High prey dogs and nature reserve. Too stimulating?

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Black dogs rock!
Barked: Sun Oct 7, '12 11:07am PST 
I finally brought Bunny to our nature reserve, on leash of course. I thought he was going to go out of his mind. Birds flying, squirrels running, smells everywhere. He pulled so hard on the leash that he was practically choking himself. I wouldn't be surprised if the people ahead of me thought a bear was after them red face He finally calmed down *somewhat* after about half an hour. My question is should high prey dogs be kept in low stimulation environments? Is an environment like that just too much for a dog that has a high prey drive?

Whippy- The- Whipador
Barked: Sun Oct 7, '12 11:11am PST 
If it's somewhere you don't walk regularly then that's probably why he seemed over stimulated.

I walk both my two, both with prey drive, off lead in many nature reserves and they don't really act any different than they would walking along an open country field etc.
Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Sun Oct 7, '12 11:23am PST 
I think it's a great situation to "work up" to. Try Premack with him. This would consist of rewarding good, calm, behavior with allowing to chase, you running alongside him on a longer lead, perhaps, a prey animal. He won't catch it of course, but it's his reward.

Here's a good article by one of our own Dogsters: On Shoddy Clicker Training and the Importance of Premack

Much better explanation of Premack that "if you don't eat your spinach, you won't get your dessert."

Premack is very powerful in training. I know that Sanka/Kado can explain it much better than I. You might want to contact her.

Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sun Oct 7, '12 3:46pm PST 
New stuff can be pretty exciting. I took Kato for a walk at the local "petting farm" and he went nuts barking at the horses. He'd never seen those horses prior to that. But now he's used to it.

I don't think high prey dogs should be limited in terms of new exposure. I think you just are going to have to live with achy arms whenever you choose to bring them to new places like that.laugh out loud

Sanka's a great dog, but there's a reason I don't take him to big doggy festivals. I like my shoulders to stay in socket, thank you very much. Were we to have doggy festivals regularly, rather than annually, I would take him and know he'd get used to it eventually and not be so spazzy. Same thing happened when I started walking him regularly rather than whenever I just felt like it...which wasn't much since he was such a crazy puller. He settled down. He wasn't pulling to every mailbox or doing a death roll when I tried getting him to go a different way. These were the reasons I (ignorantly) didn't walk him. But when I finally set a schedule to it, it was amazing the difference. No training, or any special tools. Just him getting general experience.way to go

Barked: Sun Oct 7, '12 9:34pm PST 
My Shiba is used to going to new places, so unless snow is involved, this kind of stuff doesn't phase him. He is a hunting dog, so he's got prey-drive up and out the wazoo, but he knows when he is and isn't allowed to use it.
The other two dogs... Yeah, anywhere that's not directly around "home" results in hyperactive spazzballs. But, the more frequently I go to the new spot, the calmer they become since it's not "new" anymore. I also work on basic training in the new environment. We don't make any time unless they are paying attention to ME and doing what I want. Sometimes this means I spend the entire afternoon in the parking lot, but so far it's worked.

Edited by author Sun Oct 7, '12 9:35pm PST


dog-sitter in- charge.
Barked: Sun Oct 7, '12 10:28pm PST 
if it's safe & legal to let your dogs off leash, I see no reason to try to inhibit their prey drives or love for exploration.
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Sun Oct 7, '12 11:34pm PST 
I'm with Lilith. When the going is safe, the dog is off his leash and tearing after rabbits. He's a lousy hunter really, so I don't really worry about the sanctity of the local pest population.

In forested leash areas, I use my good friend mister ruffwear harness to keep my little monster in line. It's the best hiking harness I've ever had, period. No escaping, no choking, and dancing on his rear legs just tires him out. Twenty minutes of that and he gives up and walks in a civilized fashion! (It's a long twenty minutes, but dogs like JT develop patience and the biceps to match.)

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Mon Oct 8, '12 9:04am PST 
Well, since that pretty much describes most of my life with dogs, no I don't believe it's too stimulating. As long as you can keep your dog safe and the animals in the reserve/preserve safe and not overly stressed, there shouldn't be a problem. It can actually be a very good training opportunity as you've got natural rewards all around you that your dog wants to get closer to (part of Premack as mentioned here already)

I hike with Lu on water collection forays all the time. She's got an intense prey drive (she comes from hunting terrier stock) but I've been working on it since she was able to walk with me in puppyhood. I can call her off hopping bunnies in my yard and heel past them. But she's three now, that obviously wasn't always the case. Squirrels are trickier on hikes, but after much work and consistency we're almost where I want to be. That said, I cannot vouch that she wouldn't chase a squirrel across a road. So, know your dog and keep within safe limits. Especially this time of year when they're darting about gathering nuts all over, I make sure that we're only offleash many many acres from any road. I've got more chance of a safe recall that way.

I've posted before about those darned killdeer that would divebomb us and then go into their wounded bird routine on the ground. Talk about dog temptation! Our favorite hikes took us past their nesting grounds close enough to alert the birds, but not close enough to damage any nests. I almost stopped going there until I realized that we were both going to have to learn how to deal with it or lose out on a fave activity. I would hold the lead and reward her for anything like looking at me, calm behavior, a sit etc. by moving forward. I was thrilled when we could walk past a killdeer display with merely a bark and passing interest. A combination of exposure and training did work.

What I've found that really has helped us is that I've been asking for a sit as a default request behavior since she was small. When she spots something that she wants to investigate she MUST sit before we head in that direction. Any pulling results in heading in the opposite direction or a complete stop depending on where we are. NEVER does it take her closer to where she wants to be and the faster she complies, the faster we get to the desired place. That helps with impulse control and she's a strong 80 pounder, so it helps my shoulders, too.

Always keep in mind that final behavior you want and work towards building a routine that will get your dog there. Rewarding for calm behavior before moving toward the stimuli etc. It does take a lot of patience but it's very rewarding when the two of you can do things together that you both enjoy. Good luck!

Black dogs rock!
Barked: Mon Oct 8, '12 2:26pm PST 
Thanks for the advice and ideas everyone smile

I have done what I understood Premack to be , but Bunny's OB trainer didn't seem to think it was a good idea. Of course, I didn't agree with everything he said/did confused

Lilith, the dogs have to be on leash in the nature reserve and I don't have much faith in Bunny's recall anywhere else naughty

JT, I thought about getting him a harness but I would also like to teach him to pull a small sled. Wouldn't that be confusing? thinking

Lucille, I have done that to some extent but I guess I am not that patient red face

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Mon Oct 8, '12 5:22pm PST 
In your case yes, a high prey drive dog on leash surrounded by running goodies??? It must have been torture for him. Some of us have the let them be a dog philosophy. I let Sophie off leash from time to time. She's a clumsy hunter so seldom catches anything. But the rare times she does seem to be enough to calm her to walk onleash. For you a park or the neighborhood might be a better choice.
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