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Managing Prey Drive Walking On Lead

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I adopted a 5 year old retired racer from Battersea Dogs Home 3 weeks ago. I’m looking for advice on how to manage her seemingly very high prey drive when out walking.

She’s always muzzled and wears a collar and a harness, a lead on each. She walks beautifully on a loose-lead when not distracted. However, on almost every street in my neighbourhood of London we encounter something she considers prey: foxes, cats, squirrels, birds. On seeing her prey she becomes totally oblivious to me and either freezes and refuses to move, trembling and staring at the animal, or lunges and pulls towards it with alarming power and speed.

My question is: how do I respond in these moments when she is so desperate to chase?  Particularly when it’s an animal like a fox or a cat who will just stand there a few feet away, staring her out.  

I am only just barely able to physically hold her back when she is straining towards an animal. Should I just continue walking in the animal’s direction and hope it will move in time? I’ve been trying to change direction, offering ‘high value treats’ (though she is completely uninterested in food at these times) and even trying to physically turn her round by lifting her legs and pointing her in another direction (sometimes works, sometimes not). The rescue centre have advised against this, suggesting she may become aggressive to us if handled in this way (it doesn’t feel right either).  

They’ve suggested teaching ‘leave it’ and ‘watch me’ at home but she is nowhere near being able to respond to these commands when out and distracted. I feel unsafe walking her at the moment especially when I have my young child with me. She has pulled towards roads and it feels scary to have such a powerful dog not fully under control. Before adopting her, Battersea advised keeping her muzzled as the way of managing prey drive - but is there anything else I can do?

Please share you thoughts on how I can achieve safer, less stressful walking!

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Hi. Firstly this is natural for a highly-prey-driven dog, and three weeks is a short time for a greyhound*. When the dog is fixated, absolutely do not physically mess with it especially over the back and/or with your face near the dog's teeth level, with or without a muzzle, and especially near a young child. Can you take the dog for a drive to a less stimulating/overwhelming area to walk, or walk at a different/'more boring' time of day, or both? To train/teach/guide the dog into new behaviours, it first has to be calm enough, for long enough (EG: for days) to be able to start to learn them. Have you thought of a Positive Reinforcement trainer to visit and assess your specific situation? Maybe Battersea can help to select a more suitable dog for your situation. Cheers.

*Some dogs never lose the reflex urge to chase and hunt. 

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Hello. I don’t think that keeping her muzzle on will help to manage her prey drive (someone will correct me if i’m wrong), but obviously it stop her biting whatever she comes near to and it will keep your child safe if she gets in the way. The previous post is right - you’re not going to train that behaviour out in a few weeks. Mine has a fairly strong prey drive and I haven’t bothered to correct it, rightly or wrongly, so I can’t offer any advice for the long term. But in the short term I would suggest keeping her on a shorter lead when walking near roads so she is under better control in these areas and persevere with the command training. ‘No’ said sternly often works wonders in these situations too. Out on walks, I do what you suggested, which is keep walking towards the prey in question, but I have no idea how a fox would react. Most potential victims disappear before we get too close. 

Buddy is my first greyhound and this aspect of his nature is probably the only thing I would say is ‘negative’ about owning a greyhound. But it’s not a deal breaker for me - I can certainly live with it and the positives that come from having him far outweigh this. Hopefully your experience will be the same. There are plenty of people that post on here have had greyhounds for many years so hopefully they can give you some more specific advice about training-yourself and your dog! Good luck!

Living with Buddy Molly b. 5 November 2010. Welcomed home 16/6/2018 ❤️

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As MerseyGrey says the word NO in a strong firm voice also a quick tug on the lead and keep walking in the direction you're going. Give her a treat when she's no longer looking at the "prey."

I know it's not always possible but until she is able to walk without chasing everything that moves take her on walks without your child so you can give her your undivided attention and can react quickly.

And as mansbestfriend suggested keep Battersea informed of the problem and ask their advice and if it turns out that she isn't the dog for you don't blame yourself or consider it a failure there are plenty of other greyhounds who have a low prey drive in need of a loving home.

Grace (Ardera Coleen) born 18 June 2014
Raced at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton UK - 68 Races, 9 wins, 5 second places
Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 

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Thanks for your replies. Just to clarify on my original post... I’m not expecting her to be trained out of her prey drive; I’m looking for advice on the correct (i.e. safest) way to respond when there is ‘prey’ in our path on a walk and she goes into hunting mode. 

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There are a number of training techniques you can use to help with prey drive. Positive interrupters are an ideal method to curtail most unwanted behaviors in a positive manner.


Obviously avoidance is the ideal method to deal with prey drive, fear, or aggressive situations but that is not always possible. Squirrels happen! Situational awareness is key and that is where distraction can help. Be it changing sides of the street, blocking the dogs view of the “offending” stimuli (parked cars are great for this), a game of “touch” or a quick change of direction all can help manage unwanted behavior. These training techniques are easy to learn, but require dedication and consistency. Training is a life-long commitment, but not a particularly time-consuming one. Three to five minutes several times a day to begin and then less as time goes on. Treats are a great motivator. Jackpot treating for a session well done is never a bad thing!


With Me Training is demonstrated in these videos. With me also works brilliantly for dogs that pull.








Leave It Training. This trainer is combining leave it and with me to great advantage.





Touch Training is demonstrated in this video.



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