Prey drive/reactivity and carrying something in the mouth

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Black dogs rock!
Barked: Wed Nov 21, '12 3:34am PST 
I am not sure if this is is high prey drive or reactive behavior or both. Bunny will bark and lunge at fast passing cars, bikes and skateboards. I assume the lunging would turn to chasing if he was not leashed. He also has a habit of picking up trash on the side of the roadshrug The interesting result of these behaviors is that if he is carrying something in his mouth, the barking and lunging stops. Obviously you can't bark if your mouth is full but I would have thought that the first behavior (barking) would overcome the second (carrying). Not to mention the lunging stops as well. Can someone explain to me the logic behind this? Fanciful as I am , I like to imagine that the hunting breeds that are supposed to be in him ( Cocker Spaniel *is* totally believable) figure since he has something in his mouth , the chase is over. Or is it just a simple matter of incompatible behaviors (he can't bark with something in his mouth) ? He could still lunge, though, couldn't he?

Edited by author Wed Nov 21, '12 3:42am PST

ARCH Demon RL1, RL2, RL3, RLV

Intimidation- seldom- facilitates- learning
Barked: Wed Nov 21, '12 7:48am PST 
I won't try to explain it (and would not without observing it) but WOULD suggest you use it. How would Bunny act if he were carrying a frozen something great in his mouth while these things happen?

I know that with Demon, I often give him a frozen meatball to carry in his mouth as we walk to the pole barn for classes if there are a lot of high energy dogs milling about before we start.

Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Wed Nov 21, '12 8:20am PST 
I think for some dogs it might be something like a security blanket ?

Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
Barked: Wed Nov 21, '12 8:52am PST 
Very retriever behavior smile

My son's lab and golden both very much want to have something in their mouths.

Charka learned from them and likes to carry something when we dog park. If I don't bring a tug, it will be the biggest branch she can carry. She will also exclude a bunch of external interactions (dogs, people, small rodents) when she is carrying. The extension is the dock jumping where NOTHING matters but her tug and the water.

I would guess that it is, indeed, sort of like a security blanket... in the sense that it represents a real job from the dog's perspective. Carrying the object has a higher 'importance' than many other things.
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Wed Nov 21, '12 3:49pm PST 
It certainly sounds useful. Maybe you could try and use it?

JT will still try and lunge with something in his mouth. If it's a low value thing like a ball he'll just drop it in favour of the lunge, but one time he was eating a pork shoulder roast in the yard, he saw a wasp, and he lunged at it with the whole chunk in his mouth. I think his intention was to snap at the wasp but at the same time he didn't want to let his big high value meal go. Sooo .... Maybe do some trial and error and see how he goes?

I dig in mud- puddles!
Barked: Wed Nov 21, '12 7:22pm PST 
Bunny, Rexy started barking and lunging at certain vehicles last summer.

Loud diesel trucks, motorcycles, and any vehicle peeling away from a stop are almost guaranteed triggers.

We've worked hard on interrupting or distracting her right before she starts to fixate.

I've tried to re-direct to tugging without a lot of success, and she is not the type of dog that likes to carry anything for more than a few feet.
We've worked hard on improving her OB and focus, and that has helped. Most times, "leave it" works (now).

Now barking dogs in passing cars/trucks...that is our current nemesis! smile

Black dogs rock!
Barked: Thu Nov 22, '12 4:24am PST 
Demon, a frozen meatball would so not worklaugh out loud Among Bunny's quirks is that anything he believes remotely edible gets eaten or sometimes swallowed whole!eek He does however, love carrying my socks aroundshrugthinking

Thanks for everyone's input smile

JT I am still of the option Bunny and JT are long lost behavior twinswink

Czarka, do Cockers retrieve?

Interesting theory Narethinking

Rexy, some things work to distract him and somethings don't . This is the first behavior that seems to have a consistent counteraction.

Edited by author Thu Nov 22, '12 4:26am PST

Jagger- **ADOPTED**

Ewok/Wookiee- Cross
Barked: Thu Nov 22, '12 6:14pm PST 
I have a friend who has a GSD/Malinois cross who was reactive to other dogs. His person gives him a ball to keep track of and that has helped him immensely in his interactions with other dogs. He typically carries it around and, honestly, I haven't seen him be reactive with another dog at all!

Barked: Fri Nov 23, '12 10:43am PST 
Cockers are flushers. Although they can be taught to retrieve it's not an inherent trait or drive of theirs.

I don't read anything about what you described being linked to any sort of bird dog behavior.

It sounds like he's got pent up energy that feeds off his vocalizations. Fynny is like this. If he's carrying a toy and the door bell rings, or the other dogs are wrestling around for example he's calm, distracted enough and remains happy as a clam. If his mouth is free to fly though he's a nut case. It's especially bad if he hasn't had much time outside. He gets yapping and that amps up his prey and alert drive sky high. He will just go on and on and on and proceed to run around like a chicken with his head cut off. It's tough to bring him down when he's that level of on. It seemed like him carrying something around either gave him something else to focus on or gave him a sense of purpose. Either way it definitely tempers his reactivity.

I've found that not only does letting him carry things around work well but having him wear one of his jackets or sweaters. If I pull the belly velcro a bit tighter than one normally would it seems to keep him more subdued. I compare it to how some children can benefit from weighted vests to improve their concentration and behavior.

Edited by author Fri Nov 23, '12 10:46am PST


Let's play tug!!
Barked: Sat Nov 24, '12 10:31pm PST 
Holy heck! I'll have to try it.

Edited to add: it sounds more like reactivity than prey drive. I think of prey drive more as silently bolting toward something. Although Smokey does have what seems to be a weird hybrid prey drive/ reactive reaction to cats.

Edited by author Sat Nov 24, '12 10:32pm PST