Prey drive is probably the strongest instinct you will experience with your dog in your life – as much as sex drive during mating season. If a dog does not eat in the wild it dies, if it does not catch that prey, another one might not come along. This is why even practice like chasing cars is so serious and why they seem so rabid at doing it.
In the last article we looked at how each breed learned to specialise in a certain hunt task, and are even more skilled at it than their wolf ancestor.
Don’t believe it will be easy for a hunting dog to break a habit bred into them over the centuries. Even a cocker spaniel can have a major prey drive or at least that is transformed into chasing inanimate objects like cars and post bikes.
Changing dog behavior from chasing to NOT chasing.
All training methods revolve around training a dog AFTER a big off lead run when they have burnt their energy and are more likely to listen. If you are going to train with treats, make sure you have not fed them yet and don’t give them treats on your off lead walk.
Most dog behavior methods suggest training your dog at home, indoors.
Making sure they know how to sit and stay without lead.
Then introducing showing your dog an object they love to chase like a tennis ball. You can waive it around in front of their face (while they are on lead) then roll it, and say OFF. If they lurch at it, you say REPEATEDLY in a calm but firm voice, OFF, and never let them touch the ball.
You do this to desensitize them to automatically chasing the ball and when they have started getting it, you reward them with the tastiest healthiest meat treat ever.
You do this twice a day, for ten minutes at a time for one month.
You can change rooms halfway through the month or move out back (as long as there aren’t other major distractions). Make sure that your dog is in a rested state, and that they leave the ball immediately when commanded.
Next of course comes trying this OFF lead in your house or back yard. You can always go back a step if the dog regresses.
The next major test, preferably after a month of training is to test with a fake jogger friend of yours.
Again you need to try in your back yard, or an empty dog park. On lead firstly, then eventually off lead, many, many times.
The next and usually last test is the stopping chasing cars thing. Again with a VERY strong leash and not to be tried off leash until you can go to a quiet car park isolated from all other cars and your friend is driving the car.
Change cars, have the car honk their horn, have them rev the energy. Get them to try all the possible distractions and reward your dog profusely with food and pats before you consider trying this off lead. Off lead of course drive the car slowly and without horn or revving to start.