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Squirrels


Guest Waterdog66
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Guest Waterdog66

So where I live, a good portion of the beach has sandstone cliffs and the local population of Squirrels and (And Other Rodents) has become quite fat and complacent thanks to the tourists feeding them. I say complacent because the pesky things have NO FEAR of anything on the boardwalk that runs atop the cliffs; including dogs.

 

There area signs everywhere saying "Do Not Feed the Squirrels" but [sarc] it says nothing about a hound snacking on one or two [/sarc].

 

Audrey gets quite "Active" when the one of the locals decides to do the rodent version of "Bungie Jumping" and runs RIGHT UNDER HER NOSE. She is on a close leash so has no opportunity to give chase but her body language "Ears Up, Head Up, Leaning Forward with Tail Wagging". Walking "The Wall" certainly sharpens my skills at staying vigilant with her. (Close Leash with a Backup Grip)

 

I get the message that you cannot train the prey drive out of a greyhound (Only work to maybe make it less of an issue).

 

My question is "What IS my best response".

 

There is no way to avoid these darn things; they are everywhere. It does not feel right to correct her "NO or AH-AH" every time she alerts to one; given that her breeding/training is all about giving chase. To me it feels like correcting her for Growling.

 

To be fair to Audrey, she ignores them when they are behind the fence minding their own business (Same thing with the local Bunnies in the canyon) but when the dart across her front paws, it just triggers something. Methinks that based on the 3 months we have had her, her prey drive is moderate at best. She cannot be trusted but will for the most part ignore "Most" opportunities to express her "Hunt".

 

My response up to this point is to restrain her (Keep her Close) and attempt to redirect her attention; but to otherwise ignore the presence of these aggressive little furballs. (I have not scolded her) Over time, without any reinforcement to chase, she might just choose to ignore. What is troubling is that some of the other dog owners are not so concerned and freely let their dogs chase and she does notice this. (The difference is that she has a good chance of catching them even ON THE LEASH)

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I think you're doing the right thing - keeping her close and trying to redirect her attention. Can you carry high value treats with you? If I were you, I'd work on teaching "Look at me" where she has to give you eye contact (or at least look at your face) before she get the treat. It's pretty easy if you start in a quiet place with no distractions then work your way up. If you get it right, you should hopefully be able to say "Look at me" when she alerts on a squirrel and she'll respond (but take your time getting here so she actually gets it)! This way you're not correcting her for doing something she was trained to do (or born to do!), but you're getting her attention off the yummy snack pesky creature. :P

Mom of bridge babies Regis and Dusty.

Wrote a book about shelter dogs!

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Guest Wasserbuffel

I agree with Roo's post. That's pretty much what I did with mine. She used to lunge for prey animals on our walks. Now she just puts her ears up and walks with a bit of bounce in her step, but she walks. If she's getting too intense, I tell her to leave it too.

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I've trained my houndies to do this (for squirrels, rabbits, neighbor's cats and even strange, leashed dogs): We (I like to think in terms of pack) stand calmly and watch from a short distance. I think that satisfies their curiosity but usually doesn't go so far as to trigger a lunge/chase. When they lose interest, we move on. But that works for mine because they have either no (Capri) or low-to-middlin (Ajax) prey drive.

 

What you DON'T do, is what I've done twice (slow learner) and hubby did once (doesn't learn from others - LOL): participate in the stalk with hounds on leash, slowly sneaking up on the critter. Because when you get close enough, you'll experience first hand what "fast twitch muscle mass" means in greyhounds. :lol If you have a good grip on the leash, they WILL pull you onto your face and possibly drag you, depending on how much of a boat anchor you are to them.

Edited by jetcitywoman

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

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It might also be worthwhile teaching a 'leave it!' as well. I taught this, not so much for prey but for other yummy things like mouldy chicken bones, chocolate, tablets, coffee, my ugg boots, my dinner, and so on. That and 'drop it!' or 'give it' have been essential in stopping both hounds eating things which are poisonous, but has also worked in getting PK to drop an injured bird which I then rescued. I use 'leave it' for the local cats and dogs in our neighbourhood and reinforce it by giving extra awesome treats.

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