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Guest grey_dreams

Just wanted to mention, a lure pole in your backyard is more like chasing a toy. Coursing across a long field, running at full speed to chase a small rapidly moving object, is a totally different experience. With the lure pole, you are attached at one end, and the dog can see that you are moving the lure. Real coursing is different.

 

Also wanted to add, that it may be possible that dogs who live with cats and have an awakened prey response after coursing, might be able to be retrained to live with the cat. In the case I mentioned, the people were not anticipating, or prepared for, what happened, and it happened so quickly there was nothing they could do.

Edited by grey_dreams
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